10 Things to Reflect Upon as the Year Comes to a Close

10 Things to Reflect Upon As The Year Comes to a Close
Adapted from Flickr/ Vicente Villamón

It always seems a little crazy to me that in the middle of all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we somehow choose this time of year to try to set some new goals for ourselves for the coming year! It can be a little hard to think about what you'd like to accomplish in the New Year while you are still cleaning up wrapping paper and pine needles off of the family room floor, while also tripping over a bounty of new toys that you didn't even know existed a few weeks ago!

But, if you happen to find yourself a few quiet moments over the next few days, here are 10 things to reflect upon as this year comes to a close.

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Image via Flickr/ Kate Ter Haar

Are you “too busy”?

Experts warn us all the time to not over-schedule our children. But what about moms? I would imagine that most of the time we are pretty over-scheduled ourselves. Trying to clean the house, run kids to doctor's appointments, afternoon activities, and cook a healthy and appetizing family dinner.

When we happen to run into friends and they ask us how we are doing, we often answer by telling them about “how busy” we are. It's the first thing that comes to mind — because it's how we always feel.

But what would it take to feel less busy? What would we need to take off of our calendars and to-do lists in order to feel like we actually had some breathing room? Would ordering in pizza one night a week give you an evening to re-charge? Would volunteering for one less event add back in some time in the schedule for yourself?

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Image via Flickr/ Abigail Batchelder

Are you being an intentional parent?

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I like to think of parenting in three ways:

  • Automatic: the stuff you do constantly and without thinking, like picking up toys, asking kids to chew with their lips together, wiping noses and bottoms, etc.
  • Reactive: putting band-aids on a boo-boo, wiping away tears, returning hugs, helping with homework
  • Proactive: the stuff you really think about and plan ahead for, like family vacations and teaching kids how to tie their shoes or ride a bike without training wheels

Now ask yourself: How much time do you spend a week on proactive stuff — like really thinking about what it is you want your kids to learn, experiences you want them to have, and then putting together a plan to make it happen? That's the first step to becoming a more intentional parent.

{ MORE: The New Years Resolution Your Two-Year-Old Would Make for You }

The second step is focus. How often are we giving our kids our full and undivided attention, with nary a smartphone, tablet, or computer around? Do we listen to their stories with our whole heart? Do we set aside specific times each day to be fully and intentionally present?

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Image via Flickr/ Jaap Joris

What did you learn this year?

In 2014, what new things did you learn to do? Cook a new favorite family dinner? Take up yoga for the first time? Learn some of the rules of soccer because your child signed up to play?

Every year is a new opportunity to learn something new, whether it's something big like a completely new hobby, or something small like learning how to repair a torn hem. Learning new things and gaining new experiences really fills us up on a personal level.

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Image via Flickr/ Juliana Dacoregio

Do you make time for you?

Last week, I did the silliest thing. I drove to a movie theater over an hour away from my home just to catch an early release of a film that I really wanted to see (Wild). At 10:00 in the morning. By myself. Because I knew that getting to see the film would make me so happy and that I absolutely should do it because I rarely make myself a priority like this.

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And it was awesome! 

{ MORE: Easy and (Mostly) Free Ways to Indulge in Self-Care Without Leaving Home }

And I know that I don't do these kinds of things often enough. How often do you make time for you?

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Image via Flickr/ Jinx!

What gave you the most joy this year?

Every year, I go through all of the year's pictures and videos that I took on my phone and I compile it all into a 20-minute “Year in Review” video. The kids love watching it, and I love that I created this annual keepsake. But what I love the most about it is the time it gives me to reflect on all that gave me joy over the past year. 

And when I contemplate what gave me joy, it really should be what helps to set my course for the new year.

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Image via Flickr/ Evil Erin

What was the chore or task that you dreaded the most Every.Single.Week?

Cleaning the bathrooms! (There are five boys in my house. Need I say more?) But I know that if I delegate this task to one of them, I will never be happy with the job they will do (just facing facts).

So for now, this task stays on my to-do list. But there are a few other candidates that are up for grabs, like changing the sheets on the kids beds, putting away their folded laundry, and taking the garbage out every day. These tasks are coming off of my list and going on to other family members' lists in 2015!

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Image via Flickr/ Gareth Williams

Where was your life stagnant this year?

Was there an area of your life where you felt that you didn't move things ahead? Like exercising more? Re-establishing date night with your spouse? Completing your second born's baby book?

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It's time to make some decisions. Are these areas you still hope to improve? Then maybe it's time to put into place some specific steps to accomplish them. Are these things that you should just accept you'll never do (goodbye perfect baby book!)? If so, clear them from your life list! Or are these things that maybe you'll get to “someday”? If so, that's cool — just don't spend any time beating yourself up for not making progress!

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Image via Flickr/ Sean Freese

What are you most grateful for?

The end of the year is the perfect chance to take stock in all that you have and to express your gratitude.

In daily life, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” ~Brother David Steindl-Rast

In fact, the very act of feeling gratitude gives us a better outlook every day. I've decided that in 2015, I am going to spend my first waking moments each morning (between slapping down the snooze button three times) thinking of three things that I am grateful for. I believe that allowing gratitude to be my first conscious thought of the day will be much better than my current first thought which is “Holy Moses … I am SOOOOOOO tired!”

{ MORE: Poet Mary Oliver Dies and the Internet Remembers How to Love Big }

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Image via Flickr/ www.audio-luci-store.it

What one thing do you wish that you made more time for in your life?

We all have wish lists of things we wish we had the time to do. Can 2015 be the year that we actually make the time to enjoy some of these activities? Is there a way to make your entire family be a part of the plan?

For example, I love hiking, and I have long wished that I made more time to hike on some nearby nature trails. So this fall, we created the “Sunday morning hiking club” in my family as a way for me to make time to do something I have been wanting to do — and include my family. An added bonus is it has increased all of our activity levels!

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Image via Flickr/ Artis Rams

How are you going to make 2015 different?

So, after spending some time reflecting on the year gone by, are you ready to put together a plan to do things a little bit differently in 2015? Changes don't need to be huge in order to make a noticeable difference in our lives. Remember, we only get one shot of this “living” thing — we need to shape our life to be the one we most want to live.

{ MORE: 7 Parenting Trends to Look For in 2019 }

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10 Things to Reflect Upon as the Year Comes to a Close

My name is Sharon and I am the busy Mom of six children ages 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8. People often ask me "How do you do it?" I tell them that my key to success lies in planning ahead, with a whole lot of creativity and organization thrown in! ... More

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