1. Eat Less Sugar
Yeah. I have a sweet tooth. Or maybe I have only sweet teeth. Since Diabetes runs in my family, it’s high time I got a bit of a handle on my Icees-and-Swedish-Fish obsession.
(I have the palate of an eight-year-old. Don’t judge.)
But here’s the thing: choosing to restrict something usually just makes me want it all the more. It’s human nature, but it’s also a recipe for failure, which is a recipe for shame, which is a recipe for eating See’s Candies for dinner for the next three months.
So I’m not resolving to eat less sugar in 2017.
What I’m Doing Instead: Resolving to eat a green smoothie every day. My husband loves making these organic kale, spinach, carrot, apple, blueberry, parsely concoctions. They’re healthy and they’re also a little bit sweet. When I’m full of smoothie I’m less likely to reach for the Skittles.
- Read the Bible Every Day
I’ve made this New Year’s Resolution every year since I was a preteen. I’ve never made it an entire year.
I make it for a week or three or six, but then I miss a day and then: guilt. (And I’m a pastor! Eep!)
So I’m not resolving to read the Bible every day in 2017.
What I’m Doing Instead: Resolving to use a pastor friend of mine’s maxim: “Me before Media” when it comes to time with Jesus. Devotions will be my gateway to tech time this year. No devotions? No Facebook. No Internet. No Survivor podcasts (yeah, that’s a thing for me).
Because let’s face facts: if you have time to scroll through Twitter, view Snap, or peruse Instagram, you definitely have time to spend soaking in Scripture. I know I do. I’m just choosing to use that time poorly. In 2017, Jesus comes before media.
- Spend Less Time on the Internet
I’m just coming off of a couple week at my parents’ house in northern Wisconsin. To say that their Internet is spotty would be like saying Darth Vader was kind of a less-than-stellar dude. In short: their Internet access was baaaaaad. Often nonexistant.
For the first day or so it was maddening. Then? It was awesome.
My sisters and brothers-in-law and I played Scrabble. We roasted hot dogs over a blazing backyard fire in a blizzard. We talked about our lives and watched our kids play together. We nursed babies and reminisced about Christmases past.
I finally read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy , I made two exceedingly terrible gluten free pumpkin pies, and I took a nap every single day.
Like I said: awesome. (Except the pies. Even the squirrels wouldn’t eat the pies when we put them on the porch. Sigh.)
Yet I can’t just unplug our Internet at home, and simply forbidding something makes me want it even more. There starts the guilt-shame-failure spiral. So I’m not avoiding the Internet in 2017.
What I’m Doing Instead: Resolving to subscribe to a newspaper and to always have a novel going. When I read actual, honest-to-goodness paperback books, parts of my soul come alive. When I read the news in a newspaper, I read more deeply, focus more clearly, and find facts that have been curated by actual journalists and not people simply trying to get a “like” or a click from me. When I spend unnecessary time scrolling the Internet, I just feel dead inside.
Enough of that. Time to live in the real world again.
- Lose Weight
Yeah, there’s still a little weight hanging on there from Baby #2. But do you know who benefits if I obsess about a few pounds? Nobody, that’s who. There’s not a single person in my life—not my kids, not my husband, not my family, not my friends, not my congregation—who would love me more if those five pounds disappeared.
So I’m not resolving to lose the last bits of the baby weight in 2017.
What I’m Doing Instead: Resolving to run regularly.
I live in California where I can hit the trails 360 days a year without fear of nasty weather. Combine that with the fact that running strengthens my body and gives me time to talk to Jesus while appreciating the beautiful great outdoors, and you have a win-win-win-win-WIN.
Maybe running isn’t your thing, but if you are worried about weight, I’d encourage you to work to be strong rather than thin. Find something you love—dance, yoga, weights, skiing, surfing—and resolve to get out there in 2017 not to beat the scale but to make your body strong enough for a healthy 2018.
- Be a Better Mom
Any moms out there totally nailing this thing? No? Phew, I feel better.
Seriously, though, nothing is quite as exhausting, joy-filled, challenging, and uncertain as mothering.
When I preach a solid sermon, people tell me so. When I teach a course at the university, there are student evaluations at the end of the semester. But in mothering, there’s not much that tells you how well you’re doing on a day-to-day or even year-to-year basis.
Kids of great parents get sick and misbehave. Kids of crummy parents grow up to be Nobel laureates.
But I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like I’m just treading water a lot of the time, getting about a B in the mothering department. You know, the grade that says, “Everyone is alive and clean and fed and you read The Jesus Storybook Bible together at bedtime, but you also spent half an hour texting your sister today while the baby ate a Lego, you didn’t really even pretend to listen when the preschooler told you about his fear of the neighbor’s aloe plant, not to mention the fact that pretzels and hummus isn’t exactly an A+ dinner and you’ve left the trash cans out for three straight days.”
Raise your hand if you’re with me on that.
But here’s the thing: do you know what happens when you make a nebulous, unmeasurable goal? You won’t meet that goal. (Sounds obvious, I know, but it’s taken me 34 years to learn that one.)
So I’m not resolving to be a better mom in 2017.
What I’m doing instead: Deleting unnecessary apps and putting my phone out of reach for the first hour of the morning, the lunch hour, and the hour before bedtime so I can be 100% present with my kids.
It’s an old cliché that kids spell love T-I-M-E. I shudder when I think of all the time my iPhone has stolen from my kids. Yes, I’m often doing “important” things—answering a work email, taking a time-sensitive call, scheduling another visit to the pediatrician or a playdate with friends.
But it all looks the same to them—Mom staring at her phone rather than present with them.
I’m realistic to know that I need the phone some of the time. But I sure don’t need it all of the time. And there’s something sacred about that first morning hour—coffee and books and blankets and snuggles and showers and watching the sun and the baby wake up.
Noontime is when the preschooler recounts his morning at class and the baby is winding down for a nap.
The pre-bedtime hour is when the stories of the day are told. Dinner and baths and books come when my husband and I are pretty tapped out from the day, so it’s more important than ever to remove the temptation of an easy tech vacation and press in for the final hour.
What New Year’s Resolutions aren’t you making?
Want to join me in any of mine?