Where I ruminate on resolutions
As much as we can say that we’re firmly into the new year — I mean, it’s been
2014 2015 for days, now (and, almost magically, I wrote the proper year the first time I had to write a date . . . that won’t last, of course . . . heck, there was a time over last summer that I was putting “2012” on the top of status reports, but I surprised myself), but today is the first day where I’m back at work. It’s the first Monday of the new year, and it’s the first day that it feels like “I’m in a routine.” It’s also the first day where I’m half-cringing heading to the gym because, well, I like to get in, do my thing, and get out . . . and, traditionally, I find that a packed gym means that it’ll take more time for me to “do my thing”.
So, as much as “the resolutioners” weigh on me, I believe I find myself in that crowd, this year. Because there are some things that I want to change — and, well, right now seems to be the best time to do it.
Too Much Stuff
I find myself very concerned with my son’s want for “stuff.” The past few weeks, between his birthday, Christmas, and holiday parties galore, it was, essentially, a present-opening extravaganza. My mother-in-law mentioned, in passing, during one of these holiday parties, that Santa had visited her house. Without the typical routine, he hasn’t been there since before Christmas morning; now, he has been fixated on getting his present, nevermind all of the stuff that he just got, and enjoys playing with.
Over new years, some of his older friends were playing with a certain kind of toy and he, essentially, is willing to do anything to get that toy. What worries me is that I don’t know if he wants to play with the toy – but to actually have that toy. The acquisition seems to mean more than the actual items, themselves, and that worries me. So, how do I combat this? I get rid of stuff.
Slowly, but surely, I am ridding my
basement man-cave of clutter. As happens in a house where you don’t need every nook & cranny of space, those superfluous nooks & crannies accumulate those things that are, simply, unneeded. The past few weeks have seen me demolish and remove furniture that the original owners left because it couldn’t be removed from the house and, simply, re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic everything to ensure that anything I decreed “would stay” was still needed, and then cleaned1.
The past few days have had me going through my closet & drawers, throwing any clothes that are either ratty or do not fit into the center of my room. Every week, with the trash, I’m filling the trash bin with anything too junky to be donated after I’ve taken care of the household trash. Every day, I’m grabbing as much as I can from the pile of clothing, putting it into my truck, and its finding its way to a donation center.
I’m hoping that my kids see that I have things that I use and that I enjoy — and not things because, dammit, I have those things. And I’m hoping that it rubs off on them.
There is the saying “everything in its place, and a place for everything.” I know myself well-enough to know that there are going to be times that I have too much to carry/too much to do/too much on my mind to ensure that I never leave something out-of-place in my car or on my desk — but, I can, every time I get home or to work, make sure that any trash in my truck is attended to, that my sunglasses are in the drop-down ceiling storage bin, and that I’m carrying as much as practical – just to ensure that there isn’t something that’s trying to live in my truck that shouldn’t live there. When I leave the office, I can ensure that anything out is left out for a specific purpose (e.g. to grab my attention for when I’m next in the office). And, goddammit, I can ensure that laundry is put away before I go to bed at night (I’m horrible about leaving a pile of folded laundry out & about).
Too Much Screen Time
It’s almost like a joke in the house. When we’re in our routine, I get up and out of bed to walk the dog. I work out, and come 6am, I head upstairs to dress my kids. At this time, almost always, they’re still sleeping. Even though they’re both hearty sleepers, the act of having your clothes removed and new clothes put on . . . well, I’m pretty sure the act might’ve woken Rip Van Winkle. Almost always, The La will groggily ask “I watch somepin’?” as she turns the corner from unconsciousness. The kids each have an iPad Mini from Christmas, provided, mainly, as a car trip strategy (getting them to agree on watching a movie together is, oftentime, difficult).
It’s easy for me to say “less TV, less iPad, less anything,” but, well, when I’m home, I’m often on my phone or on computer. I’ll put on the TV for background noise. In short, it’s just not me that is dealing with “too much screen time.”
Obviously, I work at an office, with a computer job, so I can’t simply say “I’m going to do this less,” but when I’m home? I think I can. Despite my fastidious logging of every bite of food I eat (and that’s not going to change), I’m going to not touch my phone during mealtime. I’m going to try to institute “TV-less Tuesdays” where, after work, CJ and I will head to karate together, we’ll head out for a relatively inexpensive meal, then we’ll do something as a family (swim, bowl, etc) that doesn’t involve “watching sumpin”. These nights will involve a bedtime of reading books and then bed (typically, we allow the kids to each watch a 30 minute show to help unwind . . . the hope being that whatever the “something” that isn’t “watching somepin” might be, it’s enough to wear the kids out).
My wife has also turned into a amigurumi wizard, and she spends her free time crocheting little guys . . . now, she can do it while mostly watching a TV show, but it’s something physical – they’re something tangible that she’s working with . . . and I think that resonates with the kids. I’m going to resolve to find something to actually work on so that, at the end of the day, even if I did watch a movie, I have something in my hands to show what I did that day, rather than just the memory of the movie/sporting event/video game.
Too Cranky / Too Hungry / Too Much Food
I love to eat. Truly. But I’m very careful about what I eat . . . during a typical day, I’m very careful about the amount of food that I allow myself to eat before I’m home. Honestly, I’m regimented, and it’s worked for me. But, far too often, when I do get home, I find myself with a tremendous amount of calories still available to me, and I’m cranky. So, I eat — and I eat within the boundaries that I’ve set . . . but I eat a lot.
Now, my kids are grazers . . . but I worry about them seeing the way that daddy eats dinner and them thinking that they’ll mimic the behavior at some point. So I’m resolving to eat more during the day — I’ll still be strict about logging, I’ll refrain from eating junk (heck, I’m making a concerted effort to eat far more fermented foods: making my own yogurt for breakfast, going to buy homemade kimchi from a local asian market for lunches), but dinners will involve “less for daddy.” And, hopefully, a bit more pleasant daddy between the time he walks in the door and dinner is on the table. Though there will still be plenty of steak – because daddy likes steak.
I do not believe this resolution will affect my behavior at a Chinese buffet. Because each one of them is evil and it’s only in full-frontal assault will such buffets not consume their own customers.
At the same time – my wife just got me a winemaking kit, and I fully plan to make, and enjoy, my own wine . . . only, for the most part, I plan to partake of said wine at a very modest pace (a glass, maybe a glass & a half a night), because, well, I enjoy wine, and I think it’s important for my kids to see an adult drinking responsibly.
Whenever a toy breaks, CJ rushes to throw it away. There are times that, truthfully, this is the best course of action. But, recently, it’s moved onto things like Legos – where whatever he has built
simply falls apart due to his lack of knowledge of engineering won’t go together the right way — nothing is broken, but he gets pissed. I worry that there’s enough in my life that “oh, this isn’t doing exactly what I want, let me get rid of it” that he’s just copying what I’m doing. Yes, right now, I’m purging a lot in my life. But, at the same time, I need to start ensuring that anything new that enters my life, enters with a reason. I needn’t buy things because I fancy something, or choose something on a whim — a little research to ensure that I have the right thing, and then holding off until I actually need the item, well, it means that I should end up with less in my life, and those things that enter my life will be necessary, and thus, not-disposable.
Will this one work? I haven’t the foggiest idea – but it seems good on the surface. If nothing else, I think it means that I’ll end up on more-sound financial footing.
Gonna get rid of shit I don’t need. Gonna cut back on TV watching and see if there’s some kind of craft that I can start. Gonna eat more during the day (making sure I’m eating right, though). Gonna try to only ever buy what I need.