Have you ever wondered where New Years Resolutions came from? The ancient Babylonians are believed to be the first to pioneer this tradition. Their mid-March religious celebration of Akitu coincided with the Spring Equinox and included the making of promises to their gods in order to gain favor in the new year. Julius Caesar established a new calendar in 46 BC, moving New Years to January 1st, a month dedicated to the ancient god Janus whose two heads looked backwards into the past and forwards into the future. Again, the festivities were not complete without similar promises or resolutions for the new year. Throughout much of the Middle Ages, New Years was not a common celebration as it was considered by the Christian church to be a pagan celebration, but with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, New Years Day was once again a holiday supported by the church. Fast forward to our time, and New Year’s celebrations and traditions can be found across many cultures at different times of the year, and many still include the custom of making wishes or resolutions for the future.
Although my household doesn’t make New Year’s Resolutions, we are big proponents of fresh starts, goal-setting, and self-improvement in general. Most people concentrate on the usual: lose some weight, save more money, or travel more often. All of these are great self-expectations. However, setting too many goals at once can lead to burnout and, ultimately, failure. I’m most successful at making real changes in my life when I focus on the big picture. Here are a few things we are trying to implement to contribute to our family happiness and unity.
Make Peace I realize that as the mom and general manager of my household I pretty much set the ‘tone;’ after all, if momma isn’t happy… Although I LOVE my life as a homeschooling mom, spending so much time with my children can at times play on my nerves and turn me into a moody and, frankly, mean person. The worst part of it all is that I see my negativity reflected in my children when they lose their tempers at one another for seemingly mundane things. Therefore, let’s resolve to speak kinder, listen longer, and apologize swifter when problems arise.
Wait This applies in so many ways. Now that my ‘baby’ is preschool-age, and I’m officially staring 40 in the face, I realize that time waits for no one. We’ve always been in a hurry. A hurry to get out the door, for the kids to grow up, to get back to that text/email/comment on social media, to move on to the next lesson, to rush through dinner so that I can clean the kitchen and get to bed for heaven’s sake! Let’s slow down and take advantage of those seemingly small family moments where we can have a big impact on our children’s hearts and spend more time savoring life instead of mechanically going through the motions.
Stretch If you’re not moving forward then you’re falling behind. Although there’s nothing wrong with being content, we have so many interests we’ve put on the back burner. Number one is to speak more Spanish at home. As third-generation Americans, my kids’ fluency in the language is in serious danger. I’d like to make more time for some of my personal interests like reading and art, and I want to help the kids discover those interests that make their hearts tick. Let’s continue to stretch our minds and bodies by pursuing those things we know we are capable of if we push a bit harder.
Simplify The same way I love to purge out the closets and kitchen cabinets, let’s purge out some of those habits that cost us time and money with minimal return. Sometimes we feel that we have to create an elaborate itinerary to have a great time together, when in reality, a picnic in the park or a bike ride feels so much better. After all, what our kids want most from us is our undivided attention.
I hope that by concentrating on the big picture, it will be easier for you and your family to pursue those things in life that really matter and bring you joy. I also encourage you to continue re-evaluating yourself and your family’s needs all year long. Whatever your faith or traditions with all sincerity I wish you happiness not only in this new year but for a lifetime.
Christy Ortiz is a Fort Worth native, and is proud to say so. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UT Arlington in Interdisciplinary Studies. She taught for FWISD for eight busy years before switching gears to stay home with her two small children. Her hobbies are interior decorating for friends, photography, and flying kites with her kids. Her South American roots and love for the Spanish language and Latin cultures add to the diverse voices of our group.