Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Old Year's Resolutions

Unlike many people, I go through two sets of "New Years" each year.  I get a Big New Year each summer, when the school year really winds down.  That's when committee assignments stop, the students go away, and the campus is deserted except for scholars who put up their "Do Not Disturb" signs because they want to put their heads down and think about scholarship.  That's a great time to think about the big questions of What-I-Want-for-My-Life.

The January New Year is my Little New Year.  I get a short break after grading exams and before pulling together a new syllabus, and I'm happy to use this break and the magically quiet time that it brings to think about the future.  But this short break is really the calm between the storms.  It's not suited for grand planning, life-changing strategies, visionary alterations.

So my Little New Year's resolutions mostly involve tweaking, or implementation planning, or some such tinkering at the edges of old resolutions.  For example, last summer I decided it would be a good idea to teach the boys to cook dinner.  This idea has sort-of-but-not-completely worked.  January is a good, quiet time to think about why and why not.

Why it worked:
     They like "mommy time" (provided nothing more exciting is going on).
     Even more, they love earning Mommy dollars.
     They're proud of making a decent dinner "on their own".

Why it didn't work:
    It's more fun to play than to cook, if they're already engaged in a game.
    They didn't have assigned days or consequences for not cooking on certain days.
    They'd offer to cook something for which we didn't have the ingredients, so it was easier for me to make something myself.
    I was often too busy, or too worn down, to force them to come help me.

So I'm planning -- resolving, if you will -- to have them cook on a more regular schedule.  Their cooking nights are going in my calendar.  I'll try to fix the ingredient problems by working with them in advance to choose meals, and making sure they have the ingredients ready to go.  I'll mark out time in my daily planner to help them cook, instead of leaving that time open for committees or students or grading (maybe that will keep me from rushing home last-minute and throwing something quick together myself).  There's even a chance this plan will help the boys become self-sufficient as dinner chefs.

I'm glad for the chance to reflect and tweak, to organize and to plan.  And that's why, unlike most people around me, I'm working on my Old Year's Resolutions.

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