Saturday, January 14, 2017

Home from Holidays and Resolutions

We got home from our beach holiday in Warrnambool last night. It was a wonderful break - 9 days of fun, sun, beach, sleep, card games, poetry, horse riding, eating out, and nature walks. It did us all a great amount of good. I'm planning a picture post about it for next week.

Having the time away gave me a chance to reflect on what worked well for me in 2016 and what didn't. As I noted in my end of year post, one area that 2016 let itself down was in terms of my creative life. Another area, which is a perennial problem for me, was in terms of orderliness / organisation (and cleanliness) of my living space. I am reasonably organised in terms of life logistics - I don't frequently forget appointments, committments or activities - but our household level of organisation is poor to fair depending on the week. In particular, we have piles of stored, unsorted and unmanaged, stuff that are so dense that the chances of actually finding anything in them are low at best, and these piles are everywhere and overwhelming.

I accepted years ago that I am never going to be a perfect housekeeper, or even a very good one. But when one's inability to organise physical space gets to the level of losing objects each and every day, high levels of stress because of persistent junk, and a cramping of desire to host people in my house because of its state of disarray, it is time to do something about it.

Another thing I have been putting off for years, but realised with great clarity while on holidays, is that I really need to properly sort out my spinal issues and work on improving my fitness. I have sorted out, to a good extent, my management of my chronic health conditions, through a mix of medication, lifestyle adjustments, and strategic deployment of specialist interventions. While this is a good thing, I am still extremely unfit, and this will have increasingly large consequences for me as aging takes its toll.

So although I have a degree of scepticism about new year's resolutions generally, I thought this year it would be good to set three goal themes, and each month, nominate a specific thing to accomplish within that area. My working life, family relationships, overall health management, and social life are all doing pretty well, so there is no specific goal there, just steady as she goes.

Thus, 2017's Three Big Goals are:

1. Improve spinal health and increase cardiovascular fitness (Goal 1)
2. Re-energise creative life (Goal 2)
3. Improve household physical tidiness and organisation (Goal 3)

I have put in place already some steps in each category. I'm starting a program of combined physio and training with a highly recommended mixed practice in early February; I've signed up to Write Every Day for a Year Challenge; and we are, as I write this, dismantling the kids' unbelievably messy bedrooms in preparation for recarpeting and room swapping (which is involving a lot of chucking out junk).

What I want to do is to have one specific sub-goal each month within each of these three categories to give me focus. For January, these will be:

Goal 1 - Walk for a minimum of 30 minutes a day
Goal 2 - Complete Month of Poetry (write a poem every day for the month)
Goal 3 - Complete kids' rooms empty out and recompilation into new configuration

So far, I am on task with 1 and 2 (we walked heaps during the holiday!) and we are in progress with 3. Here's hoping that can continue as the month moves on.


  1. On the issue of piles of stuff, as someone who has some hording tendencies, I now have a rule about acquiring stuff (clothes, books, tech, etc) in that I don't allow myself to do so unless I either have somewhere to put it or I chuck something else away so that it can fit. I'm not always good about this rule but I think it has helped me not to accumulate piles.

    Having a cleaner come in once a week also helps me with the piles because I need to make sure that she can get to the surfaces to clean so I end up at least once a week putting stuff away. I also try to remember that the UFYH rule about a task having a third step (e.g. laundry: 1. wash, 2. dry, 3 put it away).

  2. I take your point about the cleaner, but we have actually tried that in the past and counter intuitively, it made life more, not less, stressful. I think this is because we have so many piles of stuff (and so many people) that the cleaners either couldn't do a thorough job which then made me feel like I was wasting my money, or picked up and dumped stuff willy-nilly which led to several quite serious loss of track of important things issues and the complete inability to use surfaces for homework, work or eating (and pissed everyone off).

    I think what I will do is to start off by booking a fortnightly bathrooms-only clean. One of my friends who has similar untidiness issues has done this and it's been a major success for her. Her cleaner does a deep clean on both bathrooms each fortnight and also mops all the wet floors, but doesn't dust, move stuff, vaccuum etc - her family does that when they are available to actually move things to where they want them. It's a 1.5 hour clean once a fortnight which costs her $50 and she says it has improved their lives a lot.

  3. Re the acquisition rule - I already use this for myself but it is incredibly hard to implement with kids, especially as they must, of necessity, acquire certain things for school / as they grow, and we are not the only people purchasing things for them (post birthday Tetris is my least favourite game in the world).

  4. Oh I understand about the cleaner and moving stuff. It only works if your house is at a set point and the aim is maintenance. Might be an idea if you get to a set point you are happy with. I like the bathroom idea. Would you consider kitchen as well?

  5. Yes I imagine dealing with unwieldy gifts from other people would be really difficult. It's hard enough when it's just me.

  6. I have booked the first clean for the week of 6 Feb so let's see how that goes! Have booked it for full bathroom clean plus mop wet floors and wipe down kitchen / do any dishes needing to be done. Excluded from their standard list is vaccuuming, dusting, making beds, tidying. This means the cleaner won't go into the kids rooms or lounge at all, and only through my room to the ensuite. I think that's a good conpromise in that it will help me keep on top of things without requiring a level of pre existing order that doesn't exist.

  7. We are also making this the year when we finally do the garage conversion (into a family / study room for kids). First step is to build a big storage shed to take a lot of the stuff from th garage so that's on the agenda for first half of 2017. Then we need new properly sealing garage doors, air con / heating unit, skylights, reseal the slate flooring, thorough clean, set up. Hopefully once we get it done it will relieve the pressure on the house (for instance we will have a storage cupboard out there for toys and games!)

  8. Happy New Year! I don't comment very often but just logging in to say that I love reading your poetry and am glad its on the blog (and also enjoy just generally checking in!)

    Good luck with your creative goals this year...and with the house organising if (and only if!) it is causing serious stress. I'm also at that age that health goals are really looming front and centre for me this year, so I hope to focus on that.

    1. Oh thank you! All the best to you too with your health goals :-)

  9. I've got very similar fitness goals this year. The household cleaning still seems to much for me at the moment.