I’ve always been a New Year’s Resolutions sort of person, but the process became so much more powerful about ten years ago when my husband and I started making them together. Our New Year’s Resolutions ritual was one of many experiences that helped me realize one of the key points of my book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today – I couldn’t remodel motherhood on my own; my husband and I needed to work together to remodel motherhood and fatherhood to get the lives we wanted.
Getting a Balcony View Together
Taking the balcony view means stepping back far enough from the drama of life to get a different perspective, which I’ve found is a key step for any personal change. Especially at the end of 2009, a year that has been uncertain and unsettling for our family like so many others, I know we will need to break out of our routine to get a balcony view.
My husband and I ask my parents for gift certificates to new restaurants every year for Christmas so that we can try something new together, a proven way to recapture that just-fell-in-love feeling. We start by looking back at the scribbles in my journal from the previous year’s New Year’s date. Those notes are usually just enough to transport us back twelve months and help us reflect on the year gone by. The new restaurant, new food, and a bit of wine are usually just enough to give us a fresh perspective on the future.
Involving Our Daughter
Now that our daughter is old enough, we do this step before our date night, so our daughter’s perspective is included in our plans. When we were together Christmas night, just the three of us, we asked each other these questions: What was the best part of this past year for you? The worst part? Then we asked Kate: Are there things you’d like to do this year? What would you like to be different this year? Often Kate is particularly good at forcing us to take the balcony view – like the year she told us we needed to stop talking so much and listen to her more often!
Keeping It Loose
I tend to like structure and want a specific, detailed plan for everything I do. However, what I’ve found most important about this tradition is simply having time with my husband to reflect on last year and get on the same page for our vision for the coming year. That shared vision helps guide us even when the unexpected inevitably pops up months down the line. So we use six topics to keep ourselves loosely on track from appetizer to dessert.
- Our Marriage
- Our Daughter
Before we pay the bill, we write down a short list in my journal of specific goals or steps we need to take. Less is more we’ve found, and the items that make the list tend be ones that require some long term planning to make them happen – like a vacation – and the overall goals – like setting a target of 80 hrs of employment a week for the two of us combined. That short list is the one we return to a year later, for one of our favorite holiday rituals that gives my husband and I a chance to reconnect, reflect, resolve and remodel – together.