BOOK CLUB: NO BAD KIDS BY JANET LANSBURY

BOOK CLUB: NO BAD KIDS BY JANET LANSBURY - This Wild Home

This book was my introduction to Janet Lansbury and the world of respectful parenting. I’ve seen blogs and articles on respectful parenting, but the flow of this book really helped me to understand how to implement this way of parenting into my own life.

I’m excited to share this because, while it totally changed the mood of my home and family, I’ve found that the practices I’ve learned have helped me to take on the whole world with a new perspective. Yes, I truly believe it’s helped me to be a better mom, but also a better wife, friend, and all around person. The patience and intention you need to effectively handle a toddler are amazing tools for treating everyone around you with more respect and a calmer demeanor to make anyone you meet feel more understood.

ABOUT THE BOOK

So, what is this book all about anyway?

It’s about handling toddlers. It’s the idea that the negative reactions and emotions our toddlers feel are not the result of a bad kid. It’s helping you to realize that toddlerhood is not your sweet baby suddenly turning into a demon child. That bad behaviors are not a sign that you’re doing everything wrong.

In No Bad Kids, Lansbury takes real life situations and guides you through a respectful solution with encouraging words to help you navigate the intense world and emotions that your toddler experiences. With letters that have been sent to her from parents in need along side Landbury’s experiences in her many years of being a parent and coaching parents, you get to not only see the practices played out in everyday moments, but you also see that you are not alone in the struggles of being a parent.

This book is not about creating perfect children or eliminating tantrums and limit-pushing. It’s about understanding our children so we can better guide them to reaching their full potential.

MY KEY TAKEAWAYS

Basically, I have taken every word of this book to heart. I didn’t find a single aspect that I didn’t agree with. I learned so much and will forever be grateful for the impact Lansbury’s lessons will have on me and my family.

So, for the sake of not giving too much away or making this post a book in and of itself, here are my top five take aways from the wonderful words of No Bad Kids:

DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY

There are a few reasons why this may be the most important thing I learned. Even in the book it states that this is rule #1. It’s a dangerous road to go down, believing your child’s actions are intentional schemes against you. Even if they are subconsciously acting out because we aren’t giving them something they need, they still have no idea what they’re doing or why they’re doing it.

“When a toddler feels understood, he senses the empathy behind our limits and corrections. He still resists, cries, and complains, but at the end of the day, he knows we are with him, always in his corner.”

I would say there are two top reasons why it’s important to never take our children’s actions personally.

  1. Our feelings are not our kid’s responsibility. | They should not be able to control our happiness. They shouldn’t ever be given the idea that they are the keepers of our emotions. It’s a big responsibility to be in charge of, not only your own happiness, but also the happiness of others. While we as the parents should be aware of our effects on our child’s happiness and well being, they should never be given the responsibility of ours. When they feel responsible for such a major thing, it may actually encourage them to act out more just to push us to take that responsibility away from them (subconsciously, of course).

  2. It makes it difficult to stay “unruffled.” | This is a word Lansbury uses a lot: unruffled. It’s basically frazzled, out of control, frustrated, etc. It is the state we can find ourselves in when we haven’t set proper boundaries. The thing about taking things personally is, it ignites an instinctive response to protect yourself. It will prevent you from being as patient as you could be if you realized your child is just attempting to express something they may not fully understand. When you take their extreme behavior personally, you’re limiting your ability to be the rational adult they need you to be.

NO, KIDS ARE NOT IN CHARGE

I’d say one of the biggest misconceptions about respectful parenting is who is truly in charge. If I’m being honest, in the beginning of the book, I was a little weary because at times I felt like I had to let my toddler walk all over me in order to show that he is in a safe, respectful environment.

As I kept reading, I realized that is not the case.

Respectful parenting is not about letting your kids do whatever they want. It’s about learning to respond in an appropriate and respectful manner. It’s about understanding their abilities and making sure they know they are heard, even if it won’t change your mind.

“Children do not feel hurt when the adults they desperately need establish behavioral boundaries. It is easier for a parent to indulge a child than it is to be firm and consistent, and children know that. A child may cry, complain or even throw a tantrum when limits are set. In their hearts, however, children sense when a parent is working ardently to provide a safe nest and real love.”

And that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about saying, “it’s okay to misbehave.” In fact, a big part of respectful parenting is making sure you set clear boundaries, especially ones that will keep you from getting unruffled, and correcting behavior before you feel an unruffled feeling coming on. It is saying that it’s okay to be upset when you correct them, but that you are still there to correct them when needed. They’re not in charge, but they have a right to feel. They have a right to tell you when they don’t like your rules.

BOUDARIES ARE CRUCIAL

Boundaries are everything for kids. In fact, I was talking to a friend of mine about boundaries and she shared a story about kids on a playground. It stated that when kids we on a playground with no fence, the stayed close to the play structure, never venturing too far beyond. Where as the kids who had a fence around their play area were more likely to venture all the way to the fence, exploring freely within their clearly defined boundaries.

The world is a scary and exciting place, especially when you’re brand new to it all. As much as kids want to explore, they also want to be sure they have someone looking out for them, keeping them safe from harm.

That’s where boundaries come in. Whether they are able to understand the boundary outright or try to fight you on it, in the end we know and they know that it’s for the best. They’ll fight you on it because that’s their job. But boundaries are our way of saying we care and that we want to help them. It’s our way of letting them know they have security and something they can rely on as they discover the wide world of unknowns.

“Imagine driving over a bridge in the dark. If the bridge has no railings, we will drive across it slowly and tentatively. But if we see railings on either side of us, we can drive over the bridge with ease and confidence. This is how a young child feels in regard to limits in his environment.”

LANGUAGE IS IMPORTANT

I would say this is something I needed a wake up call on: The way that I talk to my son.

I’ve heard the bits about talking to kids normally without a baby voice. But being direct is something I definitely needed to work on. The “mommy says” and “we can’t” etc. just doesn’t cut it for kids. It gives them an out. It creates a disconnect where you’re no longer having a conversation between the two of you, but instead you’re telling a story about two characters.

“Babies are whole people – sentient, aware, intuitive and communicative. They are natural learners, explorers, and scientists able to test hypotheses, solve problems, and understand language and abstract ideas.”

I think the motivation behind “baby talk” is the idea that are kids only understand as much as they can express. After practicing some of the lessons I learned in this book, I’ve found that my 1.5 year old understands so much more than I thought. He knows what more things are than he can say, he understand more abstract concepts than I have given him credit for. He gets it and now that I talk to him like he gets it, he wants to listen more. By no means does he do everything I say, he definitely still gives push back. But I’ve found that talking to him the same way I’d talk to any other human has not only helped us in understanding each other, but has helped him develop his communication skills as well.

PUNISHMENTS ARE NOT THE ANSWER

I love this. I love it so much. I am definitely an anti-punishment parent. And I think this is the part where people want to ask, “Then doesn’t that put the kids in charge?”

I feel like I have even more to learn on this before I could give any real insight on why this is amazing, but I’ll just share a few lessons from Janet because, if I haven’t already mentioned, she’s my queen now.

This may seem a little too new-agey on the outside, but when seeing the thought process for the argument against punishments, it all makes a lot of sense. In No Bad Kids, Lansbury mentions the correlation between the concepts of punishments and discipline. She then offers another perspective given by her queen, Magda Gerber. Gerber redefines the modern idea of discipline by pulling from the latin root, disciplina, meaning “instruction, knowledge.” So with this in mind, discipline goes from, “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience” to, “educating our children to understand appropriate behavior, values, and how to control their impulses.”

With this mindset shift on our role in our children’s lives, things like spanking and timeout become unproductive. It is a parent-given consequence that you wouldn’t, and really shouldn’t, see in the real world. These actions aren’t seizing a teaching moment, they are hindering your ability to not only become closer to your child by showing them you understand them, but to teach them through example; which is really where they’re learning everything in the long run.

“So the question is never ‘Are the learning?’ It’s ‘What are they learning?”

In all of my actions around my son, I wonder what he is learning. Is he learning to be respectful of other people and their feelings? Is he learning to be respectful of his own feelings?

The scary thing about punishments is that they can instill fear in our children. They can make them afraid of us and themselves. Punishments teach our kids that their feelings, something they have no control over, are wrong. When you hurt, belittle, or shame your kids for simply being kids, for going against us or acting out (things they are SUPPOSED to be doing), you’re not teaching them that their actions are inappropriate. Instead, you’re teaching them that they are bad. And some kids may carry that label with them throughout their days, always choosing the path the “bad kid” would take simply because they were taught that that is who they are.

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Parenting is a big deal. We all know this. We’re all at least somewhat aware of the impact we have on our children. That is why books like this are important. It’s important to have a reminder of what we’re really teaching our kids. It’s important to get a new perspective from someone who has studied and practiced all the things they preach.

Books like No Bad Kids help us to remember that, not only are our kids inherently good, but that we were born good too. We all grew up with certain standards and were taught lessons that may have not been fair to us. No matter what we learned growing up, no matter what labels were put on us or standards shown to us, we have the ability to be good and to teach goodness to our kids.

Also, for a chance to receive your own Book Club book in the future, keep up with my instagram stories where I giveaway a book to one lucky follower!

MONEY TALK: A FINANCIAL OVERVIEW + OUR PLAN FOR PAYING OFF DEBT

MONEY TALK: A FINANCIAL OVERVIEW + OUR PLAN FOR PAYING OFF DEBT - This Wild Home

I don’t want to begin a story of deprivation. In fact, most of what I do in life is anti-deprivation. Sure, I compromise here and there, but ultimately I try to do everything I can to give us all what we truly need and want.

So if you’re here to get inspired by a family that scrimps and saves, this may not be the story for you. I’m not here to talk about how we paid off large sums of debt on a small income because, you know, that’s just not relatable. I personally don’t believe that the only way to have a good debt story is to put yourself through misery for a few years.

What I am here to say is, we’ve taken small steps overtime to get ourselves to a place where we’re ready to pay off our debt. We’ve been active minimalists for the past year and I’ve finally got a handle on my shopping addiction, which helps a lot. But we’ve also gotten ourselves to a financial position where we actually have extra money to put into debt.

I’ve learned that the road to financial freedom doesn’t always start with money.

Really, it starts with you. It start with getting your head on straight and getting yourself to a place where you feel confident taking control of your finances. If you’re not used to keeping your house in order, making intentional purchases, or making your own food, finding extra income to pay down your debt will be much harder than it needs to be.

Our financial history and why it’s taken us until now to start tackling debt had a lot to do with how much we were bringing in each month, but it also had a lot to do with our habits. How we viewed money and how we handled it went hand in hand and now, we’ve finally got a hold on both.

So, to get to the point: We are ready to start paying off our debt. Here’s how much we have and how we plan to pay it off.

A FINANCIAL OVERVIEW

The bulk of our debt is from student loans. Years of college attempts have left us in a bit of a hole. That, along with a small mountain of credit card debt (partly from all the moving we’ve done and partly because we had a few moments of weakness and irresponsibility) and we’ve got a total of $64,189.85 that we owe. It’s a lot of weight to carry and we’ve had it on our shoulders for years. I’m not saying we don’t deserve it or that we don’t have control over the fact that we are here. I am simply saying that we needed to get to where we are today before we could really get a chance to start making that number shrink.

As much as I’m really nervous to dig into the details of our finances, I know that transparency is going to be the most helpful thing for anyone who is hoping to start their journey to a debt free life.

So, here’s a breakdown of our debt:

  • Credit: $7,537.82 (monthly min - $150 | interest - 17.90%)

  • Student Loan 1: $12,767.00 (monthly min - $265 | interest - 14.4%)

  • Student Loan 2: $15,234.58 (monthly min - $98.80 | interest - 7.9%)

  • Student Loan 3: $11,635.76 (monthly min - $138.43 | interest - 6.8%)

  • Student Loan 4: $16,552.51 (monthly min - $145.21 | interest - 6.41%)

Overall Total: $63,727.67 | Monthly Total: $797.44

It’s pretty hefty all on paper and honestly, this is the first time I’ve really sat down and gotten a good idea of what our debt looks like as a whole which has made me feel terrified, but in control.

The next thing is our income and expenses. It’s a very important aspect in a debt-free journey because, well, we all need a roof over our heads and food in our bellies and other modern-day necessities that all cost money.

INCOME + EXPENSES

While there are a few variables that will change, for the most part, this is what the money coming in and going out looks like on a monthly bases.

These numbers are starting this month. Our finances have looked much different than this all throughout previous years together which is why it has taken so long to start tackling debt. In 2014 - 2018, our debt to income was about half (as in our income was half our total debt amount) and our monthly expenses to income ratio was about 1 to 1.

That being said, here is our projected monthly income + expenses for 2019 (rounded to the dollar):

Income: $4,000

Expenses:

  • Rent: $999

  • Bills (internet/electric/cellphone/TV): $256

  • Debt Minimums: $692

  • Car (insurance/gas): $120

  • Food: $500

  • Family Activities: $70

Total Spent: $2637

Total Left Over: $1353 - give or take

This is what we’ve been waiting for. That left over amount is usually $0. Maybe $100 tops every once in a while, but nothing nearly big enough or consistent enough to really tackle our debt.

OUR PLAN

Our plan is simple: pay off debt while still maintaining a certain standard of living.

I believe that paying your debts does require sacrifice, but it doesn’t mean deprivation.

We’re not saving for a house or other large purchases. We’re not indulging in fancy vacations. We’re not upgrading our furniture or indulging in fancy wardrobes. We’re not spending money we don’t truly need to spend.

In all honestly, despite our recent pay raise, we are going to live within our previous means and attempt to use all extra income just for debt.

We are, however, maintaining quality meals. We’re indulging in outings as a family throughout the month. When we do need things, we’re going to get the version we truly like in order to prevent future spending and waste.

Keeping that in mind, here are a few ways we plan to pay down this debt.

BIG PICTURE

We’ve decided the best order to tackle our debt is highest interest rate to lowest. We’ve looked into consolidating all of our debt to just pay off one big loan, but the way our loans are structured doesn’t allow for that. So for us, this is the next best plan for paying off our debt.

In our big picture of this whole adventure, assuming our income and expenses stay relatively the same, we have a best case and worst case scenario:

BEST CASE: 3 Years

Year One (2019):

  • Create an emergency savings (about $3,000), invest ($1000).

  • Pay off credit debt.

  • Begin paying off Student Loan 1.

Year Two (2020):

  • Finish paying Student Loan 1.

  • Pay off Student Loan 2.

Year Three (2021):

  • Pay off Student Loan 3.

  • Pay off Student Loan 4.



Worste Case: 5 years

Year One (2019):

  • Create an emergency savings (about $3,000), invest ($1000).

  • Pay off credit card.

Year Two (2020):

  • Pay off Student Loan 1.

Year Three (2021):

  • Pay off Student Loan 2.

Year Four (2022):

  • Pay off Student Loan 3.

  • Pay down Student Loan 4.

Year Five (2023):

  • Pay off Student Loan 4.

HOW We’re Doing It

So there’s the general idea of how much we think we can do. Personally, I’m routing for best case scenario, but spelled out like this; five years to living debt free really isn’t bad either.

But, in order to make any of this happen, we’re going to need a few tricks up our sleeves to see it through.

Weekly debt Journal

The first thing I needed to do was get to know our finances really well.

I’ve started my debt journal with all of the breakdowns I’ve shown you above and from here until the debt is gone, I’m going to track our expenses weekly and do a monthly overview that I’ll share here.

This report will include our income, expenses, and how much we were able to put into debt.

Every Monday, I’m going to sit down at my computer and track everything. I’m going to put it in a format where I can see exactly what happened with our money that week/month.

The biggest goals with this are to keep our spending in check so I can know if we’re spending too much in one place and not enough in another along with understanding how much we really have left over each week. I don’t want to fall into a situation where I think we have extra money to put into debt, we pay off some debt, and then we don’t have enough to pay for a bill or something.

This journal is the best way I can think to stay on top of everything to make the most of our debt free journey.

Separating our accounts

I have organized our accounts by Main Checking, Secondary Checking, and Savings.

  • Main Checking is linked to a card and will be where we have all of our spending money; coffee dates, gas, groceries, etc.

  • Secondary Checking will be where I set aside money for regular monthly expenses; rent, insurance, bills, etc.

  • Savings will be our personal emergency fund that we only use, well, for emergencies.

This is how I’ll be able to spread out our expenses throughout the month to make sure we have the money we need to pay for the things we need. It’ll also give me a good idea of what is really left over money vs. money that we need that just hasn’t been spent yet.

Paycheck to paycheck

No, I don’t quite mean living paycheck to paycheck. I more mean spending paycheck to paycheck.

Because children and living and having family that lives far away, our monthly expenses will fluctuate. They are mostly predictable, but I want to make sure we’re getting the most bang for our buck when it comes to putting money into debt. Because of this, I’m going to pay off our debt per paycheck. This means each new paycheck we get, I’m going to take the remainder of the last paycheck (after splitting the necessary funds between all the accounts) and put that into debt.

In my mind, this seems to be the best way to make sure we’re putting as much as we can into our debt each month.

WHy Share?

So now that I’ve gotten real open with you guys, I want to explain why this is something I want to share.

My goal for this project is two-fold.

  1. It will hold me accountable and give me the drive to stay aware of our finances and find creative ways to pay off as much as we can as quickly as we can.

  2. I want for others who are where we’ve been or where we are to have a realistic perspective on what living with debt is like and to be an example that, as long as you can keep yourself stable, there’s no reason to sacrifice years of your life just to pay off debt. It’s all about keeping up and doing what you can when you can.

Like I said before, this is not a story of deprivation. I know all the tricks I could use (maybe even could’ve used) to get out of debt quickly. I understand that you don’t always need to wait until you have more in order to find extra income. We like to eat good food, we enjoy the occasional coffee shop visit, and we like being able to live comfortably. Not large, not extravagantly; comfortably. We’ve shaped our priorities and desires to where we don’t need to buy the newest stuff or the nicest stuff all the time, but we are not willing to sacrifice our quality of life just to pay down debt.

The important thing is, I think there are many different ways to handle your finances. I’ve seen, and even follow, some people who take caution to the wind, live in their parents basements (or live off of a low mortgage), eat beans and rice every meal for years, and don’t buy anything at all until their debt is gone. It’s an inspiration to get perspective on what we really need, but it’s not realistic for all of us.

Some of us don’t have a basement to crash in for years. Some of us like eating good food. Some of us don’t want to put our lives on hold until our debt is gone.

And that is exactly why I want to share this story. I want to diminish the guilt of living happily with debt.

So if you’re like me and you hope to pay off debt without sacrificing quality of life, follow along our journey. It’s going to be one full of realistic expectations, honest numbers, and unwavering priorities.

SETTING INTENTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR

SETTING INTENTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR - This Wild Home

I’ve become an advocate for making slow changes. Taking things one step at a time until, finally, you’re a little closer to where you want to be.

Making big changes all at once has never worked for me. While I have my laundry list of tasks I’d like to do, upgrades I’d like to make, and aspects of the person I’d love to grow into; I try to focus on one thing at a time.

I’ve found it’s so much more effective. If you go into a new year and decide you’re going to drink more water, eat better, read tons of books, and become a whole new you and it’s going to all happen NOW, it leaves a lot of room for overwhelm and eventually, failure. That’s why I like setting a theme for my year and having a few intentions to help me prioritize the important things.

HOW TO SET INTENTIONS

In all my years of dreaming big and working towards different goals, I’ve been a little all over the place. There are so many versions of ourselves to work towards so I’ve had to find a few tips to help me stay focused on what is really important.

SETTING INTENTIONS

  1. REFLECT | This may be an obvious one, but it’s also very important. I love to reflect as much as possible, but a New Years reflection is a big one. It’s the perfect opportunity to check in on everything in order to get a good idea of how much you’ve done and how much you want/can do.
    Here are a few ways I like to reflect:

    • Free Writing. Just sit down and write about the past year. Anything and everything. As much or as little detail as you’d like.

    • Pros/Cons List. Think about everything you loved and everything you want to change from the last year.

    • Top 5. Pick 5 things that stood out the most or your five most important areas of life. Think about all the ways you appreciated and poured into them and all the things you wish you would’ve done more of. (Definitely don’t forget to add yourself to this list. I think you can never have too much self-love.)

  2. BUCKET LIST | After reflecting, make one giant bucket list. You can make this a bucket list for life or just for this year. Use your reflections as a motivator by adding things you can do to improve any cons or have more of the pros from the past year. Think about all the things you’d like to do, have, be, see, etc. Absolutely anything. From more down-time to climbing Mount Everest. I like to cover as much as I can in making this list and dream super big. Reality is out the window for this part. I don’t think about what I realistically can do right now. I just think of everything I want from life because believing it can happen, even for a moment, is the first step in making it happen.

  3. TOP 5 | A top 5 for the new year is a great way to set your priorities. Ours are Home, Health, Relationships, Self, and Finances, but this is really up to you. You can use the top 5 things that stood out in the previous year, pick 5 things that need the most improvement, or five areas of your life that are most important. These should be the driving force behind the intentions you set for the new year. 

  4. PUT IT IN WRITING | Once you’ve gone through everything, write your top 5 on a blank piece of paper (or in a note on the computer, whatever works best for you). Look to your bucket list and fill each item in with realistic goals for this year. Remember how long a year is, but also think about how much change you can really endure all at once. This should be the most realistic part of your day dreams for the new year. Think about what you can handle financially, time limitations you may have, and the work that really goes into changing or adding to your life. There is no point in setting unattainable goals that will just make you feel bad in the end.

  5. FIRST STEP | After you’ve set your intentions, think about some first steps you can make. If there are habits you want to create, pick 1 to master. If there are tasks you want to complete, pick 3 to brainstorm and get started on. Just remember, you can always add more things later and it’s not a race.  There is always room for improvement and there’s always something that needs to be done. There are 11 more months in the year and you have all of them and every year after that to move yourself closer to who you want to be. Start small so you can give everything as much attention as it deserves.

OUR 2019 INTENTIONS

Ian and I have been in transition since we started dating. We’ve always been the types to want to move forward, quickly. We like planning for the next step before our feet are even on the one right in front of us and it’s helped us to get to where we are today .

I think our biggest motivation is stress... we don’t want it. We know we’ll have it. We’ve accepted that it’s a part of life, but the feeling of being behind, like time is moving faster than we can handle, is not a feeling we like to have.

I’ve talked a bit about our word for the year and biggest goal, but there are so many little details in our lives that we want to embrace. We’ve spent a lot of time working towards stability, but we’ve also learned (this year especially) that time moves quickly. Kids grow up fast and they learn even faster. They see everything we do and they want to do it too. Our second child is only two months away and our first has officially entered his formative years. The ones that will shape the very core of his personality.

Now, more than ever, it’s time to start shaping our household and we have a few ideas on how to begin that process. Most importantly, we know we want intention. We want for there to be purpose behind the things we own and the actions we make. We want our children to learn that life is what you make it, so you need to pay attention and think about how you’re spending your time and resources.

On New Years Eve, Ian and I took some time to sit down and write out our intentions.  We thought about all the ways we could be a little more in the moment in each aspect of our lives in order to make each thing the best it can be.

OUR HOME

We’ve spent the last year embracing minimalism and we’ve just recently ventured into the idea of simple and slow living. All of these things have not only brought us closer together, but it’s really created a sense of peace within our home that I can see we all benefit from. Between the three of us, we are happier and less stressed simply because our home is in order. And because of our intention with the things we own, it’s really not difficult to keep it that way.

But there are a few dynamic changes in our home that are happening. Ian works from home now, I’m a stay-at-home-mom now, Oliver is starting to engage in more imaginative play with toys and will begin a little bit of schooling this year, and we’re welcoming a whole other life into our home who will have his own set of needs and things to indulge in.

So here are our main intentions for this year in the home:

  • ATMOSPHERE | Having a clean space was a big project for last year and now it’s time to add a few elements that bring a sense of calm and peace to our days. One thing Ian and I love are candles and music. Something about lighting a candle and turning on a playlist really sets the mood and no matter where your brain ventures off to, you always have something pulling you back into the moment. So for Christmas, Ian and I bought ourselves a little bluetooth speaker that can carry any tune throughout our house and I’ll be looking into making little beeswax or soy candles so we can have that process of lighting candles without worrying about the cost of candles. I’m also getting into essential oils a little more this year so the gentle smell of a diffuser may become a part of our atmosphere at home.

  • OWNERSHIP | Because we rent and move a lot, it’s been a little difficult to create sense of ownership in our home. To put it into perspective how often our environment changes, Oliver is 18 months and will be moving into his forth home in the next few days.

    • Signature Scent. Because our physical home changes and we haven’t settled into a permanent place yet, we’ve decided to work on a signature scent for our home this year. Something that is personal to us that can fill our home to give ourselves and our kids that little sense of comfort that comes with familiarity. (grapefruit, vanilla, and cedar wood anyone?)

    • Familiar Spaces. Along with a familiar scent to come home to, we want to make our space cozy. We’ve perfected our room and the living room for the most part; but having a functional play area and a cozy bedroom for the boys, along with an office space for Ian, has become a new necessity. So in our new home, we’ll be making Oliver’s room a little more cozy and we’ll have a play area/office where we can all hang out together. We’ll also be getting Charlie set up with a cozy spot in our bedroom and eventually merging the boys into the same room. Really, we just want to get very moved in and settled into our new place so we can create a real sense of home and routine.

  • SUSTAINABILITY | In the past few months, I’ve become aware and in support of the zero waste movement that’s going on. So among the changes I’ve already started making to help our home become a little more sustainable, I have two major things I want to work on for this year: the kid’s things and the kitchen. Specifically with diapers, snacks/food storage, and paper towels. Those may be some of the areas we waste most in so I’ll be embracing cloth diapers with Charlie, creating a more sustainable mom bag for going out, attempting to bring in less packaging from food items, and letting go of paper towels. It may not seem like much, but I think it’ll make a big impact on how much we’re wasting.

HEALTH

We’ve done a great job of eating healthier and at home more this year. But of course, there’s always room for improvement.

One thing that changed towards the end of this year is that we’ve started preferring apartment living rather than having an actual house. It’s been a really positive change in so many ways, but because we prefer living in higher stories, we’ve gotten a little lazy about getting out of the house regularly which in turn has made our physical activity a little abysmal. Sure, the 2-3 flights of stairs are good exercise, but we’ve gotten in the habit of only using them when we need to.

So we’ve got some pretty simple, but big impact intentions for our health this year.

  • DAILY WALKS | One habit we got into when we lived in an actual house were daily walks. It was good for all of us. Walking is so therapeutic for our minds and bodies. Getting kids out of the house, at least once a day, is really good for their mental health and creativity. The dog enjoys a good walk everyday (and maybe won’t pack on so many lbs from eating Oliver’s food all the time). We adults benefit from stepping outside of our chores and obligations to take a second to breath in a little fresh air. So this year, we are going to make an effort to take a family walk everyday.

  • SEASONAL EATING | I’ve seen this concept thrown around here and there, and this year I’d like to give it a try. We’re already pretty good about eating at home, but I really want to make our meals more plant based with seasonal fruits and vegetables to give us access to the freshest ingredients possible. I do like using meal plan subscriptions for some of our meals, but for the ones I plan on my own, I definitely want us eating fresher ingredients.

  • TEAS, TINCTURES, AND ELIXIRS | I love drinking fancy things. Anything. Maybe it’s the former barista in me, but putting together a delicious drink of any kind is extremely satisfying. Teas, tinctures, and elixirs have been catching my eye recently and I want to implement them into my regular routine. The benefits from these natural herbs are unbeatable and I think it’d be a fun thing to get into this year. -It may also help with the giant coffee addiction we’ve accumulated over the years.

FAMILY

As our family grows and dynamics change, we’ve noticed that time together is something you really need to pay attention to. There are so many different relationships you need to foster within a family and the more members you add, the more relationships there are to take care of.

So we really want to give every relationship an opportunity to flourish by setting up some routines to help solidify a foundation for all of us. Nothing extreme. We don’t need to spend a million dollars to be closer. But setting intentional time, on purpose, is something we really want to do.

  • DATE NIGHT | We need a weekly date night. We spend a lot of time studying the dynamics and situations in which couples flourish and flounder. Not only is it interesting, but digging into different statistics and ideas is a good way to learn from other’s mistakes and help your relationship to be as strong as possible. So, we’ve learned that weekly date nights are crucial for a healthy relationship. Between work and kids and the house, it’s way too easy to forget each other. But in the end, our kids will grow up and create families of their own, so our relationship needs to stay a priority through every walk of life.

  • FAMILY TIME | One habit we’ve been able to get into is a weekly family outing. Well, it may not be weekly right now, but it is frequent. So now, we want to make it a very intentional habit. A time for all of us to go into the world and experience things together. Whether it’s a coffee date or a trip to the zoo, just something to give us a regular moment to experience things together. -And if the weather is not permitting or spirits are low, movie nights or game nights are always a good choice!

  • INDIVIDUAL QUALITY TIME | The final dynamic we think is really important to foster are the one-on-one, personal relationships between all of us. Between Ian and each of our children, me and each of our children, and our children together. These are relationships that can either last a lifetime or fall apart as they get older. Obviously, we would love for our kids to truly want to be a part of this family and feel like a part of this family. So we’re going to make an effort, at least once a month, for each of these dynamics to have an opportunity to experience a moment together. Whether it’s one parent taking one kid out to do something fun or making sure the boys have room to explore their own dynamic, we want to make sure every individual is growing closer together.

PERSONAL

While Oliver can’t really express his own personal goals yet, we all have individual goals for this year to help us evolve personally.

  • BLOG | I’ve really enjoyed the life my blog has taken on. At this point, I have a solid work flow and I’m keeping it realistic and slow so I can stay consistent here while also being present as a mom and wife. My biggest goal for the blog this year is to find my community. To expand my outreach in order to make it the resource I’d love to see it become. Along with that, I have a few ideas on different things I’ll be launching to really help people embrace the stress-free life I’ve been able to find.

  • WARDROBE | I’ve loved embracing a smaller wardrobe this past year and now it’s officially time to get a few standard basics going. Once my body is back to normal, I will be on the hunt for my perfect pair of jeans. It may sound silly, but jeans are the staple of my outfits and wardrobe and I haven’t had a pair that really feels right for a very long time. So I want to take my time to find the pair that fits perfectly and goes with everything so I can have a solid foundation to build on.

  • CREATIVITY |

    • Music | This one is more for Ian, but we both need to embrace our musical interest a little more. We’re going to make a point to record a little more this year by creating an easily accessible space to do so. We’ll be selling a few things we don’t use and replacing them with items that make playing music in an apartment a little more realistic so we can really get into that passion again.

    • Making | I’ve always loved the idea of drawing, hand lettering, and general crafting. I have the ability to be a jack of all trades with crafting and the idea of having my own Etsy shop where I can share little home goods that I make is a long time dream of mine. The only problem is, I never make time to actually become skilled in anything. So I’m going to take this year to space out at the computer and TV a little less and work on some of my crafting skills so I can one day make something that’s worth sharing.

  • OLIVER | I’ve taken the liberty of giving Oliver a few goals this year because, well, I’m the mom so I get to do that.

    • Potty Training | This year we would love to work on potty training. He’s taken a big interest in the toilet and how it works so honestly, I think it’d be fun for him to be able to use it himself (and fun for me to not have double diaper duty - or doody, if you know what I mean).

    • Homeschooling | I’d also like to find a creative way to start slowly schooling him this year. Nothing major. Just basic numbers, shapes, and colors. But I would love if I could fill his playroom with toys that promote imagination AND learning so he can cultivate a passion for understanding more rather than get lost in “mandatory schooling.” Really, I would just like to make a point to teach him creatively in a fun environment, especially in these early years.

FINANCES

This is a huge one for us. It’s the first year we actually have the ability to set realistic financial goals and we feel relieved, excited, anxious, and ready to get started on creating a little financial stability for our family.

  • INVEST | This is a big one for us. We’ve never really imagined investing, but we have found something we’d love to invest in that we believe in so we’re putting some money into the stock market this year! I don’t know anything about stocks so I’m not going to even begin to give an ounce of advice on this. For us, we’ve just found one, very specific thing to put money into and that’s about as far as it goes.

  • SAVE | It’s really important to us that we view our money as ours. As in mine, Ian’s, AND our children’s. Personally, I’ve never been one to understand why people set up funds for their kids to receive after they’ve passed. There are so many reasons why that is a weird concept to me. Why should you only help someone after you’re gone? Why not help your family in times of need while you’re here and enjoy your wealth with everyone while you’re still around? That is, if you have the resources. Life insurance and assets are one thing, but just hoarding money until you die is a little weird to me. So, mini-rant aside, we want to attempt to have savings accounts for us and our children that are fairly similar in amounts. I don’t necessarily plan on giving our children large sums of money for no reason and it’s also important to me that they learn to sustain themselves by working and paying for things on their own. But I believe there are things that are our responsibility to pay for as their parents and I want to be prepared. All of that to say, I want to start saving now for all of us so when our kids reach different stages in life or run into times of need, we are there for them.

  •   DEBT | We’ll also be starting our debt-free journey this year. We’ve been paying our minimums, but that is no way to actually tackle debt. So now we’ve reached the point of being able to officially put in enough money to really pay off our debt. We’re lowering our rent, we’re going to spend much more intentionally, and we’re going to make sure that our first priority in finances is to pay down the giant mountain of debt we have. I’ll be sharing this journey here on the blog because I think it’s important to share the realities of paying off debt.

Candles in the home, simple outings as a family, a quick walk in the world, a small breath of fresh air. All these things seem almost too small to notice, but that’s why we’re focusing on them. Life is truly in the details so ultimately, we want to live within them. All the little details that make up a lifetime, we don’t want to let them pass us by.

Ultimately, we want to be prepared for the future, but alive in the moment.