In reading up about Candlemas day as a very good excuse to make beeswax candles I discovered that historically, Candlemas was also traditionally the day for making intentions for the new year ahead. Apparently my idea that you should just enjoy January, polish off the Christmas chocolates, let the new year settle in, and then make plans, isn’t anything new, but properly old school (plus or minus the chocolate!).
I don’t think I can claim to have spent the month in strategic thinking, 10 point smart target planning documents, multicoloured highlighter pens and the rest, but what I have been doing is letting the initial ideas percolate and sit with my subconscious to try to figure out what they would really look like in practice.
Back in December, I thought about what I wanted for the year to come, and the answer came back:
“Less is more … More is more… Ambition is not a dirty word”
Let me explain…!
“Less is More”
Well it wouldn’t be a New Year’s anything without some sort of intention towards tidiness would it?! We live in a lovely three bedroom house but there are five of us and we have a lot of crafting materials and books and sometimes it can feel a little overwhelmingly full. H has agreed at least in principle that we can have a go at KonMarie-ing the house, and the changes I made over the summer to my clothes have stuck and my clothes drawers are still nice and neat so that’s a positive start. The next thing is going to be H’s clothes and the big bins full of the children’s grown out of and not yet grown into clothes. I’m absolutely certain that there are things in there that I don’t want to keep as part of my sister and my ‘lending library’ of small children’s clothes, and some things that would fit Elma and Pip that need to go into circulation. The ridiculously crazy target aim is to sit down next Christmas to a house that feels like it has half the stuff in it but after clothes comes books, and a lot of those give me a lot of joy.
But Less is about so much more than tidying up though. We’ve got a couple of projects that we’re trying to save up for, so “less” is bringing my own lunch to work, not buying things unless we really really want or need them. It’s about less Mummy guilt, and less work guilt too; enjoying the moments with my little ones and not getting sucked into the overworking for the sake of it cycle.
At its heart it’s about simplicity and letting go (cue power chords and an ice palace).
“More is more”
But more of what truly matters to me; time spent together as a family, time outside in the fresh air and feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin, the odd day off work just so I can go to playgroup with the littlest two, more planned crafting with the girls, especially Kitty, and plenty of ‘make a mess’ fun with all three. It’a about being truly present in the moment with all three of them and switching off to the outside world.
But it also means more time for me, more studio time to sew and quilt, or take pictures or knit or write, and just maybe even time to go out with friends, and all of it without guilt that I should be spending the time mothering. Which means asking. For the record, whenever I do ask the answer is always yes, but for some reason I appear to be congenitally bad at asking H if it’s OK if I do a little sewing on a Sunday afternoon while he’s playing with the children. I’m trying to get better, and trying to make sure that he also gets some studio time during daylight hours while we wait for the sun to come back.
“Ambition is not a dirty word”
I want to be a success in my job. I want this little blog to be a success. And as it happens I think that I do currently have success in both and I want that to continue, and to continue on my terms. In some ways it’s the intention I feel most strongly about this year, and yet it’s the one I feel most reluctance about putting out there in the public domain. Ambition in a mother seems only to be allowed if it’s ambition for your children (in which case you get called a Tiger Mother but that’s a whole nother story), ambition for yourself seems to be interpreted as being at the expense of your family. And yet I would be a poor role model to Kitty and Elma and Pip if I just sat back and drifted through my days at work, presumably to show the unnamed “them” that I wasn’t really enjoying it and I really wanted to be at home with the children. And don’t get me wrong, if we won the multi-billions on the lottery I would not be one of those people proudly announcing to the Daily Mail that it was business as usual, sorry lovely colleagues but I’d be too busy planning an incredible travel around Europe and homeschool en route trip with my children (unlikely to happen given we don’t buy tickets I grant you!).
The key is that it is to be on my terms. My definition of success in blogging, my working incredibly hard at my job but leaving at five most nights so that I’m home for bath and bedtime. I don’t have any specific goals for either, not for this year, it’s just all about finishing the year feeling like I’ve made progress and it’ll be an interesting one to see play out in practice.
So there we have it. Three only slightly contradictory intentions, and one year stretching out ahead of me full of promise; it’s time to get cracking.