What have you learnt this year?

A couple of weeks ago in the Planning With Kids’ newsletter I shared three things I have learnt this year. I have listed them below and underneath that I have shared the lovely responses I received from readers. I couldn’t include all of them due to time and space, but thanks so very much to everyone who shared their thoughts.

I firmly believe that before rushing into setting goal/s or resolutions for the new year, you need to take time to look at the year past in a holistic way. This includes looking at what you learnt.

Sometimes in the day to day of it all we can miss the lessons family and daily life teach us. By taking the time to ask yourself the question “What have I learnt this year?”, you can take that knowledge into the new year with your new goal/s or resolutions.

If you have learnt something this year, I would love to read it! Add to the conversation by adding your thought in the comment box below this post on the blog.

3 things I have learnt in 2016

1. What you teach boys before they turn 13 does come back

In her fabulous book He’ll Be Ok: Growing Gorgeous Boys Into Good Men, Celia Lashlie says:

Every bit of information you push into his head before he turns 13 and the testosterone starts to move stays in there and will eventually re-emerge.

And I have found this to be so true with my almost 18 year old. While there is still room for growth, he really is turning into a good man. He has manners (may not always show them to me though!), he is articulate, he has empathy, he knows right from wrong (may sometimes run a fine line with this one!) and he is good company.

Lashlie also noted that:

Mothers, particularly white middle class mothers, are overly involved in the lives of their adolescence sons.

And I know that for our eldest child to turn into a good man, I had to get out of the way. I had to let him make decisions on his own and I had to be supportive and encouraging, without being a nag or micro managing him.

I cannot say I have done this perfectly. I was in the way too much in the first year or so of adolescence, but I have certainly improved and our son has taught me a lot, for that I am grateful.

2. Less time on social media is a good thing

As a blogger, part of your work is to spend time on social media. It is so easy to justify your time on social networks by calling it “work”. This year I made a commitment to spend no more than 15 minutes a day on social media for personal use and to minimise the time I spent on social media for work. I schedule out almost all of my social media and just pop in briefly to check on things and respond as needed.

It has been one of the best decisions I have made all year. At first I felt like I was missing out. I would hear friends talk about something someone had posted on Facebook or Instagram and would feel like an outsider, but I quickly moved on from that. People are happy to fill you in on the details!

Being on social media less has saved me so much time. It is amazing how much time a day you can lose on social media. It has also had a huge impact on my stress levels. So much incoming information can be overwhelming and stressful. It fills up your head and thought space. My head feels much lighter and happier without the constant barrage of new images and posts coming in at it.

I am not anti social media and think there is also a lot of good it can do. I do think however we need to be conscious of our social media consumption.

3. A productive life feels good

This year I launched a podcast and an online course. To achieve that along with keeping the blog going, but not increasing my work hours, I needed to be super productive. Reducing social media certainly helped with this, but I changed the way I worked. I focused on content creation as my key task each day and took a learnt to let little things go. The feeling I would get at the end of a day, when I knew I had spent time creating something tangible and positive for my business, was so good. Being productive feels good.

There were days when I wasn’t so productive. I would procrastinate before working or spend too much time in my inbox and I never felt as good as I did on the days when I had been productive. I would get to the end of the day and feel like my work day had been wasted.

Naturally you cannot work at 100% every single hour of every single day, but making sure the majority of my days were productive made me feel good and this had a positive spill over effect into home life.

Things readers have learnt in 2016

From Juliet – I haven’t put lots of thought and reflection into my learnings this year, but I think if I had to pick 3 they would be:

  1. No matter how much my child seems to be failing/making bad choices, never lose sight of their strengths and all the things that are wonderful and unique about them. We have had a lot of problems at school this year with our oldest and quite a few at home too, and I found it very easy to be constantly focusing on these and forgetting about all the things that make him a great person. I don’t think things can change when we just focus on the negatives, we really have to focus on the positives as well.
  2. If I’m trying to start a new habit or change something, start with just 1 or 2 achievable things at a time. I find it so easy to get lots of great sounding ideas and want to try them all at once, but it is just too hard! Much better to pick one thing and give it a really good go.
  3. I can’t pour from an empty cup! It is really important to make time for things that replenish my soul, to nourish good relationships in my life and to get enough sleep on a regular basis – so tempting to just stay up another hour or two when the house is quiet to get a few more office jobs done, but when I do that for too many nights in a row I get sick or the beast comes out to the rest of the family!

From Gaby – I am one of your followers from South America, far away in the Caribbean…..My son has taught me that he is pretty mature for his age, that no[t] always my choices has been the right ones and that we parents has to show our kids that, happiness can be achieved and no matter how bad seems to be there’s a way to find the right path.

From Amelia – What have I learnt this year? I have learnt to let it go! (A bit!) With four children under the age of 5 life is literally survival. Here is how I am doing it:

  1. I let go of my perfectionist ways around having styled home. We downsized to renovate and put all the ornamental things into storage. We put things where they needed to be rather then where looked good- the kids clothes draw sits next to the dining table- to fold and put away is so easy!
  2. I learnt to not pack away or insist they pack away straight after – I let them develop an activity and come back to it later or in a day or two.
  3. I let go of my back yard- it is not pretty. It is not out of a magazine but my kids love it!!!!!! It’s not forever but right now it will kill me trying to constantly keep everything looking good! They have a sand pit, a gravel pit, diggers, trucks, water, a trampoline, and dirt- lots and lots of dirt!!!
  4. I learnt that kids can eat avocado on rice crackers for dinner! That’s a good meal- it doesn’t have to be a hot meal! It doesn’t have to be on a plate even! It doesn’t have to be meat and three veg every night! The kids will survive and they’ll probably eat better.
  5. I learnt to let go (a bit) of negative friends who really aren’t my friends. My husband has The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F%^k beside the bed.
  6. I learnt to let it go a bit with the kids. That while I can work hard at helping them be nice humans that sometimes I do need to step back and let it go!
  7. I think I’ve also learnt how to be better organised- lunch boxes and meal prep are my main areas that I’ve improved on. I feel we are all eating better and I’m less stressed.
  8. I have learnt to relax a little on the weekends. That by 7am I can still be in my nightie and in bed rather then fully showered, dressed, make up on, hair straightened and ready to fight another day!
  9. I also learnt not to shop at Coles and to shop at Aldi. Winning.

From Trish – What I have learn’t is that our children need to be held accountable for their actions from a very young age. I think they personally thrive by knowing boundaries and knowing their place in the family unit as well as society.

From Rebecca – This year I learnt that I cannot wing it as much. I need better systems (like your cooking ahead) and to prepare the night before. I will be in the next intake of your course participants for this reason!

The challenge is over to you now! What did you learn in 2016?