My favorite piece of parenting advice is "Everything is a phase."
I find myself thinking it all day, every day. I think it as Ellerie, my 18 month-old, throws pieces of her quesadilla lunch all over the floor. I think it as she wakes up again at 4:30am, ready to play. I think it as she helps me un-decorate the Christmas tree, carefully placing each ball in the box and saying "Than-ku!" to each ornament. I think it as she grabs a book off her shelf and backs into my lap before plopping herself down for a story.
"Everything is a phase" reminds me to not panic in the more frustrating, harder parts of motherhood. And it helps me to pause and savor the more beautiful, sweet moments.
It's all, every single bit of a it, a phase. That's so calming for me to remember.
But why I'm here, why I am writing this post, is because today we enter a new year. A new phase. In reality, today is the exact same as yesterday and yet there is this glorious idea that we get a fresh start anyway. We have a chance to do something different in 2015.
I am a big believer in the fresh start. I love the chance to come up with a new plan and have found that setting and working towards specific goals greatly improves my attitude in many areas. Coming up with something outside of the normal day-to-day routine helps keep me inspired and for the past decade, I have set all sorts of goals depending on what phase I'm in.
Since entering the motherhood phase, I have found them all the more helpful.
Sometimes I work towards something physical. The first holiday season after Ellerie was born, I committed to running a mile a day between Thanksgiving and New Years. It was my attempt to take back 15 or so minutes just to myself. I often ran at dusk, right after my husband got home from work. I would be lacing up my sneakers as he came through the door and I was out running just minutes later. Pounding my way down the street and pounding away the fog that can grow after 12 hours of caring for a four month-old. I wanted those short runs to help me feel in shape but also to help me feel like me.
Sometimes I work towards something creative. I just wrapped up month 11 of a 12 month creative project where I am producing limited edition handmade products for my shop. This project developed because as a new mom with a small business I was struggling to see what I wanted to do next. What direction did I want to take my shop? How did I want to be spending my time? Is there something that makes more sense than something else? This past year has been an experiment in answering those questions, as I've tried new crafts and explored new methods. I attempted this project to learn something but also to get my groove back as an entrepreneur.
Sometimes I work towards something even bigger. This year, in 2015, I am committing to eating dinner at the table each night as a family of three. I grew up in a house where dinner was served at 5:30 and we all sat down together no matter what. Our meals were far from gourmet. Sometimes my parents cooked us all different things. Most nights we were done eating in less than seven minutes. But we sat together. We ate together. We talked about our days. I have realized that it's tremendously important that I do the same in my house now for my daughter. I want to make sure we take that time for all three of us. I'm setting this goal to feed my family but also to watch this simple habit shape our lives.
I often set goals when I feel like something is lacking, but so often as I make progress I realize that just working on something fills me up. I think that may be why I appreciate the "phase" advice so much; it applies to 29 year-old me just as much as it applies to my 18 month-old daughter. We're both learning. Always. We're both changing. Always. We get to develop new habits and we get to take on new challenges. Always.
Everything is a phase. Everything is an adventure. That perhaps rings most true at the start of a new year.
I wish you so much happiness (and sleep!) in this next one.
Written by Elise Blaha Cripe.