In this week’s upcoming Mindful Return Our Gift To You e-mail, I decided to focus on year-end planning. I know, boring boring boring.
But if you’re going to set yourself up for a great year ahead, it’s worth taking a wide view and figuring out what you’d like it to look like. Here’s the advice I gave to my Saturday Secret list this week:
Question from New Mamas: It’s that time of year when everyone reflects on the year that just passed and tries to set goals for the year ahead. But I can barely remember what happened these past few months (oh, other than giving birth to a beautiful baby, not sleeping, and heading back to work). And each baby phase changes so quickly, I’m having trouble thinking too far into the future. What’s your year-end advice for a new working mama?
Mindful Return Secret: Happy New Year, mama! There’s so much to celebrate from these past year, right? So first, stop and do that. REALLY do that. Take the time to reflect for a bit on the amazing wonder that is your baby and your family. Journal about it. Take the time to celebrate your wins (lest you lose their value!!).
Next, make a resolution – just one-, if that’s your thing. (A few years ago I made a tooth-flossing resolution I managed to stick with to this date, but otherwise I’m not big on them.) I do continue to stand by my anti-mommy wars resolution from last year, though.
And finally, block a day (January isn’t too late!) for you and your significant other to sit down together and create a plan and vision for your year. The idea is really just the Saturday Basket concept on steroids. For the past 3-4 years, my husband and I have scheduled an Annual Planning Day, where we cover lots of important topics that will set us up to have a great year ahead:
- Wordstorm – so much fun. The very first thing we do is throw out about 15-20 words that describe how last year felt to us. And 15-20 words that describe how we want next year to be. Then we circle 3 or 4 of them and continue our planning day with those in mind.
- Pull Out the Calendar – and look at the year as a whole. A few things we focus on include:
- Marking all daycare/school closure dates, and figuring out who will stay home, what backup care we’ll need, etc.
- Choosing kid birthday party dates (and then communicating those to the family)
- Choosing housecleaning dates for the whole year (and then communicating those to our cleaning service)
- Scheduling a few date nights (and texting our babysitters to check their availability)
- Size Up Travel Holistically – figure out for yourself how much family travel is too much, and how much is just right.
- If you went on five long car trips to see family last year, and that felt like too much, make a commitment to going only three times this year. Then pick the dates, and communicate with family about them.
- Dream about – and start planning for – vacations. Brainstorm together, think big, think realistically, work out budgets, and get excited!
- Money, Money, Money – ABBA, anyone? Yes, it’s time to open those bank apps, see what’s there, and set goals for the coming year.
- Do you have specific savings goals in mind? Have you created a separate savings account for each goal? We use CapitalOne360, formerly known as ING, and we literally have an account called “Kid birthday parties”, another called “Holiday money,” etc. to which we contribute every pay period.
- Think about taxes. Did you pay enough as the year went on, so you don’t owe a big chunk at the end of the year? If not, can you make a change for this coming year? Will a maternity leave or other time off affect what you owe? Schedule a separate tax prep day sometime before April.
- Talk through those longer-term goals, like kids’ college funds (the so-called 529 funds) and your own retirement. How much are you putting aside? Are you on target?
- Push the “Reset” Button on Health and Exercise – never too late to start again, right? Wherever we find ourselves in December, whether with healthy eating, weight targets, or exercise, January always offers a fresh page. Talk about what you have in mind and agree to be one another’s accountability partners.