Before reading further, be advised I am not a professional in the field of mental health, and what I share here should never replace the services provided by someone who is trained to help those who struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety or other mental health issues.
January is a difficult month for many people. We come in at the start full of excitement and hope, determined to accomplish our goals, only to find by the middle of the month, we have already failed to follow through on our resolutions. Add to that feeling of dejection days of minimal sunlight, and, for some, seasonal depression.
Yes, January can be tough. However, January can also be freeing and satisfying. As a person born in January, this month holds deep meaning for me, and I hope the ideas shared below serve you well in the coming weeks and beyond.
Reassess Those Resolutions
Many of us use the upcoming year to make resolutions and set intentions for ourselves. After sticking with them for a few days, often we fail to keep following through. For example, you may have gone in to 2023 determined to run three miles a day, and after a week, you found yourself lacing up your running shoes less and less. You may feel angry, disappointed and frustrated at your failure to follow through. All of these are valid feelings. Failing to stick with a resolution, especially so early on in the year can be such a blow to our egos, many of us see little point in even trying again.
There is a point, and being able to come back to something like running or learning a language or volunteering more is admirable. Yet, when we approach these goals the same way we always have, chances are, we will struggle once more. We tend to believe we need to think big, when thinking small, that is setting tiny, easily attainable goals is a better path toward success.
I first came across this idea of setting small goals when listening to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits on Brene Brown’s “Dare To Lead” podcast. He shared an example of someone’s goal of simply driving to the gym (I believe once a week). Did this person go in the gym at first, no, but the small, repeated habit of just getting there set the stage for them to do so. Even driving might be too much, it could just be the simple act of packing a gym bag one day a week. The point is, even if you “failed” to follow through on those resolutions, you can try again by giving yourself simpler and more attainable goals.
Celebrate The Small Wins
After the past few years we have been through, I believe we all deserve a lot of love and grace for getting to this moment. For many of us, the pandemic has left us with an overwhelming question of “what am I doing with my life?” We feel pressured to make big changes and “correct” areas of our lives.
Pandemic or not, any moment any of us can say I am here, I am alive, I am present is worth celebrating. For some, this could just mean getting out of bed and getting dressed in the morning. For others, it might mean taking a walk around the block. For others, it could just mean spending a minute in front of a mirror brushing their hair. These little moments are huge, and should be celebrated.
Focus On The Present
January tends to be a time of looking ahead. I am guilty of using this time of year to obsess over summer plans and other happenings long in the future. While, planning ahead is necessary at times, and there is nothing wrong with thinking about the future, I know the idea can be stressful.
I find taking the time to be mindful of where I am and what I am doing to be centering and gives me the focus I need to take on more challenging tasks. If you find yourself spiraling into worry, you might find this tip I learned from my therapist helpful. Wherever you are, take a few moments to play a game of “I Spy” (yup the game you play with your kids). By focusing on items in our current space, we can calm our minds and center ourselves.
Remember Even Those “Lost” Days Have Value
I have many days where I intend to check a bunch of items off of my to do list, but my mood, extenuating circumstances or other unexpected things pull me off course, and I am left at the end of the day wondering what I did with my time.
For many of us, we feel like we need tangible evidence of a productive day. This could mean cleaning out our inbox, scheduling doctors’ appointments, putting away laundry and other tasks on our to-do lists. When we have those days where it feels like nothing got done, it can be devastating. However, those “nothing” days are important. Sometimes, we go into them with intention, purposely committing to avoiding most tasks in order to recharge, and sometimes we just find our bodies and minds need a rest and have to cancel plans or put off our task list for a day. Taking care of ourselves, in whatever way that means, isn’t being lazy or self-indulgent, it is vital for living a healthy life.
As I said in the beginning of this post, I am no expert, and I often fail to heed my own advice. I wrote this as much as a guide for myself as anyone else. If you leave with anything, know you are incredible as you are and that every day is a new opportunity.
AI-generated content is becoming more prevalent as individuals and businesses alike look for ways to streamline their creative processes. As a writer, I am both nervous and intrigued by the possibilities of AI. From a creative workers’ perspective, I worry companies looking to cut costs will use AI as an easy and cheap way to mass produce content. From a broader human perspective, I am curious about how AI can be used to diversify content and enable more people to be in this space.
While many AI content tools exist, they aren’t free or for public use. OpenAI, however, has launched a free program, ChatGPT, which generates responses to questions and commands posed by users.
I decided to put the tool to the test by asking a series of questions that could help me produce an informative blog post on whether my fifth grader needs a smartphone. If you follow my blog, you may recall, I already wrote about this topic, and if you want to read that post for comparison, you can do so here.
Please note that up to and including this paragraph has been written by me. I use italics to differentiate the AI-generated portions below.
Books make wonderful gifts, and unlike many of the toys we buy them that sit collecting dust after being played with for maybe ten minutes, they tend to be enjoyed long after the holidays have ended. If you’re looking for some ideas for books to get your children this holiday season, read on for my recommendations.
With two children who enjoy reading, books have long been a part of my Hanukkah gift list, and I love how my children’s tastes have evolved from board books, to picture books, to graphic novels, to chapter books.
As a blogger, I get many requests for book reviews, and I have included some that I believe both kids and their guardians will enjoy, along with some of my personal favorites. I note the requested review books with an asterisk, and, all views expressed are my own.
You may notice the absence of a recommended age range for each title, this is because I understand children’s reading ability and preference can vary greatly. I hope with each description you can get a better sense of the books’ appropriateness for your child(ren). If you would like to see age guides, they are provided within the Amazon listing for each book.
Note: I will update this list on occasion. Check back to see new additions.
Being a parent today means having access to a wealth of information to guide you toward raising your kids in the best possible way. In the “old” days our parents and grandparents maybe had a handful of books and an occasional newspaper advice column to turn to for help. Most of the time, people with kids were just making it up as they go, and didn’t live under constant fear of shame and ridicule. Or, at the very least, any shame they felt was limited to a close circle of friends and family.
Now, we have a whole Internet full of ideas on how to raise kids, and, more often than not, a contradictory list of all the ways you’re doing parenting wrong. You would be right to think we shouldn’t let our worth be determined by randos online, but, what can I say, those keyboard warriors have a weird power about them.
As much as I share about my motherhood experience, I do hold back, because I know many of the things I do as a parent would be met with ridicule and shame. My style is a mishmash of attachment, tiger, free-range and anything else you may think of. My parenting often changes with my mood or based on what I feel my kids’ need. I consider outside input, then do what I feel is best for my family.
No matter how I hard I try, I still feel shamed by parenting “advice” online, whether it is coming from an expert or just a bunch of moms in a Facebook group. I acknowledge that as a writer who focuses on parenting, I also contribute to this mess. I hope anyone who reads my stuff takes it with a very large grain of salt.
I think we need to laugh at how varied and disconnected parenting advice can be, so I made I list of all the things I have done or am doing wrong as a parent.
My oldest will soon be 10 years old, and, with each year, he is becoming one of fewer and fewer kids his age with their own phone. He has known children with smartphones since he was in Kindergarten, and has expressed interest in one ever since.
Before he was nine, I wouldn’t even address the question of getting him a phone. I believe (and still do), he had no valid reason for having one, and trusted that he was always with a reliable individual (whether a teacher, relative or activity leader), who had access to a phone and my information should he ever be in trouble.
Still, I understand the desire to want to enable our kids to be able to reach us if/when they are in trouble or scared. My son is growing more independent, and if a phone could help ease some of my worries and allow him to do more on his own, it may not be a terrible solution.
This thought occurred to me last month, when my son wanted to march in our town’s Homecoming Parade with the Middle School. When I dropped him off, there was no clear adult in charge (though there were some present), and it was a loud chaotic mess of teens, floats and excitement.
I hesitated and asked my son if he wanted to stay. He said he did, and though I felt concerned about his welfare, I agreed, got back in my car and drove off to meet my husband and our seven-year-old with whom I’d be watching the parade.
Halloween is fast approaching, and kids everywhere are counting down the days until they can go trick-or-treating. Stocking up on candy and other goodies is a joyous time for lots of children, however, unfortunately that fun can be spoiled by bad behavior from kids AND adults.
I won’t say my own kids are perfect by any means, and I certainly have observed them engage in some of these problematic actions. Parenting, after all, is an ongoing learning experience. As someone whose family has participated in a massive town trick-or-treating event since my kids’ were little, I have observed a few things which I want to pass on to you.
At sundown on September 25, Jews around the world will begin observing the holiday of Rosh Hashanah.
Translated as “head of the year,” Rosh Hashanah is one of four, yes, FOUR, Jewish “new years,” and is marked is a time for renewal of mind, body and spirit. The holiday leads off a period of deep prayer and reflection concluding with Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement.
I have long found the timing of Rosh Hashanah to be more auspicious than the secular new year that begins in January. The timing of the holiday alongside the start of fall and, for many, the transition from a more leisurely summer to the busier days of work and school make it an ideal time for checking in on where we are in our lives.
There are many aspects of Rosh Hashanah most Jews, myself included, would find appropriative if those with no affiliation with the religion were to adapt, however, anyone, regardless of religion or lack thereof, all of us can use this time to set our intentions for the coming year. Note, these aren’t resolutions, such as “lose 20 pounds” or “earn more money,” but rather a mindful path toward achieving our best selves.
I have two kids in school who bring their snacks and lunch to school with them every day. While I do my best to pack their food in sustainable containers, I sometimes find them lacking. Like many “green” products, they are too bulky, too hard to clean or flimsy. I end up giving up and reverting back to unsustainable sandwich bags and other wasteful products.
I wanted a product that got mimic the convenience and ease of the food storage I was accustomed to, while still giving me a eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic.
Enter Smelly Proof, a brand of storage bags that function better than typical plastic storage bags and are durable, reusable, and FDA approved. The bags are also free of BPA and other harmful materials often found in plastic storage items, and are 100% American made.
Since receiving my samples of Smelly Proof products, I have used them to store everything from produce to cheese, and have found they keep these items fresh for a reasonable amount of time. And unlike traditional plastic bags, the Smelly Proof bags are easily cleaned by hand are even dishwasher safe!
The summer is winding down, and many kids are already back in the classroom or will be in a matter of weeks. While every school year has its challenges, starting kindergarten, heading off to college, or moving to a new school bring unique worries for both students and parents.
I asked my followers on Facebook to share their insights and tips on making those transitions easier for families. I was amazed by their responses, and am pleased to share some of them here with you. If you have more suggestions on making school transitions easier, please share them in the comments.
Many parents agreed checking out the school before classes began was crucial for easing new-student anxiety. Many schools offer official orientation days where teachers and sometimes older students walk the incoming students around the building and answer questions. Other schools will offer individual tours of the school if arranged in advance.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.