I feel like October has been my favourite month in 2022. At first, this realization surprised me – I mean, October involved testing positive for COVID and the cancellation of my much-anticipated surgery! But it also included completing my first timed race, an end to renovations, and successfully navigating several stints of solo-parenting. Also, it’s fall in Canada, and this was a particularly glorious October. Warm temperatures. Gorgeous foliage. Cozy evenings.
October contained plenty of “demerits,” nicely counterbalanced with a generous sprinkling of “gold stars”.
- Not using my treadmill desk. This one is especially frustrating because I do spend a lot of time each day at my computer and there is no reason why at least a portion of those hours aren’t spent walking. I bought the necessary equipment. It works well. But I default to setting up my laptop at the dining room table (or I hole up in the office on my desktop with its very convenient multi-monitor setup). In my defence, it’s a lovely view through the sliding door and the sun filtering into the dining room is cheerful and warm. But I really do want to make better use of the treadmill desk.
- Not brushing Levi’s teeth. When Levi had a dentist appointment back in September, they gave a generally positive review of his oral health but mentioned that some extra input from an adult would be good. We settled on having me brush his teeth twice a week. Even as I was agreeing to this arrangement with the dentist, a part of me knew this was never going to happen. Hi. My name is Elisabeth, and I hate brushing anyone else’s teeth. I will cut tiny fingernails all day long, but please don’t ask me to brush or floss my offspring’s teeth. It shouldn’t be a big deal (though it is, apparently), but I dislike it so deeply and have built it up to be a big thing in my mind. I will give myself a partial gold star for reminding him to floss more regularly (truthfully – once every few weeks) and getting him to use his electric toothbrush more regularly (also once every few weeks). What will I tell the dentist when I see him next? Sigh. I won’t lie, but I’m not above carefully skirting a direct answer. To give you an idea of my failure in this department, I have brushed his teeth exactly once since his dentist appointment on September 27th.
- Not staying on top of pictures. I’m slowly digging myself out of a giant hole of picture organization. This will get done and, in the grand scheme of things, I’m not that far behind (only a few months), but it hangs over me like a shadow. It’s so much more manageable if I spend 10-15 minutes each week tackling photos, but I haven’t done that and now the catchup is decidedly less pleasant.
- Littering. There has been some major road construction in our town, and a local trailhead has suddenly become a sanctioned parking lot (predominately for university students). And this trailhead/parking lot is now full of litter. One day I took the kids through the forest loop and when we came to the trailhead it was an absolute mess. There were some bags on the ground so we gathered all the trash we could fit into those bags and brought it home. The very next day we walked the same route and the parking lot was, again, full of trash. The kids were shocked. I don’t think they’ve ever noticed such blatant littering and, of course, since THEY had helped clean it up just the day before it was all the more obvious. Why would anyone do this? Why are they so lazy, the kids asked? Good question…I will say the fact there is no public trash can at this lot makes it very hard to dispose of garbage. I’ve made a mental note to reach out to the town/university to see about getting a garbage can installed at this location. But not cool, litterbugs, not cool.
- Not stretching. I walk daily and run intermittently, but that’s the extent of my exercise routine. I know that strength training is one of the best forms of exercise for overall health – especially for women – but what I really want to work on is flexibility and core stability. I bought a new yoga mat and block a few months ago and have only used them a handful of times. I don’t know how to motivate myself on this one. I feel great after I do stretching/yoga, but there is a real barrier to getting started. I know I’d do it if I paid for an in-person class, but that also doesn’t feel like something I want to do right now.
- Sticking to my bedtime. This has been so, so much better. I’m really proud of myself for getting into bed – lights out! – almost every night before 10:30 pm.
- Keeping a list random to-dos. One of Laura Vanderkam’s rules in Tranquility by Tuesday is to Batch the little things. I’m not always great at adhering to this rule and sometimes it doesn’t make sense for me – I actually find puttering away at relatively mindless tasks can be very therapeutic and a nice mental reset in the middle of a busy day. I’ve set up a place on my planner spread where I can list small tasks that can be done at just about any time (last week: switch out toothbrush, buy a new stopper for the bathtub, send friend Eufy link, mail baby gift, send a colleague login information, text landscaper). This means I can pick away at them slowly or tackle them in a batch effort when space opens up in my schedule/I need a mental break from a more demanding focused task.
- Following up on my hearing loss. Gold stars to everyone who commented on my hearing issues and encouraged me to seek medical attention. I’ll also give myself a gold star for trekking to the various appointments and sticking with it to the point of resolution.
- My hairdresser, for taking the time to say something. I adore my hairdresser. I only see her a handful of times a year, but she’s a lovely introvert who doesn’t insist on small talk. We have nice conversations but are also comfortable with silent stretches. She has watched both kids grow over the years and when I got my hair cut last week, she spoke at length about how much she enjoys engaging with our kids when they’re at her salon. She made a series of positive comments about our parenting approach and while she doesn’t know us outside of the confines of quasi-regular haircuts – and isn’t privy to the many, many ways I screw up as a parent – it really boosted my spirits. She didn’t have to say anything, but it really touched me that she did…
- Seniors who continue to reach out. Two different seniors from our previous church asked to deliver Halloween parcels to the kids. I so appreciate them taking the time to maintain these relationships as the years pass. And gold stars to Abby and Levi for being so adept at speaking with adults! I take them having this skill for granted, but they do it effortlessly and I admire that quality.
- Eufy/maintenance cleaning. Instead of letting things get out of hand, I’ve focussed on running Eufy in at least two spaces every single day. This means that nothing ever gets overly dirty and by doing a few minutes of basic maintenance cleaning each day, everything looks better and it’s so much easier to clean!
- Running the dishwasher more regularly + sorting cutlery. On a related note, I’ve read a few times now that using a dishwasher is more environmentally friendly than handwashing dishes. While there are still certain things I always wash by hand, I’ve gotten into a routine of running the dishwasher more frequently – typically every evening before bed. I used to cram every inch full, but it’s so much easier to empty when there is some flexible space. I have also started pre-sorting cutlery into the dishwasher tray which makes Abby’s job more streamlined. (Full disclosure: I’m really disappointed she hasn’t noticed and given me a gold star for this, so I’ll have to settle for awarding it to myself).
Your turn. Any demerits or gold stars that stand out from October?