Getting 2021 off to a great start is the number one priority for many of us. The pandemic has dominated our lives throughout most of 2020. The start of a new year is always a good time to take stock, make resolutions, and begin new habits. But after the challenges of 2020 (remote schooling, anyone?) - we're definitely ready for change.
So here are a few tips to help you clear out the cobwebs of 2020 and start the new year fresh.
Do a Mini Spring Clean
Vacuum Top to Bottom
It's not spring yet, not even close. We still have at least a few months of snow, ice, cold, or rain - depending on where you live. But if your house is anything like mine, it's even more of a disaster after a winter break in isolation. There's a trail of needles from dragging the tree out. Yes, it's real. And no, I never think to buy one of those bags that are big enough to contain a tree and keep the needles inside until it's too late. That reminds me, I should buy it now and keep it with the tree stand for next year!
There are dust bunnies the size of...well, of bunnies. And there are little piles of glitter and sprinkles strewn randomly throughout the house from various crafting and cooking projects.
Wipe Down the Kitchen
The sugar cookies are gone. But evidence of multiple batches can be found in a fine dusting of flour and powdered sugar on everything in the kitchen. And now is a good time to really clean all the surfaces where germs can lurk.
Check Under Furniture and Cushions
Small children wreak their own brand of havoc on domestic organization. They leave trails of wrapping paper, ribbon, games, toys, and chocolate candy wrappers everywhere. Enlist their help to clean those hard-to-reach places.
And don't forget to check under the couch cushions. I've considered banning all eating in the family room at our house - it seems young people are incapable of eating and watching tv without dropping popcorn, chips, raisins, and more. We joke that there's a healthy serving of "trail mix" under those cushions so we don't need to fear our children would starve in a disaster!
Clean Out Your Email In-box
I'm so envious of those folks who manage to keep their in-box clear. How do they keep their emails below 100?
Every year I resolve to manage my in-box better and somehow my plan lets me down and the number of unresolved emails grows by the day. Get 2021 off to a great start by deleting all those old "Today's Headlines" messages and "Last Day to Buy" offers.
The second half of the 2010's were dominated by de-cluttering schemes. Marie Kondo's first book came out in 2014 and by 2019 she had her own TV show on Netflix. Kondo urges us to keep items that "spark joy", which might work for books and favorite sweaters, but probably not for soup ladles and blenders.
Whatever your method, the start of 2021 is a good time to take stock of the clutter of toys, books, clothes, and other items that have accumulated over the past year (or decade). Find a new home for outgrown or worn out items. Studies show extra stuff and clutter is stressful, so creating a home with more open space is healthy for mind and body.
Get Everyone on a Good Sleep Schedule
Sleep is Important for Good Health
Sleep is critical to physical and mental health. Yet it's so easy to sacrifice when our lives are busy. There just aren't enough hours in the day for work, cooking healthy meals, attending kids' activities, helping with homework. Often parents extend the day by finishing things up after the kids have gone to bed, or unwind by binge-watching a favorite TV show, and this can lead to sleep deprivation.
Skimping on sleep can be downright dangerous - it is the underlying cause of thousands of accidents each year. And it can affect our moods, making us cranky and sometimes leading to angry flare-ups.
Tips for More Sleep
Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Most of us get less than that. Check out some tips for getting more healthy tips from the Mayo Clinic here.
Don't Start A Fad Diet
Crash Diets are Seductive
Do you have a teenager in your house? We do. So we are acutely aware of the latest fad diets. It doesn't matter how many times we gently suggest more exercise and less snacking while Netflixing.
The lure of the crash diet is stronger than any parental advice. So our current grocery list includes 5 cans of pineapple and 6 cucumbers. Next week it will probably be 7 avocados and 13 jalapeno peppers.
Set a Good Example
We try to set a good example for our kids. We eat a mostly plant-based diet. This means we eat meat, but not daily. It's a treat, like our holiday ham, or occasional sausage pizza. Our usual dinner is pasta with a vegetable sauce, or a vegetable curry with rice.
Provide Healthy Snacks
Provide fruits and vegetables for snacking. Make popcorn with olive oil on the stove-top and don't put butter on it (most of the time).
Treats in Moderation
Some people can have ice cream in the freezer and eat just a bit. Others can't have sweets in the house at all. We compromise by having treats available some of the time, but not all of the time.
And we try to exercise every day. It can be a walk outside or a modified workout in our basement gym. It's not fancy - in fact our old septic tank cover is subbing for a kettle ball. The key thing is to keep moving around. This is especially important for folks who are working, or studying, from home.
Studies show that having a positive attitude is healthier. That's easier said than done, so it helps to have some guidelines for avoiding negative thoughts.
Especially during the pandemic, when there has been so much difficult news, we've found it helpful to set a time limit on reading and discussing the updates. Yes, it's good to be informed. But it's not helpful to dwell on the numbers and graphs.
Laughter really does help with stress reduction. Telling a joke, reading a cartoon, watching a comedy - all of these can help maintain a positive mood.
For more tips on positive thinking and stress management, read this excellent article from the Mayo Clinic.
Whatever your plans, we wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year!
By Liz Smith. Liz has worked across the globe for many of the world's best known apparel brands, including Justice, Chico's, Victoria's Secret, and Hanes. She has worked closely with dozens of factories in more than 20 countries to ensure that production is of the highest standard. Liz has managed all aspects of garment production, from design through fabric development to sewing and merchandising - so she knows what it takes to make high-quality apparel. Liz is thrilled to share her knowledge about clothes to help discerning customers choose the finest products.