Ok, so it wasn’t exactly a practical new year’s resolution…it was actually a “new house” resolution this past spring…but regardless, I was really surprised the impact just five minutes could have on myself, my kids, and husband.
Here are my three 5-minute practical new year’s resolutions (or for any time of the year when you are ready for a fresh start):
Practical New Year’s Resolution 1:
Out the door 5 minutes earlier
Ever said this to your kids: “Hurry up! We have to go! We are already late… NO, don’t wear those shoes… Why isn’t your coat on?!? If you don’t get in the car right now we’re leaving without you!!!”
I didn’t think I was the only one.
I can actually feel the stress just writing that! And, I decided that maybe my lack of planning (after all, I do know how long it takes to get three kids age 4 and under out the door in the winter) shouldn’t have to cause stress and anxiety for them. Let’s face it, I run the show and kids actually have no concept of time, they weren’t trying to make me late, that is just how long it takes.
So I resolved that I would leave five minutes earlier than I needed to go anywhere. Pre-school, Dr. appointments, church, a meeting…I would rather sit in the parking lot for a few minutes if we were early, as opposed to praying for green lights, getting frustrated at the car ahead of me and composing an excuse in my head of why we were late.
The result: We’re not batting 100% quite yet, but wow what a difference five minutes can make! I can’t tell you how nice it is to arrive places EARLY.
The Unexpected benefit: What I hadn’t thought of before, was what my kids were learning from my stress-induced rants before we left the house. Now, I feel like I am teaching my kids to be respectful of other people and their time by arriving to appointments on time. I’m also teaching them that I am in control…control of my time and emotions.
Practical New Year’s Resolution 2:
Dedicating 5 minutes to picking up the house 3 times per day
This may differ if you aren’t home during the day, but I try and stop at least three times throughout the day to pick-up. I’ve decided that I really enjoy a clean house (who doesn’t?). Since we are home all day, I want it to be a peaceful (and productive) place to be.
I expand on this a little more in my post “The the only tip I have found to keep my house clean,” but I’ve become very intentional about picking up throughout the day.
The result: Again, our house isn’t always clean, but it is alot cleaner. A friend of mine once said “when our house is clean, angels visit!”…and I think that is true!
The unexpected benefit: The kids play better when their toys are picked up and organized and it feels less stressful when you walk through the house.
And don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of times when I resent having to pick up something that isn’t mine, have the thought “I’ll just do it later”, or just don’t follow my own rule…but what I’ve found is: I resent cleaning ALOT more when the whole house is trashed and picking up constantly throughout the day actually feels like less effort.
Disclaimer: If you work full-time and have a family, I don’t know that it is always possible to keep a clean house on your own. When I worked full-time and had young kids who weren’t old enough to help yet and a husband who worked alot of overtime…I wouldn’t have wanted you to see my house! Fortunately that was just a season, BUT, everyone does like cleanliness and organization…it is built into us…so if you are in this boat, GRACE to you and recruit the help of your family and find a plan that works for you!
Practical New Year’s Resolution 3:
5 minutes of physical touch with my husband each day
After five years of marriage and with young kids it began to feel like we never touched anymore…and we hadn’t even realized it! What happened to snuggling on the couch watching movies? Holding hands when we went shopping and surprise hugs from behind just to say I love you?
Plus, we just didn’t have grace for one another anymore. It felt like we were always assuming that the other had mal intentions and accusing one another of things. We were disconnected.
So could a little physical touch help?
Psychologist Matthew Hertenstein, PhD, director of the Touch and Emotion Lab at DePauw University says that “most of us, whatever our relationship status, need more human contact than we’re getting.”
“Compared with other cultures, we live in a touch-phobic society that’s made affection with anyone but loved ones taboo.” (Behavioral scientists have found that about two to four feet is the accepted amount of personal space most Americans need to feel comfortable; in Latin America and the Middle East that distance can shrink to less than a foot or two.)
Yet research shows that physical affection has measurable health benefits. “Stimulating touch receptors under the skin can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, effectively reducing stress,” Hertenstein says. One study from the University of North Carolina found that women who hugged their spouse or partner frequently (even for just 20 seconds) had lower blood pressure, possibly because a warm embrace increases oxytocin levels in the brain. (source)
And, you can also use touch to relieve tension during a conflict.
Neuroscientist Michele Noonan, PhD. “Touching someone while apologizing helps build a connection,” she explains. “The sensation triggers the brain region called the insula, which is involved in emotional processing, and can help ease a person’s irritation in the moment.”
Read a really interesting and compelling article about the Power of Touch HERE.
The result: When I am consistent with my commitment to physical touch I feel like we are on the same page again. And, when it starts to feel like we are disagreeing alot or getting into ridiculous arguments a light bulb goes off in my head…ah…we haven’t been touching again.
The unexpected benefit: Like Dr. Noonan states above, it is AMAZING how physical touch can diffuse a tense situation. I remember reading about a couple who had been happily married for 50 years, they said the the secret to their success was this: Whenever they had a disagreement, they would hold hands until it was resolved.
Ummm…the last thing that I wanted to do in the past was try and grab my husband’s hands when he is worked up!
But…it does work! I don’t run up and grab his hands as soon as I sense conflict. I just move in slowly and rest a hand on his arm…and, a good portion of the time, it really does help relieve the tension and helps bring understanding MUCH sooner!
So what difference could 5 minutes make in your life?
These exact areas may not resonate with you, but is there another area that a 5-minute practical New Year’s resolution could influence? Please share below :)
And may 2014 be your best year yet…may you walk in the peace of knowing that you are loved unconditionally, and experience the freedom that comes from having an unlimited supply of grace for yourself and others ;)
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