Happy New Year! Five Tips for a Successful Start

Did anyone else struggle to get into the holiday spirit this year?

While shopping at one of my favorite big box stores, as expected, the cashier asked me how I was doing. I would usually give a generic, “Fine, how are you?” and we’d go on with the transaction. BUT, this time, I stopped and engaged. I took a deep breath, paused, and replied, “I’m tired.” From there, we both expressed our difficulties with getting into the holiday spirit. And this wasn’t the first conversation I’ve had like this recently.

Grumpy Cat in a Christmas Hat

For months I couldn’t put my finger on why I felt on edge. I have struggled to get my house decorated, to prepare for activities in a timely fashion, or to function as I would have pre-2020. My feelings surprised me because this year seems way more “normal” than the last two! That’s when I realized I wasn’t just struggling with a busy schedule or lack of sleep to get it all done, but instead, I was having to muster up the emotional energy to “holiday” in any capacity at all, and it’s something that started as soon as the first day of fall.

Before we continue, let me preface this with—

I know the stats surrounding mental health and the holidays and the general psychology behind why people struggle during “the most wonderful time of year,” but I’m not a medical professional of any sort, and I don’t intend for this article to address those topics. Also, this isn’t your typical New Year’s resolutions—sleep enough, eat well, and exercise—spiel. In this article, I want to share the out-of-the-box ways I’ll try to break from my funk as I move into 2023.

My top five end-of-the-year activities for 2022:

1. Take FULL advantage of our post-2020 tech and services again!

IMO, the streamlining of online ordering, especially for everyday items like groceries, was one of the more positive things to happen in the last couple of years. I can order my kid’s school project supplies he needs for the next day, and they will arrive by the time we leave for school drop-off. Like, WHAT!? BUT, since life in SATX has normalized in 2022, I’ve started participating in more in-person activities, like running errands and consistently stopping by my local H-E-B. Our schedules are filled more quickly every week, and the reintroduction of all this activity and engagement has proven to be overwhelming for me at times. I’m enjoying our intentional time with friends and family again, and my kids have their own events to go to that still rely on my participation, too. So I’ve decided to go back to one of my favorite 2021 habits: ordering everything I can online and using all the curbside pick-up options because I still like to go for a drive!

If you think this would simplify your life in 2023, even just a little bit, check out any rewards your bank account and credit card might offer. I found five different ordering services that offer free subscriptions with my accounts, and now I use them weekly. 

2. Speaking of driving—find and indulge in a quiet space that makes you feel comfortable regardless of how awkward it seems.

I can’t remember if it was a meme, an online article, or maybe even a Facebook post that talked about how millennials cope, but one thing the author listed was sitting in the car for long periods to wind down. I thought it might have been a mom-thing because you end up doing this while your baby sleeps, and then it eventually became a me-thing, but to find out that it’s a common enough activity that people jokingly write about it took me by surprise. Either way, sitting in my car listening to a podcast, reading my emails, or simply staring off into the distance is one of the most calming things I do in my day. The last couple of years changed my routine since more online ordering was happening, but this quiet transition time is a must for me. I’ve even been known to run an errand and then end up parked in my driveway because I just needed to unwind for a minute. Sure, I could go to my room, the backyard, or the office, but there is something about relaxing in my car. Where do you think your place would be?

3. Start spring cleaning early.

It might still be cold where you are, but hear me out: get a jumpstart on the dust and make a plan to organize the clutter now. Doing things like taking toys your kiddos have outgrown to a local shelter or clearing out your closet and scheduling a donation pick-up with your favorite organization can positively affect everyone in your house. My kids get so much new stuff during the holidays, especially with fall birthdays, that the stress of keeping the clutter at bay can be overwhelming. That’s why I’m going through their old toys this year, packing away items our youngest might use, and scheduling my first donation pick-up for 2023. 

If you’re not ready to take cleaning to that extreme, add a new cleaning product or two to your online order, or start using your favorite spring scents in the house earlier this year. My goal with these activities is to boost my mood without committing to something that requires a lot of engagement.

4. Take stock of where you feel like your life is craziest, and hire help.

So this one has always been difficult for me, but after we had our youngest (she’s now one), I gave in and admitted that I’m not a great housekeeper. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a white glove-level house clean, but with my inventive and wildly creative family, keeping it this way always felt like an exercise in futility. However, the piles of cute paper, hot glue, markers, LEGO creations, and Godzilla displays only add to the chaos of the holiday season. This is why I specifically made sure I had a housecleaner come right before Christmas since I was preparing for guests, and they will come right before the new year so that I can enter it with a clear mind. 

I’ve also asked my friends what areas they struggle in and what solutions they’ve found, and they are all things I’ve tried and would definitely implement if need be. In fact, earlier this month Jeri-Ashley outlined some great services to use that will create space for you in her piece Three Ways to Buy Yourself Time Around the Holidays.

This includes but isn’t limited to the following:
      1. Purchasing pre-assembled meals from the grocery store or a meal kit service
      2. Trying clothing subscription boxes
      3. Hiring a mother’s helper or task company for anything you need
      4. Subscribing to a laundry service
      5. Setting up automated bill pay, especially for accounts with consistent amounts every month
      6. Finding a reliable housecleaner and scheduling them either before the weekend—so you can have family in a clean house—or on a Monday—so your house is clean while the littles aren’t home.

Now, I understand my family is very fortunate to be able to do some of these things regularly, so if things like this are a stretch, ask some mom friends if they will switch a chore with you. You may have no problem doing laundry, and maybe your neighbor enjoys mowing. This is where you could swap activities to create some breathing room for a task that you aren’t great at or don’t like doing. I’ve also been in groups where a few friends take one meal each and cook it in bulk. Each participant would then divide their meal by the number of people in the group, and the idea is that everyone would end up with dinner for the week. An example of this would be that if I was in a group of five people and I chose to make spaghetti, I’d make two giant pots so that I would have enough food to feed my family plus enough for four more meals that I’d give the other families. I know it sounds a little confusing, but it seems easier to make one recipe in bulk than to plan and prepare different dinners every night. 

5. Save some money, but not exactly in the traditional ways.

Right after the holiday craziness ends, I like to regularly stop by my favorite stores and look through all their clearance items. It’s incredible how many markdowns there are between Christmas returns and stores making room for next season’s items. Also, starting now, many stores run sales on their organization products, wellness brands, and cleaning supplies, so take advantage of all the gift cards with purchase deals and cash-back offers. I’m not sure why this makes me feel better, but seeing how much I can save on my purchases is like a game. If I can get a great deal on something I wanted, especially if I didn’t get it over the holidays, I feel like I’ve won, which always makes me feel better!

If you want to do this, stay on top of all the latest deals with ACM Contributor Christina at Saving with Christina.

Bonus: If you celebrate a gift-giving holiday like Christmas, I like to save money and create space for myself by taking every gift card, all my holiday shopping reward points, and every coupon that came in my bags and cash them in during the same day/week. What that looks like is buying coffee and breakfast with my Starbucks gift card and then using my points to pay for the rest. I also like to use my regular gift cards to eat from the hot bar at the grocery store because it stretches my dollar a little farther, and then I don’t have to cook. I’ll then look at all the coupons, returns, and rewards I collected during my November and December gift shopping and apply as much as possible to any other purchases. Knowing I spent a little less at the beginning of the year helps me shift my thinking and be more intentional with my finances. It’s also helpful in reducing my stress levels when those December account statements start to arrive.

These activities might not come with a 30-day challenge attached or the need for an accountability partner, but being successful in the small things is my main focus. This little bit of space and encouragement I create for myself is one of the best ways to shift out of that holiday fog and look forward to the next season.

So, what are your out-of-the-box healthy habits, or what mini goal do you plan to set for 2023? I’d love to hear about them and give some a try. Feel free to leave them in a comment here or check out our ACM Instagram and ACM Community Facebook Group to share your ideas.

A native Texan, Tiffeny returned to her home state in 2021 after living on the Northeast coast for many years. As a work-from-home mom with three children (12 y/o, 10 y/o, and 1.5 y/o), she is always on the go, whether to school, church, or last-minute errands; she usually has her laptop in tow. With a background in visual design, she works as a UX/UI Designer for No Spoon Solutions. She is also pursuing a B.A.S in Learning Technologies remotely from the University of North Texas. Tiffeny admits she is a true cat lady with the best of both worlds; her furbabies and family. If you ever meet her in person, you will quickly learn she bleeds coffee and doesn't take herself too seriously!