Here we go! I’m looking forward to getting back to the Happiness Project, although to be honest, I haven’t been keeping up with a lot of the goals set in January, February and March. As always, January starts off with a bang, but then the newness wears off and soon all your good intentions get left by the wayside. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t pick up and start again. I completely missed reading the chapter for April, but that’s okay. Fold it into May and move forward.
The chapters for April and May focus on two areas of my life that I think need a lot of help – parenthood and leisure. Children and having fun. Most people who know me would probably say that I’m a good parent, but for the most part, I disagree. It’s not that I’m a good parent. It’s that my kid is amazing. I am by nature a very introverted person who is perfectly content to spend all her free time alone, preferably with a good book. Having children, even only one, typically removes free quiet time and replaces it with noise, mess, and a fair helping of stress. At least that’s how I usually see it. I’m also very impatient and, usually, fairly selfish as well. Not the best traits for parenting. As far as having fun – that’s a tough one. For the most part, I enjoy the things that I fill my life with, but it’s mostly the same thing over and over. Books and video games. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of these, but it’s easy to feel something lacking when these two things are the only thing you use for your leisure time.
All that said, I think combining these two months will work well. I need to work on being a good parent. I need to find out how to “find more fun.” And I need to learn how to have more fun with my kids.
So here’s some of the points for April. I love that Gretchen Rubin suggests singing in the morning, but I won’t make that a goal. I sing all the time around our house, as anyone in my family can tell you! She does mention something that I desperately need to work on, which is acknowledging feelings. When my daughter gets upset, my initial instinct is to get her to stop being upset as quickly as possible. If she is upset about something that I deem unimportant, I’m usually not very sympathetic. I will cop an attitude or, even worse, get angry and start making threats. “If you don’t stop crying about that, you’re going straight to bed.” I know it’s wrong even as I’m saying it, but in the moment, I just want the tears to magically go away. I want the unpleasantness to be over and done with. That’s something I really need to work on.
Another thing under the parenting chapter is to take time for projects. For my daughter, this will mean art projects. She loves that sort of thing, but I tend to shy away from it because my house is messy enough as it is. I don’t want to throw watercolors, clay, or plastic beads into the mix. The truth is, I just need to suck it up and do it. The few times that we’ve done art projects together have been wonderful, once I got past my pessimistic view of them. We need to do that more often.
May is supposed to be all about being “serious about play.” Not just having fun, but finding new ways of having fun. For starters, we need to find more of it. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, so coming up now is actually perfect. We live in a really cool part of the world. North Carolina is beautiful and there are tons of things to do, both in the city we live and places that are only a few hours drive away. So why don’t we do any of it? It’s easy to say that we don’t have time, but that’s not true. We have time, if we make the effort. Another suggestion for May is to take something you already enjoy and find a way to do it differently. I have the perfect idea for this one, which I got from a podcast I listen to called “Books on the Nightstand.” I love to read, but I typically read the same sort of book over and over. This isn’t because I don’t like other genres – I’ll read just about anything. But I’m always drawn to fantasy, usually with a YA tilt, and lately, something dark or slightly dystopian. My solution to broaden my reading scope? Short stories. I have a huge anthology of short stories that I was told to buy for a class when I was in college, but then we never really used it. I’ve read a couple of them, but not many. There are nearly 2000 pages worth of not just short stories, but essays from the authors of those short stories talking about writing. Other people may not be drawn to this, but I find it fascinating. And since it’s a short story, I won’t be committing myself to a week’s worth or reading, like I would a novel. I can knock it out in an hour or less.
So here are my goals for this week. We’ll see next Monday how I do on them.
1. Next time my daughter is upset about something this week, acknowledge her feelings and don’t try to shove them under the rug.
2. Do one art project with my daughter (and my stepson, if he’s interested).
3. Plan some sort of activity for the weekend that involves getting out of the house and finding fun.
4. Read one of the short stories in the anthology and blog about it on Friday.
That doesn’t sound too hard, does it? And who knows? It might just be fun!