Take a second to have a look around you. The chances are – whether you’re in the office, at home or reading this in your local coffee shop – that you’re within five metres of an adult who has the air of a dejected school child. They are pale, grumpy and have the energy and enthusiasm of the average sloth. Don’t ask them what they would like to eat or drink unless you have time on your hands; working out what they can and can’t consume can take a while. These people are not happy. They are not enthusiastic or enjoying life. These people are the New Year’s Resolutioners.
No wonder they’re miserable. Many of them have vowed not to touch a drop of alcohol until the end of the month and others have decided that now’s the time to join the gym, dine exclusively on cabbage or adopt a liquid diet until the scales say it’s time to reintroduce solids. Some of them have failed already and are racked with guilt and self-loathing while others plod on, grumpy and short-tempered.
No-one’s forcing us into this post-Christmas self-denial so why do we do it to ourselves? I don’t know who instigated the idea of new year’s resolutions, but I can only assume that they weren’t from this part of the world. When it’s freezing outside and seems to be dark from dusk ‘til dawn, the last thing we need is to be surviving on lettuce and forcing ourselves outside to run 10k before work. While December brings us the joy of Christmas, January gives us what we’re told is the most depressing day of the year. What we need is cheering up: big bowls of hearty food, cosy evenings at home with the family and, yes, a nice glass of wine if we fancy it. These months can feel like an endurance test so we might as well try to enjoy them.
I’m usually a stickler for a resolution or two and see it as part of the festive timetable: Late November/early December – anticipation; mid-late December – overindulgence; January – resolutions. In my case they’re never very original: exercise more, eat better, be better. A couple of times I’ve done the dry January thing and although I’ve managed it, I couldn’t tell you what I gained from it. Yes, my liver had a bit of a break, but it’s not like I’m a heavy drinker anyway. All it really did was make me resentful that I couldn’t have the occasional glass of wine at the weekend to wind down.
So for the first time in my adult life I’ve made the conscious decision not to make any new year’s resolutions. I feel like I’ve had enough restrictions imposed on me, thanks to four years of pregnancy and breastfeeding, and I’m quite enjoying the freedom to drink wine and eat goat’s cheese at will. I could resolve to get fitter, but I’ll get back to running when it’s a bit warmer and lighter outside. I could resolve to drink less tea, but why would I want to do that? It’s one of life’s great pleasures. Maybe I should try to curb my Corrie habit and read instead, but it’s only a couple of hours a week and I enjoy it (I’m northern, don’t judge me!).
Instead I will be giving myself a bit of a break and I hope that other mums do the same. While I understand the urge for self-improvement that the New Year brings, most of us are knackered after Christmas and could do with a bit of a rest. Bringing up a family, holding a household together and working (at home, elsewhere or looking after the kids) takes a huge amount of time and energy and we need some simple pleasures to keep us sane. Instead of a load of heart-sinking resolutions, I’ve got a positive to-do list for the year that I’ll make a start on as and when. In the meantime, time for a nice cup of tea.