I don’t think I’m alone in breathing a sigh of relief that 2021 is coming to an end. What a weird, confusing, frustrating set of 365 days. I also know I’m not alone in being unsure what to expect as we flip the calendar to 2022. More of the same craziness? New challenges? Both? That’s why my mantra for the new year is: Embrace the chaos.
Many of you know, from reading this blog, that my family and I were lucky enough to spend the last school year traveling around the country. Our girls had the option of virtual school, and my husband and I can work from anywhere. We covered 17 states in just under nine months and—probably more importantly—fell into a lovely, relaxed, unhurried, and laid-back daily lifestyle. Without having to shuttle kids to school, practice, and appointments, with no work meetings or volunteer obligations, my days were my own—gloriously unscheduled. I woke up without an alarm. Drank coffee leisurely on the balcony. Took long walks. Took longer naps. Found peace, tranquility, serenity. No need to embrace the chaos because there was none. I vowed to maintain this simplistic, laid-back way of life and bring it home with us.
That lasted, oh, about 48 hours.
Within a week of returning to De Pere, I found myself tersely explaining to my husband: “If we leave for the funeral home right now and stay exactly one hour, we can make it home in time for me to take daughter A to soccer practice and you to get daughter B to her game.” What happened to walks on the beach? To good books and snuggly blankets on rainy days? With the return to our “regular” life came with it all the craziness and chaos of raising active kids in a busy family in a hectic world. Ugh. So much for staying gloriously unscheduled. Luckily, we have many wise mentors and older adults in our lives who’ve gone through the hectic teenage years and are now in retirement. They long wistfully for those days of sitting (shivering!) on the side of a soccer field or helping kids schedule next semester’s classes. I know that it will only seem like the blink of an eye before my husband and I are the empty-nesters; the only way to fully enjoy the time with have left with our kids at home is to embrace the chaos.
What does that mean, embrace the chaos? Simply this—life is busy. Life is messy. When raising kids, things don’t always go the way you expect. To embrace the chaos means to be ready to find your Plan B when forced to pivot quickly—to ask for help and support when needed, to offer care and support when others are in need. It’s about getting to the heart of what you and your family value most and making that the driving force behind your day-to-day lives. And then begin the difficult task of trimming away all that is extraneous and letting that fall by the wayside.
I found an article on a gratefulness blog that goes deeper into the “why?” of embracing the chaos. In a nutshell, the theme is that life is uncertain and we can’t control or predict the future, so why try? Don’t fight the craziness; simply focus on those things with are within your control. Put your heart and soul into being the best version of yourself that you can be, love openly, express emotions freely, show up for your tribe and let that be enough.
Personally, my plan to embrace the chaos looks like getting my hands on a daily planner—one that helps me prioritize exactly what I need to accomplish on any given day. That way, the minute my feet hit the ground in the morning, I can check off the boxes of my “to-do” list and still (hopefully!) reserve some quiet time for reading or resting. Will I be perfect at this? Absolutely not! But resolving to embrace the chaos also allows space for grace to forgive myself for the times I mess up and permission to start again fresh the next morning with a clean slate.
(Tip: If the resolution to embrace the chaos isn’t resonating with you this year, fear not! I’ve got other suggestions on previous blog posts, including a resolution to slow down and stop multitasking, as well as tips on how to simply have more fun as a family.) Happy New Year, everyone!
How will you embrace the chaos of life in 2022? Or maybe you have a separate new year’s resolution? Would love to read about it in the comments!