Rather than making specific resolutions, I prefer to start the new year focused on a single word. My 2023 Word of the Year is Identity.
As a new year quickly approaches, I can’t help but spend a little time reflecting on the past and contemplating my future. This past year has truly felt like the end of a chapter of my life. And that’s my chapter as a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been fortunate to stay home with my children. But it’s time for them to both go to school full-time. This shift makes me both excited, sad, and a little confused.
Why I Chose Identity As My 2023 Word of the Year
For the past 6 years, my identity was woven in with my children. I was responsible for everything when it came to them. Their education, entertainment, food, referee, and so much more. Now, my job is shifting. I still provide all of their meals. And I still act as a referee before and after school. But a large chunk of time is just for me. And for the first time in forever, I get to figure out who I am aside from being a mom. That’s why Identity is my 2023 word of the year.
According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, identity has a few different meanings. One is the fact of who someone or something is. Their distinguishing character or personality. And another is a close similarity or sameness between different instances.
Both of these definitions play a part in making Identity my 2023 word of the year. But the one that sticks out is the second definition. At my core, I have the same personality. Motherhood and staying home have shifted some of it. But I’m still an extrovert with anxiety that gets a little obsessive. But the part of my identity in relation to my kids is changing. So the question is, who am I? What is my job? How do I want to spend my time?
In the new year, I get to focus on myself more. So what is it that I want to focus on? I’ve narrowed it down to my work, my health, and my time management.
The first focus I have for the new year is my work. That means this blog! I’ve had this blog as a hobby for 11 years. During that time I exercised my creativity. Discovered a love for writing and photography. Built amazing friendships both in person and virtually. But I’ve never really earned an income or seen much growth. Until this past year.
When my youngest started attending school part-time, I dove into blogging. And I started approaching it from a business perspective. I researched methods for growth. I narrowed down my writing focus. And of course, I spent more time implementing what I learned. With just a few hours a week, I started seeing results. Those results were enough for me to realize that I can earn an income doing what I love.
I never really wanted to start my own business. But it is so fulfilling to create something and be compensated for my work. It gives me so much tangible satisfaction. And a different sense of purpose. One that only centers on me and my accomplishments. So much of my purpose as a stay-at-home mom feels abstract. I can’t reach out and touch my kids’ future or their emotional well-being. The work is the most important work I will ever do. But I won’t see the results for many years. It’s nice to earn a paycheck or see readership grow, as a direct result of my efforts.
And best of all? This job still allows me the freedom to focus on my work as a mom. I get to volunteer at my kids’ school, take off when they are sick, and spend the summer having fun with them. It’s the best of both worlds! This brings me to another of my focuses, time management.
While time management feels too formal to describe this next part, it’s the best I can come up with! As a stay-at-home mom, my time revolves around the kids’ schedules. When they eat, how much screen time they can have, etc. And honestly, I never feel like I give them enough. Mom guilt eats away at me every time I choose to clean or turn down playing Barbies. Logically, I don’t feel responsible for entertaining my kids 24/7. But my emotions don’t agree! It’s a constant struggle. And it steals a lot of the joy of being with my kids.
When they are at school, I don’t feel guilty! They are cared for, playing with friends, learning, and having fun! The freedom from that guilt to focus on me is amazing. It gives me the chance to create content, clean, or even run errands without feeling guilty. And with my other responsibilities out of the way, I’m free from distraction when the kids come home. I feel lighter and happier having my time compartmentalized between being a mom and my other responsibilities.
In the new year, I want to continue to manage my time so I get the most out of my days. Including time spent on myself and with my husband. He and I have been able to go on lunch dates here and there this school year. It’s something we want to continue and do more of once both kids are in school full-time. I’d also love to be able to completely unplug most evenings. I want to watch a show or read a book most evenings without feeling behind on either my chores or blog work. This brings me to my third focus, my health.
The third part of examining my identity is looking at my health. I’ve developed a lot of stomach and energy-related issues over the past year or two. And I know it’s primarily due to a lack of exercise and poor eating habits. While I tend to eat great breakfasts and dinners, I spend the rest of my day snacking or stress-eating. Or just not eating. And I use my lack of time and mom guilt to justify not exercising. With more time to myself to accomplish my blog goals, I want to also accomplish my health goals. Which are: more aerobic activity and eating better during the day.
I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my PMDD symptoms over the past year. But daily aerobic exercise is one of the best treatments. And I don’t do it! So, I want to make time for daily walks. And a little additional exercise each week. Not just for my physical health, but also my mental health.
The key to eating better during the day is prep. I need to spend an hour each week preparing nutritious lunches and snacks that will last all week. Or longer. Then I won’t have any reason to not make good eating decisions.
Since the fall, I’ve had a glimpse at my new identity as a work-from-home mom. I’ve felt the reward of earning some money for my work. I’ve experienced the joy of playing with my kids without distraction. And I’ve also relished in the time I enjoy being free of mom guilt. I can’t wait to experience more of it! And to rediscover some parts of me that have been on the back burner for so long.
What is your 2023 word of the year?