The other day my wife asked me about new year resolutions. She was curious if I was making any.
I told her not really. I didn't really see the point, nor the need, to make any.
That may be because setting goals and working towards them is a year-long affair for me, and the symbolism of the New Year is lost on me.
For example, this year I went into the holiday season exhausted and stressed out about our family finances. I am always a little stressed about the family finances, even more so when there is a balance — no matter what size — sitting on a credit card. Good news is I took a big chunk out of that balance today and projections show ridding the family of it soon.
But Christmas came along, and I was not ready financially. Not even close. I tried to pack all the shopping into a couple of week's time and that just did not work. I set a budget, like I do for everything, and tried to stick to it. I was close, close enough to be satisfied with that.
But in setting that budget, I had to hack and slash other things that are very important. That did not go well.
As all of this was going on, my call volume at Juvenile Intake shot through the roof. Kids were coming in bunches, every day. The computers were not working properly, meaning everything had to be done on paper — not as efficient, and more time consuming.
It's pretty easy to see what was going on, based on my own life and experience. Adults get really, really stressed out during the holidays. The children in their care, no matter what their age, feel that. Maybe mom or dad is a little more snippy than usual, or the adults in the house are fighting more. Who knows how that stress is manifesting, but make no mistake, it is manifesting.
That leads kids to release the stress they feel. And some of them do not release it constructively. Then they come to see me, or one of my partners at intake. They end up in trouble of some kind.
I know this is the deal because I saw all of this happen in my own home. Our family budget was under duress. Workloads were increasing. My oldest son started winter sports practice, all of the kids started practice for Christmas Eve service.
The family system was under stress. Dad got testy. Mom followed. Our children started acting out. You can forget listening and obeying pretty much any time of year — but this holiday season they all turned it up to 11.
For one of our children, it has started to settle a bit. They see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. School will start in a few days and normal routines will return. For our other two children, things are still off-kilter.
So how does this relate to New Year resolutions or the lack thereof?
I identified some problems, and what systemic problems must be made, about Dec. 20. So, on Dec. 20 I set some goals. Christmas and birthday shopping in our household is now a year-long affair. We now budget for it all year long (with a designated savings account!) and watch for sales. Our Christmas shopping should be well in hand, dare I write completed, by Dec. 1, 2019. No more trying to square peg/round hole a December budget.
This will lead to less stress for me and my wife. It will lead to much less tension in our home. That means less stress for our children to release.
I did not need New Year's to come up with that or make the commitment. Just like I did not wait for New Year's for setting goals for my fitness in 2019. My favorite virtual racing company released their new club medal structure in December — about the same time I was thinking about my next set of goals and checking the calendar for my favorite destination race.
The new goal, which is on hold until my heel heals (yea, say that a few times real fast) and new shoes arrive, is for 15 5K races and 12 10 K races this year. A year ago it was 12 5Ks, which I did in just a few months, and 1 10K, which I did in training for my destination 5K in September.
Again, no need for NYE to set those – or start working for them.
— Chad Frey is managing editor of The Newton Kansan. Four generations of his family live in Newton.