Every January we turn the page on the old and start fresh, ringing in the new year. There’s a new calendar on the wall. I’ve switched out the planner in my purse. I go back to work and send my kids back to school. We have had a great time together over the past few weeks, and we are all refreshed and ready to start the year off right.

Is there a way to start it off wrong?

There is so much pressure to “start the year off right,” and I often hear “new year, new me!” as if that is something we should all work toward.

But what if I went to bed at 9 p.m. on December 31? Some would argue that would be starting the new year off wrong. Any other mom of five, preschool teacher, or person who enjoys their sleep would disagree. Our bedtime on the 31st was peaceful and without tantrums. That was ending the year perfectly.

And when we got up on the 1st, we didn’t do much other than have breakfast together. We talked about going back to school and how we were going to prepare to get back into the routines that had already been set. You know, how things were back in that last year? And as much as it might sound monotonous, our daily routines are what keep some sanity in our large household.

For the most part, the new year serves, in my house, as the end of the holiday season that started back in October. (We LOVE Halloween here!) There is a little sadness to go back to a time without holidays that require a countdown. But there is also a sense of relief that we can have a few months of “normal,” with weekends clear of obligations. We love that fresh start in our house. However, there is one thing about the new year that triggers my anxiety like nothing else.


Who decided that just because I bring out a new calendar I have to be a better, prettier, skinnier, smarter, more generous person? I thought I was doing OK last year and was happy with my accomplishments, and now I have to do MORE? Last year my plate was full, and I was already spread far too thin. And now I am being asked what my New Year’s resolution is? I can’t take that pressure.

How much more do you want from me?

I feel like my life is set up in a school year calendar. I am a preschool teacher and a mom of five school-aged kids, so why would I change something mid-year? That seems unrealistic to set goals mid-year when we are just hitting our stride. Let’s allow ourselves to spend some time feeling successful before adding MORE.

And, sure, I could be skinner, prettier, or smarter. But WHY? I will not put work into that because it is not my current priority. That’s not to say it is a bad priority if it’s yours. But for me, I simply don’t care if I look like a hot mess daily, or that my elliptical goes unused six out of seven days a week, or that I only take continuing education classes I would enjoy rather than those that would make me think too hard. I can’t be on top of every single thing.

So this year? It’s a new year, but you get the same old me!

You get a mom of five really kind and considerate kids who didn’t get that school project in on time because I didn’t realize today was Tuesday.

You get a really good preschool teacher who supports the development that the pandemic halted but who will never get those Pinterest projects sent home.

You get a thoughtful wife who remembers her husband’s favorite song but didn’t get milk on the way home.

You get this woman. All her flaws and all her strengths. The conductor of the hot mess express who offers tickets to anyone who wants to take the ride with her.

If resolutions are your thing, you go, mama! But keep intact the amazing things that make you who you are, and simply let go of the stuff that doesn’t fit on your plate.

Michelle is a lifelong New Englander who lives in Stoneham and works in Charlestown. She is a preschool and toddler teacher at a small private preschool and holds a master's degree in early childhood education, which has come in useful at both work and home. She has a supportive stay-at-home-dad for a husband and is a mom of five children. She has three boys in middle and high school, plus two girls in elementary school. Michelle teaches infant and toddler classes for early ed teachers, runs workshops for parents through Boston Naps, and runs her own business, The Parenting Survival Expert, offering parenting tips and support. In her spare time, she can be found reading a murder mystery novel, sipping far too much coffee, and dreaming of a home in the mountains.