In 2016 let’s not fly by the seat of our pants, but glide into the year on a graceful high…

16 Steps to starting the year successfully

1.  Go through the kid’s cupboard, sort, label and give away.

We all know how much the kids grow in a year, well before we get rushed off our feet with the new school year, take this opportunity to go through all your children’s clothes and sort out what still fits, what is too grubby to wear and make a list of what you need to replace, I was shocked when my Son put on his jeans and they looked ridicules sitting in the middle of his shin. Label everything including socks and underwear. I like to put numbers on the socks so it is easy to keep the pares together.

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2.  Clean out all cupboards as if you are moving.

It never ceases to amaze me how much junk we can collect in a year. Take the time to sort and bin all those items like a picture that the kids drew that you are not really sure what it is. There will be plenty more to come. Remove batteries from items that are not used regularly. Most important, get stuck into the freezer and food cupboards. I was shocked to find tins that were 3 years past their expiry date. Be ruthless!!

3.  Back up your photos and clear your phone of unwanted items.

It is January, you will have a whole year’s worth of photos that are either on your camera or saved on your computer. Take the time to back them up and group them into dates or different sections so that you will always be able to find them. There is nothing more crushing than discovering that you have lost all of your photos. Clear your phone of all old messages and unwanted pictures so that you can start the year fresh. I had a giggle when I discovered how much utter rubbish I had on my phone.

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4.  Do a Monthly dinner plan.

This is just a plan and you can swop and change things around, but the idea is to ensure that you have at least 4 different recipes for Fish, Chicken, mince, meat. This way every week will consist of a balanced diet. It will eliminate you staring into the freezer at 5.00pm waiting for something to jump out at you. It will also make sure that you have all the ingredients that you need to make the dish. Your meal planner will guarantee that your weeks will be full of healthy, yummy, easy, stress free dinner time’s.

5.  Plan those School lunches.

I have to admit one of my pet peeves is School lunches. They take up far too much time in the morning, I never know what to put in the lunch box and mixing it up a little take’s far too much thought. I invested in a vacuum pack sealer, what a great investment. I can now buy a large packet of dried fruit, raisons or cheddars, split them up into smaller quantities and vacuum pack them so they stay fresh. Now I can add my little snack pack with a sandwich or snacker bread/provieta’s and an apple or a yoghurt and I have a quick simple but healthy School lunch.

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6.  Book all your appointments for the year.

Use the last of your holidays to have any check up’s that may be needed. We all know that some appointments like a gyne are booked up months in advance, so book now to ensure that you will not forget or leave it to the last minute. Appointments to consider: Optometrist, Dentist, Paediatrician, Gynaecologist, Mole Mapping. Don’t forget to book your car in for a service and get your tires checked and rotated, check expiry dates on your drivers licence and car licence and put them in the diary. Renew passports and make sure you have your unabridged birth certificates sorted. Check the expiry date on your bank cards as well. It is best to get these appointments booked now before the rush, you will be able to fit them in with ease, and you will be guaranteed not to forget about them.

7.  While the sales are on buy birthday party gifts.

We all know that our children will be invited to kid’s birthday parties. I like to buy a few items that I can put together to create a great birthday gift. I keep them in a cupboard them in a box at the top of the cupboard with some gift bags and wrapping paper. When my kids are invited to a birthday party, I don’t have to rush around trying to find a gift and spending way more than I anticipated. As soon as my gift cupboard is looking a little low, I replenish it.

8.  Fill in Family and close friends Birthdays on the calendar

Make sure that you remain the favourite by never forgetting anyone’s birthday. I also find that this helps me to budget for those months where there are 3 or 4 birthdays. Set yourself reminders, this way you know that it will never slip your mind.

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9.  Plan your health and beauty schedule.

Book all your hair and nail appointments up front, as well as waxes and facials. These items always seem to go on the back burner if you don’t plan ahead. We always seem to find time for the whole family but ourselves. If you plan ahead, this will make sure that you don’t put things off till the last minute. You can also plan it in conjunction with any parties and events that you have put in the diary.

10.  Plan your Date night.

Make sure that you leave at least one night a month aside for a date night with your partner. By planning ahead, you can ensure that you have booked a baby sitter as well as reservations for any special places that you are planning. If you don’t plan ahead, everything else seems to become a little more important and you forget to leave time for the two of you.

11.  Put together your holiday plan for the year.

If you are wanting to go away these holidays, sit down now and plan what dates you would like to go. Once the year gets into full flow, the weeks and months seem to fly by and before you know it the holidays are upon us and we have not booked anything. I also like to put together a holiday plan of items that I would like to do, like paint the bed rooms, redecorate or some house maintenance. It is much easier to make sure that these items get ticked off the list if you plan when you are going to make time for them.

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12.  Let your kids know your expectations for the year.

As smart as children are, they don’t seem to get things unless we spell them out for them. I sat the boys down and let them know that this year I would like them to wake up in the morning, have breakfast, brush their teeth and get dressed before 6.30. This is what I expect from them every morning. I will not shout at them every 5 minutes to get ready. If they cannot do what I expect, they will lose plug in time. (I call items that need to be plugged in like IPads and T.V plug in time.) I would also like them to come in from school and unpack their bags and get their uniforms for the next day ready without having to ask them several times. I know these things might sound ridicules but they are the things that I find myself nagging the most about.

13.  Help your kids create financial goals for the year.

We all plan financially for the year, so why not teach your children how to do the same. Ask them what items they would like to have this year and help them put a plan together to help them achieve their goal. You can help them along by giving them pocket money or reward money. This way they will be encouraged to save money. A friend of mine used to offer her children the item they asked for in the shop or the money to put in the bank. Let them think about whether they really need that juice or if they would rather save towards something they want.

14.  Ask your kids what they would like to achieve this year.

We all talk to our kids about their day and how things are going, but often we take over and decide for them what they are going to do and how they are going to do it. Yes, it is the helicopter parent’s way. Instead of telling them that this year you would like them to do better in Maths and Afrikaans, ask them what they would like to achieve for the year. It is a pleasant surprise to find out that often they want the same things as we do without us pushing for it.

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15.  Put together your wish list for the year.

If you don’t put it on paper, it will more often than not, not happen. We all wish, want and dream, some things are big dreams and others are small like losing 5kg’s. Your wish list does not have to be financial, it could be something as simple as spending more quality time with your family. Put it all down on your secret list and look at it often. By December you will be amazed at how many things you actually achieved with ease.

16.  Create a weekly grateful/memory jar.

I bought a really nice big glass jar with a lid. Every week each family member has to put down one thing that they are grateful for, or something that happened that they would like to remember. The papers get folded and put in the jar, at the end of the year you can open the jar and go through what was written down. It is so nice to reflect and there are so many items that you had forgotten about. A very special family bonding idea.



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