Note to self: Perhaps next year hanging a Johnny Depp calendar will help keep spirits up. 🙂

Don’t let the door smack you in the a$$ on the way out.

So, January is not my best month.  Never has been.  Some of my darkest days have been January days.  I’m not entirely sure what comes over me, but it’s been compounded by the fact that both of my kids have their birthdays are in January.  I wrote about this last year too.  I love my kids with the intensity of a thousand suns.  I want to love celebrating their birthdays.  But the truth is, I am always in survival mode.  I do what I need to do to get through the festivities with a plastic smile on my face before collapsing into a stupor of relief afterwards.

Another part of the problem is that the world takes off in earnest in January.  My Google reader filled to bursting with posts about resolutions, goals and plans for the new year.  People seem to head back to their work, their lives with new gusto while I struggle to get out of bed in the morning.  My January doldrums were not improved this year by a head injury I’d sustained in late December, or by the family of mice that took up residence in our kitchen cabinets and took a week to do away with.  We also went to New York and spent two weekends skiing in Keystone, which added a huge element of fun and excitement to the month, but also served to push me further and further behind in my attempts to get back into the saddle of life (pun intended).

Supposedly, Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  After years of enduring bad Januarys, I finally had an epiphany: January won’t change, but I can.  In this spirit, I have created my own 5 commandments of January as follows:

  1. Treat January as an extension of the holidays. With two kids celebrating birthdays in January, this is really true.  Parties, presents, planning.  I cannot expect to re-enter the normal flow of life with two seminal events to celebrate in the same month.
  2. Do not take on any new or extra commitments. Because everybody else seems revved up with new goals and new energy, opportunities for new challenges and experiences abound.  Many of them are extremely worthwhile and hugely tempting.  The lovely Kat Apel, for example, hosted the Month of Poetry in January.  I participated for five days and then fell off the face of the earth.  Then I felt terrible, both for reneging on a commitment and for failing to support a friend.  From now on, no matter how tempting, I just need to say no to putting more on myself this month, even if it’s something fun.
  3. The New Year begins February 1st. No more New Year’s resolutions/goals for January (see #1).  The real new year will begin for me on February 1.
  4. Focus on family. It’s not my kids’ fault that they were both born in January, with birthdays ten days apart.  Even though the birthdays come right after Christmas, they are still a huge deal to them – rightly so.  My fatigue, seasonal depression, eagerness to get back into a routine, does not change the fact that they need and deserve to be celebrated this month.  I’ve always managed to pull off their parties and festivities, but this year I made a couple of decisions in the name of expediency/making it easier for myself that ended up disappointing my daughter, even though she put on a brave face.  This leads to my last commandment, which speaks to making sure I have the energy reserves to support these four, which is:
  5. Be kind to myself. I need to give myself permission to keep things at a slower pace.  Read books, take naps and hot baths.  Cook nourishing food.  Drink tea.  Meditate.  Exercise.  Write.  If I nourish myself, hopefully I will be able to provide birthday celebrations for my kids that I enjoy too.

Do you have months that are historically difficult for you?  If so, what are your strategies for surviving and thriving?

Categories: Birthdays, Family, Health/Fitness, Parenting, Winter · Tags: , , , ,



  1. January can be rough, but I love your new approach to it. In that spirit… happy new year! 🙂

  2. I hear you about birthday parties! We love our kids, but these celebrations are exhausting! I have the luxury of being able to regroup in January and not have many commitments, but we too have 2 kid birthdays in one month. One thing we did until recently is just give them parties with friends every other year. Then, on the off year, they could choose to do something special with one friend and our family. When they did have parties, they were limited to the same number of kids as their age. Now, they just want low key sleepovers with a few close friends, so it’s much less work.

    • Yes, I’m sure it gets easier after they get out of the kid party phase. I’m hoping that as they get older, we can convince them to do a family trip somewhere in lieu of a party. Wishful thinking???

  3. I hear you on birthday parties, two in Jan is tough (that’s rich from me birthday in Jan!) Don’t worry at all about getting behind, doing MoP was ever so casual and we’re all behind on other things too. February will be ‘back to business’ for all of us I’m sure.

    We’ve found evidence of mice in the last few days pesky things. I can’t imagine a whole cupboard of them! Take care and best wishes for Feb.

  4. Sorry to hear your January is such a hard slog, Julie. And sorry that MoP didn’t turn out as you’d anticipate. But can I say that 5 poems is something to celebrate! Especially given the business and overwhelmingness of your January.

    And you did not let me down! So stop fretting about that. xx

    Btw – Happy New Year! 🙂 (It must be about the first of February there now?)


    • You are so sweet! It is true that 5 poems is 5 more than I’ve written in a long while. Any chance you might consider doing MoP in February next year?? Just kidding.. 🙂

  5. If I had to make two birthday parties in one month, I’d lose my mind! (Some of my friends make one big party for siblings born in the same month. Is that an option at all?)

    • See above – hoping to lure them into a family trip instead of parties in coming years. It’s hard to combine parties not only because of the age difference but also the gender difference. A group of boys at Build-a-Bear? Probably not so fun…

  6. A very mindful reaction on your part, Julie!

    Here’s to better days ahead. 🙂

  7. January/February used to be really hard for me because I don’t cope in the heat… at all. (Summer in Aus) Now I have aircon … life it much better through those months… I invite everyone here and avoid the heat.

  8. I’ve taken a different tack with the whole birthday party issue. My kids know that they can have one every other year and then we have a discussion about doing something a bit more extravagant with one or two friends versus a whole slew of stinky boys at the indoor skate park. It’s cut down on my stress. Love that your year starts in February.

  9. Good for you! This is actually a positive thinking post, despite the fact that you’re talking about low feelings. I love it! Keep it up.

  10. I’m with you on January. Fare thee well, oh wicked month. I’m not so hot on February either, but I have high hopes for March.

  11. Wow, you’ve just described my January–only our second birthday is my husband’s (today) so it’s a little lower-key. I like your coping plan, especially after two snow days! ~Cheryl

  12. I love your number 3. Hope the new year is going well for you now! 🙂

  13. Excellent post. I’ve been thinking the same thing. I’m much more energized now that February is here. I love your commandments!


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