From The Summit

Oh hey there 2022!

There is nothing so intoxicating as a new year, a fresh slate full pf promise and crisp planner sheets that have yet to be destroyed by a child with a red crayon and Artistic Aspirations. On Friday we drove home from our annual trek around Indiana and Kentucky visiting family for the holidays and James and I conducted one of our favorite rituals. While we would love to end our year in a getaway and a chance to process what is behind and plan for what is ahead in blissful calm – that is not a reality in our current stage of life. Instead, a couple years ago we started taking the 9+ hour drive to do a summit meeting of sorts. We toss the kids tablets and snacks and they enjoy the hyper rare screen-time binge with headphones while we enjoy a structured year-end session of reviewing, dreaming, and planning. It’s honestly one of the highlights of our year, our favorite date conducted in the front row of a minivan packed to the brim with Christmas-sugar hungover children and partially decomposed squeezy pouches.

I mentioned this ritual on Instagram and immediately got flooded with DMs about what these structured categories are, so I wanted to type up some notes, interspersed with my own reflections of 2021 and of course, photos ad nauseum. So here it us

How To Have A Tired Parent Executive Summit Meeting And Goal Planning Session While Your Kids Enjoy Too Much Screen Time

A year in review: The first thing we do is spend a couple hours (yes! hours! The power of the road trip! You could also break each segment of this into three evenings of post-bedtime drinks and chats) reviewing the past year. This discussion covers the following topics.

  • Highlights from the past year, revealed as we talk through the year month by month. Because sometimes when you are in the trenches of parenting… you forget basically everything that isn’t in the past 48 hours. Forcing a slow walk through the year is so fruitful and also, shockingly difficult.
  • Review of how we did on last year’s resolutions, which I keep in a notes app on my phone
  • Review of what we ADDED to life in the past year and what we want to REJECT in the year to come.

Establish a Guiding Concept: Ok, so technically this might actually happen at the end of your summit after you realize what has popped up multiple times. But at some point in the Summit, try to stop and verbalize what overarching goal/ word/ quote / verse concept you want to hold close to your heart in the upcoming year. I cannot say enough how powerful this is, how life giving it is in structuring how you think about the year. In the weeks leading up to The Summit, I had some thoughts and clarity about what I wanted in 2022 and talking through them with James helped to make us both excited about our big picture vision for the upcoming year. At one point in The Summit, we read aloud two essays about the New Year. One was this one, that had us screech laughing, and another one included a perfect quote about this element of The Summit:

“Last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.”-T.S. Eliot

Take some time to find the words, the voice to a new year.

Dream for the year to come: Behold- the resolution setting part. While this might be the “meat” of the discussion, it doesn’t happen in a void, but rather is the fruit of the first two parts of the discussion. We are ready to dream and plan because we know where we stand and we have a vision of where we want to go in the coming year. We then make three lists of goals: Goals shared by both of us/ family goals, goals for James, goals for me. These include Big Goals, and things like “buy new bath mats for the primary bedroom.” Last year’s list legit included “go to the dentist,” and “find someone to deep clean once a month.” For each of these lists, we tackle the following categories:

  • Financial goals (savings, spendings, budget, etc.)
  • Health goals (fitness goals, healthy habits, etc. I like to have a sub-set of goals for January specifically because I love the power of a strong fitness start)
  • Family goals (like, we want to try to have a hike a month as a family in 2022, etc.)
  • Professional goals (concrete things that need to be done at specific times for our professions)
  • Personal goals (book quotas we want to meet, hobbies we want to nurture, screen time limits we want to establish, etc.)
  • Domestic goals (house projects or housekeeping related)
  • Relationship goals (date night quotas, etc.)

Plan follow-ups. This is new for us this year. We have always chatted throughout the year about how we are doing, but this year we actually planned monthly benchmark meetings and wrote out some notes on a special year-planning page in my planner. For instance I took the list of domestic house-related goals and assigned something to purchase/ research/ get quotes on/ enact each month. “Finish decorating” is overwhelming, but “change lightbulb in stairwell that has been burnt out for 4 months” is more doable.

And now… some of our Summit! A lot is obviously personal, but here are a few snippets because I love using this space to help me remember.

2021 was a really good year for our family. There were mistakes, low moments, way too much money spent on home repairs that we would have rather avoided, and a complete failure to accomplish our goal of getting up at 6 am for calm times of scripture reading and reflection. As in- it never happened. But other key things did happen. When we discussed what we wanted to claim and applaud from 2022, so many of the things were family rituals. 2022 canonized Friday Night Family Movie Night and I perfected the accompanying homemade pizza. We cemented Coffee Time as the greatest part of Saturday mornings, and established Family Cleanup and corresponding Family Reward on Sundays so well that it rarely is met with (much) complaining anymore. James and I embraced regular Sunday night planning sessions to map our Henry’s homeschool work and our complicated matrix of my work and childcare. So basically… we spent 2022 perfecting our weekends as a family. And I feel pretty good about that.

James and I also made 2021 the second year where we really prioritized our health, which when you have little kids, means prioritizing the other person’s health. Daily barre workouts and early morning walks for me, routine long runs for him. We made them happen, choosing to force the other out the door when we both wanted to just skip We chose each other’s health and happiness and that was life-giving in so many ways.

2021 had so many family dance parties after dinner, to the point where Maddie gets up from the table and immediately races to stand under Alexa and yell until one of us has it start playing dance party music. While our ability to do frequent date nights has taken a hit (see above “when you have little kids”) we mastered evenings of craft cocktails and managed to swing a getaway to Jamaica. We invested in our community, our neighborhood, our family, our home. I realized my goal of not just having furniture sitting in rooms by decorating our primary bedroom entirely using Facebook Marketplace and finished (I think) our living room decor. We also painted our half bath in a late night decision of dubious wisdom resulting in one of the larger fights in our marriage and the firm realization that we do not have careers as painters.

2022 feels exciting, mostly because a lot of goof habits and rituals became routine in 2021 and I am eager to build on them. Will this be the year we actually start getting up early? Perhaps. Time, and by that I mean tomorrow morning, shall tell. It will hopefully be a year where we use our phones less, as we both started the year by deleting apps and setting up time limits on those that remain to shave pointless scrolling and subsequent frustration and waste from our lives. We made lists and plans and shared dreams for this brand new year and it feels really good to walk into it. We took the time to find words for this new year and to start learning the voice that it will speak. Can’t wait to listen.

Happy New Year.

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1 Response to From The Summit

  1. Rachel says:

    Loved getting to read these and the intentional way you and James think through your own growth and relationships. Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to start thinking about how it might look for my own family!

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