A note from Rach Smith's digital garden.


Added: January 5, 2022

Tags: mothering wellbeing miscellany

It is hard for me to summarise the last year, as it is quite a blur of memories. 2021 started out with a newborn and a toddler, and most of the year felt like I was trying to push through it with my health and sanity intact.

This “year review” post being published a week into the new year is pretty apt, as I have been doing almost everything later than I would have liked in the last six months. Oh well. I thought I’d attempt to surface a few wins, challenges and things I learned in 2021.

Some wins

Getting through a year of parenting my children.

Of all the things I do these days, taking care of these tiny humans is potentially the most impactful and important. I didn’t screw it up. Hell yeah. We had a lot of great times together, and seeing their sibling relationship develop makes my heart sing like nothing else.

Sticking with a pretty consistent fitness routing and generally taking good care of myself post-partum.

My word for the year in 2021 was self. I vowed to prioritise my own needs when the inevitable external pressures piled on. This is the most consistent I have been about keeping up a regular strength workout routine, maybe ever in my adult life. I’ve only ever done a few months of all-in followed by several months of nothing. I also worked a lot on self-compassion, which doesn’t come easily to me.

Another great year at CodePen.

I haven’t shipped anything public-facing for ages, but I was working on our admin tools and some significant changes for the product that will hopefully ship in 2022.

Maintaining this digital garden.

I was aiming to write consistently and publish about every week. There have been bigger gaps between notes than I would have liked, but I didn’t give up.

Some Challenges

Parenting a baby and a toddler, while working, in a pandemic.

Enough said.

Indy’s mental health.

Our dog Indy has always been anxious and had behaviour issues, but her fear and anxiety completely spiralled out of control this year. It has been the most significant stressor of my life in recent times. We are working with a behavioural vet now, so hopefully, we will see an improvement in the coming months.


All the hormone changes from pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding can really do a number on me. I’m glad that season of mothering is coming to a close again and looking forward to some more balance in 2022.

Some things I learned

My kids’ behaviour has very little to do with my parenting.

People making money from telling you how to parent would have you believe that if you follow their instructions, your baby/child will sleep, eat and play in the way you desire.

One of my babies fell asleep quickly and stayed asleep; the other did not. One of my kids played independently from birth; the other insisted on having adult attention every second of the day. One of my kids loves to read books; the other loves to tear them in half. One ate all of their food, fast. The other is selective and takes a long time.

After having these chalk-and-cheese kids, I realised what they were doing had shit-all to do with my parenting techniques because I parented them the same way. Of course, providing love, leadership, and a secure base is vital for their development. But beyond the parenting fundamentals, the kid is just gonna do what they’re gonna do, regardless of what “techniques” you throw at them.

How to program in Go.

I picked up a new language because that’s what we’re moving to on the CodePen backend. I still have things to grok before I’m super confident with Go, but I am enjoying the journey.

How important plant-based eating is.

This year I read The Proof is in the Plants: How science shows a plant-based diet could save your life. I am convinced I need to eat a primarily whole-foods plant-based diet to keep up my energy as I get older. I don’t think I could ever go fully vegan, though. I need to work on the execution of the diet; we still eat more highly processed foods than I would like.

How to maintain a consistent exercise routine.

The key for me is upper and lower limits. I worked out at high intensity for at least 20 minutes, but no longer than 25 minutes. That meant I could work out every second day or at least three times a week unless I was unwell. If the workout is longer, I find I don’t want to start doing it on my low-motivation days. This year I’m experimenting with 15-20 minute workouts three days on, one day off.

Buying swimwear online just isn’t a good idea.

They never fit right and are a pain in the arse to return via post.


Comments powered by Talkyard.