What habits would you like to make a part of your life this year?
You'll rarely hear me talk about resolutions...I do talk about making habits.
The creation of good habits allows you to reach goals and measure your success.
It may sound a bit obsessive but doing the same thing over and over again creates habits that allow us to reach our goals. I remember growing up, my mom had what she called "routines." They were actually habits that she never wavered from. Of course, things were a little different back in the 60's and 70's. My mom didn't work outside the home, so life was not so crazy back then (she didn't spend more than 2 hours a week shuffling 3 kids back and forth to school activities). Every Friday she cleaned downstairs, every Saturday she cleaned upstairs, each daughter had to clean her own room and share in the yard work (since my dad didn't do yard work) and we always ate at the same time every night. We even ate the same meal every Friday night (spaghetti). And every night the bowls were put onto the counter along with the box of cereal for breakfast the next morning.
Life for our family was different. Even when we moved here over 20 years ago, I was shuffling kids to football, jump rope practice, soccer, volleyball and horseback riding lessons - and working in DC while my husband was still active duty in the Marine Corps. Our day was 12 hours long - it was just the way things were - it was our life.
What I didn't realize 20 years ago is that I was so concerned about the kids being in activities and making sure that they were happy, we pushed the creation of habits to the curb. And this was not a good thing. It made life crazy, hectic, stressful and we missed out on so many opportunites to help our kids create habits that they could take with them into their adult life. Their activities became their habits. Had we been working together to create an organized household, we would have had fewer arguments and less frustration.
With age comes wisdom. I've had the great experience to help a lot of mothers (now my children's age) learn and create consistency with their children, i.e. create habits that will make it easier for everyone to stay organized. This means that the systems that the children have for homework, clothes, toys, even bedtime and wake up time should be consistent and should work, not just for the parents but also for the children's personalities. (Sometimes our ideas are just a little too complicated for our children to emulate).
You've heard of these habits to help your children (or yourself) be more organized:
1. Lay out your clothes at night for the next day
2. Use a weekly meal plan
3. Put everything on one calendar (activities, school, church, etc.)
4. Work from a To Do List
5. Set a schedule
This is all good and well - but it is much easier for your habits to "stick" when everyone in your home is on board with change and the habits required in order for things to change. Because unless everyone is on board with the changes that need to happen, you get a starring role as the overbearing bossy mom who just wants things her way (or the highway). You could even find yourself pushing everyone away - and then adding more stress to the situation.
We all know that change is hard - if it was easy, we would all be able to change in the blink of an eye and our lives would be stress-free!
So how can you create new habits that stick? The answer is slowly - one step at a time.
First - make a list of the habits that you would like to create and why they are important to you. Prioritize your list based on which will make the most positive effect on your life.
Second - make a list of the little steps that need to happen in order to create your habit. For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds this month what will you need to do? Maybe your list includes drinking 8 glasses of water a day; 30 minutes of exercise; monitoring what you eat (writing it down) and getting 8 hours of sleep. Break out your calendar and decide when you will exercise, when you start drinking water, make your meal plan ahead of time so that you don't eat a bunch of junk or stop at a fast food restaurant for breakfast (or dinner) and decide what time you need to go to bed in order to get your 8 hours of sleep
Third - Discuss these steps with your family. Let them know what they can do to help you! (A weekly family meeting is a good time to discuss your weekly meal plan).
As we go into a new month take the time to create some new habits, and don't forget to include your family.