~my thoughts about life~

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hard Habit to Break

I've been on my kids lately about forming bad habits.  Think about the habits you have every day in your life.  Some may be good habits, some may be bad.  My routine has become a habit.  I get up at the same time every day and do the same things over and over.  These things come naturally because I've done them so many times.  I looked up information on forming habits.  The results varied depending on the type of habit being formed.  That makes perfect sense because my boys formed a habit of throwing their clothes on the floor after the very first time they did it.  Now I can't get them to stop. 

I'm turning over a new leaf.  I am working harder to be a better housekeeper.  It's amazing- having a cleaner house puts me in a better, more relaxed mood.  I don't have to worry about someone stopping by unexpectedly.  When the house is clean, I don't constantly beat myself up about how messy it is.  All in all, I've just decided that keeping a clean house is a better thing for me.  I want to pass neatness on to my children.

How do children learn best?  Example.  Any education class will tell you that.  Well, my kids have a very strong example in their life- their father.  Guess what he does when he takes off  his clothes each day?  He doesn't throw them on the floor but he does find a place to stash them.  Typically, it's over the ironing board or across a chair in our room.  Occasionally, it's the bathroom floor.  It drives me nuts.  Getting him to change this habit at the age of 37 is going to be a lot more difficult than working with 10 and 12-year olds.

I have to start where it's fresh.  The Boys.  It's amazing how quickly their room can go from neat and tidy to tornado site.  Unreal.  A simple act like coming home from school can do it.  Two shirts, two pairs of jeans, four shoes (and sometimes socks), all go on the floor.  Two backpacks with books and papers falling out contribute to the devastation.  So, a matter of a minute and a half can change things considerably.

My mom always taught me as a kid that being neat is actually a higher form of laziness.  Doing little things along the way to keep your space clean saves you a lot of time and effort.  Cleaning an entire messy room from start to finish is so much more work.  I've tried to make that my mantra.  I'm a higher form of lazy.

I'm going to try a new tactic with the boys.  #2 is very logical so hopefully this approach works with him.  I'm going to time how long it takes them to throw a shirt on the floor.  Then I'm going to time how long it takes to hang that same shirt up.  The difference should be a matter of seconds.  Then I'm going to ask how long it takes them to clean up their whole room when it's messy.  I figure they'll go to the extreme and answer an hour.  Next, I'll sit down with a pencil and paper and put my math skills to test.  If it takes an average of six extra seconds to do things right, at the end of a week, you've spent so much time hanging up your clothes.  Hopefully that number will be far less than the hour they predict it takes to clean their entire room.  I'm going to try to stress the higher form of laziness point.  Think I have a chance???

What's one bad habit you would like to break?  Maybe it's something big like smoking.  Maybe it's something small like eating a snack before bedtime (Hello!).  Make a new habit.  Instead of turning to the snack cupboard in the evening, read the newspaper or clean up the dishes instead.  If you have a habit of logging on to Facebook twenty times a day, go to weather.com instead.  Check houses for sale in your neighborhood.  Make a change.  See how many days it takes for that old habit to be broken. 

I'm struggling right now with my eating habits, which you all know.  I've got to make a change.  Yesterday, I ate an apple instead of a dessert after lunch.  It wasn't that bad.  But I still have a long way to go.  (Confession:  I've been pretty bad lately.  Boo.)

Sorry this post is so New Year's Resolution-y!  But in that same spirit, let me know what one habit you would like to break.

1 comment:

Theresa said...

Good work. I have been thinking a lot about how I feel about things and what I want to change....