Friday, September 30, 2016

Building a Habit

Breaking a habit is hard. It takes focus, determination, and a conscious effort to change a learned behavior. Even when something isn't necessarily "addictive", breaking a habit can still feel like overcoming something.

Turns out that building a habit is just as hard.

I'm trying so hard to build a few habits right now, and let me tell you, it is much harder than breaking bad ones. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I can so easily think "eh, it's not THAT important" because I've lived fine without it. But I also know that I really want that behavior to come naturally.

Making my bed daily. Oil pulling at night. Writing in my journal. Finishing the kitchen clean up. It's hard to force those habits. I'm trying to make them as routine as brushing my teeth - and it's working - but they aren't quite there yet. Cleaning, planning, carving out time for good mental and physical help. It's important.

What helps me power through is that I have done this with the girls so I know it works.

I've done it with behavior in public. We often get compliments on how the girls act in restaurants. They stay in their seats. They order with good manners. They might have normal kid moments - dipping under the table to retrieve a roll away crayon - but generally speaking, they are nowhere near the horror stories some parents write about.

It's not that we have fabulous kids (I mean, we do, but they're still kids). It's that we've worked a long time to build a habit. When the girls were little, we'd talk to them before we went in.

We're going to go in and sit down. There are lots of people at tables and a lot of restaurant workers moving around, so we need to make sure we treat them nicely. We stay in our seats. If you feel like you need to get up, ask Mommy or Daddy for a break.

We choose our food, and then our waitress will ask us what we'd like. We need to speak in a big voice so she can hear us and use our best manners.

It helped that we went out often when the girls were toddlers in a very forgiving environment, where the wait staff got to know us and know the girls. Now, they know just how to behave, and honestly, the only time you'll find them misbehaving is when we're with other kids who don't have the same rules, because, well, monkey see...

Anyway, during this time period we had that discussion every time. EVERY TIME.

It's OBNOXIOUS at first. Not just the doing something that you don't necessarily want to do (let's be honest, toddlers like their freedom), but the process to MAKE it a habit. By the time Madison was three, she was reciting this along with me.

But it made it a habit.

We did it in parking lots too, once I had two and especially once I had two who were walking. The constant spiel is crazily annoying...but now it's habit.

Guess it's time to build myself a pep talk!
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