We've been working on some new habits at our house lately. Boy, has it been tough! It can be hard enough to change your own habits, but when you're trying to change someone else's habits, too, it can feel almost impossible.
You're probably thinking that you can't change someone else's habits, but in this case the someone else is my children. Of course, it will be much easier for all of us if they find a way to motivate themselves, but in the meantime I can provide some motivation for them. I have to find some motivation for myself, too.
When I worked away from home, it was relatively easy to keep things neat enough because we were not home much. Now that we're home all the time, we've gotten a bit lazy about keeping things up. To say that we've enjoyed being at home is an understatement. So it's time to get back into good and new habits.
I know that making new habits requires more than motivation, it requires repetition. Unfortunately, we're probably not going to clean house more than once a day. Not that I would want to clean house more than once a day, but it would up the number of repetitions. This is just going to take some time.
As you know, keeping your home neat is not just about what you do; it's also about what you don't do. Our not-to-do list is longer than our to-do list. I've heard that it generally takes about 21 days of repetition to make new habits. I think it takes a lot longer to make new habits by stopping actions.
Since I can't increase the repetitions, I'll need to come up with some good motivations until it kicks in with my kids and they start motivating themselves. And now that I think about it, learning to motivate yourself when you don't feel like being motivated is something that should be on The Checklist. There will be plenty of times as adults they will need to just get a job done and done well, or make changes in their own lives so things will go well. That's not easy, so it is better learned at a young age.
I guess that will be a good motivator for me. Anytime I get discouraged I will try to keep the end in mind, not just the new habits and a cleaner house, but also the skills that I'm helping my children develop. That will be the ultimate prize for our efforts.
From my parent's heart to yours,
Joy Goodman is a mom whose mission is to encourage parents and to celebrate joys of being a parent.