“We are what we repeatedly do.” — Aristotle
- The Habits Project
- New Year Habits
- My 2013 Habit Project List
- January Habit: Making My Bed
- February Habit: Write It Down, Right Away
- February & March Happy Home Habit: Make Eye Contact and Smile
At the beginning of the year, I made a list of 10 habits to work on in 3 different areas: organization, parenting, and health. It’s a list of elementary things (like making my bed), not graduate-level. My goal is to spend the year getting my game back after pregnancy and a c-section (not to mention the newborn phase, which is practically over now, sniff). These are habits I have worked on before and had made good progress with before becoming pregnant. Just as I give myself a year to lose the baby weight, I am giving myself a year to get my routines and habits back on track and up to snuff.
The organizing principle behind all 30 habits is really increasing my energy and stamina, which are what go out the window during pregnancy.
If I were to keep a scorecard for the habits I’ve worked on so far, it would have many, many blank spots. It’s not been an all-gold-star, all-the-time sort of thing. But that’s ok. I’m still pleased with how it’s going. The further I get down the list, the more I am convinced that I had nailed the habits that are important for me to handle life well, and that helps keep my motivation up.
Each month I add in another habit from each of my three categories. For April, then, my habits are
Organization: Set 3 things
Every morning, I look at my to-do list on Remember the Milk, look at my calendar, look at my habit list & my daily routine list (this morning list-checking was my March organization habit), and then decide on 3 things that are most important to do that day. It can be easy to be overwhelmed simply by looking around the house, at my book piles, at the children, and the school stuff, and not know where to start because there is so much that could be and should be done.
So, I take a little time first thing (either before the kids are up or while they’re doing their chores), look over my day, and pick what needs to be prioritized. Then, when I’m tempted to get sidetracked with something easier to do or something more interesting or just something distracting, I am reminded that I first need to do the priority items.
I must say, having set up my paperless home organization as I wrote the ebook, and having the principles all lined out and my lists all available digitally and at my fingertips has been awesome. I finally feel like all my organization projects over the last 10 years are finally getting somewhere and gaining traction in my life.
These priority tasks can be as mundane as “fold & put away the 5 baskets of clean laundry that’s collected over the last 3 days.” Such tasks need a little extra prodding to help me over the hump of dread.
Some are projects or scheduled events like Tuesday’s: “Kid photo shoot at the park with my sister.” It was on the calendar, it was going to happen because it was an appointment with my sister, but I needed to make it clear to myself that that was a project for the day, and it would eat a significant amount of time, and I’d have to be realistic about much of anything else getting done that day. Still, it was a lot of fun, too. She did a great job and I can’t wait to see the photos she got! New sidebar pictures coming soon….
Happy Home: Eat breakfast with kids
Have you read Leila’s dinnertime posts? If not, you simply must stop reading here and go spend your time over there: Seven Strategies for Dinner with the Barbarians. One comment she made has stuck in my head: “Because, if your own mother won’t eat with you, who will?”
My sitting at the table with the children would make a world of difference in the raucousness that often breaks out. Sometimes it’s good natured, but just too silly for the table. Sometimes it’s hurt feelings, arguments, or accidents. All of these things could be at least minimized if not prevented if I was simply there and aware. There would be no need for anyone to utter that threatening phrase, “I’m telling!”
But, I really don’t want to. I think most anyone with a passel of children with whom they are home all day understands this. It is draining. I’d rather be getting some chores done while they’re occupied (on good days) or reading email and blogs (on most days).
When my husband, who has never read Leila’s blog and didn’t know I was already wrestling with this idea and trying to argue with myself about why I didn’t have to, said out of the blue one day, “I know it’s hard, I know you some down time, but I think the atmosphere would be a lot better if you were just at the table when they are.” Sigh. Time to stop fighting with myself. I guess it’s something I really should do after all.
As he pointed out, a corollary I haven’t totally solved is finding an appropriate time and place to get that down time. It’s hard when the dynamics shift so often with growing little ones.
We’ll give it a go, though, and see if it’s worth it.
Health & Energy: Salad for lunch
I had already been doing this one mostly, so this will be my easy habit for the month. In fact, I’d been having a salad (with a bit of leftover meat, or nuts, or cheese, or a combination, to get some fat & protein to help the meal stick) for lunch for a couple months now. But last week I fell off the salad wagon (I was tired of the effort it involves), and noticed that my weight loss stalled and I didn’t quite feel as well. I think a big dinner plate of lettuce or spinach, with a few additions to make it interesting, is cleansing and energizing (in a basic way, not in any weird detox way).
So, I’m trying to make a big salad as much a part of my routine and sense of self as my eggs-for-breakfast currently is. I purchased Renee Tougas’ ebook on lunch salads, Eat This: Meal Salads & Whole Food Dressings , and found it encouraging and helpful in thinking through how to make a salad filling and last me through to dinner.
She focuses on making lunch a plant-based meal, which isn’t part of my goal, but she has some good dressing recipes and a good pep-talk for making salad lunches a regular part of life. It’s a good thing I am content to add some meat or cheese to my salad, because she emphasizes adding beans, which make my baby gassy and fussy and, for right now, I’m counting as a starchy food in my low/no-starch (another way of thinking about low-carb) plan.
In another month I’ll have lettuce and greens I can harvest from my garden. That will be fun!
I’m pretty happy with my progress in my chosen habits, even though there are still several that I find hard. Overall, it’s been a very good focus for me to have, particularly since I deliberately picked the little, unglamorous things. They are the habits of the 80/20 principle: the 20% that yields 80%. They are the habits with a high return-on-investment.
This month, also I look forward to getting outside a lot more as the sun and warm weather returns and I have a garden and yard to work in. Also, I am hoping I can fit in participating in Simple Mom’s Project Simplify. I have for the last 2 years and have always been happy I did. And boy, do I have spaces that need tackling and decluttering this year! Whew. Still, I’m keeping in mind that “small things” principle. I think there are several areas that would actually not take long to put back into order, but would yield much peace of mind and greater time-saving organization.