What is a habit? A habit is something you do daily without thinking much about it. It just naturally flows into you day and doesn’t stand out to you as something you trained yourself to do. Want to become a new person or start doing new things? Well the trick is to make those actions habits! There is a saying that says “It takes 21 days to form a habit” and that is partially true, people have been using it for years, however I think it’s a matter of what the habit is and the level of disruption to your previous schedule to determine how long it will take for you to just get used to doing these things. A study in the European Journal of Social Psychology says that 21 is actually the minimum and it takes closer to 2 months or 66 days for a habit to become a new behavior. As someone who has repeatedly fallen in and out of behaviors (most commonly exercise) I think that this is an accurate statement however this post is about a simple change that can help change your outlook on the day.
What you ask is that task, the behavior we want to turn into a habit? Well my friends it is as simple as :
“It might be a small accomplishment, but it sets the tone for the entire day. Perhaps no one has extolled this virtue of making the bed each morning as well as Naval Admiral William McRaven, the commander of U.S. Special Operations. In a 2014 commencement speech at University of Texas at Austin, Admiral McRaven said: ‘If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.’” Quote provided by theSpruce.com
So why was this important for me to not only do myself but to have my kids buy into and change their morning routine? First of all the selfish mom thoughts about how much tidier a room looks with a freshly made bed that was originally what sold me, but that is not something you are going to get kids to care enough about to change what they are doing. So what is the key for them? We listened to a Veteran at school a few years ago that quoted Admiral McRaven and told kids that some days are hard but starting with getting your first accomplishment out of the way is a positive way to get that day going. My son thought this was a great idea however needed a little more motivation to keep it up so I did what any good mother would do…bribery. Here I go again…don’t judge me friends it does sometimes work.
Last spring I told my kiddos that if they made their bed every single day for 21 days in a row then I would give them each $10 (actually my Dad was so impressed by this habit forming process he volunteered to pay them). Missing a day would reset the clock and they would have to start all over again and they both hit their goal! I am proud to say 7 months later they are still making their bed every morning (yes we will be rushed and they will miss one now and again we are human but then they rush up to make it after school and this has only been about 10 times total). It is the first thing they do in the morning and we don’t even have to talk about it anymore. #proudmom
Now to work on those fitness goals for myself…January here I come!
Let me know any techniques you have for forming healthy habits? Any other ideas of things to add to your kids days to help them become well rounded adults? I would love to hear from you!