It only takes 28 days (or 4 weeks) of repetition to get a new habit to stick, but how do you decide what new habits you want to build? Every year, when it comes time to make New Year Resolutions, there's all kinds of stuff which traditionally appears on the list. But there's a good reason most New Year Resolutions fail and one is they can actually cause overload to an already busy and stressed individual. Instead, how about building new habits which could be useful?
While I generally avoid anything along gender lines, here are some suggestions made by and for women with families - some who work outside of the home and some who did not - but would also be useful for men involved in family life.
Unsurprisingly, the benefits of meal planning, batch cooking, and a regular grocery delivery service topped the list. But a new one I loved - for those who have a 'voice controlled personal assistant' like Amazon's Alexa or Google's Assistant - one genius idea is to shout out as you run out of things/think of something you want, and it'll be added to your shopping list for when you're ready to make your order. When I was a working mother, I'd have given my right arm for an Alexa if only for this ability.
Doing small chores as you wait for the kettle to boil - I sweep the kitchen floor, fold laundry, load or unload the dishwasher/washing machine, or wash up. Making the bed every morning has been a game changer for me too. Both are new(ish) habits and ones I love.
Recording TV so it can be watched without adverts is another much touted favourite, although I prefer to get up and stretch my legs, which leads nicely to the "walk more" suggestion, either as pure exercise or as an alternative transport method to get places. Removing games from phones and adding a kindle app to it so you read instead is another which - as an avid reader - I heartily endorse, as is having a fruit bowl on your desk for avoiding the unhealthy munchies.
Among the recommendations I was delighted to see the present box/cupboard - where you hold all the elements to wrap a gift, plus a selection of greeting cards & stamps. Additionally, during those years when your child attends a party for most of his class, bulk buying age appropriate gifts and stacking them in said box/cupboard can prove a huge time saver. I still have family birthday cards for the year ahead in a drawer, along with stamps, and I can wrap any present out of my suitcase of gift stuff. Of course, the truly organised shop for gifts in advance, starting their Christmas shopping in the New Year sales - something I wish I'd heard about when I had lots of Christmas gifts to buy.
Wardrobe planning also now seems to be quite the thing. While there have long been methodologies for handling school uniforms and a man's working wardrobe once a week, women now seem to be advocating wardrobe planning for themselves, whether working or stay-at-home. There are apps for maximising your wardrobe, but many women simply select the option of hanging up 5 outfits on a Sunday night, including underwear and accessories. My own system which evolved over the years is more of a simplification policy. All my footwear and bags are black. I have accent colours - scarves, tops, the odd dress - in greens, blues and a touch of red. For office work, suits in black or grey, so all that's needed is to select a weather appropriate top. Even now working from home, I keep it simple. I shop to fill gaps, not for fun, and haven't had a clothing crisis for over 10 years.
The biggies though were ...
Saying no! Both to invitations you don't want to attend and to requests from difficult/demanding people, and enjoying the feeling of relief when you've done so!
Just do it! There were two mantras which stood out: "if it takes less than two minutes to do - do it now" and from Mark Twain "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first."
I'm not great at practising these, but when I do ... oh my what a difference!
Don't save the good stuff - use it and enjoy it!
Lastly, but most lovely, teaching your children to ask their parents and siblings "how was your day?" and to engage in the conversation which naturally follows. Isn't that the most wonderful idea and such a great habit to instil in your children for life?
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