Lately, I’ve realized just how out of whack my habits have always been. Over the last few years I’ve gradually shed many bad habits and tried to establish some good ones in their place. The closer I get to freedom from the bad habits, the more I see just how destructive they can be.
I think one of the reasons I had to quit blogging several years ago is because I had attached several destructive habits to my blogging routine. Some of these are as simple as allowing too much screen time to distract the kids, choosing to scroll through Twitter instead of reading a good book, networking with other bloggers over getting outside for fresh air and exercise, or allowing myself to feel anxious about how my content measures up with others.
My bad habits go back farther even than that, though. Even before “blog” was a word in the common vernacular, I had bad habits. I have habitually stayed up too late at night consuming vast amounts of media, wasted a lot of time trying to control the details of my future only to see those plans fail, and allowed myself to live in a sedentary pattern and put off establishing discipline over my body and will.
I think these habits are common enough that most people can relate to one or all of them to some extent. Now that I have small children, though, and I have embraced the process of mothering them as the fundamental calling on my life- I see how the establishment of good habit patterns is probably the most important thing I can give to my kids! I see how I should model good habits for them, and actively teach them how to develop a healthy rhythm for their own lives.
Let children alone… the education of habit is successful in so far as it enables the mother to let her children alone, not teasing them with perpetual commands and directions – a running fire of Do and Don’t ; but letting them go their own way and grow, having first secured that they will go the right way and grow to fruitful purpose. (Charlotte Mason)
I’ve determined to give more of my effort to the teaching of good habits, and I know that my kids will be grateful for the instruction later. I’m sort of overwhelmed trying to think of the best place to begin, but I’m convinced this is important! I want my children to grow up with character that exceeds that of their peers, and this goal should be higher even than academic success. If I can equip them with the tools they need to make good use of the time God has allowed them, then they will be better prepared for life than others in their generation!
Right habits are like the acorns we observed in our front yard last week. Since we hadn’t mown the lawn in a few weeks, the acorns falling from our oak tree had begun to sprout roots. My boys loved pulling the little saplings that had sprung up and observing the split acorns still holding part of the root structure. We talked about how, left alone, one of these saplings has the potential to become as large as the tree that produced the acorn. Left alone, the roots get deeper and would be much harder to remove. So, will I allow the best acorns to take root in my boy’s hearts?
It’s Monday morning, and I haven’t written out our homeschool lesson plan for the week yet. I’ve been meditating on this notion of habits all weekend, and thinking about how to begin approaching it with intention. I really want to slow down and put my heart into habit formation with the kids, and I want to make sure we choose the right habits.
Today, I’m observing our life and taking notes. We’re going to talk about numbers this morning, and we’re going to practice reading and spelling. We’ll head outside at some point and plant some fall mums and turn the compost pile. But I don’t want to do these things just so we can mark them off the to-do list. I want to do them because it’s the right thing to do!
The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days. (Charlotte Mason)