I am thrilled to have Dr. Melanie Wilson as a guest writer today. She is sharing why she believes habits are the heart of the home and how you can begin creating habits that bless your family and home. She is a Christian psychologist and a homeschool mom to her 6 children. I’ve asked her to share her thoughts on the importance of habits for families. Melanie has also just released her new book, The Organized Homeschool Life, a week-by-week guide to homeschool sanity, even if you’re not a naturally organized person.
You’re ready to make some changes in your home. Maybe you’ve read a great book, found a few great ideas on Pinterest, or you’d just like reality to be a little closer to the dream you have for your family. But if you’re being honest, you’ve been here before–ready to change things for the better–and it didn’t last. You or the kids got sick, you couldn’t keep up with your plan once the holidays were over, or you don’t know why. It just didn’t work the way you thought it would. I’ve been there! When I started thinking like a psychologist instead of a mom, I realized what the problem was.
Inspiration & Ideas don’t change our homes; habits do.
A big clean-up, a fun game night, a wonderful time doing family devotions are all fantastic ways of creating the kind of orderly, close-knit homes we dream of. But if they’re one-time events, we will be disappointed. We need to do the things that create the home environment we want repeatedly.
Habits are the Heart of the Home
What does that mean? It means doing home-building tasks like decluttering, meal planning, and one-on-one time:
- When you’re tired
- When the initial excitement has worn off
- When no one thanks you for doing it
- When you think you don’t have time
- When you don’t see it paying off
That mom you know who seems relaxed about having you over to her tidy home picks up and has her kids doing chores every day and not in a mad dash before company comes over. Your friends who seem to have a great marriage make time to talk and be intimate regularly–not just on special occasions. The aspects of your home that are functioning well are also the result of habits. You’re doing the same things consistently and you’re reaping the rewards.
How to Build Good Habits
If you agree that consistently spending time doing the things that will build your home is the key to success, you may wonder how to get started.
First, choose one habit to start.
When we are full of enthusiasm for making changes, we can come up with 50 things we want to change right now. But success is unlikely if we try to create too many habits at once. Which habit would have the biggest impact in your home?
I realized that my going upstairs at 9 p.m. would have the biggest impact in our home. It allows me to do devotions with my daughter in the evening, get the kids reading before bed, and have time alone with my husband before I’m exhausted. All of these benefits come from the one habit of going upstairs at 9.
Second, commit to doing these things even when you don’t feel like it.
When I’m tired at night and I don’t want to put my clothes away, I remind myself that women with neat closets do this quick task even when they’re tired. I also remind myself that I will just have more to do the next day if I don’t do it. When you have a good “why” for your habit and you review it regularly, you’re more likely to commit to it. Now that I think of it, I should post this quote from FLYLady in my closet:
“The mere contemplation of work causes more fatigue than the job itself.”
Third, support your habit.
We know that people with bad habits have trouble breaking them because of their environment. They spend time with people who support their habit (they hang out with people who smoke, for example). They make their habit easily accessible (e.g., they keep plenty of sweets in the house). We can use our environment to support our good habits, too. Talk to your family about the changes you want to make and why. Ask them to help hold you accountable. My daughter knows that I plan to do devotions with her at 9 p.m. and she will remind me. Talk to friends in person or online who also want to develop a good habit. Check in daily to ask how you did. Groups can be great accountability, too. I’ll be using my Facebook group to help hold me accountable to completing homeschool organizing challenges. Make it easy to do your good habit. Set an alarm. I set an alarm on my phone to go off at 9. Make sure any tools you need are out as a reminder. I’m going to keep my mother-daughter devotional on the bookcase at the top of the stairs. I won’t have any excuse to forget.
Maybe you’ve despaired of ever making the change you know you need to make to benefit your family. God is in the business of changing people. He has definitely changed me when psychology couldn’t. I share what a disaster I was in the book, So You’re Not Wonder Woman. You can use a prayer app to remind you to pray. Find Scriptures that relate to the habit you want to establish and pray through them daily. I also highly recommend the book, The Renewing of the Mind Project, by my dear friend, Barb Raveling. The book provides you with questions and Scriptures to review to help you create your habit. It will also teach you about a powerful practice she calls Truth Journaling. If you will complete these steps, your home can be transformed by habits.
I have one final word of encouragement for you. Absolutely everyone is capable of forming good habits. If you’ve ever inadvertently taught a pet to do something by habit (like run to the door when you put your coat on), you know that’s true. Be sure to pin this post so you can review it. You can do this!
What habit are you going to establish?
Dr. Melanie Wilson is a Christian psychologist turned homeschooling mother of 6. She blogs at Psychowith6.com and is the author of The Organized Homeschool Life and the host of The Homeschool Sanity Show.
Melanie’s book is NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon! Click to buy your copy today!