My goals for February:
1) Do daily FlyLady routines more regularly, particularly bathroom swish-and-swipe and morning and bedtime routines.
2) Streamline my weekly cleaning.
3) Add in 15 minutes a day of zone decluttering/detail cleaning.
The daily routines for goal #1 went great. I only missed a total of two swish-and-swipe days, and our toilets and sinks are very shiny. The other two goals, haven’t gone so well. Weekly cleaning is getting done, but it’s still a challenge because I try to do more than just the quickie clean one hour will allow and it ends up taking me two hours or more. I went gangbusters with the 15 minutes a day the first week, despite a snow storm that dropped eighteen inches of snow that needed shoveling, but since then I’ve only cleaned the kitchen and laundry room floors, wiped out the fridge, and used an old toothbrush to clean around the fifty-year-old faucets in one of the bathrooms. For that last one, I called my spouse at work to tell him I’d done it.
“Does it look a lot different?” he asked.
“It’s pretty subtle,” I admitted. “That’s why I called you. Now you’ll be ready to give me ample praise when you see the faucets tonight.”
It turns out I need more praise for household tasks than I realized I did.
This month, without any fanfare at all, I’ve started a daily metta (lovingkindness) practice. It has two main parts:
-Each morning after I wake up but before I get out of bed and each evening after I get in bed but before I fall asleep I do some breathing. I count five breaths just focusing on the breath and then I take two breaths for each of the following statements:
May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I live with ease.
May I be free from suffering.
-During the day whenever there’s a lull or a time when I’m getting irritable, I breathe and repeat these statements to myself.
In the past week or so, I’ve started shifting to saying “we” instead of “I” when I repeat the statements, and I’m experimenting with saying them out loud with my kids before we start lessons each morning. Nothing miraculous has come of this, but I do feel less rattled when things don’t go my way and when I have a tantrum, I seem to cool down faster than before. The kids haven’t even mentioned the change, but they like to ring the Zen chime.
In The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, author Christopher Germer cautions that when beginning metta practice, it’s common to have an immediate period of improvement followed by a period about five weeks into the practice when things actually seem to get worse. He attributes this to a shift from doing the practice for its own sake to doing the practice with an endpoint in mind. Knowing this, I’m going to try to temper my enthusiasm for any positive outcomes and keep an eye out for disillusionment and, hopefully, remember it’s all part of the process.
And now for March’s goal:
Reduce yelling and swearing.
1) Continue bringing awareness to my moods before I lose it through mindfulness and lovingkindness practices.
2) Sign up for Gretchen Rubin’s 21 Day Project “Quit Yelling At My Kids”
I’m hesitant about both of my goals this month, the first because listing the practice here attaches it to my goal to yell and swear less, which could derail the practice, and the second because it costs 5 bucks and involves getting a daily e-mail, which I have in spades already. But it’s only twenty-one days, and I figure it’s worth a shot. Plus I’m curious about what sort of tips Rubin has included in these projects.
People are generally surprised (or at least act surprised) when I tell them I yell and swear at home. I have a reputation for being “quiet,” which I can see, but it’s strange to me just how big a deal this seems to be. I mean, people at church have been going out of their way to thank me for talking in meetings, which feels weird because I feel like I’ve been talking all along.
At any rate, my yelling and swearing comes out when I’m with people I care about and who I know won’t stop loving me if I show my ugly side (although to be honest, this is a constant fear). Kind of a crappy reward for being one of my close friends or loved ones, and I’d like to curb it a bit.
It’s the last month of my Habit Experiment! I’m very glad to be about done with this particular project. It’s been educational, but I’m not feeling it like I thought I would.
Points to Ponder:
Do you ever find your goals to be at cross purposes, with one canceling out or threatening to cancel out another?
7 Replies to “Habit Experiment: February Recap, March Kickoff”
I’m trying to curb my yelling and swearing as well. People are also surprised to learn I yell at home.
I wonder if people who seem “quiet” are any more likely than non-quiet people to yell at home? Regardless, I wish it wasn’t so difficult to stop yelling and swearing. I feel like I’ve been working on this since I was a teenager.
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My husband and I are trying to come up with “alternative” swears to say around the kids. My favourite is “4-5-6!!” But it just doesn’t feel the same.
My mother-in-law says her parents used to swear in Serbian so most people outside the family wouldn’t know they were swearing. My parents used to say it’s not the words but the thoughts behind them and swore with impunity in English. I suspect there’s value in any path that brings our awareness to what would otherwise be unconscious outbursts. Of course, some options are likely to be more embarrassing than others when our kids parrot our words in public.
Interesting post. I’ve found it helpful with my children to try and focus on the loving things about them that I see every day – how one made their bed that morning, or thanked me for something I’d done or how curious and playful they are. I make a conscious effort to look for something to love about them regularly. Over time I came to see the positives far outweigh the negatives (even though I knew this before – I didn’t experience it as such). The things that used to irritate and annoy all the time and have me angry at the drop of a hat, now have much less power to rattle me.
May you be free from suffering and enjoy your weekend 🙂
Thank you for your comment, Kim. I like the idea of training our minds to see the positive in our children’s actions. I hesitate to focus too much on the things my kids do because I worry that puts too much focus on my own opinions and judgments about their actions rather than on their inherent worth as the beings they are. Instead, I try to keep a mindful awareness around them and just kind of experience who they are with a feeling of love. This is, however, difficult to combine with my responsibilities as a parent to guide them in their behavior. I haven’t quite figured out the balance yet. Perhaps focusing on the positives is worth a try as I work to avoid yelling during March.
May you, too, be free from suffering.
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