Coincidentally, I don't know if it's just me or maybe I'm weird, but one of my personal biggest pet peeves is any sort of noisy repetition. I have to REALLY hold onto my patience if I hear anyone say something several times in a row, like, when the kids, all in one accord, make up a silly sing and clap song and sing it repetitively for 10 minutes. I HAVE to stop them by the 4th or 5th time around. "It's a cool song, guys, but you just have to stop."
Or, when my 11 year old yells, "Stop it!" 3 times toward the back of the van at her younger siblings who keep kicking her seat. Why didn't they stop the first time? Why did it need to be said 3 times? My blood instantly starts boiling by the third repetitive remark. (Still just me?)
Unfortunately, my career of choice (Career Mom, at your service) puts me in a position to have to deal with this daily. Now I'm forced to hear MYSELF repeat things again and again. TORTURE! Am I the only one who says the following statements to 3 or more different kids 3 times a day? (Yes, that's at least 9 times that I repeat these statements DAILY.)
"Go brush your teeth.... I said go brush your teeth. Did you brush your teeth?"I sometimes get in these "poor me" moods where I feel like every second of my day is being wasted talking to THE WALL! Is this it for me? What have I done today that I won't have to repeat tomorrow? Have I made any headway in their brains at all? I now understand every annoying iconic statement my mother made to me when I was a child.
"Don't forget to floss. ... Did you floss?"
"Hang your coat..... Pick up your coat. ... Where's your coat?"
"Pick up your shoes."
"Shut the front door. Why is the door open? IT'S COLD OUT! SHUT THE DOOOOOR!"
"Am I talking to the wall?"
"Don't make me tell you again."
"I feel like I'm wasting my breath."
I don't want to be that mom.
At the same time, the repetition comes with the job! The fact is that most of the time, we're not just trying to instruct our kids to do a single task. Our frustration comes from seeing the task for what it is singularly when usually, we're really trying to help them form a habit to complete that task on their own daily. Let's think of ourselves for a minute and all the goals and habits we're trying to form in our daily lives. I've had a goal of drinking 16 ounces of water first thing in the morning for YEARS and I still haven't made it a habit. I imagine if my mother were the one requiring that habit, she would still be repeating herself every morning to me, "Did you drink your water yet? Where's your water? Did you finish your water?" But I would be too busy with some other idea or task that took precedence.
We've all heard the "21 days to form a habit" idea, but I did a quick google search and came across an article that referenced a book called "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" by Per Dean. I'll re-share the excerpt:
"The simple answer is that, on average, across the participants who provided enough data, it took 66 days until a habit was formed. As you might imagine, there was considerable variation in how long habits took to form depending on what people tried to do. People who resolved to drink a glass of water after breakfast were up to maximum automaticity after about 20 days, while those trying to eat a piece of fruit with lunch took at least twice as long to turn it into a habit. The exercise habit proved most tricky with '50 sit-ups after morning coffee,' still not a habit after 84 days for one participant. 'Walking for 10 minutes after breakfast,' though, was turned into a habit after 50 days for another participant. ...Indeed, overall, the researchers were surprised by how slowly habits seemed to form. Although the study only covered 84 days, by extrapolating the curves, it turned out that some of the habits could have taken around 254 days to form -- the better part of a year! What this research suggests is that 21 days to form a habit is probably right, as long as all you want to do is drink a glass of water after breakfast. Anything harder is likely to take longer to become a really strong habit, and, in the case of some activities, much longer."I was kind of kicking myself as I read this to prepare my post. As annoying as it is for me to repeat myself again and again, I can imagine it's just as tiring to my kids to keep hearing it. Let alone, falling under the wrath of my anger at their inability to form the habit in the unreasonable time frame I expected, and likely without the proper consistency either. Do I think they purposely under-perform the tasks I've asked of them? NO!
Paul talks about the works of his flesh in Romans 7:15-25.
"15 I don’t understand what I do. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate to do. 16 I do what I don’t want to do. So I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, I am no longer the one who does these things. It is sin living in me that does them. 18 I know there is nothing good in my desires controlled by sin. I want to do what is good, but I can’t. 19 I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don’t want to do. 20 I do what I don’t want to do. But I am not really the one who is doing it. It is sin living in me that does it.21 Here is the law I find working in me. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 Deep inside me I find joy in God’s law. 23 But I see another law working in me. It fights against the law of my mind. It makes me a prisoner of the law of sin. That law controls me. 24 What a terrible failure I am! Who will save me from this sin that brings death to my body? 25 I give thanks to God who saves me. He saves me through Jesus Christ our Lord."You can swap out the words "sin" and "evil" for "flesh," meaning, our natural body's desire.
I included verses 21-25 to point out the Grace of God. How thankful I am that we serve a God who saved us despite our short comings!! God, teach me to be so patient with my own kids, as you are with us all.
So what do we do? Well, first of all, if they're going to successfully form the habits I feel they need in order to live the upright lives I believe they're called to, they will need consistent instruction from me. AND if I'm going to be able to provide that, I need Jesus. Really. Let's face it. The Holy Spirit is where we draw the strength we need to reach outside of our natural behaviors and grasp new heights. They don't call Him the Helper for nothin'.
"John 14:25 "I have spoken all these things while I am still with you. 26 But the Father will send the Friend in my name to help you. The Friend is the Holy Spirit. He will teach you all things. He will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 I leave my peace with you. I give my peace to you. I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be troubled. And do not be afraid."I needed this reminder today, so I'm thankful to have made time to write this to you, and to myself. (Newsflash: These posts are always for me.) I beat myself up, and my family up far too often and when it comes down to it, the only thing I can do to make any advancement is to get back to Jesus.
Now that I've written ^ all of the previous unplanned text, I will get to the part that I originally set out to share:
When it comes to consistent instruction, I've found it extremely helpful and burden lifting on all people involved, to find and insert fun, new ways to administer that instruction. Just like any habit making, we all could benefit from a little accountability. Here's a fun little game I made up to play over the course of 6(ish) weeks, to make "daily task" accomplishments a little more exciting in the Salinas House:
The best part: I'm not allowed to tell them anything. For instance, we did a week on making their beds. Not once that week was I allowed to say, "Make your bed."
NO REPEATING MYSELF about their bedroom lights for one whole week?!?! Sign me up! This game has been a HUGE HIT! Do I think this 6 week game is going to conclusively shape the habits I'm highlighting? No, but for 6 weeks, I have a little help in providing instruction, and the kids get a little relief from my constant nagging. A very special mom who I look up to even sent the kids $10 to award the top winner at the end of the 6 weeks!
This game isn't going to work forever. I'm looking for your fun ideas. If you don't have one of your own to share in the comments below, I'm challenging you to create one, or to find a fun game online and share it below. My 6 weeks is almost up, and I'm looking to find something new and fun to start afterwards.
Parenting is a tough job! But we can help each other to make the road a little more enjoyable!
Here's to parents everywhere,
God Bless Your Home and Family,