Have you ever been in this scenario? You’re out of town and want recommendations of places to take your family. You ask your server at breakfast and she tells you about a must-see hidden gem that is never crowded. When she gives you directions, instead of street names, she lets you know what landmarks you will pass--which is okay, but not ideal. But then some of the landmarks are places that no longer exist--“Make a left where the Shoney’s used to be,” and you tune out and head somewhere else because there is no way you are ever going to find this place.
We can imagine you might be feeling the same way about habits and goal setting.
You may have pinned lots of trackers and schedules with the best intentions to fill them out. You may have tried to develop a sense of routine during homeschooling but it turns out no amount of printables or fancy stickers or gold stars apply to your family and your family’s needs. By week two-- if you make it that far--you’re ready to throw in the towel. You decide perhaps chaos is just how your family thrives.
Our 50 Ways to Boost Your Child's Habits, is a fast track to getting results with fewer late nights and more peaceful mornings. But that means you may need to do some reflecting in order to make it happen. Check out our Habit Roadmap, which will help you discover more about your family, your choices, and how to introduce new habits in a way that will stick. We’ve broken it down into six steps that we think everyone can relate to. Think about each step every time there is new goal setting on the horizon.
Step One: Visualize
This is easy and you’ve likely done it many times without realizing it. Have you ever stood in the middle of your living room and just watched your kids jumping on the sofa and for just a brief moment, imagined what life would be like if you didn’t step on Legos, didn't have to break up fights, didn’t have to reassemble the couch after a fort was made three days ago? You close your eyes and find a serene sense of peace until you’re suddenly jolted back to reality when a piece of pizza hits you square in the face. Okay, maybe it’s not THAT bad, but if you’ve ever just imagined what your world would be like with a little more order to it, then you’ve visualized. So think about the habit you want to introduce to your kiddos and write down how you think this will help you. When you can visualize the end result, you are more likely to stay on track or adjust your expectations.
Step Two: Incentivize
We’ll be honest. We don’t even want to look at a pile of laundry unless we know we’re rewarded with 5 minutes ALONE after it's all put away. Goal setting and incentives go hand in hand. Think about what’s most important to your family when it comes to incentives. Do your kids want extra playtime? Fun day trips? Stickers? Think about how old your kids are and what motivates them. And if you don’t know, ask them. Letting them be part of the creation of the habit shows you really do have their best interest at heart and may motivate them even more.
Step Three: Reorganize
Sometimes all it takes is looking at what you’re currently doing and making it a standard process. If you want your kids to go to bed and stay in bed, look at everything that gets them out of bed--drink of water, hugging, showing you a project they worked on, brushing teeth, turning on the nightlight (it’s amazing all of the things kids remember that they NEED to do before it’s lights out)... Turn this into your routine and make sure the last step is getting in bed.
Step Four: Prioritize
We can’t stress this enough--you have to think about what is most important to your family and make that a priority. If you really don’t care how their books are arranged on a shelf as long as they’re put away, then don’t spend time organizing them by color or author’s name. If you don’t separate your clothes into specific drawers, do your kids really need to? You have to make sure that what you choose is important. You don’t want to send mixed messages because they are less likely to create a lasting habit.
Step Five: Memorize
Yes, the goal is for your kiddo to be able to make this habit a part of daily life. But that might take some time. Think about how you can make it easier. Anagrams? Singing the steps to a familiar song? Checklists? It might even be that you have to perform all of the steps with them for a little longer than you were expecting or work through the process with them. Don’t get frustrated with this because they’ll pick up on your energy and they’ll either get frustrated too or they won’t look forward to it because they know it puts you in a bad mood. If it’s a priority, then it’s worth it to spend the time teaching them the steps.
Step Six: Publicize
You might think it’s not noteworthy that your kiddo made his bed seven days in a row. But if you want to make it to eight, you’ve gotta keep him motivated with some extra accolades. Put any notes of encouragement where they can read them and make sure you mention their successes to the whole family. If you don’t think praise for the little things matter, consider Reese Witherspoon’s 2006 Oscar acceptance speech: “I'm so blessed to have my family here tonight. My mother and my father are here. And I just want to say thank you so much for everything, for being so proud of me. It didn't matter if I was making my bed or makin' a movie. They never hesitated to say how proud they were of me, and that means so very much to a child. So, thank you, mom and dad.”
The Habit Roadmap is like a parenting hack that we wish we had earlier for our kids.
Yes, six steps every time you do something might feel a little daunting at first, but we promise you’ll get your family into a rhythm of setting new habits and have a common language that will make goal setting easier over time. Now instead of scrolling Pinterest for chore charts or parenting tips you can save it for vacation planning and designing your lottery dream house.