People, this book has ruined my life.
I read several good reviews and was totally stoked when I picked it up in Barnes and Noble on a date with the hubs. I needed it so bad I spent full price on it. I cannot even tell you the last time that happened, cause me and Amazon used booksellers are tight yo.
I couldn’t put it down and finished it within a few days. IMMEDIATELY I became obsessed with studying my own bad habits and figuring out their root causes. The author Charles Duhigg asserts that we all have habit loops. When exposed to a certain cue, we fall into a set routine which rewards us with a predictable outcome.
My number one bad habit? Stopping throughout the day to check Facebook or Instagram on my iPod and getting caught up in something and ultimately wasting precious time that I should be using on teaching, eating, showering or hauling someone to the toilet. As I went through my day, I made a mental note every time I felt compelled to sit down and take an online breather. I quickly realized my cue, what set me into my routine of wasting time online, was fatigue, or more accurately downright exhaustion.
Every time I completed something that needed to get done (make breakfast, feed Fulton, lift Teddy from his chair to the sofa, etc.) I would feel tired and want to take a break and escape. Until I stopped being so tired, it seem inconceivable that I could break my habit.
Remember how I posted awhile back I was rising between 5-530 to start my day? Well, I was still trying to do that, though admittedly it’d been getting harder and harder. But I relished that time in the morning by myself and I cranked out some great blog posts in the morning silence, as well as trained for all seven of my runs. Unfortunately, I wasn’t going to bed until after 10 p.m. and Tony and I still wake up multiple times a night to tend to the boys. I really thought I could manage long-term on less than seven (or more likely six) hours of sleep a night. I thought my drifting off to sleep at 10 a.m. while Edie read to me on the couch, or my falling asleep in the waiting room at physical therapy at 2:30 might indicate a thyroid issue or something. Seriously, who thinks that? Obviously my brain was a mess.
I decided, in order to be less tired during the day I needed to commit to sleeping eight hours a night. Even with the wake ups, I needed to schedule eight hours for rest. I was going to give up my early morning writing, not resume any late night reading and, ideally, sleep from 10 until 6. Mornings consisted of getting up, praying, drinking coffee and getting dressed. (By 6:30 the kids are being schooled in Latin by Tony, and inevitably the little boys are up around 7.)
The results were almost immediate. Within a week or so, I knew that sleep deprivation had been at the root of many bad habits I’d slipped into. Suddenly, I didn’t need to constantly sit down to rest or escape upstairs to try to hide from the kids before noon. I was getting dressed more days than not, and sticking to our school schedule. I was singing our phonic songs without gritting my teeth.
But when, dear readers do you suppose I was finding time for myself? For writing, reading, catching up on my favorite bloggers??? Well, I’m still looking for it. My free time has been sacrificed to sleep.
I’d love to say, I don’t need ‘me’ time. I just feed off the love of my children and the satisfaction of staying home and educating my brood. I’d love to say my vocations of wife, mother, teacher and nurse completely fulfill me and I haven’t been a whiney witch at all. Who needs to blog or read a fascinating non-fiction title on world poverty when you can just read stories aloud and organize the pantry and help your kids with their chemistry experiments?!?!?!?
I keep trying to squeeze some writing in here or there, or one night I’ll stay up too late. The next day I push-off breakfast a half hour so I can just finish something up.
But then, because I’m so rushed, and my train of thought is broken a million times by the needs of my children, who do deserve my time and attention, I wind up getting angry. I don’t like what I write. I can’t write about the things I want because I can’t focus. I can’t take pictures or edit pictures because there is no time for me during the day without sacrificing something that is actually important.
Reading has become what I do while waiting for the kids at music practice.
I’m trying to not be bitter. I feel like I’m a better, happier person when I have a regular creative outlet or quiet time. I haven’t figured out how to have that right now and although I’m trying so hard to just be happy with my vocations in life it’s a frustrating situation for me personally. Especially because my husband is so supportive of my desire to carve out time for myself and I do get some help during the day. The increase in sleep is helping me deal with the overwhelming nature of what I need to get done on a daily basis, but it’s because my day is so crazy that I started waking up early in the first place.
This first world mom, with her fully stocked fridge, nice home, happy family, loving community, devoted husband doesn’t have a right to complain about her ‘me time’; I get that. (Especially when there’s people like Mary with real problems that need your prayer and support.) But damnit, what I do day in and day out is hard and I’m not asking for recognition, money or material goods. I just want some quiet time for myself; to think and to unload my thoughts so I can give my family the best of me the rest of the time.
So thank you ‘The Power of Habit’ for helping me discover the source of my bad habits. Thank you for helping me to become more alert and productive during the day. But curse you for forcing me to sideline my favorite time of the day for the sake of my health. My sanity is undecided on the matter.