My Snooze Button Habit

Baby tiny steps
Baby tiny steps

I think I’ve mentioned here that I am not one for mornings.  I can wake up when I need to, but my preferred morning routine is to stay in bed and lounge as long as possible.  I love a slow start.

Recent suggestions for starting a writing habit include lots of advice about the merits of getting up early and writing first thing. To me, that seems ridiculously hard.  TWO new habits at once? Waking up AND writing?  Ridiculous!  I am trying to break this down into at least three parts.  Tiny baby steps.

First Step:  Wake up on time.

Here is how the morning wake up usually goes:  First alarm goes off 20 minutes before I need to get up.  I hit snooze and it goes off again right before my second alarm. Second alarm goes off 10 minutes before I MUST to get up.  I hit snooze on this and when all hell breaks loose on both alarm snoozes ringing, I know my time is up.  Nuts right?  Twenty full minutes of alarm/snooze button hell!

My first step:  Cut it down to one alarm that rings ten minutes before I have to get up and going for the  day. Immediately I put my feet on the floor, hit snooze, and do 10 minutes of stretching. When snooze goes off, I know I have to stop stretching and get dressed. I give myself a sticker on a pretty wall calendar I’ve hung by my bed when I do this.  (Putting some of my daughters’ excess Frozen stickers and behavior chart techniques to good use). So far it has been 15 days in a row. Seeing that line of stickers makes me not what to miss a day. Childish? Perhaps, but I am a whiny child about waking up early, so that is how I’m treating myself.

Maybe if I get to a month of waking up on time, I’ll try to wake up ten minutes earlier as my second step.  No need to rush this thing.  This first step has been tiny, but rewarding. Ultimately, I’d like to wake up 30 minutes early with 10 minutes of stretching and 20 minutes of writing. But like I said, tiny baby steps.

Time to flip the calendar to June.


Getting in the Groove. Habits.

Play dates, thank you notes, sunshine, and shade
Play dates, thank you notes, sunshine, and shade.  (First ever Instagram photo.  So much to learn!)

So the truth of the matter is that I am a creature of habit.  I think most of us are.  It’s like the groove on a record that the needle follows.  (If you are too young to have sat for hours watching a vinyl record go round and round during your teenage years of angst, go google it and see what I mean.)  Once those grooves get laid, it takes a bump or a a scratch to make the needle jump its course.  Why would anyone in their right mind want to be hit off course, or scratched and scarred to change the course of ones life?

Well.  So many reasons actually.  A concrete example…

I am really trying to bump that needle out of its groove when it comes to my fair skinned family’s path towards skin cancer. My grandmother had many skin cancers removed, and had the scars to prove it.  My mother, who life-guarded in her youth covered in baby oil, gets bits of her skin cut off every six months or so.  And now I visit her same dermatologist to get checked and have a few of my own scars. (My mother guiltily recounts stories of me having sunburns so badly when I was young that the blisters covered my shoulders, nose, and back.)

My girls? …I slather on sunscreen and hope that after three generations of women (that I know of), we have learned.  Knowing what I SHOULD do is not enough.  I regularly fail. No epic blisters yet, but still, the slightest bit of pink on their skin makes me feel the mother’s shame of failure.  (Mothers’ shaming themselves over child rearing imperfections is another groove that we all need to scratch. Or maybe we can lift the needle and skip over that song all together.)

This failure to change behavior makes me wonder.  Does it take generations to change some habits? Are habits a bit like culture or genetics, sometimes it takes many lifetimes to shift even one groove, delete one gene, erase one hurtful practice? Or can we shake it up in the course of our own life? What will it take for me to change my habits?

Maybe a little self-love is in order.  When I start to shame myself for whatever new habit I am failing at, I need to rethink the groove.  Maybe my new habit of writing for this blog needs to be re-visioned as my thank you note to the universe. Generations of women in my family have written thank you notes.  That is a one groove I know well.

Starting a New Habit

The blog challenge I am working on started its DAY 4 email with:

“Before we go on, we want to make something very clear: the whole point of this challenge is to build your consistent writing habit so you start to give your ideas room to grow and share them with others.

We see that as the most powerful self-discovery process on the planet. You’ll start to learn what excites you, what others resonate with and how you can combine those two to build a career around something you care about.”

It continued with,

The more we can identify our life’s highlights, the better we’ll be able to notice the patterns in our actions and thinking that led to those outcomes. Shoot for that minimum 100 word limit and ideally write this first thing in the morning, before distractions hit.”

—-LYL blog challenge DAY 4

All sounded great!  I love writing, but, well, we have a love/hate sort of thing.  I get distracted and blather on and on and then have to edit like mad, cutting out so much squirrel chatter it is exhausting and time consuming. (Larry and I find each others company amusing. We stay up way too late to talk.)

Why NOT just stay up late?  Why fight the night owl urge?

Here’s the rub:

(Young children + mornings + staying up too late writing) x posting publicly to my blog = a cranky mommy/wife with blog anxiety.

Once my family wakes up, my writing intentions get very little priority until after they all go to bed at night.  My children want my undivided attention.  My husband needs a parenting partner.  My work is flexible, but still has need of my time!

So how do I make blog writing a habit?  It’s only been a week and I am still at it, but WOW, I had no idea how ridiculously hard this would be for me. I cannot write and multitask.  It is all consuming. I’ve been resisting the “wake up early!” method  as I’ve never have been one much for mornings.

Guess that is why LYL calls it a blog challenge.

…maybe I’ll procrastinate on writing anymore and go reread Gretchin Rubin’s book about forming habits Better Than Before.