“Der Mensch ist ein Gewohnheitstier” cropped up in a training session I attended at work today. Man is a creature of habit. The seminar was on workplace safety, an annual two-hour long session we have to attend. Informative though it was, I couldn’t help my mind wandering and musing on the phrase. I have heard it a thousand times and I know it certainly applies to me. In many ways I am a very routine person, sticking to my habits. Always taking the same route to work and to school, always drinking coffee on an empty stomach in the mornings, always sweeping the kitchen floor before I can concentrate on getting anything else done in the kitchen.
Routine is good. It gives your day rhythm and provides a feeling of control. Habits though are not necessarily good, are they? It all depends on the actual habit and the consequences it brings with it. Over Christmas, like most people, we took a break from our normal lives, went to bed very late, slept late, drank more than usual, ate more than our fill. That’s all very well for a while, but when the routine of school and work resumes, those particular habits need shaking off. Trouble is though, I am not in the habit of shaking off.
I’m in the habit of sticking with.
But that has to change.
This morning I lay half awake in bed after the alarm had gone. I was just so tired. The rational part of me knows that that is because I was up late watching telly then reading. I got up too late to wash my hair or to get breakfast ready before the boys got up. Tomorrow I’ll get up at the proper time I told myself.
When I finally made it to the bathroom I saw a bedraggled, wrinkled lady in the mirror. I combed her hair and put some make up on her and told her she really should drink more water and go to bed earlier. Tomorrow, I thought, tomorrow.
Down in the kitchen I drank coffee on an empty stomach and looked at the glass of water I had poured myself. Then I drank a second coffee before I left the house. I was tired. Tomorrow I’ll swap the second coffee for water.
Back home after work I found myself slipping into my new habit of watching Instagram Stories and sipping frothy coffee when I was supposed to be emptying the dishwasher, making dinner, breaking up fights between children and all those other mammy jobs. Stories are fun, but a drain on time. As is browsing Facebook instead of putting on a wash. But it is easy to slip when you are tired. Tomorrow I’ll leave the phone down, I thought, skimming through stories and ignoring the unmade dinner.
At some stage during the evening I realised that it was nine o’clock and the children were still up. It’s so late, I thought to myself. I’ll be another late night now by the time I have my cuppa and eat my chocolate and watch telly then read in bed. So I’m not waiting till tomorrow. I’m going to bed now. If I can break that habit the rest should fall into place. Like dominos. Getting to bed early will make getting up on time easier. Being well rested will mean less coffee. Less coffee will mean less vegging in front of my phone or the telly.
So it seems I’m not shaking anything off at all. I’m just tired and going to bed. The rest will look after itself.