Over the Christmas holiday, I went to the movies twice (thus tripling the number of movies I saw in 2012). On each occasion, I was struck by the sight of my children eating their snacks during the previews.
Who raised these people?
I’m blaming my husband, who was unabashedly eating popcorn during the previews, and my mom, because she used to take them to the movies when they were boys, and I know she is a preview snacker.
I never eat snacks during the previews. Never.
It’s a self imposed rule that I made up in childhood so my skittles or M&Ms would last longer.
It got me thinking about a book I read last April, Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister. Among other things, he discussed how these self imposed rules, these non-negotiables, strengthen our willpower. By reducing the number of decisions we have to make in a day, we save our willpower for the more important decisions.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t consider myself an organized or structured person. I don’t keep to a cleaning schedule; I don’t set goals or make plans. I procrastinate; I forget to bring the shopping list to the store. I’m more haphazard than methodical in getting things done. Sometimes I put on my socks, then my shoes; other times I put a sock and shoe on one foot, then the other. (Bonus points for recognizing the reference.)
But, at the movies, I realized that I am also a rule maker. I have made all sorts of rules over the years. Some, like No Snacking Until the Movie Starts, have held fast. Others died an unmourned death. Some were only for a season of life. Some I wanted to stick, but they didn’t.
Frustration compelled me to announce a new house rule last week: the tv does not get turned on at night until the kitchen is clean. I’ve realized that any rule that requires familial cooperation has a stunningly lower chance of survival, but I’m an optimist.
It’s hard for me to list my rules, because the ones that have stuck are so habitual that I don’t think about them, but here are a few that come to mind.
- Put my shoes away when I get home.
- Never give in to stop a child from whining or tantrums.
- Make my bed every morning.
- Change the dishcloth and towel every morning.
- No yelling at children in non-emergency situations.
Here are rules that I really liked in theory, but which never became habits. The failures.
- Floss daily.
- Don’t say, “I told you so.”
- No TV Tuesday.
- Fill the gas tank when the gauge reads under half a tank.
- No eating after 8:00pm.
What are your small, daily, rules for living? Your non-negotiables?