My plea for discipline
My plea for discipline starts from the need of simplifying my life, my family’s activities and making it easier on me, fulfilling multiple roles. For some of us, having kids is already a good excuse for not having order or some sort of discipline, but I consider it crucial. I don’t own it as I wish, but I’m looking at it and you know “energy flows where attention goes”.
I grew up sharing my room with my younger sister. We were pretty different and personality shapes up better during adolescence, where most of the conflicts arise. I had to share the bed, the wardrobe, the desk. Hard time having some privacy, but, somehow we managed to set up a couple of rules and we were fine. This only happened after some real battles with hitting and scratching.
We took turns sleeping on the wall side, we took turns when taking the garbage out. If we would make any comment that we don’t want, dad would make us both carry it to the trash bin, outside. Well, that would be very shameful and we sure didn’t want that. We even took turns with the remote control, one would watch whatever she wanted on the odd days and the other one on the even days. I can’t tell you how happy I was when my sister stopped watching Cartoon Network and started enjoying MTV, as I did. Although we shared a 12 sqm room, I never intruded in her stuff, her books, her diary. We both agreed splitting the chores, we had no hardship, because … it was routine.
My 2020 word of the year: discipline
Today, I come back more conscious to this term of discipline and I treasure it a lot. I’ll just make it my 2020’s word. I need it for a sane brain, a simplified lifestyle, for a clear vision of what is important and what to spend resources on. Time is also a currency and we’re not fully aware of it. Maybe middle-life brings it upfront and I won’t shut my eyes in front of it.
So, I’ve written the word on a piece of paper and displayed it somewhere visible to me, so it attracts my focus. You know, we get easily distracted, that is why drinking water reminders were invented.
For starters, discipline can be translated into simple actions. For my personal use, I’ve narrowed it down to seven acts.
Make your bed
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed and here’s a great quote from the same book, written by US Navy admiral, William H. McRaven.
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed, will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made, that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being and stronger skills at sticking with a budget. If we look from the housekeeping view, it’s that simple trick which makes the room look polished, it keeps things clean, in shape, it even helps you sleep better. As a kid I was obliged to make my bed anywhere I was, every single time. I don’t know if it came from my military dad or from my mom’s strict cleaning behaviour, but I had to do it every day, many times being pissed off, but did it anyway. I now see its value.
Have a personal care routine
The bathroom personal care items
- Before children: shampoo, hair mask, hair balm, leave in spray, day face cream, night face cream, face mask, cleaning lotion, Hyaluronic Acid Serum, hair mousse, hair protection, foot gel, foot scrub, foot cream, I get bored even mentioning them…
- After 1st child: toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel, maybe face cream also, but seldom used.
- After 2nd child: emergency showers, shampoo would suffice and bless the electric toothbrush!
- After 3rd child, you would say we forget to even bath, right? Well, nope! You might just do that because you act as an octopus walking around the house, but I learned the lesson from the airplane – first, put your oxygen mask on, then help others.
So, we’re getting back to the whole arsenal we used to have before kids, diminish the products, enhance the quality of the ritual , add eye serums, get aligned with yourself, do whatever you need, but make it a habit- have this personal time for yourself. I guess I could have said read a book, drink a glass of wine, but when you have toddlers this hardly gets to be a habit, so the safest and most private place remains the bathroom. We start small:)
Put it back, both yourself and the others.
Rule number one to having order: every item should have a designated place/home and after you use it, you should put it back where it belongs. It seems a banality, but not everyone keeps all the towels in one place, neither all the medicines, nor the documents and don’t we all know the full chair in a room? You might say you need it handy, but believe me, if it has its own space, you’ll easily find it there, otherwise it becomes clutter. Better have tampon area, like a messy drawer or a spare basket.
Let’s take an example– the hallway. Many times, during the cold season, the hallway entry might be filled with stuff from clothes, backpacks, bags to different shoes. You don’t wear the same shoes when it’s raining, so there, it is a packed hallway already.
Take 5 minutes on the timer and organise the area, declutter it, put the clothes in the closet, arrange the shoes with the laces inside on the shoe rack, have the children take their backpacks in their rooms.
Well?… Isn’t that another hallway, more spacious, more bright?
If you want to have that radiant cosy hallway daily, small habits should be installed, otherwise, usually moms would have to do it. Children can adopt this routines as young as 2 years old, adjusted to their capabilities, of course and presented as something fun and useful. When teenage hormones start to develop, if those habits weren’t settled, you can’t have many expectations.
My children’s room
That is why we designed the children’s room more of Montessori style. Children have their things within reach, so they alone know
- where to take the pyjamas, underwear, socks, trousers, T-shirts etc
- where to put the clothes they are using again- the bottom large drawer.
- to take the laundry in the bathroom, white and coloured ( way better than to have the laundry basket in their room. They used to fight over which one is heavier)
- where they keep their toys : lego, magnetic tiles, cars, dolls, pencils etc. They also have a box with miscellaneous, where they are allowed to put whatever they feel, but to have it off the flour when they don’t play.
- where books are on the bookcase
Don’t imagine they fully respect it, putting things back in order. I go through tough negotiations and it tires me to come up with wise parenting methods, but I do talk about clean room, clean head, the benefits of having the things in their place pretty often. I skip misplaced toys in their room, I may even walk on a piece of lego and bite my tongue, but I am firm regarding the clean desk. This is what I can give them now, steady routines, repeating the actions along with them, so they can have clearer minds, get organised easily, connect the dots more quickly, have time for meaningful activities and make decisions that matter.
I do recommend Marie Kondo’s books, they were pretty inspiring for me. Also, we now have professional home organisers, such as Organizo.ro. I enjoy every recommendation from them. If it wasn’t for the natural call of having things organised, I would have tried this type of services.
No matter the religion, being spiritual, having that moment of stillness is a practice that sustains a healthy living. It brings you closer to the meaning of life. From a great book, Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones: 9 Lessons For Living Longer From The People Who’ve Lived The Longest:
Healthy centenarians everywhere have faith. The Sardinians and Nicoyans are mostly Catholic. Okinawans have a blended religion that stresses ancestor worship. Loma Linda centenarians are Seventh-day Adventists. Ikarians have traditionally been Greek Orthodox. All belong to strong religious communities. The simple act of worship is one of those subtly powerful habits that seems to improve your chances of having more good years. It doesn’t matter if you are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or Hindu.
Do more of what you are passioned about!
In my case is writing articles, business plans, strategies, analysis. This is how I feel now. Other times I loved knitting or moulding or simply reading.
James Patterson, a famous American writer (Forbes put him 3 years in a row at the top of the list of highest-paid author) was telling in a Masterclass course how he started to write. He was working for an advertising company to make a living and woke up earlier every day, just to get 2 hours of writing. He didn’t like to wake up early, but he made an effort, until it became a habit and got to the point where those hours brought joy and pleasure. Therefore, start doing more of what you like, no time for excuses.
5AM club/ Wake up early, go to sleep earlier!
I’ve been reading and hearing about this habit for over a decade now and I trust it does maximise productivity. I practiced it, a long time ago. Observing some successful people’s daily routine, waking up early is predominant. It gives you that space where you can really focus and not get interrupted, where you actually get in the flow. Now I use those hours of silence after the children’s night sleep, but I lose the healthy rest hours. So, a quarter by quarter, I’ll do my best to enter the club and experiment if this habit can work for me.
Moms know it, they invented ultra fast food. You might not eat until late evening, but when you breastfeed you sure realise you haven’t eaten either because you feel the hunger or because you feel that milk supply isn’t charging and the baby is fussy 🙂 You start to eat in a hurry, to snack, emotional binding happens, you’re tired, sugar level drops…maybe the child is now weaned, but you still have the habit of eating on the go. So, eating conscious is another moment of self aware that I, particularly, need to work on.
A disciplined lifestyle does not take out impromptu activities, spontaneity or creativity, as one might think. It’s just a way of arranging the view. I am into it because I have learned that willpower is limited and the more responsibilities you have, the more willpower you need. So why consuming the willpower on tiny actions, that could have been a simple habit or a routine?