Habits, old and new

In February, more than any other time of year, I find myself relying on old habits. Good ones, to keep life running smoothly. They might be easy – grabbing a jar of soup from the freezer as I head out the door to work – or require a bit more effort (my Tuesday night swim definitely fell into that category this week), but habits really do work.

Thankfully, new habits are relatively easy to create, one at a time. I tend to throw one in every few weeks, just for fun. This week was the week of starting to eat a salad for lunch every day, on top of my usual mid-morning soup. It’s only been three days and already I’m planning my next batch. And loathe as I am to join in with food trends, I have to admit that jarred salads are pure genius. I’m making them three at a time and the third was as fresh and appealing as the first. I just grab a jar from the fridge as well as the freezer on my way out the door now.

Like all families, we tend to let things slip a bit when life gets busy, and our children asked John and I whether we might revamp our plastic-free efforts a bit. I was all too happy to agree – some plastic has begun to creep back into our shopping – and we had a look through our bin to see what the culprits were. It turned out that it was mainly the odd unusual purchase – and lots of plastic from food that friends gave us when they emptied their fridge before a recent holiday. While there are a few things that we’ve reverted to buying in plastic (for instance our toothy-tab supplier ran out for a while, so we’ve been back on tubes of toothpaste), for the most part habits have kept our bin slim. Neither John or I would think of heading to the shops without our shopping kits in tow, and really, it is no extra effort at all. So we’ve just made a list of plastic-free goods we need to replenish to avoid some packaging we have fallen back into buying, and that’s about all we plan to do for now.

It goes without saying that I do have some bad habits – drinking endless cups of tea is one I’m tackling at the moment. There’s nothing wrong with the odd cup of tea, but from time to time I find myself drinking nothing but the black, caffeinated variety all day, which can’t be good for me. So far, I’ve cut it down to two cups a day, and I’m finding myself ready for bed a little earlier with each missing cup. Seriously, I’m sleeping like a baby at the moment, and this is from someone who normally sleeps well. Who knew it was having such big effect?

Then there are habits that are good for the environment but not always so good for me, like not buying flowers any more. In the summer, this doesn’t matter as I grow my own, but in the winter I rely on the odd flowering pot plant. Well, this week I have been doubly blessed by a bunch of alstroemerias regifted by those same holiday-going friends, and the most gloriously bright bunch of tulips as a thank you from another friend. What a joy it is to have flowers in the house again. They make me smile every time I see them.

What’s more, they’ve got me thinking about my own garden again, and those bulb lasagnas I planted in the autumn. I wonder how they’re doing? I must pop out and check on them, as well as the other things under cover, and give them all a drink. Soon enough it’ll be time to get back into the habit of watering them every few days and pulling weeds when I get in from work. That’s the lovely things about habits in a temperate climate: they shift with the sun. Nothing lasts for ever – not the winter and its challenges, nor the habits we build to survive it – and that’s just the way it should be.

Madeleine

Have you been trying out any new habits recently? I’d love to know – and maybe try them for myself!

6 thoughts on “Habits, old and new”

  1. I haven’t really thought about my habits for a while. I don’t think I have any particularly good ones or bad ones but I like routine and I guess that’s only possible with doing things habitually…. I am not involved in grocery shopping at all and unfortunately, my people aren’t so good with avoiding plastic. I regularly have little rants about this but bad habits are difficult to stop. I checked my own tulip lasagnas today and I did spot a few shoots, I was so excited to see them. Our snowdrops are well past their best and a sea of crocuses is stealing the show in the front garden now. Love the first small signs of spring. Have a good weekend.

    1. The crocuses were well and truly up in my bulb lasagnas (oops) as well as around the rest of the garden. Luckily there are two more layers to enjoy, now that we’ve moved them to the patio. Our snowdrops are still going strong, for some reason, but I expect they’ll end soon – and the first daffs are showing yellow! I too get very excited by these signs of spring, but I’m trying to brace myself for another cold snap…

  2. I’ve been trying to regularly tackle the endless amounts of paperwork that come into the house. Next, I want to redo my filing system so that I can easily file, shred, or recycle said paperwork. This is a habit that seems to come and go in my life, but I am much less stressed when I practice it regularly. One habit I am proud of is making dinners and lunches earlier in the day so that I don’t run around at the last minute. I’m not close to perfect, but we do regularly eat healthy and tasty meals. I am just beginning to get in a regular exercise routine again after a foot injury. That’s the habit that makes me happiest of all!

    1. I deal with paperwork once a week, and it’s now such a habit that even if I forget, a nagging feeling that there’s something I need to do usually reminds me. I loathe piles of paper so always feel better once it’s done. We also meal plan every week, out of necessity, but it does prevent that ‘now what shall we eat tonight’ moment at 4 pm. I know some people love that, but I don’t!

  3. I love this! I’ve been trying to establish good habits for myself this year too (taking better care of my hair and body more generally being the priority) and they really do give you something to lean on when things are busy or hard.

    1. Thanks! I definitely rely on habits to keep me (mainly) on track when things are busy. The salad habit is proving to be a favourite, and I’ve stuck with it even through these last couple of very full weeks. All the best with yours!

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