Uh Oh! A New Twist on Habit Formation

Do you ever suddenly get slapped in the face with an area you aren’t doing so well in? I was doing a quick read of Chapter 10 in “School Education” for the upcoming blog carnival, and I got one of those slaps.

The discipline of habit is never complete until it becomes self-discipline in habits. It is not a trifle that even the nursery child messes his feeder, spills his milk, breaks his playthings, dawdles about his small efforts. The well-trained child delights to bring himself into good habits in these respects. — vol 3 pg 107

Wow. My children are not nursery children as far as I understand. I suppose my youngest, at 4, might be. But my boys are 11, 9, and 7! My 9yo is King of Dawdling. They all tend to be a bit…. less than careful. We’ve had spilt milk, missed-the-plate mustard — leaving a mess on the table, and having to be called back multiple times to deal with the issue. We won’t go into messes and broken playthings. It would be too much!

At some point, every mother hears the sad truth: you can’t expect what you don’t inspect. And I know it’s time to change. But how?

That’s always the rub – getting from the knowing to the doing to the completing. We’ve started with a general decluttering (less stuff to clean & care for). Our current new habit is saying our memory verse every meal. I think we can add a second habit: if you eat, you help clean up. Every meal.

tortoise with flower

Habit formation, slow and steady, is my “main thing” this year. I plan to revisit and update progress on our habits each month. This year’s hero: the Tortoise!


  1. Pingback: Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival: Physical Training | Letters from Nebby

  2. Nadene

    What a great reminder to sharpen my game!
    I love your new habit slogan, “if you eat, you help clean up. Every meal.” I still have to enforce certain training with my young adult children, and maintain the standards we set.

  3. Christine Wood

    Oh Amy, I couldn’t agree more with you. Habit training is the “main thing” I yearn to instill in my children yet it seems so distant from Charlotte’s reality. I find myself still needing that consistency above all in order to support my dear children. But I’m not giving up! It’s a new year and a great opportunity to recharge and press on with Habit Training. Thanks for your encouragement!

  4. Carol

    The tortoise as a hero – a word of wisdom there, Amy.

  5. Amy H. (Post author)

    Thank you all for your comments. And sorry it took so long to approve some of them, I’m getting used to the new blog set-up.

  6. Tammy Glaser

    Step 1, I think, is looking in the mirror. We, as the habit trainer, need to develop our own habit of watchfulness, tact, and perseverance. It’s like the oxygen mask that drops down during airplane emergencies. We have to address our own need for air before we can help the less experienced in our midst.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *