I gave my husband a look, that said, “Hey, why are you doing that?” He was unloading the dishwasher.
We’ve been adding a few more chores for Magnus recently. He has been feeding Walter (our chocolate lab) twice a day, clearing his own plates from the table, and last week we added unloading the dishwasher to his list.
Honestly, it’s been very sporadic. Partly because my husband runs out of bandwidth quickly when my son starts to protest but also because of something else.
It’s hard to start and stop things, and guess what? They are 2 sides of the same coin.
Newtons law of motion states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest.
Which means going and going and not being able to stop is essentially the same as being inert and not being able to start.
The first day of Magnus unloading the dishwasher he was PUMPED. It was a big kid chore and a few of his friends have this on their chore list so he was gung-ho to do it.
Then the next day came and when I asked him to come unload the dishwasher he flopped heavily onto the couch scowling, arms crossed over his chest, and barked an angry, “NO!”
Then the third day I walked in from my run and saw my husband unloading the dishwasher.
“Hey Magnus, come help me unload the dishwasher.” I said after giving me husband the “look.”
I peeled off my headband and coat and took over from my husband.
“No!” Magnus said, “I hate it. I want to only do chores outside!”
“Well buddy, we all need to contribute to our household inside too, and this is how you participate.”
“Come here and I’ll help you. You can sit on the counter, and I’ll hand you the dishes to put into the cupboards. Deal?”
And this is when the momentum for unloading the dishwasher got started.
Starting new things is hard, otherwise we’d all exercise, eat healthy, and get enough sleep. It’s always easier to do what we’ve always done, even if it makes us feel like crap. Habits are extremely powerful.
And that’s exactly why it’s so hard to get them going, and also why it’s so hard to stop them once they’re in motion.
To get them going, we need systems in place and to help us follow through when we feel the nagging discomfort of resistance.
I became Magnus’s “system” by reminding him to do it, helping him learn how to do it so he can eventually do it on his own, and holding him accountable to completing it so he can solidify the habit through repetition.
This is also why habits are also so hard to break. Once they are there, they become unconscious behaviors that we now must become aware of and tolerate the discomfort of not doing them which can be just as bad as resistance to doing them.
I happen to be very good at starting habits. I know all the tricks and can easily push past the discomfort (most of the time) and make it happen. I actually LIKE starting new habits. I’m kind of nerdy like that.
However, I often struggle with the stopping, and I mean just stopping, and maybe you do too. Even if I have nothing to do, I will find something to do. I will clean, I will do laundry, I will go for a walk, I will do anything other than sit still.
This is where I’m realizing I need to put my energy, in stopping. At least more often.
I have fond memories of being single in Calgary laying on my couch in a sunbeam. My cats would press up against me in circles and I would just lay there and daydream. Can you even believe it? I just LAID THERE.
Fast forward a decade, a husband, a kid and 3 moves to 3 different cities in 4 years and I no longer know how to lay the F*ck down.
I can do things to relax, like read, meditate, or do yoga, but not stop entirely.
I’m wondering, is this a useful thing to do? I think it might be, and I think I’m going to try it. How about you? Which category do you fall into can’t stop or can’t get started? Tell me in the comments, I wanna know.