The curse of the ingrained habit…

battenberg

During my first year at university I developed a weird addiction to Battenberg cake. I would wake in the early hours  desperate to devour a slab. Sponge first, of course – you have to save the marzipan til last. I’m actually embarrassed to confess it here, but it does illustrate the point I’ll make shortly.

This night snacking went on for about a fortnight – each night, around 2am, I would just have to eat some. No matter how much food had been consumed earlier in the day, the hunger pangs were there.

How does this fit in with today’s blog? Patterns. Or rather, how something you do for a couple of days suddenly becomes ingrained habit. I’m guessing that’s the psychology at work with the whole eat-something-you-don’t-like-at-least-20-times-and-then-you’ll-like-it. (except that really hasn’t worked for me with fish…)

Oh I’ve persevered with fish but I still really hate it (except for a good fish finger sandwich). Anyway, where was I? Sorry, patterns. Habits. Now, unless we’re talking about the serious stuff of drug and/or alcohol abuse, breaking a pattern is fine when you’re an adult, because you can get your shit together. As I did with the evil Battenberg – on the realisation of the role it played in the rapid weight gain and return of the dreaded teenage acne, I soon banished the pink and yellow squares.

Try telling a toddler though that they can’t keep eating the sugary cereal that you were forced to buy in the absence of anything vaguely healthy when on holiday, or join you in bed at 2am because ‘a lobster pinched my elbow’, ‘Mr Sun’s up’ (he most definitely is NOT) or ‘I can’t find my Transformer’. You will have a battle on your hands of epic proportions, my friend.

What may have made life easier for a couple of days has now become much like when your child has a firm grip on the lead of your hair straighteners while you’re trying to use them – delicate extrication is required.

You can try distraction (praise the Lord for CBeebies at breakfast), threats (‘eat your breakfast or I’ll make you come shoe shopping with me’), a heartfelt plea (‘please, please, please go back to sleep’) or prayer (‘Lord, could you please assist in this whole not sleeping malarky, because I’m going to lose my shit very soon… I swear if I can get a good night’s sleep tonight, I’ll let the boy do some painting tomorrow. Heck, I may even let him do some baking’.)

None of the above has worked so far – my son clearly has an iron will – it took a good fortnight of ‘the shop doesn’t sell your cereal any more’ to end the morning tantrums over the teeth-rotting crap. But before I have you thinking I’ve cracked this whole motherhood thing… this has  been replaced with a Biscotti before milk at bedtime. And he’s still joining me in bed most nights… *big sigh*  He doesn’t get his willpower from me.

So, what wisdom can I impart from this experience? Pick your battles – if it’s not going to kill him, or you (although we’re borderline with sleep deprivation…), then let it go. Chances are it’ll be much like every other phase up to this point so far, short lived and replaced with something a little more complicated next time.

 

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