I remember the day I posted a cute photo of my daughter in a fashion group online.
She was barely six and had dressed herself in a dress that I wore with a semi-toothless grin in the 80's. Her emerging fashion sense told her to pair the dress with a denim vest and sparkly shoes….that were on the wrong foot. You would not believe how quickly people noticed the misplaced shoes. Some people didn't even say something positive about the heirloom dress, and went straight to criticize the shoes.
But you know what? I don't care.
I don't care about shoes on the wrong feet because it doesn't really matter. It would be filed under what Charlotte Mason called “arbitrary.” If my young child gets dressed on their own, I am not willing to say, “But you didn't do it right!” Wrong-footed shoes aren't really wrong- this isn't a moral issue.
My daughter is 8 now and doesn't wear her shoes on the wrong feet anymore, but I still have one child who is just learning to put shoes on for himself, and sometimes they don't even match, let alone get on the right feet. I will not send my 18-year-old out into the world with wrong-footed shoes; someday checking left and right will become a habit.
Slow and Steady Habit Training
We desperately want those smooth and easy days that Charlotte Mason spoke of, but habit training is a long process. If we work on them one-by-one, we won’t just knock out the habit of cleanliness, (for example); we’ll take months or years to work on each little component of that habit.
Because of the turtle-rate of habit training, we begin with the habits that will have the most impact in our days. What will help us get out of the house more smoothly, have fewer battles, and have more peace in our home? For me, these habits are:
- Cleaning up after themselves
- Being kind
It seems like we've been focusing on these things for a very long time, and that's okay! I try not to get overwhelmed with how far away the finish line looks. We're making progress as the fruits of kindness show up in surprising areas, or a child cleans up right away. This summer, we'll maintain the habits we've already established, like cleaning up the breakfast table after eating, and looking for opportunities to help, so that when our routines return to normal in the fall, we aren't starting from scratch. Those wrong-footed shoes are low-priority.
If you want to prioritize habits with your young children, Habits for the Early Years may be a good fit! It's part journal and part guide to help you through the habits that are most important during the early years!