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Parenting Advice

15 Tiny Habits For Parents That Can Bring Big Changes

Written by Erin Feher

Photography by Lauren Noel PHOTOGRAPHED BY HEIDI M. ROLF

A new year can bring with it the pressure to make some big changes. But sometimes, it’s the small, easy-to-make changes that turn out to be the most effective. According to BJ Fogg, the founder and director of the Stanford Behavior Design Lab and author of the new book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything, parents—who are juggling so much at once and often operating on autopilot—can benefit most from tiny habit-forming changes that often take less that 30 seconds.

“Some of the biggest misconceptions about making new habits or ending old ones are that they require a lot of motivation and take a lot of time to set in, which can feel overwhelming or even impossible to busy parents,” explains Fogg. “My research at Stanford and in the real world shows that all behaviors—including habits—have three basic elements: motivation (why we do a behavior), ability (how easy it is), and a prompt (a cue that says ‘do this behavior now’). By changing any one of those elements, you can change behavior, such as creating healthy habits or breaking habits.”

Below, the author and researcher shares 18 tiny habits that parents can implement immediately and that will improve focus and productivity, reduce stress, and even help you get a better night’s sleep. Sign us up!

For Working Parents 
After I hear my alarm, I will turn it off immediately (no snooze).
After I walk into the kitchen, I will drink a big glass of water.
After I turn on the shower, I will do three squats (and maybe more).
After my children leave for school, I will get out my to-do list for work.
After I sit down at my desk, I will put my phone on airplane mode.
After I walk in the door after work, I will give my children a hug.

For Better Sleep
After I put on my shoes in the morning, I will go outside to soak in the natural light.
After I see it’s past 3 p.m., I will drink water instead of coffee.
After I arrive home from work, I will charge my phone in the kitchen, not in the bedroom.
After I put dinner in the oven, I will take a magnesium supplement.
After I turn on the dishwasher in the evening, I will dim the lights around the house.
After I see it’s past 8 p.m., I will stop using electronics and staring at screens.

For Reducing Stress
After I wake in the morning, I will open a window and take a few deep breaths.
After I finish my lunch at work, I will walk outside.
After I receive an email from the PTA asking for help (if I can’t realistically help), I will reply, “Sorry I can’t help this time around, but please ask me again in the future.”
After I get upset with a family member, I will take a short walk alone.
After I clean up from dinner, I will make an herbal tea.
After I put my kids to bed, I will light a candle and turn off the overhead lights.

For more on the power of small habits, check out BJ Fogg’s book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything.

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  1. MEG says...

    This is wonderful. But I think all parents, not just ‘working parents’, including stay at home mamas could benefit from these small changes!

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