When the Must-Do Parent is away, the Must-Have Parent tends to do things a little differently. Some of these changes are out of necessity, some are out of convenience, some are out of preference and some are out of, well, neglect. With repetition, they can all become habits.
I see this most obviously in my life at the dinner table. When my husband is home, we eat together as a family nearly every night, and most of those nights don't happen in restaurants. But when he's deployed, dinner is the first thing to go. The kids and I still eat, of course, but between picky eaters (them) and pure exhaustion (me), I put a lot less effort into meal planning and prep.
When my husband gets home from that deployment, it generally takes me a few days (ahem, weeks) to get back into the real dinners habit.
One of the mottos I live by is "fake it 'til you make it," so that's what I usually do to get out of my bad habits and back into good ones. I muscle through and force myself to just do things the right way until the right way feels right again. But this often comes with some resentment.
(My other life mottos are "why not?" and "if it feels good or makes life easier, it will probably give me cancer." My life mottos are frequently in conflict.)
The other day, as I was cutting the film off one compartment and removing the sprinkles from another before microwaving some Kid Cuisines, I got to wondering: What if there was a better way to break bad habits faster and get back to the good ones, without resentment?
And it turns out that there is.
Judson Brewer is an MD and a PhD. Both of those Ds stand for "doctor," so he's spent a lot of time studying. Breaking bad habits is his specialty, and he gave a fascinating TED Talk about it last fall.