Thursday, January 29, 2015

The science of change: how long does it take to adapt?



There seems to be a lot of change in the air at the moment – kids going to child care or kindy or big school or high school for the first time; new jobs; new homes; new directions; new goals, etc.

I’ve never been particularly comfortable with change, in fact I’m a resister from way back. One of my high school reports even said so – something about a tendency to complain when scheduled activities change. Yeah, I’m that person. I complain, I resist and then I adapt but usually begrudgingly. And then eventually, the adaptation becomes the new norm and all moves along swimmingly until the next change.

But how long does it take to get used to change?

If you’re googling it, like I just did – you’ll find the story of Maxwell Maltz (who most people call Dr but because he’s a surgeon was probably a Mr but that’s a whole post of its own really). Dr/Mr Maltz was a plastic surgeon in the 50s who noticed that after an operation (face-lifts, nose jobs, amputations, etc) it would take a minimum of 21 days for the patient to get used to their new face, nose, leg. Even the phantom limb phenomena tended to subside around the 21 day mark.

Twenty-one days. What do you think? Is that all it takes to adjust to change?

A study published in 2009 tested the theory about how habits are formed. They looked at 96 people over 12 weeks and got them to do some pretty boring stuff on a daily basis (drinking water, doing sit-ups) and then assess how they felt about it. Had it become an automatic behaviour? On average, it took more than two months for the new behaviour to become a habit, to adapt to the change. By average, of course, this means it took the 96 people anywhere from 18 to 254 days to adjust - but 66 days was the mean.

Other interesting facts: a sub-group from the study took much longer than the others and threw up the possibility of habit resistance (hi!); missing a single day didn’t reduce the chance of forming a habit (so don’t give up even if you stumble); and some habits take longer than others (much easier to get into the habit of drinking a glass of water than doing sit-ups every day).

The point of all that is this: if you’re struggling with change, hang in there.

Be realistic about how long it’s going to take to get to your new normal. Maybe you’ll be an outlier and get there in 18 days; maybe you’re on the other end of the scale and two thirds of the year will have gone past by the time you get it. But the bigger the change, the more complex the habit you’re developing, the longer it will probably take.

One day at a time, and all that.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Outdoor adventures: Playing pirates at the Polly Woodside


During last week's adventure, we passed by The Australian Shakespeare Company's performance space in the Botanical Gardens. Later, while we lunched, a troupe of actors dressed as Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad wandered past after their matinee.

Some googling revealed a summer season of outdoor performances, some for kids and some for grown-ups, which tick boxes for my new year of outdoor adventures and at least one of my Before I Go goals. I had planned to take him to 'Wind and the Willows', to picnic at an evening performance, but the weather and life got in the way. But Lovely Husband saw 'Caribbean Pirates at the Polly Woodside' on the website and was keen for a weekend adventure.

The dock-side show was perfect for a three-year-old, with Pirates sweaty-faced in the sun, panto-screaming from the audience ('he's behind you!'), sea-shanties and a hunt for treasure on the Polly. And after, we walked back up the gangway and explored above and below decks. Lovely Husband got his naval geek on and Dear Boy touched all the do-not-touch things in the galley.


Have you been to any good outdoor shows?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Threenager




There is foot stomping and refusal and cries of "stop talking to me about it!" and "no, you use your manners, Mummy; I don't want to say please!". If he knew more colourful language, he'd be using it.

How does one deal with a threenager?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

When he leads


When he leads we catch the train into the city; we walk two strollers abreast across the bridge and crash into each other's wheels; we stand under the towering Art Centre spire and look at the collection of wooden houses and listen to a collection of interviews on the theme of 'home'; we throw coins into the fountain of the NGV and make wishes.


When he leads we splash our hands through the wall of water at the entrance to the NGV and get wet up to the elbows; we ride a golden carousel side by side, ticking slowly, slowly through a single rotation; we don't stay long at the Romance Was Born for Kids exhibition; we ride in a circular elevator and get lost in a maze of galleries; we find interactive exhibits tucked away behind rooms full of art we can't touch; we pin the words 'take' and 'back' to the pinboard because they are blue; we slog around the hanging rope thing-a-me over and over, flopping down on our backs in the tiny space at the back so other kids can pass by; we say 'cheese' for a blurry selfie and laugh when the whole edifice shakes and we fall down.


When he leads we wander through the Botanical Gardens on the gravelly tracks with the midday runners; we don't download the app to see fairies play in a field of sunflowers; we sit in the shade of a lone tree alongside a million mums with prams and babies and share a cheap baguette and an expensive bottle of fizzy water; we discover the Children's Garden and play in water and sand until we are sunburnt; we retreat to the tree and eat treats with a new friend who carries a plastic spider, wearing ice-cream across our faces; we wander back to the train station and kneel on the seats and watch the world slide by as we make our way home.

When he leads, we adventure.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Outdoor adventures




If 2014 was our year of intentional play, then 2015 is going to be our year of adventures big and small.

With new work and study commitments I want to make sure our time together is going to be as awesome and as ‘outdoorsy’ as I can make it. I’m not the greatest outdoors person – I’m a huge fan of comfortable couches and reading – but I want Dear Boy to get that outdoorsy childhood that I had in spades. You know, the river walks with improvised fishing poles and rock skimming; the long days spent at the beach, hiking sandy scrub tracks to get to the water and poking about in rockpools; the tree climbing and cubby building; the neighbourhood adventuring down unknown streets and around the foresty edges of parks.

So here are some of the adventures I’d like us to try out or do more of:
  1. Camping
  2. A long boat ride
  3. Horse-riding
  4. A long day at the beach
  5. Bushwalking
  6. Tubing or canoeing on a river
  7. Visiting a desert
  8. Going to a amusement park or outdoor museum
  9. A road trip
  10. See animals in ‘the wild'
  11. An outdoor class or organised activity
  12. Build a bush cubby
  13. Visit a waterfall
  14. Explore the creek and race homemade boats
  15. Ride steam train
  16. Go to an airshow
  17. Go for a night walk with a torch
  18. Try geocaching
  19. Rock skimming
  20. Go on a bug hunt
  21. Go to a drive-in (if we can find one)
  22. Play with glowsticks at night
  23. Do a toboggan run or a cardboard slide down a steep hill
  24. Go to an outdoor concert
Some of these are going to be harder than others – Dear Boy has only just turned three and his little legs do not carry him very far for very long, but I think now is the time to get him used to bushwalking, to normalise camping trips and long days at the beach if it’s something we want to do as a family in the future. 

Have you ever taken kids camping? Any tips? What other outdoor adventures do you love or want to try?

Friday, January 9, 2015

I made pants and they are hilarious

Since getting the hang of the sewing machine (sort of), I decided to give making a pair of shots a whirl, so I could knock off one of my resolutions in the dying days of 2014. These were relatively simple... apart from the fact that the instructions were in dutch, the pattern didn't match and I was sewing with old t-shirts. But look! Pants!

Boy, it's not until you actually make a pair that you truly appreciate the wonder that is pants. How those four points (and all those different shaped pieces) come together feels a little bit like magic.


They are wonky and hilarious, but I did it. He even wore them to childcare yesterday and no-one laughed at the uneven lines and different length legs. Bring on the Star Wars fabrics!

 Did you attempt something new in 2014? Was it wonky?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Academia: over and out


In the recycling wheely bin on the left: a million photocopies of book chapters, a million more printed journal articles, and a few thousand cliped newspaper articles and editorials. There are tens of thousands of unit guides and handouts and surveys and pictures. There are hundreds of yellow post-it notes saying things like 'HD 80% 32/40'.

In the burn bin on the right: a billion exam booklets with student numbers and pages and pages of handwritten essays, a million odd essays that were never recovered and a hundred thousand quizzes because I woke the hell up and put that shit online with an auto-marker. There are a few thousand class rolls, attendance sheets, marking lists and spread sheets, each a semester's worth of student effort (or lack there of).

In the car at the top: what's left of a ten-year life as an academic. As I closed the boot I thought about the door closing cliche and then I wailed, a big, ugly open-mouthed cry, all the way home.

And the next day? I went and got my new student ID card.

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