A few months ago, California passed a law which prohibited grocery stores from providing free plastic bags, and I have been struggling to remember to bring my own reusable bags ever since!

(By the way, this story does have plenty to do with type 1 diabetes. Just bear with me for a moment.)

It was months before I got in the habit of bringing my bags. I could get them in the car just fine, but I couldn’t seem to get them from the car into the grocery store. I can’t even count how many times I went back out to the car to get them. Or, I would just load all the groceries back in the basket and then transfer them into the bags that I left in the trunk of my car. Heaven forbid I just pay the 10 cents per bag; I refused to give in! The struggle was real, let me tell you. It’s not that I don’t care about the environment — I recycle and reuse like a champ. It wasn’t that I didn’t have any reusable bags — I have tons (more than most, I think). Bringing the bags to the store just wasn’t a habit.

So, where am I going with this tale? Oftentimes, we have the desire to do something impactful or make a meaningful change. We even have the tools to do it. We just don’t have the habit!

It was like this for me with Kaitlyn’s continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and phone. I just couldn’t seem to remember to charge them each night. I would panic in the morning and scramble to get enough charge in them to last the day. We’ve also struggled at times with remembering to check blood sugar or dose for food before meals. Successful management of type 1 diabetes absolutely depends on building good habits. Again, it’s important to have the desire and the tools but even more important to have the habit. It’s the everyday discipline of remembering everything that is critical. And we all know there’s a lot to remember!

So how do we build these habits in ourselves and our kids? I’ll tell you what did it for my shopping bag struggle. I had to have routine and visual reminders. That’s it. I began to put my bags immediately by the front door as soon as I unloaded the groceries so that I would see them as I went out the door on my next trip. Then I put the bags where I would see them again — in the front seat of the car, not in the trunk, and even sometimes right in my purse.

I think that’s the key for any good habit: routines and visual reminders. With diabetes care, you can have routines like testing before meals and before bed and first thing in the morning. You can write notes to yourself and have testing kits placed strategically around the house and car. Reminders on my phone help me a ton too.

Good luck in all your habit-forming endeavors. Hopefully good diabetes habits will come more quickly for you than my shopping bag habit did for me!

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

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