Graduation season is over but I keep thinking about what Naval Admiral William H. McRaven—who'd been a Navy SEAL for 36 years—told the graduates of the University of Texas at Austin: "If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed."
Here's why he said that was the #1 lesson he'd learned:
Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.
If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that's Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.
By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.
If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
All so true—for both parents and kids. You don't need to have the same military standards about square corners or centered pillows. In fact, it's fine to choose bedding that makes the job easier (shop for great comforters here). With a young child, don't expect perfection—but do insist that he take the time to do the job. Even on a busy morning, it'll takes no more than a couple of minutes. And don't fix it for him afterwards.
Even though kids may gripe about having chores, they really like feeling like an important contributor to the family.
Photo of girl making bed via Shutterstock