“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~Lau-tzu~
I am the first to admit that I am a very “all or nothing” thinker. This leads to a lot of. . .well. . .wheel spinning when it comes to change. If I can’t get ALL the laundry done today, I don’t start the laundry. If I can’t clean the whole bathroom, why clean the dirty mirror? If I don’t have 2 hours to spend playing with my kids right now, why give them the 30 minutes I do have? And the big one at times. . .if I have one unhealthy snack in a day, why bother trying to eat healthy the rest of the day? I’ve come to understand that children think that way, so in a way, it’s the immaturity in me that dwells in that all or nothing place. When Jubilee, my 3 year old, is asked to clean her room, she becomes paralyzed with the enormity of it. We’ve found that asking her to clean up one area, say . . .the toy kitchen. . .is a more manageable task for her. Sometimes even that is too big and we have to start with, “Okay, pick up those two pots and put them in the drawer.” Suddenly, she feels able to begin moving towards the goal when just moments before she was sitting in the floor declaring that there was NO WAY she could clean up the whole room.
That realization has helped me be a bit gentler to myself, recognizing it as human nature that we’re born with, but I know I still need to work towards maturing emotionally so that I don’t stay trapped in that mindset forever. This is where I’m challenging myself these days, and I have to tell you, over several months, the level of overall change in my life is pretty pronounced. I know I’m not the only mom who struggles with this, so here are some common sweeping statements I’ve made (or heard other moms make) coupled with the one small change I’ve made (or plan to make) to start.
-Too big: “I need to spend more time with my kids.”
Just right:”I have 10 minutes right now. Let’s read a book/play a short card game/dance around the living room.”
-Too big: “I need to clean the house.”
Just right: “I have 5 minutes right now. I will unload the dishwasher.”
-Too big: “I need to read my bible every day.”
Just right: “I will subscribe to a daily scripture e-mail. That way, every morning when I check my e-mail, I am reading one verse.”
-Too big: “I need to drink half my body weight in ounces of water daily.”
Just right: “I’ll drink one bottle of water before breakfast every morning, then keep the bottle filled with me the rest of the day.”
-Too big: “Our family needs to eat healthier/get more fruits and veggies/ eat less processed food.”
Just right: “I will introduce one new food this week/add a serving of veggies to dinner/try one new recipe this month.”
This may not be profound to anyone else, but this change in thinking has changed my life. Our family diet is healthier, my house is cleaner (not spotless ever, but “clean enough” more often than not), and I’m spending more time playing with my kids than I was 6 months ago.
I love to help other people troubleshoot all or nothing thinking, so if you’re struggling in an area that you feel needs a sweeping change, leave a comment and I’d be happy to help you come up with one small change that just may lead to a situational overhaul down the road.
Exercise is my next small change to conquer that still feels a bit too big. I know I need to start working out 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. . but the day is young and spring is springing. I think we may take a walk today. =)