Switching Key Habits in the Home & Homeschool: Leverage the Bright Spots

It has been a couple months now since I’ve reviewed the book Switch and promised a series about it. I’ve had the outline for said series sitting in my drafts ever since. I didn’t want to let it languish there further, however, because I do think there are some important ideas and strategies to glean as we all think about getting a new year of lessons underway.

Switch examines the common denominators in those who make successful change, through engaging stories and practical advice for making positive individual & group changes. It begins with 3 findings about change:

  1. What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity. So provide crystal-clear direction.
  2. What looks like laziness is often exhaustion. It’s critical to engage people’s emotional side to get cooperation.
  3. What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem. Use the environment to your advantage.

So I want to look at these elements and the practical steps given for each in the book, applying it to our home and homeschool settings (because, oddly enough, homemaking and homeschooling was not ever an example in the book).

creating household habits

Switching Key Habits in the Home & Homeschool Series
  1. Review of the book Switch
  2. Remove Lack of Clarity with Crystal-Clear Direction
    1. Leverage the Bright Spots
    2. Practice Specific Scripts
    3. Describe the Destination
  3. Overcome Exhaustion by Engaging the Emotions
    1. Find the Feeling
    2. Shrink the Change
    3. Cultivate a Growth Mindset and Build an Identity
  4. Change the Situation, Not the People

Find the Bright Spots

Sometimes when things aren’t going well in our homes, we’re tempted to think everything is bad and nothing is going well and we need to try something completely different. Or, we get “inspired” (or guilt-ridden, or fear-compelled, or envy-eaten) by someone else’s home or routine and wish we could scrap our own home and swap it for someone else’s. It’s not a good plan. You can’t impose someone else’s system or style or routine onto your own, whole-hog. It won’t work. It won’t last.

Moreover, change that big is intimidating and, usually, unnecessary, so we are likely to resist implementing the change, even when we think we want it. Instead of making a large-scale change, look and see what is working right now. Does breakfast happen at the same time? Do morning chores happen? Find something, anything, that has stuck that you want to keep.

After identifying one or two things that you want to keep, examine them. When did you start those habits? What helped establish them? What helps them happen? Can you apply your observations to one new habit that you’d like to learn?

Finding bright spots in the home

So, let’s pretend laundry is a sticking point. Even if it’s a stress-point, a hurdle, a disaster, still, probably it ends up getting done in the end. Instead of a brand-new plan of attack, think about how to amend what’s already happening. When does it get done? What is and isn’t good about that time? What steps are there to your laundry routine? Which are helpful? Which are needful? Can you tie an improvement onto an already-working part of your routine?

For example, say (hypothetically) your kitchen towels or kids clothes get into their drawers, but not in a particularly organized or aesthetic manner. Is that really a big deal? Can you work with that at least temporarily? How about instead of fighting that or calling that a laundry failure, you decide that’s how you’re going to manage things right now and at least the clean laundry is getting out of the dryer and baskets and into the room where it belongs.

Sometimes a change in how you think about the situation is actually the most helpful change.

Finding bright spots in the homeschool

So, let’s pretend Circle Time isn’t going well. That happens. Take a deep breath, stop thinking about it in all-or-nothing terms, and examine the situation closely. What part of Circle Time do the kids enjoy? Can you arrange that piece to come at a critical moment to help keep them on board? My kids’ favorite part is singing, so we start with a hymn, end with a hymn, and have a hymn in the middle to break up all the talking. When have the children been on board with Circle Time? What was different? A good breakfast? A pep talk before you began? Perhaps their plans are being interrupted for Circle Time so they start off in a bad mood?

Don’t try to come up with a brand new solution. Tweak what you have. Figure out why it went well that one day and how you might leverage that knowledge into more days.

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3 Responses

  1. Fe
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    This makes a lot of sense:-)

    I want to go back and read your archive—but instead, I’m going to add you to my blogroll so I’ll continue to read you—otherwise I can see I’m going to get de-railed:-) There’s too many interesting posts here, for me to read at the moment:-)

    • Mystie Winckler
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      Thank you for all your comments, Fe! I appreciate you taking the time. :)

  2. Katie
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    Great series Mystie. I have been following your posts and digging through old ones the last month or so. This one gave me a twinge as I am currently on another stint of bed rest with sweet cheecks #5. All of my organized plans and routines are suffering, as you can imagine. My bright spot is my hope that God can use this time to grow me, making me a more flexible momma! I am sure when all is said and done i will be pouring over all this again post delivery!