Switching Key Habits in the Home & Homeschool: Shrink the Change

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With engaging stories and practical advice, Switch examines the common denominators in those who make successful habit changes. The authors posit that

when change works, it tends to follow a pattern. The people who change have clear direction, ample motivation, and a supportive environment.

So let’s look at how to apply those factors to our own home situations, particularly as we begin new routines for the school year.

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

Shrink the Change = Baby Steps

I must admit, that I stink at this particular aspect of habit change, though I intellectually understand its benefits. When I have been able to make myself slow down and be happy with small steps instead of trying to orchestrate “The All-New-And-Improved Plan That Will Make Us All Amazing,” I have been, not surprisingly, much more successful and less discouraged and burnt out.

So often we get this grand vision of what our life could or even should look like, but getting from where we are to where we want to be requires (so we think) drastic habit and routine overhauls that are paralyzing to even think about.

We all know that one eats an elephant one bite at a time, but we tend to see those tiny bites as so insignificant as to be not really meaningful.

Even so, that feeling is actually inaccurate. We need to make the change less intimidating and trust that it will have impact over time. Because it will.

And sometimes those small baby steps toward habits we want to build reveals bright spots to us. We might not even need the huge overhaul we imagined. We just needed to do the small things in front of us more effectively and purposefully.

How Small Changes Work in Your Favor

  • Momentum: Like Dave Ramsey’s debt-snowball (it was an example in this chapter!), beginning with smaller and easier changes that will support the bigger scheme will help you shift your mindset and gear up your enthusiasm.

  • Small Wins: That growing momentum comes by the building up of small wins. Getting the positive feedback of a success, a win, an achievement, increases your likelihood of sticking with your habits. You are showing yourself that you are serious and that you can do this. We should be thinking, too, of how we can give our children small wins in their chores and schoolwork – not by candy or stickers or larger unrelated prizes tied to goals, but by helping them see their success as success and not as a respite from a sisyphean task. As much as we can, we should help them see that their efforts are getting them somewhere.

  • Confidence: Gathering momentum with small wins builds confidence. You will become encouraged that making positive change is something you can do, instead of being discouraged at always failing at the big overhaul plans.

Ways to Shrink the Change in Home Routines

  • If you have 5 morning chores you want to complete before starting school, try adding in one per week at that time to ease into it.
  • If you want to start making more dinners or lunches or breakfasts from scratch or more healthfully, just change one day of the week at a time. Perhaps add in another day or meal a month.
  • Declutter for 10-15 minutes at a time rather than wait until you have enough time to “finish” the job.
  • Just spend 5 minutes putting things away or dusting or whatever job you procrastinate. Sometimes starting is the hardest part, and it’s easier to start if you know you can stop after a measly 5 minutes.

Ways to Shrink the Change in Home Education

  • Begin the school year gradually, instead of jumping in all at once with both feet.
  • Take a week or two to practice the morning and chore time routines before starting the school routines.
  • Start the first few weeks of math or Latin with review work.
  • Do 5 minutes of math fact drill or Latin vocab drill daily or even 2-3 times a week, and watch how much that small bit of time adds to your students’ ability after a few weeks.
  • To get more read-alouds in, add audio books to car rides or chore time or rest time.

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