I asked the question, “Where do I start?” and the answer I got was, “Start small.”
The concept of starting small is nothing new, but it’s amazing how often I bypass it to try and tackle everything all at once. I start on one part of the house and get distracted and end up moving on to something that seems simpler, only to be distracted again. I end up with a dozen half-finished projects.
When I heard this answer so clearly (yes, I do think it was God’s voice), I assumed it only meant to start small in my house. Start with some small project and finish it and I’ll feel better about the big picture. When I sat down to eat lunch with the kids today, I realized that “start small” could apply to anything. I’ve struggled every day this week with my kids, trying to tackle everyone’s individual issues and not having much success at all. Normally, lunchtime is rough. I usually eat before or after the kids, and I don’t often sit down with them while they eat. Today I made us all the same meal and sat down just after they did. And it was better. It was just a small thing to change, but it actually made a big difference. They ate without throwing food at each other or on the floor (yes, my kids do that from time to time) and they all ate a decent amount of food, which doesn’t always happen at lunchtime.
It occurred to me while I was sitting there with them that this was starting small. I may not be able to prevent Elias from having a fit every ten minutes or keep Erik from screaming when anyone touches him, but eating lunch with them calmed them down for a short time. It wasn’t perfect, but it was different. I’ve seen this happen before, but for whatever reason, I tend to forget how much it helps.
After seeing this small change make a big difference, I turned my sights on Elias and his fit throwing. I suspect that this is a typical attention-grabber. If that’s the case, he may just need a little more positive attention from me during the day. Every time he started to have a fit this afternoon, I grabbed him and hugged him or had him sit with me for a short time. I talked to him calmly and quietly instead of yelling. This is very much against my natural response, but I think it might be what he needs. The trick will be getting Mike to respond the same way. There is a line that has to be drawn with Elias, and obviously, if he crosses it, he’ll have to be disciplined somehow (time-outs seem to be somewhat effective). My goal is just to respond as gently and gracefully as I can when he first starts to lose it. I’m sure I’ll have to re-evaluate if this doesn’t make a difference, but I have hope that it will work to some degree.
The big question right now is what area in my home can I make a small start on? There are so many things to be done, and maybe the best thing to do first is to make a list of small things I can do. I think small in my book is something that can be done in twenty minutes or less. So instead of cleaning my entire kitchen, I might just clean out one drawer or cupboard. Instead of tackling my entire desk (it’s a huge mess right now), I may just clear off one part of it. All I know is that something has to be done, and looking at it as a whole is downright scary. Starting small may not seem to make a big difference, but a dozen small starts may complete a big project.