Thursday, May 26, 2011

Small Changes can make Big Differences

Ever get just plain overwhelmed with all that life throws your way?

For me, a lot of times, I'm sure this is self-inflicted. I over-commit. I procrastinate. I make poor choices (eating bad foods, staying up too late, etc.) that affect my ability to function effectively.

On those days when I feel the weight of my responsibilities crushing me, I temporarily turn into a crazy lady. Look out everybody, Mama's on a rampage!

The good side of the self-inflicted overwhelmedness (yeah, I made that up) is that there is an end in sight. I know when my duties are done, I can rest. Or I can delegate some duties. I can even quit one area of responsibility. Plus, I have a great support system.

But what about when you don't have support? What if you're in it alone, indefinitely? That's not self-inflicted, and it doesn't have an end in sight. You might be afraid that you are going to permanently be that crazy lady...

Might I suggest a few small changes that will help you tame the crazy lady within?

(Just a little fyi, here, while I can't profess to have ever been in the position of "in it alone, indefinitely," I have spend enough years "in it alone, randomly and without time frames" to make me believe I could be that permanent crazy lady. So that's the place where my advice is coming from. Mkay?)

Small Change #1 - Don't be a Petri.

Have you ever watched The Land Before Time? There's this one dinosaur, Petri, who is always whining and complaining. He's got Poor Petri Syndrome. PPS is the number one contributing factor CLS (Crazy Lady Syndrome).

This small change is probably the most difficult. It's so easy to get into the "poor me" way of thinking. I know, because I do it all. the. time. Try replacing martyr thoughts with other thoughts...

I'm so alone.
I may feel alone right now, but that is a prompt for me to stop and ask God for His help.

This is so hard!
Nothing I do of importance will be easy. This is important, so I need to work hard.

How much can one person do?
I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

This isn't fair!
I don't get it, but God has a plan here. His plan involves my growth. This is an opportunity for me to grow.

I will never be able to change.
I am not responsible for changing. I am responsible for obeying God. Through my obedience, change will come.

Small Change #2 - Commit to getting enough sleep.

I don't know about you, but when I feel lonely and isolated I tend to stay up too late. I spend my time seeking connection online (No, not chat rooms, but on Facebook and reading blogs.). I watch TV until I'm numb and falling asleep on the couch. I lose myself in a book until it tumbles from my sleep-weighted hands.

This change is going to be the easiest to make, with the biggest impact. Plan a set bedtime and a set wake-up time for yourself and just follow through on the plan. Give it two weeks for your body to fall into the rhythm. And take note of how, suddenly, you feel a little bit less crazy during the daily witching hour (this is how I refer to those dreaded few hours between after school and bedtime, when children tend to act possessed).

Small Change #3 - Speak good.

As a former (sometimes current) crazy lady, I will confess to spending much too much energy speaking bad. Words of reprimand and criticism come easily. My tone of voice reeks of anger, frustration, irritation, and impatience. My thoughts are dominated by those same emotions. Anyone else?

Make an intentional effort to speak good over your family. It can be as simple as, "Hey, I love you kid." or "Thanks for taking out the garbage. Your help around here makes a difference."

Start small by speaking good to each person in your home - intentionally - once or twice per day. (I'm not saying limit it to that. What I'm saying is that you are doing it with the mindset that I need to speak good here and now.) I try to do this, on purpose, in the morning and during the dreaded witching hour.

It's funny how just acting the right way can begin to change the attitude.

Small Change #4 - Don't Negotiate with Terrorists.

Kids have this insane radar system that tells them when Mom is tired and stressed. They hone in on it, taking aim, then BOOM! And a pattern develops.

Kid asks. Mom says no. Kid negotiates. Mom says no, a hint of irritation in her voice. Kid whines. Mom says no, a scowl on her face. Kid argues. Mom yells no at the top of her lungs, followed by a shrieking lecture and over-the-top discipline.

Mom feels guilty. Next time kid asks, Mom starts out with no. After more asking, Mom gets worn down and doesn't have the energy to argue or discipline, so she caves.


Repeat this mantra to yourself and your kids, "My no means no." After you say it to your kids, turn and walk away. the conversation/discussion/debate is done. Unfortunately, when you first implement your new policy of not negotiating with terrorists, they will follow you around and hound you. You must be prepared for this inevitability. Say once, "This conversation is over," then do not respond any more. At all. Not once.

So I suggest embarking on this policy at a time when you feel well rested, strong, and momentarily in control of your CLS. And then commit to staying strong for the couple weeks it will take for the crew to accept the new policy. I promise you, your life will be forever impacted after you successfully make this small change!

If you feel overwhelmed, if you are in it alone, and if you feel like a permanent crazy lady, choose one small step today. Just one. Stick with it until it's mastered, until it's part of your daily routine. Then choose another small step. Over time, CLS will become less pervasive in your home. You will notice that the crazy lady is taming. Chances are, as she mellows, the crazy urchins will follow suit.

Small changes. Big differences. I promise.


  1. Thank you, I needed this. I procrastinate and am not organized. Therefore, I do get overwelmed! The bad choices made are often in the result of junk food! I need to work on all this.

  2. Great post! Good thoughts to meditate on and put into practice. Thanks for sharing.

  3. "Don't negotiate with terrorists"- LOVE IT! I'll admit that my crazy lady starts coming out when my kids keep asking for the same thing over, and over, and over again. I used the phrase "My no means no" yesterday and my son went silent. He. walked. away. WOW! I think this phrase will be a regular one in our house from now on. Thank you for the great post.

  4. Great post; I like get more sleep - when I'm running on autopilot it is not a pretty sight!

  5. Don't negotiate with terrorists! :)

    Thank you for reminders of practical ways we can avoid CLS and be the mom we long to be.


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