“Do Something.” Posted a friend on Facebook underneath a photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Martin Luther King day. Wow. I was planning to run errands today. That’s not quite worthy of Martin Luther King and his total sacrifice for the good of an entire movement. These words stirred up the usual question ‘What can I do?’… to make other’s lives better, to be a better mother, to seize the day or to be healthier. Some days I am lucky to get my kids to school and their activities on time and get a little work done.

Most of us will not have as much impact as Martin, but we can do small things that have more impact than we realize. The book Buddha Never Raised Kids & Jesus Didn’t Drive Carpool by Vickie Falcone speaks to some of these small changes that can make a big difference. The author, a mother of two, was plotting her New Year’s resolutions with grand plans for changing and improving herself with more work and exercise. Then she talked to a friend whose resolution was to get up ten minutes earlier in the morning. Seems pretty minor, doesn’t it. Such a small change. But, when the alarm goes off, ten minutes can seem monumental. Ten minutes can also mean monumental changes in the level of connection you have with your kids, how you care for yourself and can help you to start your day with peace rather than chaos.

Ten minutes. What can those moments do for you? How could they change your world? Or the world of those around you? When you are trying to get your kids to put their shoes on or you are helping them find their school notebook, ten minutes can be the difference between yelling ‘Get your shoes on NOW! We have to go!’. Or, taking a moment to sit with your child as they put on their shoes to ask them about their day ahead, with focus and empathy, being present to their reality. The first option happens, to all of us from time to time.

Attachment researchers have found that hostile criticism from loved ones is coded as pain and danger in the brain and is amazingly painful (Susan Johnson). Such interactions can break down our emotional connection, leaving the child to feel they are on their own or not valued. Not the ideal way to start a day at school. The moment of positive connection with you can empower your kids to leave for school feeling capable and loved. Showing them empathy can increase their awareness that how they treat another person can make a difference too. What a huge impact this positive interaction could make on how they interact with their peers or tackle that huge math problem. Your ten minutes have just been invested in a child’s sense of self and in their heart.

We all can do something different to bring about positive changes in our lives and the lives of those around us. The thing you start with maybe as small as ten minutes, and that can be a good place to start. In upcoming posts I will continue to explore other small changes we can each make that may have big impacts on our attitudes, well being, health and sense of connection with others.