Let’s face it. As adults, we can be a bit cynical. We’ve been through stuff – good and bad. We know how great it feels when things go our way, and we’re completely bitter about those crap times, too.
But here’s one of the coolest things about having little ones: they are untainted. The way they see, smell and generally experience the world around them is from a place of pure innocence – and it’s pretty magical to witness. In fact, we’d probably all be a hell of a lot happier if we followed in our babies’ and toddlers’ teeny footsteps and did the following in our day-to-day lives:
1. HOLD THE JUDGMENT
Easier said than done, obviously. But you know when you’re standing in line at the grocery store, distracted by the payment process and wondering what the difference is between spearmint and peppermint, and then you notice your baby smiling fiercely at something behind you? It’s always a random stranger. Little babe doesn’t care why the person is wearing that outfit or has greasy hair or is adamant about using reusable bags or demands that all items be price checked and then price checked again – he just smiles up at that stranger and the stranger smiles back. Ditch the judgment and smile instead – it just feels good.
2. EMBRACE HONESTY
We all have people in our lives who share their thoughts gently and tell wee fibs here and there to keep the waters calm. We love those kindhearted people, but in times of desperation, it’s usually brutal honesty that we need to hear. You know who can always be counted on to speak the truth? Your kiddo. Toddlers, especially, have zero concept of sparing one’s feelings. They tell it like it is, and that’s admirable. Learn to speak (and hear) the truth in your day-to-day life and we promise you’ll feel refreshed.
3. WEAR MISMATCHED CLOTHES
Seriously. Why not? You don’t always have to be perfectly put-together, or even wearing a bra, for that matter. Every now and then, put comfort first, don’t bother finding a matching pair of socks and rock your Santa PJs in April. Hey, your toddler would.
4. APPRECIATE THE SIMPLE JOYS
Smell a flower. Walk barefoot in the grass. Watch a sunset. Frankly, we’d love to appreciate “simple” joys like these. Sometimes though, it’s the middle of March, with a blizzard raging outside, and you’re stuck at home with a snotty toddler who forgot how to nap. But finding joy in the little things isn’t just about perfect, summer days spent with nature. It’s about appreciating the comforts you do have. For your toddler it might be colouring with that amazing purple crayon (after all, it’s clearly the best freakin’ crayon in the whole world, judging by his excitement). For you, it might be the first sip of fresh, hot coffee in the morning. And hey – you can always buy yourself some flowers, just don’t forget to smell them every now and then.
5. VALUE THE COMFORT OF LOVED ONES
Sometimes, our kids can be little terrors. Other times, they randomly stop playing just to come give us a hug (and melt our hearts). They like to snuggle close while we read them stories, and sometimes, they hold our hands for no reason at all. Babies and children simply find comfort in the closeness of loved ones – something we often take for granted. You may think you’re not in the mood to snuggle close to your partner on the couch, or you’re too rushed to hug your mom before running out the door after a coffee date. But close contact with those we care about can re-energize us with a burst of feel-good vibes. Follow your little one’s lead on this one and we promise your heart will instantly feel a little warmer.
6. GET DIRTY
And don’t worry about it, either. You’ve accepted that your toddler will be soaked and muddy by the time he finishes playing outside – give yourself a break and join in. He doesn’t mind being an outright disaster because it’s simply fun to get messy. Get out your grubby clothes and give it a try!
7. TASTE SOMETHING BRAND NEW
A great source of entertainment for parents is watching the facial expressions of our babies when they try eating something new. (Apple sauce and lemons for the win!) But why should that exploratory age end as we grow up? Whether it’s candied bacon, oysters or beet juice, open your mind and awaken your taste buds every now and then. There’s nothing like new experiences to make us feel alive and young!
8. CRY FREELY
We don’t mean throw hissy fits on the regular, but there’s something to be said about letting the tears fall when the mood strikes. Wow, I needed that! is probably a post-cry reaction you’ve experienced before. Sometimes that outpour of emotion really is just what the doctor ordered. Whether it’s during a sappy movie or moments after stubbing your toe, make like your baby and cry it out. (Full-blown ugly crying is also acceptable.)
9. BETTER YET, GIVE IN TO YOUR MOOD SWINGS SOMETIMES
Our kids get away with it all the time – so why can’t we? Holding in our true feelings and emotions is stifling and exhausting. Our kids don’t hesitate to express themselves and we shouldn’t either. So what if you’re flying high one moment and infuriated the next? Mood swings happen, thanks to the many stresses and responsibilities (and hormones) that constantly weigh us down. Sometimes, you’ve just got to feel all the feels.
10. LIVE IN THE MOMENT
It may not always be easy, but our little ones show us that it’s possible. Your toddler isn’t stressing about having to put her toys away and go have a nap in a few hours, because in this moment, she’s happy playing with her toys. Dwelling on things to come, and even worse, letting them bring us down, distracts and prevents us from being able to enjoy the crazy-beautiful moments happening right in front of us.
11. SLOW DOWN
While kids always seem to be on the go, they’re also notorious for taking their time. You know what we’re talking about – those days (or every day) when they take 90 minutes to finish half their lunch, or they wake up at 6 a.m. and still aren’t ready to leave for school by 8:30. The day-to-day stuff that causes us to chew our fingernails and pull out our own hair in sheer frustration. And while it isn’t always practical to throw the clock out the window, we could all benefit from walking a little slower, spending a few extra minutes in the shower or stretching our meals out a bit longer.
12. TRY, TRY AGAIN
When your baby first starts trying to stack blocks, he probably won’t succeed. He might even get frustrated and upset (and send the blocks flying in all directions). But that doesn’t stop him from trying again and again for the next two months until he can build a tower that would impress Bob the Builder. Whether you’re learning something complicated at work or mastering a new skill on your own time, give yourself a break and then try again. It takes more than a couple attempts to become an expert, and your tiny, intelligent human continues to prove what the power of perseverance can accomplish.