There are so many clichés about how becoming a parent changes you – all the things we can learn from our children and how wonderful it is to see the world through fresh eyes. And yet as cheesy as it may sound, most of them hold pretty true. Of course it comes in good company with sleep deprivation, exhaustion, lack of any ‘me’ time and whole new world of worries – but yes, it is indeed all worth it. As my son’s about to turn two, it seems only appropriate to reflect on some of the things I’ve observed and learned from him already. These healthy life lessons are gentle reminders for us grown-ups and something we can all try to incorporate a bit more of in our daily lives. I can only imagine what’s in store for us in the years ahead.
You can’t talk about kids without talking about play! Kids learn and develop through play. They develop motor skills and get to exercise their creativity. Play is done with such pure joy, such new and fresh excitement, a slight obsession that is so fun to watch. And sure – it’s very contagious. How can you help but not to laugh along, play along and roll around on the floor alongside your ticklish toddler?
Best of all – most play also includes lots of physical activity; climbing, sprinting, squatting, hanging, rolling and pushing. No need for a gym when you’re fitting all these moves into your daily life, right?
As adults our inhibitions and fear of embarrassment can hold us back from just playing freely. Start by adding more structured organized play – like a game of your favorite sport with some friends and take it from there. Better yet, create your own adult playground.
A kid sure shows you how to spend a lot more time outside. Whether it’s in the park or at the playground, or simply out in the woods or at the beach – their curiosity and sense of wonder can keep them busy for hours. Throwing rocks into puddles or the sea, gathering sticks, searching for bugs or chasing a pigeon are all exciting adventures. Next time you’re outside, try putting away your phone—look up and around—and admire the beauty you see. The fresh air and energy of being in nature is naturally calming and de-stressing.
Kids are tremendously curious about everything! They want to know and understand how something works and keep on going until they’re satisfied. As a parent, it is challenging not to intervene and ‘help’ them but letting them spend the time to figure something out is without a doubt the most helpful approach. In our adult life, it’s also healthy to have a more open, curious approach that allows for failure. Trying and giving in to that itch to explore – whether that means going down a different street on your way to work, traveling the world or trying a new food.
In the Moment
Hanging out with a young child teaches you to just be present in the moment. Often simply because you have to watch them, but also because they are so present in the moment They are so there, doing the one thing that they’re doing at that moment, without being distracted by worrying about what email they need to write or what’s for dinner. Being more present in the moment can really help us decrease the amount of stress we’re feeling and increase our joy for life!