A toddler is a special breed of human. I feel as the mum of 3 year old twin boys I’m conducting a 24 hour scientific study into the minutia of toddler behaviour (although I should probably be calling my boys preschoolers by now, ops!). I try to teach my boys all kinds of things everyday, but there are also a few things they are teaching me.
When my boys were learning to walk they fell over all the time. Once they decided that they wanted to move there was literally no stopping their efforts. Unfortunately as I had my hands very full with three kids I was not always there to catch them. They hit the deck a lot. They bumped their faces. They cried. Then they got up and kept on going. All day, everyday. There was no getting discouraged by their first few set backs, there was no losing heart and deciding that maybe walking wasn’t for them.
If only I had this dogged determination when learning something new? I’ve been trying to learn to drive for a little while now. I battled with self doubt, I got discouraged by a bad lesson and frustrated with the process. I’d want to quit. Then I fail my test and totally lost my nerve, I started to overthink it all and got myself into a bit of a state.
Lesson learnt – when learning something new go for it like a toddler. When you have a set back dust yourself off and keep on going.
Living in the present
For my boys life is all about the here and now. Watching them splashing about having fun in the bath they are totally in that moment. This generally involves laughing, messing about, getting water everywhere.
In a way this is what makes toddlers a bit of a handful. They are often absorbed in something you don’t want them to be doing. A lot of our melt downs are about not wanting to finish an activity or leave somewhere. My boys love looking at the fish in our local garden centre. One day Leo was fixated by a pygmy puffer fish (he watches a lot of Octonauts!). He could not be moved, his world right then was all about that little glass tank. Unfortunately this ended in tears as we needed to leave to collect my daughter from school (carrying a three year old who was screaming I want the puffer fish to the bemusement of passers by). Despite the melt down there is a good lesson here, give whatever you are doing your full undivided attention.
I’ve been trying cultivate a mindful attitude but it is such a struggle. For a large proportion of the day I’m pretty distracted, probably more than its comfortable to admit. I frequently try to do more than one thing at once and don’t give my full attention to any of the things that I’m doing. I text while I’m walking, I check social media while chatting to my husband and kids, I answer emails while cooking. I eat at my desk. I’m often mentally distracted too – rethinking bits of my day or events in the past. I also find that my mind often races ahead planning out what I need to get done next or worrying about upcoming events.
Lesson learnt – find your puffer fish moments! Be absorbed in the present and give what you are doing your full attention.
Look after yourself
The demands of a toddler can be pretty relentless, especially when you spend the day with two of them. “Water please, water please” echoes in my ears all day. On a recent trip to the botanic gardens Sam got to the point where he was totally worn out and he just lay down on the ground to take a rest. You cannot ignore or distract a young child once they realise that they are hungry. They might ask politely at first but if their needs are not met they will persevere, getting louder and louder until they are fed.
When you think about it toddlers are complete experts in making sure their needs are attended to. They will not stop until their basic requirements for food, warmth, rest and attention are met. If only I was as attentive to looking after my own basic needs. I’ll often be so busy getting the kids to school/preschool or an activity that I’ll just ignore my own hunger or get half way though the afternoon and realise I haven’t had lunch. I never get enough sleep, I’m always staying up way later than is good for me. I don’t drink enough water when I’m working or take enough screen breaks.
Lesson learnt – be kind to your inner toddler. Don’t neglect yourself, especially when you are looking after everyone else.
Thank you to my toddlers and their big sister for showing my what is important in life!
What lesson have your kids taught you?