Toddlers are pint sized bundles of energy. They wake REALLY early and keep you on your toes as you chase after them. You’re preventing tears, tantrums and near disasters, as they hurtle through their day as if fuelled by a high-potency energy drink.
They only have two speed settings: 60 miles an hour or slower than a sloth.
They only have two volume settings: ear splittingly loud or silent. And silence usually means that they have discovered a Sharpie and are decorating the living room walls.
They can be brimming with happiness one minute and then crumple to the floor because of a lump in their sock or because you opened their banana all wrong.
Spending your days hanging out with a toddler is exhausting and maddening and funny and wonderful and on some days can drive you to the brink. But toddlers can teach you so many important life lessons. Here are the most important ones my toddler taught me.
To live in the now
Mindfulness is a bit of a trend. New books, apps and courses crop up weekly to teach you how to live in the moment. But the best gurus to teach you about living in the now are toddlers.
They don’t ever think ahead to the future and neither do they look back to the past. All that matters to them is the now. And they grasp hold of the now and revel in it.
One of the most enduring ways my toddler taught me about the importance of living in the moment was when we’d had one of those days. You know the one, when everything goes wrong and the day is filled with whines and tears and crescendos with a full on fist beating tantrum near the fish finger aisle in the supermarket with old ladies staring. I would go to bed feeling battered and despondent.
I couldn’t sleep for worrying that I was a terrible mother. I felt that my toddler hated me and I had scarred him for life by shrieking like a banshee. But he would always wake up in the morning, leap out of bed and give me a big squeezy hug, ready to embrace this brand new day. That was then, this is now.
It’s no surprise that ‘now’ is often one of every toddler’s first words. They revel in the now and mine taught me how to focus on it too.
To look down and look up
As adults when we walk somewhere we tend to forge ahead, barely taking notice of the world around us and trying to get to our destination as quickly as possible.
We’re always rushing, rushing, rushing.
My toddler taught me the wonder to be found when I didn’t look straight ahead but looked up and down. When we did we spotted a tiny caterpillar crawling up a wall, a cloud that looked a bit like a dragon, a piece of sparkle on the pavement, drops of dew on a spider’s web.
My toddler taught me to slow down, to spy the wonders of the world around me and notice the beauty in our life.
Hugs are the best cures of all
Toddlers are utterly huggable. They give and take big squeezy hugs whenever they can.
They wrap their little arms around your legs and hurl themselves at you to envelop their little bodies in yours. They sit on your lap and fold themselves into your body. Their tiny hands reach up to stroke your face or twiddle a strand of your hair.
My toddler taught me that there is almost no situation that a hug won’t make better.
Dance like nobody’s watching
Whenever my toddler hears a beat he dances with no abandon. He shakes his nappy clad booty and shimmies around the living room, dancing like nobody was watching.
And it’s infectious as I soon find myself dancing too. I can leap and twist and boogie on down and lose myself in the movement.
Dancing is one of the most soul-lifting things you can do and my toddler has taught me to do it often and without abandon.
Wear what you like and rock it
After having a baby I soon developed my trusty mum uniform of jeans, a nice top and a messy hair don’t care up-do. But my toddler always takes the task of choosing his outfit for the day very seriously.
Normal style rules do not apply. On Tuesday he picked out a stripey top and paired it with spotty leggings and then added accessories of wellies and a cape and red costume hat. And he rocked his look with pride. And he taught me to rock it too.
I can go out with glitter in my hair and a huge ‘I love Mummy’ sticker on my top. I can choose a bright pink top and fur lined boots and stride my way into the world with confidence.
If you want friends, just ask
I love watching my toddler’s approach to making new friends. He sizes up the nursery and picks out a possible playmate, usually the one doing something that he loves to do to.
Then he confidently marches over and asks, quite simply, ‘Do you want to be my friend?’. Genius.
Granted, it took me a little longer to copy this strategy when approaching potential mum friends but, in essence, this is what I do too. Just in a more subtle way. And you know what? Usually it works.
You can get anything you want if you just persevere
Toddlers know what they want and they know that, if they go on about it relentlessly then they will usually get it. There is never any beating around the bush. He hones in on what he wants and perseveres until it comes his way.
Muuuum, can I have a biscuit?. Mum, PLEEEASE can I have a biscuit? Mum, mum, muuuuum. Biscuit. Biscuit. Muuuuuuuuuuum. BISCUIT.
If he doesn’t at first get what he wants, he waits and then repeats his pleas at a time when he knows I am more pliable. BIG eyes staring up at me and pleading demonstrations with his whole body, means it’s almost impossible to refuse him in the end. What a brilliant life lesson.
You want something: speak up, persevere, never EVER stop asking until you succeed.
Life is one big adventure
The ultimate lesson that toddlers can teach you is that life is one big adventure. Stride out there and grasp all it throws at you full on.
Toddlers wake so early and leap out of bed because they’re so excited about what the day ahead might bring. They roll with the punches.
Yes, there are things that get you down and make you cry. But you can just let it all out, have a hug and carry on. After a set back, it’s game on as you see what might happen next.
Hanging out with a toddler, you can’t help but feel the magic. It’s infectious.
Watching my toddler see life as a exciting adventure, makes me want to create magical moments for him whenever I can as well. Whether it’s building up the excitement of Christmas or simply letting him jump in a giant pile of autumn leaves or a big muddy puddle, it’s all part of the magic of life.
I can’t thank my toddler enough for opening my eyes, reawakening all my senses and helping me look at life through fresh eyes. I’m armed with so many new skills to make the most out of each and every day. So take a breath and live a day like a toddler! It’ll be one rocking day.