Just over one year ago, I was enduring pain and exhaustion while simultaneously experiencing extreme joy and exhilaration.
All of those crazy feelings that arise from giving birth. (Actually, that sums up raising kids as well.)
My heart was exploding with love for this new little one. This post is dedicated to all of the lessons he has taught me during his first year of life. And these are the 21 lessons I’ve learned:
1. Slowwww down. Little ones move slow. Instead of expecting them to catch up with my pace, I am trying to move with theirs. I am trying to loosen my firm grip on the expectations, timelines and agendas I have created, most of which aren’t needed.
2. Less to-do lists and more spontaneity. Life is what happens when we are making other plans. Kids remind us to be flexible and stay open to life instead of sticking to a rigid plan.
3. Pay attention. Miracles are happening every moment. Kids are present to witness them. Adults not so much. We get caught up in our repetitive thoughts and habits and can be blind to the blessing that is unfolding in front of us.
4. Take time to play. It seems like the older we get the less we play. But play is therapy. A time to let go, have fun and use our incredible imaginations. Carve out time to play each day. Better yet, take time to play with kids.
5. There is only this moment. Right. Now. Kids only live in the present moment. Don’t let the past or the future steal away this moment. It’s a gift. We can even transform the mundane moments.
6. Laugh. A lot. Kids laugh way more than adults do. We shouldn’t take ourselves or others (or anything for that matter) too seriously. The amount of fun you have in a day seems to be directly proportionate to how dirty your clothes are.
7. See with fresh eyes. Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Choose everything, like kids do.
8. Go outside every day. Nature is healing and sacred. It’s a feast for our eyes and ears. Watch kids when they are outside. They notice every little sound, sight and smell. I never realized how much I was missing until I watched my little guy Ashton turn his head to follow the soft sound of a chirping bird that wasn’t even in my field of awareness until he responded to it.
9. Sleep. Go to bed early. Wake up early. Little ones have it down when it comes to sleep, take cues from the kids on this.
10. Let go of perfection. You know that Pottery Barn magazine? I have realized that my house will never look like that again. In fact, it will look better with dents, and scratches and toys everywhere. Compliments of the best interior designer I know—my kids. There is even a message in our mess.
11. Learn something new. Kids are in a constant state of learning. This is how we all evolve and grow.
12. Take a risk, or at least a first step. There’s a time for being safe, and a time for throwing all caution to the wind. Kids are probably the bravest people I know. They haven’t bought into self limiting beliefs yet.
13. Get up after you fall down. It’s never a permanent fall or failure. Otherwise, we would never learn to walk.
14. Appreciate the small things. God is just as present, maybe even more present, in the small, every day things. Stay open.
15. Quality time is better than any toy. In the end, it’s only people and relationships that matter. My kids would rather spend time together over having any store bought item.
16. Family is everything. It’s the roots that sink deep into the earth that allow us to grow big and strong.
17. Keep an open mind and don’t judge. Let go of critical thought. Kids accept everyone and everything just as is. Without labels, without blame, without judgment.
18. Snuggle every day. Snuggles, like hugs, make everything better. I am taking lessons from some of the best snugglers around.
19. It’s okay to depend on others. The first part of our life we depend on others for everything. This does not make us weak. It makes us human. Our little ones depend on us. I need to remind myself it’s okay to ask for help. We never out grow this.
20. A hug makes everything better. There’s no better way to ease the pain than to know we are loved and to give that love to others, especially our little ones.
21. Less TV (and Smart Phones), more stories and books. Put it down, turn if off. I need to remind myself of this one a lot. But the reality is, tuning into my little ones is far better than tuning out.
Bonus lesson: The days are long but the years are short. I couldn’t agree more.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own