Shae O'Brien is an English teacher, writer, wife, and mother to three beautiful girls. She takes life with a grain of salt and two spoonfuls of sugar! Please be sure to follow her on www.facebook.com/catholicmamablog.

Friday, July 11, 2014

5 Things Toddlers do that Lead to a Better Life

As a mother of three, I have experienced a lot of those unbelievably funny, gross, frustrating and overwhelming moments in life. I've had those days when I wonder what I was thinking. But I have begun to realize that my children have a LOT to teach me. The thing is, since having children my life has been filled with more joy, laughter, and love than ever before. (Don't worry, this is NOT a post about how people with kids have fuller lives than those who don't.) It just got me thinking, how has acting more like my children changed my life for the better? Well, here are five of the things that have changed my life--and maybe they could do the same for you!

1) Laugh when they fall down. This is one of my daughters' favorite games. Yes, I said game. They fall down, laugh hysterically, and get back up again--only to fall down in laughter! This is the complete opposite of an adult's normal reaction to a fall. We adults tend to react to our trips and stumbles with tears and self-loathing and maybe even a ton of binging on wine and chocolate (not that I would know anything about it).  Yet as a parent, I have found that the bigger of a deal I make a fall, the harder my daughters will take it. If I laugh it off, so do they! And you know what? Most falls in life really aren't as bad as we adults make them out to be. Laughing more and self-loathing less....the affect is instant and priceless!

2)  Announce when they poop. Oh, I don't mean calmly  and privately letting me know so I can assist them with wiping. I mean running into the living room, undies in hands, and screaming with pride, "I made a big poopy!" Oh yes. This happens. And why not? We all poop. And to be honest, I can't tell you the number of times I've had a particularly wonderful #2 experience and felt weird wishing I had someone to tell. The truth is, we have been taught to feel shame for a bodily function we ALL experience. By letting go of shame over a ridiculously normal act, we can learn to let go of shame for other things too...think periods, farts, snorting laughs, love of Lady Gaga--whatever happens to be on your blushing list.

3) Applaud everything! And I do mean everything. Every song, every twirl, every pouring of a cup of tea or pretending to be a horse. They applaud themselves. They applaud me. It may be something I have done a million times, but to them it is a task I should be proud of--even if it is loading the dishwasher or mooing like a cow. So why don't we adults applaud ourselves--and each other--more? Could you imagine the change in your attitude if you received cheers every time you turned in a report or folded a load of laundry? What if we said a (sincere, excited, high energy) thank you and congratulations every time someone we love did something positive?  How quickly would we change the course of our lives, and the lives of those around us?

4) Cheer and give hugs every time they see me. This is may favorite part of every day. I open the front door, peek around the corner, and witness the pure joy of my daughters running to greet me, screaming "Mama!" with arms wide open.  I know there will come a day when this does not happen. Every time it does, I hug them tightly and promise God not to forget this feeling ever. Yet, when we see those we love, we often take for granted their presence. We may see them everyday. We may have known they were on their way. Yet, I have known far too many people who had plans to see someone...that never arrived. Let's not take our loved ones for granted. Let's exclaim how much we missed them, how incredible they are, how much they mean to us. Don't leave any words unspoken or hugs left in empty arms.

5)  Say no. Ok, so I admit that this one is not often something I enjoy my daughters doing. When they don't want to, when they don't like it, when they think it's not fair or ok, the no's start coming out loud and clear! And while this isn't always the best thing for me (believe me, nap time was a struggle today), I have learned how easy--and important--it is to say no. How often do you say no to something you don't want to do? How often do you say no to something that feels wrong or not for you? Society teaches us to be agreeable, pleasing to others, appropriate in situations. Does that mean we should disregard our own feelings for everyone else's? Maybe it's time for us to admit when we need to say no, and stand up for our needs by stepping away when we need to.

There you go! Just five things my daughters have taught me to make my life a better one. I hope my sharing their little toddler wisdom can help you make your life a little better also. After all, who has time to live a life that doesn't make them happy? God bless.

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