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Mother & Baby
Being a mum isn't just about struggling through each day. Life is for living, and that's a lesson your toddler is more than capable of teaching you
Being a toddler is brilliant – fact. Think about it. Your little one's carefree, has no responsibilities, and finds the smallest things amazing – 'Wow! A letter came through a hole in the door, Mummy!'. And she has the ability to laugh at, well, just about everything. (We're asking you to momentarily blank out the memory of her screaming the supermarket down yesterday because you wouldn't buy her a bag of jelly babies!).
Now, compare your toddler's outlook to yours. All too often, we mums get bogged down with the humdrum aspects of daily life – 'Must do this', 'Why don't I have more time?', 'I wish she wouldn't do that'. So prepare yourself to go on a journey. It’s time to see life through your toddler's eyes and discover just how much she can teach you about making the most of every single day.
No fear!Toddlers are happy-go-lucky about everything. The outside world doesn't phase them at all. But why?
'Your toddler hasn't learnt to be fearful yet,' explains Allison Mitchell, a Mum Coach and author of Time Management For Manic Mums (Hay House, £9.99). 'To your little one, everything is fabulous and interesting. She doesn't understand that her actions have consequences.'
While that can sometimes be worrying for you (remember how she hurled herself off the slide at soft play last week?), there's a great lesson to be learned. 'As adults, we hold back because of our life experiences,' says Allison.But, it only takes a second to put yourself in your toddler's shoes, grab back a little piece of her adventurous streak and applying it to adult life. What have you got to afraid of – aside from looking like a loon as you fly round the park on a Tweenies scooter?
'Adults get bored very easily and tend not to explore ideas, whereas your toddler is naturally curious and wants to understand absolutely everything,' says Allison. 'It's so easy to get stuck in a rut. But be more like your child and step out of your known groove – you'll be surprised at what you'll discover – and, more importantly, what you're capable of.’
So, go on, take a leaf out of your toddler's book and be fearless.
Get over itEver noticed how, having berated your little angel for half an hour for 'decorating' the lounge with marker pen, you just can't get over it? You fume for hours and it can ruin your day, if not your week. But five minutes after the tongue-lashing, your toddler gives you a huge cuddle, tells you she loves you and asks for a biscuit. She's totally forgotten your argument.
'Your toddler loves you unconditionally,’ explains Allison, ‘and she doesn't have the capacity to mull things over.’
These two things mean that she carries on as if nothing's happened – and you should, too. Your little one's had her telling off, so the matter's done and dusted.
Being able to put conflict behind you - with other adults as well as your children - instead of becoming bitter is a recipe for a happier you. A good way to move on is to visualist yourself physically putting the 'bad' feelings behind you, and bringing forward 'good' ones. Life really is too short to stay cross.
Proud as punchYour toddler's just recognised the letter A in a book. She's so pleased with herself, and so are you.
Toddlers have no idea what it's like not to feel proud of themselves, as they haven't yet learnt to be self-critical – they always look for the positives. Us mums, unfortunately, find it far too easy to focus on the negatives and pile praise on others rather than ourselves.
But you should be proud of yourself, even for little accomplishments – just getting tea on the table is an achievement when you're run ragged by your ankle-biter all day.
'A brilliant way to start seeing the good in yourself is to write down five things that make you a great mum, every day,’ says Allison. Yes, you'll find it excruciatingly embarrassing at first, but give it a few days and you'll be chomping at the bit to remind yourself how fantastic you are – just like your toddler does.
Oh and remember, she only recognised that A because you taught her – well done you!
The simple thingsEvery minute of every day is a new and exciting experience for your toddler. Wouldn't it be great if you could be like that too?
'Look at that leaf, Mummy’, 'Zoom zoom, aeroplane', 'I LOVE toast'. They may seem boring to you, but to your tot these things are truly amazing, and this is your chance to share in her wonder.
'To fully understand why your toddler finds the simple things in life so amazing, pretend to be her for an hour,' advises Allison. Go to the park and scream in delight as you go down the slide or roly-poly down the grassy slopes with glee (just make sure you take your toddler with you, unless you want to look like a complete fruitloop!). Aside from anything else, your toddler will love to see you having so much fun.
'You have two choices in life,’ says Allison. 'You can be a spectator or a participant.’
So go on, take part. Enjoy the simple things in life and go with the flow!
Mum's mantraFollow Allison Mitchell’s top tips to lift you out of your adult world for a moment each day. Remember, the possibilities are endless…1 Think of every day as an adventure. It's up to you to get out that rut. Your toddler doesn't think twice about getting excited when the doorbell rings – and neither should you!2 Don't be scared to push the boundaries. After all, that's what your toddler does every day, and almost always to great effect, even if those boundaries sometimes test your patience more than a little…3 Remember, there's no such thing in life as failure, only feedback. Your toddler learns from every experience she has, and you don't see her beating herself up because she's only managed to play with three of her five dollies today. Apply that logic to yourself next time you 'only' get through three loads of washing! 4 Ask yourself: if anything was possible, what would I do? Your toddler doesn't even consider the fact she may not succeed, which means she'll try anything. Okay, you may not choose to climb Everest, but you might take out that gym membership you've been meaning to do for the last six months.5 You can do it. You were a toddler once, so you really do know what it's like to be free and easy. Think of yourself as a blank canvas (just as your toddler is) and peel back the layers of 'paint' you've been building up for years. Go back to basics and just have fun!
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What you can learn from your toddler
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