You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance. -Franklin P. Jones
Every day, almost every second of every minute lately, I seem to learn something from my toddler. I’m sure all parents feel the same way about their kids. What we choose to see and what we decide to take away is up to us. Amidst the chaos & the never-ending chores of parenting, it’s easy for us to ignore the subtle lessons life throws our way, even in the form of cranky, stubborn menaces, a.k.a kids 🙂
Babies don’t just walk & talk overnight. Toddlers don’t just jump & run out of the blue. Kids don’t just speak & write all of a sudden. They practice. Constantly. Every waking moment of every day until they master the skill. Why don’t adults do that? Simply because the adults’ brain is not growing at the same rate as a toddler’s. It might possibly also be that adults have real responsibilities and tasks to get done, unlike kids. Taking care of kids, for instance :). However, we can choose to do something to mimic this behavior because it is in our best interest & health to do so.
What if we
- were passionate & interested in everything we see around
- put our mind to something & do it until we are close to perfection
- were curious about the world & always ready for the next adventure
- smile & laugh at everything that comes our way – people, animals & things.
Most importantly, what if we resolve to never ever give up?
Here’s a few things I’m going to try and follow in my toddler’s footsteps:
Have multiple projects at a time
Kids have lot of things going on at the same time. As they grow, sadly, I think they are taught by adults to concentrate on a single thing for better concentration & productivity. There was a time when multitasking was hot. Then people started believing that a single task in hand and being minimalistic is the way to go.
Personally, what works for me is working on many things at a time in an organized fashion. Planning and variety are my keywords. I tend to get complacent and less productive when I’m just thinking of one problem to solve. So my solution is to have things to do in many areas of my interest at all times. That way, when I need to find perspective or take a breather, I can still be productive while having fun at something else.
Here’s how it works. Think of 2 things you are passionate about. Think of 2 things you’d like to improve on. Think of 1 new skill or hobby you want to develop. Have something going with all 5 at all times. Could be baby steps, that’s ok. Have a next action plan for all 5 projects & have them with you at all times. Whenever stuck or frustrated with one, pick another and do something.
My 5 things or what I like to call as PIN list:
What I’m “Passionate” about
Writing – I have one writing assignment I give myself each week & I am trying to get good at blogging regularly. I try to read at least one book a month and have countless articles in my “to-read” pile.
Flamenco – I used to be a regular student until my son was born, but where I live now there is no Flamenco dance. Many haven’t even heard the word. So this one’s going to be tough. For now, I plan to practice at least one step a day mostly learning from you tube & such.
What would be “Ideal” to add to my talents
Fitness – My long term plan is to get a trainer certification. But the short term goal is not that lofty. It would be ideal to work out at least three times a week and eat right.
Cooking – I haven’t been a bad cook my entire life. That doesn’t mean anything because “not being bad” is not a qualification. Or excuse. It would be ideal to try different healthy recipes my son would enjoy.
Could this possibly be my “Next big thing”?
Finance – I am neither a finance major nor an expert in anything to do with budget, investments & portfolio. But that’s a path I’d like to venture. Lack of an automation makes it a little difficult to track cash flow in India, but my goal is to find a way to iron out the wrinkles & have a working plan for my family. Who knows, may be I’ll start a blog on this topic once I learn about it!
Switch topics when bored
Have you noticed how kids have many toys, books & stuff lying around and they keep moving from one to another as they please. This actually helps the brain think clear and not get bogged down by any hurdle in the task – big or small. The happiest & most productive memories I have of work life is when I handled more than three things at a time – studying full time, teaching math for students & being a yoga instructor (among other things). It helps me change roles and feel multi-dimensional while having the option to immerse myself into one area whenever I feel like.
Yell and kick when frustrated
Kids don’t take anti-depressants or bottle up their frustrations. It’s true they lack the maturity to control their own emotions. But what good came out of us adults being controlled and mature? I’m not suggesting that we all throw tantrums & hit each other when we are angry. Sometimes it takes a while for us to realize why we are angry or frustrated because of the innumerable responsibilities we face & burdens we carry every day. It helps to have something that emulates the yelling & kicking a kid does – perhaps something like kick boxing or karate. My favorite is going in to the bathroom, letting the water run and yelling while hitting the bucket.
Share happiness with someone
Kids crave an audience. They want to announce the whole world when they get something right or finish a difficult puzzle. They smile and hug & expect nothing but a warm smile & appreciation in return. Next time you are happy about accomplishing something share it with someone. If you are outside, share it with a stranger. You might be surprised at how it makes them feel and most of all, how it increases your happiness instantly as well.
Go to bed with a clean slate
I discipline my son when he yells. I explain to him why he is supposed to put his toys away which annoys him. I teach him how to wear his clothes and shoes which he’s not happy about it at all times. I try to reason with him why he can’t have ice cream when he has a cough and of course, who needs reason instead of ice cream. Invariably, we have our tiffs in the process. Many a times, I don’t seem to get through and he feels frustrated that I don’t understand what he says. This tug of war happens for him at his play school, with a kid in the neighbor or someone in the park or with a grand parent. But he doesn’t ponder over all these things when he’s in bed. He goes to bed with a clear mind. He falls asleep peacefully and gracefully. That’s how it should be with adults as well!