As a parent, loving, protecting and teaching my children everything they need to know so they grow up to be happy, confident individuals is one of – if not the – most important roles in my life.
But after having three children I’m amazed at how much I have learned, and continue to learn, from them.
I am especially recognising this since having my third baby just four months ago. I have taken the time and made a conscious decision to really slow down and enjoy this period of time because, as cliché as it sounds, it really does go by ever so fast.
Children really help put life into perspective. It’s funny how someone so small can teach you so much.
Here are a few things I have learned from my three children.
Be present and enjoy the moment
Babies only know ‘now’. Everything is immediate to a baby. They are only interested in what is happening to them right at this very moment in time. Not what happened last week or even one hour ago, nor do they worry about what the future holds … not yet anyway. Likewise, I have made a conscious decision to stay present and enjoy the moment, every moment, as much as I can. Even this morning when Baby woke earlier than planned after also waking several times during the night, I had the option of getting out of bed, grumpy and tired but instead I took a deep breath, ready to start my day. Just one smile from my little munchkin is usually enough to change my mood anyway!
While I think routines are important to follow when you have a baby, it’s just as important to be flexible and adapt these on any given day. No one day is going to be like another, and just when you think you have your baby all worked out and have this feed-play-sleep routine down pat, then bam! a growth spurt, a new tooth or illness sets in to change it all over again. This was a hard one for me to come to terms with at first as I am forever a ‘to do’ list kind of person, but I have learned to let it go, relax and go with the flow as ultimately it’s better for you and for baby.
What will be, will be. Changes to your life are inevitable when you have children. But I have accepted that these changes are for the better and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Just as I have learned to be flexible, I have also learned to surrender to life. Sometimes the floors don’t get vacuumed or mopped for a couple of weeks, sometimes we dress ourselves from the washing basket because I haven’t had time to put the clean clothes away. I don’t get much of an opportunity to head out the door to my yoga class anymore, instead opting for some home practice when I get the chance, although it’s no where near as often as I would like. On a grander scale, it also relates to my decision to leave my career behind to spend more time with my family. I happily accept all of this, because I know what the consequences are – the stress, tiredness, unhappiness of trying to have it all but failing miserably … and I’m not willing to going back there.
I think living in the moment, really gives you greater sense of thankfulness for what you have and allows you to see your everyday experiences in a new, more beautiful way. To stop and enjoy the little things, like the pretty purple flowers growing on the nature strip as I take a walk with my children, raindrops blowing along the car windows as we head out on a drive, breaking out in a crazy dance in the kitchen when one of our favourite song comes on the radio. Instead of bustling through life rushing from one thing to the next, I now have the opportunity to see things the way my children do.
Looking after me
Self-love is important to me now more than ever before. As the saying goes – happy mummy, happy baby. While I don’t find the time to do much exercise yet, I do try to look after myself in other ways, particularly spiritually and mentally. If there’s anything this past year has taught me, a strong mind is just as important as a strong body. I have previously posted about how I find it important to give myself just 10 minutes a day to enjoy whatever it is that makes me feel good. It could be a quiet cup of coffee, reading a few pages of a book, sitting in the sunshine … or perhaps on an awesome day even combining all three! Sometimes I meditate, sometimes I cat nap, it doesn’t matter what it is, the main thing is to do something that rejuvenates me so I feel re-energised to take on the rest of the day.
Love and compassion
The love I have for my children is a love like no other. Before having my babies, I worked as a journalist and as a communications officer, needing to meet tight deadlines and always stay objective. In honesty, empathy wasn’t one of my strong points. When I took a Myer Briggs personality test as a team building exercise at work back in 2004 I was found to be an ENTJ – Extroversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judging – with ‘Thinking’ a very strong part of my personality. This was just prior to having children. A couple of years ago – and two babies later – I re-took the test to discover that while my ‘T’ was still present it had moved well and truly across the scale towards ‘F’ or ‘Feeling’. This scale compares whether you make decisions based on logic and consistency or on people and circumstances. Before having babies I could deal and process most news with a clear head and fairly objectively. I didn’t really cry watching a sad movie nor flinch or even turn off the evening news reports like I now do. Since having children, I get emotional and cry at the littlest things, particularly if they involve children. Ads, news reports, TV shows, movies, you name it, I’m a big sook, but I think I’m a much better person for it.
I am amazed at how much my babies have taught me about life. What lessons have you learned from your children?