I never expected to be sitting here writing this blog article. I knew being a mom would push and mold me but I did not expect to learn such profound, amazing things from my toddler. Being a mom makes you have a really fascinating perspective. The things my daughter has taught me aren’t just things other moms need to hear…I feel like a lot of people need to hear them! So…here are 10 things my toddler has taught me about life.
1) My Toddler Taught Me That Sometimes, Even as an Adult, You Just Need to Tantrum.
When you think of a toddler, you probably think of the word tantrum in conjunction. I know I did before I was a mom…even still actually. I want to break down this idea of a tantrum though. A tantrum happens when someone, usually described as a child, has an outburst of anger or frustration. These feelings build up and explode. Normally, these tantrums are described and an uncontrollable release.
As a parent, when my daughter throws herself on the floor and is screaming at the top of her lungs and crying, it is hard for me to take a step back and ask myself why she is having a tantrum. Because to me, it does not seem to have a logical reason. But when I take a step back what I found floored me. Emotions, feelings, sudden burst of energy are not always logical. As an adult I feel these random spikes of emotions that do not always makes sense to me either. Instead of acting like my toddler does, I suppress and sometimes vent to my husband or loved one.
I want to make it clear that I am not suggesting we adults start throwing our computers around the office and screaming at the top of our lungs when we feel these spikes of intense emotion. But I am suggesting that we feel them in some shape or form. One idea that has intrigued my interest as of late is going to a rage room. But it doesn’t even have to be that extreme! Taking a second for yourself and crying or releasing those emotions and energy is important. Tantrum it out in your own way.
2) Breaking Out in Song and Dance is 100% Okay, and-for Us Music Loving Folks-it is Needed.
I relate to life through music and it has a big part in my life. Naturally, my daughter has started taking that on a little bit. Some days she will be on the floor spinning in circles dancing and singing at the top of her lungs. Or at least that is what I think she is doing…she is two after all. But that energizes her, it changes her mood. Watching her face light up when she starts twirling and singing “Let it Go”, made me take a second and see how my mood changes when I sing a song that I really enjoy.
You better believe that it really does shift my mood too! One day my daughter was grumpy and we were butting heads a lot, so I decided it was time for a singing and dance party. I put on some of her favorite songs and told her to sing and dance. GAME CHANGER! We got connection and better moods moving forward. Now, it was not magic. We still hit bumps throughout the day, but it was a little smoother. This may not be for everyone, but for us music loving folks, I found it helpful.
3) My Toddler Taught Me How to Nurture My Inner Child
Before being a mother, I did not really understand the concept of my inner child. Mainly because I wasn’t in therapy or seeing a therapist who focuses on parts work. But when I started parts work, I was confused on what it looked like to nurture that small part of myself. My therapist reminded me that I nurture my daughter and help her through things every day. Number 3 out of the 10 things my toddler has taught me about life is that I need to nurture my inner child.
Nurturing my toddler showed me how I need to be compassionate, kind, comforting, and loving. It showed me how to put all that energy inward. Once I was able to start feeling nurtured by myself, I was able to make great strides in therapy. Furthermore, knowing how I needed and wanted to be nurtured, also helped me see how my daughter responds to different types of nurture. Her way of feeling nurtured does not always look like mine.
4) An Adventure Needs to Happen at Least Once a Week.
This one is a big one in our house. I have an incredibly adventurous, outdoor toddler who gets grumpy if she cannot do something fun and adventurous at least one time a week. Due to my CPTSD, adventure is hard for me. I find myself struggling to let my toddler run around and explore. But I have learned that it is not only good for her learning and development, but she needs and craves it. That is just who she is.
When I was younger, I was very adventurous too. It seemed like I had no fear…and to be honest I have started to miss that part of myself after seeing my daughter having that trait. So I decided to embrace the adventures and make them a priority. Making it a priority makes my daughter feel valued, loved, we strengthen our connection, and gets her energy out. I also find this very fun…even if it is just fun watching my daughter have a blast.
Shortly after my daughter was born, I realized that she had this joy about her. She enjoyed everything she did and just had a very joyful attitude. Being someone who struggles with major depression and other mental health concerns, this was so foreign to me. All I wanted was to feel that same amount of joyful energy that my daughter so naturally had. So I intentionally started working on feeling and choosing joy.
This is HARD and I still struggle with it. I mean, my brain has been re-wired to feel everything else but joy. But that is what makes those joyful times even more special. I noticed that when I am feeling joyful alongside my daughter, she lights up. She draws closer to me and we end up laughing a lot more. She has taught me so much about joy and I will be forever grateful for that.
That is just number 5 out of the 10 things my toddler has taught me about life.
6) Joy Does Not Need to be Cleaned up Right this Second.
This one was another big one for me. The way I was raised was that everything had to be spotless in my home. If it wasn’t, it meant trouble. Growing up in a very abusive home made me hypersensitive to clutter.
With toddlers, there is constant clutter. Even if you just clean it up, the toddler comes along right behind you to take back out that toy you just put away. At first, this drove me crazy. But I had to remember that my daughter was just playing and by me getting worked up about her cleaning up her toys it was creating stress and tension that was just not worth it.
I learned that the toys do not have to be picked up right away, Sometimes, it doesn’t even need to be picked up after she goes to bed. Now, we still teach her how to pick up her toys and that it is good to do so. But at this stage of her life, sometimes it’s more important to just play.
7) Working on Your Mental Health and Healing from Trauma is HARD While Raising a Toddler.
This topic could honestly be a whole other blog post…in fact it may turn into one. But let’s face it, just one of those two things is hard. Combining them sometimes feel impossible. I am living proof that it is possible though. I am currently in EMDR therapy, a group therapy, I see a psychiatrist, and just recently started another form of therapy. I am working so hard to heal from my childhood trauma and the other mental health things I struggle with. All while working a full-time job, being a wife, and a mother.
Number 7 out of the 10 things my toddler has taught me about life is that that it is hard to do the work. But I do all of this to help break the generational trauma cycle, so my daughter doesn’t have to experience similar things as I have. I want her to have a wonderful, loving, caring, and amazing childhood. I am not going to lie, it is hard. Days I come home from treatment, I am exhausted and sometimes irritable, and I just want to lay down and hide. But when I am with my daughter, I want to be as present as possible. I just keep swimming. It is worth it in the end.
8) A Missed Bid for Connection is a Breakdown Waiting to Happen…for all Parties Involved.
When my daughter first started entering the toddler stage, my husband and I were still learning her cues for different things. We noticed that she would randomly start throwing tantrums, hitting me, and acting up and we were not full sure what was happening. But one day I made a very key discovery. I was missing her cues for connection and that was when she started acting up.
She would be walking up to me and trying to get my attention and I would be focused on something else and that was it, she was upset for the rest of the night. But when I shifted my focus to her in that moment, right away, she got the connection she needed, and we all had a great evening.
9) Play is Not Just Essential for Children.
It is common knowledge that children need to play. Playing helps them learn, grow, and connect. Play is an essential part of a child’s life. Watching my child play reminded me that as an adult…I need play too. Now, my play is obviously going to look different than my toddlers. But when I play my mood is better, I am more patient, and I just feel better about my environment. Play is so important, and I need to remember to incorporate that into my life.
10) My Extravert Toddler Needs Friend Time…and So Does Her Introvert Momma.
One thing I noticed really early on with my daughter is that she is energized by being around people. She. Loves. People. And I am an introvert which means it is hard for me to be around a lot of people all the time. But I am also an introvert with depression…which means I need friend time and support. Number ten out of the 10 things my toddler has taught me about life is that I need friend time, even if I don’t think I want to.
My daughter serves as a good reminder to myself that I need friend time. Maybe not as much as she does, but I do need to make time for my friends and to go out and do things. Staying at home is not always the best plan.
I am so blessed to have my daughter and I am so thrilled I get to be her momma. Some days are really hard, and it can also be very rewarding. My daughter continues to teach me new things every day. Which is such a great joy to learn from a toddler.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, it’s employees, sponsors, or affiliates.
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Thanks for the reminder, Savannah, of the charm music has on children and adults