When I first started noticing these specific behavioral patterns and writing this blog post (only two weeks ago) about my 16 month old, it felt like a heavy season of life. Fast forward a few weeks, while life is manageable, these reminders and a few days of good sleep have greatly improved both my quality of life and outlook of the same.
Still, I didn’t want to let this post go because reading these reminders daily over the last few weeks has helped me tremendously. I am saving them here for myself but also hope these remind you to go back to the basics. Readjusting and reframing expectations of ourselves can make a huge difference in how we approach life and how life approaches us. So, with that, here are some lessons and reminders I have learned recently from my 16 month old:
- Joy has no rules. My kid thinks the sound of dinosaurs roaring and munching on leaves from his favorite sound book is the best type of dance music. He honestly will jam out to that, or Mozart, to Taylor Swift, and anything else that has the semblance of a beat. I am not sure when we decided that we needed music, lights, and the right environment to dance and let loose. Seeing him dance to ANY, and I really mean any thing with a beat has been so inspirational. Once in a while now, I try to mirror his joy in these moments and the freedom in that is so priceless.
- We should applaud small victories. When he balances one block on another, closes the lid of a container, or picks up something from the floor, he claps and says “yay.” I’m not sure where along the way we forgot to celebrate our small victories, but I’m glad to be reminded of this from him. When I come home and see him celebrate these small victories, I am reminded that regardless of how the day went and the items still remaining on my task list, I still had small victories that day. And I find myself stopping more and more often during the day to acknowledge the tasks that were well done (or simply, done).
- Big feelings are a part of life and often a precursor to breakthroughs. Struggling with opening a closed jar, trying to figure out the order in which his toys go, or figuring out how to get our dog’s attention are some of the things that have frustrated him in the last few weeks. But any time he is frustrated, the joy of the breakthrough afterwards is even more poignant.
- We must listen to our bodies. In this stage of life, most of his needs are visceral and almost all are unintentional. This includes spending as much time outdoors as possible, even in the driveway before finally entering the home with much struggle. It includes laying down his head whenever he is tired, which indicates to us that it is bedtime. With the exception of some naps, he doesn’t fight his needs. He signals to us that his body needs rest, food, fresh air, or a long walk in his toy car. At some point along the way, we start fighting the signals our bodies send us for rest, to get up and find a change in scenery for a few moments. To lay our heads down when we need to. In these last few weeks, I don’t fight my tired eyes or brain late at night to “just check off one more thing from my list.” I listen to my body and try to sleep at a time when the body is asking for rest. And I hope I remember how good this feels for a long time to come.
- We won’t know until we try. Children at his age don’t necessarily have a sense of safety but there is a joy in not knowing the consequences of potential failure. He goes where he wants and does what he wants. In the process he discovers both his strengths and his limitations. He is learning the things that are too heavy for him to lift, and the things he is able to lift, move (and to my surprise, hide) on his own. He is learning that he shouldn’t walk into the street from the front yard, but that the backyard is a safe space. He is learning about the world and trying to dip his toes in ALL the proverbial puddles. Every day, I am astonished by the things he does that he often learns on his own by exploring the world around him. And in moments when I am hesitating because of a fear of failure, it reminds me that I too, won’t know until I try.
If any of these resonate with you, I'd love to hear about it in the comments or DM on Instagram!