One of my favorite weekend rituals is sitting on my front porch with a steaming cup of Bullet Proof Coffee and watching my children play. I love soaking in the first rays of sunshine and hearing sounds their innocent giggles and squeals. There is something almost magical about the way the early morning sunshine hits their sparkling eyes. I usually only get through half of my coffee before I am recruited to join their “Army” or run football passing drills.
As much as I would love to finish an entire cup of coffee uninterrupted, the need to soak in this time with my ever-growing children always wins out. I want to bottle up these moments because I know that all too soon we will need to rush off to countless activities and the squeals and giggles will fade into the silence of teenagers plugged into video games and text messages. But what is so special about these moments? What can I learn from them? And IS it possible to capture the essence to use in other situations?
My weekends on the porch aren’t special because of the coffee (OK, well, maybe it’s a little bit about the coffee), they are special because of the time I get to shut off the rest of the world, put aside the countless household chores and simply be with my children.
I get to connect with them on a different level by exploring their world through their eyes; I get to see what they are interested in, learn about what is bothering them, discover what they are talented at and find out what makes them laugh. Taking the time to play with them also enables me to learn more about myself. When I spend time following my wonder, I am better able to identify and reconnect with those areas of my natural talent — the things that I love doing and can pick up quickly.
When I was a child, I loved to daydream and would spend hours imagining future adventures. As I grew, the time to daydream dwindled slowly and it wasn’t until I began playing with my children again did I realize it had disappeared. Since then, I have made a point to begin utilizing this skill again in my professional life. Instead of daydreaming about princesses, I now “daydream” about future business plans and programs. Not only am I getting enjoyment from spending time in one of my areas of natural talent, but I am also able to be productive and create some phenomenal business plans!
I believe the ability to shut off the worries of the world and just play is an incredibly powerful skill we can learn from our children. But it is certainly not the only lesson we should be learning from our little people. Here are a few others:
1. Set Aside Our Fears
One of the most powerful lessons we can learn from our children is to not be paralyzed by our fears. Although safety always needs to be a concern, we should make a continual effort to push the boundaries of our fear to adventure into the greatness that awaits each and every one of us. Instead of cautiously sitting on the sidelines waiting to make new friends next time you PCS, channel your inner child, yell “Geronimo!” and jump into the social scene!
2. See Everybody as Special
Children tend to see everybody as being special and unique, which is exactly what we all are! The next time you are having a dispute with a co-worker or neighbor, take a step back and try and see the other person through the eyes of a child. Children don’t care about your political viewpoints or parenting styles; they care about coming together to have fun! Focus on the things you have in common and the strife will surely disappear.
3. Be Happy
We all want to be happy. It may take more time, energy and work as we get older but happiness is within reach if you choose to pursue it. This is especially true in marriages. It is very easy to be happy during those carefree newlywed days — no children and less-stressful jobs lend themselves to relaxed weekends together and a plethora of date nights.
Fast-forward a few years and the relaxed weekends turn into time spent shuttling children between ballet recitals and soccer practices. And date nights, yeah those are few and far between due to increased work demands and trying to find babysitters. But if you spend the time, energy and work necessary to seek happiness together, your relationship can still be fulfilling and rich.
4. Dream Big
When you ask my son what he wants to be when he grows up the typical answer is, “An astronaut doctor that plays professional basketball and eats ice cream all day.” When you ask my husband what he wants to be when he grows up the typical answer is “a battalion commander.” I’ll let you judge for yourself who is dreaming big!
Seriously though, as we grow we let our preconceived notions and fears creep into our dreams. They are no longer wild dreams but accomplishable goals. As you consider your professional purpose and path, allow yourself the freedom to dream big. Even more important, allow yourself the freedom to fail in the pursuit of a big dream. If you are a mom who made the choice to stay at home during your children’s formative younger years, don’t sell yourself short as you picture your reintegration into the workforce at some point. Instead of letting the enormity of getting a degree or certification in a new area, begin planning out the twenty small steps you need to take to achieve this goal.
When you step back and consider everything we as adults have to learn from children it begs the question “Who’s teaching who?”
Perhaps if we look at it as more of a two-way street, we would live much happier lives. Please read this article on the Four C’s of Raising Resilient Kids to learn more about how we can start the proactive cycle or raising resilient kids so they can in turn raise resilient parents.
I want to challenge you to spend time in the upcoming week trying to see the world through the eyes of a child: Dream big, seek happiness, see the best in people, set aside your fears, and most importantly — be playful! But don’t worry you don’t have to give up your morning coffee. That is one of the perks of being an adult!Subscribe to Military Spouse's Weekly Newsletter