On some days, you feel like you can’t do it. Maybe your nieces and nephews are too hyper, your students keep talking while you’re speaking, or your kids have spent all day whining. Whatever it is, you feel worn out by the little ones in your life.
When these moments of frustration happen, we have to remember how lucky we are to have these children in our lives. Because as it turns out, having kids around can make you feel like one in all the best ways — and that’s how children revitalize your soul. Here are five ways they do it without even knowing:
1. They Show Excitement for the Little Things
Kids can find a day’s worth of excitement in the smallest of occurrences — just watch them when the mail carrier pulls up or when you say “yes”, they can transform that empty box into a fort. Somewhere along the way, many adults lose this zest for life. Of course, we have to deal with the realities of life, including work and money. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, three out of four adults reported a stress symptom in the preceding month. Symptoms include lying awake at night, anxiety, irritability, anger, or fatigue. These stressors can keep us from finding the childlike excitement in life that would make us feel better.
Instead of spending time fixating on the negativity in the world and life’s daily stressors, like children, we should try to find joy in the small moments so that the tough ones don’t overwhelm us.
2. They Imagine and Play
Children have incredible imaginations. The more they read and see, the more they learn and use their own stories. Some grown-ups might be dismissive of such out-of-the-box tales and games. But encouraging this behavior and enjoying it at the same time, will help little ones to cultivate their creativity. You might even have a few laughs hearing the kooky stories they weave. If you’re feeling really invested, you can jump in and add to their imaginative tales or games.
The same goes for play — don’t hesitate to join in with the kiddos. Outdoor play has its benefits for both children and adults. Everyone can improve their heart health and cut the risk of obesity by playing outside. Adults can also decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as boost happiness.
3. They Help Teach Patience
We live in a fast-paced world, and we have an expectation that the things we want will appear with haste. Children do not adhere to a schedule. Instead, they tend to do things on their own time, especially with the chores you assign. But it also might mean that they reach development milestones at different times than their peers. All of this can be frustrating to you, and that’s okay.
You can work to improve your patience. You don’t want your children to see you constantly annoyed or frustrated. Plus, be gentle with little ones who are struggling with school, potty-training or any other developmental speedbump. Knowing that you have patience can help them flourish. Re-learning how to stay cool and collected can serve you in life and in parenthood too.
4. They Don’t Judge
Watching children meet new people and make friends can be a beautiful thing. They have no pre-judgments of their classmates, cousins or neighbors. Instead, they bond at the most basic level. When they do have disagreements, they tend to solve them and resume their friendships with ease.
It’s no secret that our world is more divided than ever. Watching the news highlights all of this — the future of the country spikes stress in 63 percent of adults. It’s important to stick to your morals and ideals, but we can all learn from our kids. They see people without presumptions or conditions. If we all shed our judgments of one another, the world would be an incredible place.
5. They Let Go and Relax
Kids can sense when something is wrong. They have fears and worries. However, they also know that they are safe with their parents, so they can usually overcome such lingering sentiments.
You’re the adult, so you will always carry more of the anxiety than your kids do. You can learn from their ability to let go, though. If you can’t fix it now, don’t let it get in the way of the present. Instead, enjoy the moments you have with the people you love. Your kids do seamlessly. You can learn that skill from them and life will instantly improve.
Once you’ve adopted your children’s ability to let go of stress, learn how to relax with them, too. Forego the family schedule every so often and simply enjoy them. They have so much to show you and teach you. It’s up to you to unwind with them and let the lessons they teach sink in.
In the end, children make us better people. These are only five ways that little ones can help us improve from the inside out. Open your mind and be present with them, and you’ll soon be able to add even more benefits to this already impressive list.
Jennifer Landis is a mom, wife, writer, and blogger at Mindfulness Mama. She enjoys drinking tea, dark chocolate, and rainy day snuggles with her daughter. She enjoys sunny days, too, but finds they are less conducive for snuggles. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.