In all situations ask: what would a toddler do?

Archive for February, 2011

Breathe like a bunny

This afternoon, as we were hanging out at home, I said to Maayan, “Let’s do some Yoga.” While I intended to show Maayan some moves, Maayan quickly shifted into instructor mode. “OK”, she said, “first like this.” Following my daughters’ lead, we lied face down for a minute and then on our backs. Then Maayan says, “OK, now we breathe like a bunny.” And we did short breathes through our nose and then out our mouth. In out, in out, short quick breathes like a bunny (I think). I wanted to continue with the lotus position, but Maayan’s little legs weren’t ready for it. So instead, Maayan did “criss-cross apple sauce“.

At Maayan’s preschool they do Yoga, but I didn’t realize to what extent. Maayan had a whole routine and I was very impressed. Toddlers are inherently flexible and open to new things, so doing Yoga is a brilliant activity for them. It’s a wonderful experience of being confident with your body, stretching your comfort zone and calming your mind. Many people would probably think that toddlers wouldn’t need such a thing. In truth, however, it is a something that they greatly benefit from. Not only is it a gift to use as one grows older but it is something that gives them confidence and calm in relating to their body.

Adults need to do more of this as well. Yoga, stretching and deep breathing is something that is very much catching on in the wider world, but needs to even more. If people take lunch breaks at work, part of that break should include some sort of Yoga and deep breathing. It would awaken the senses, expand the mind, balance the emotions and in general make the body happy.

If a person is not used to it, it might hurt at first. For beginners we recommend lying face down for several minutes, followed by being on your back for another several minutes. Complete this exercise by going criss-cross apple sauce and breathing like a bunny. No less than a total of 10 minutes – and you’ll be living like a toddler.

Life lesson of a toddler #23: Start doing Yoga and Deep Breathing, your body and soul will be grateful. At the very least, breathe like a bunny.

Before there was me

Today Maayan said, “After Hashem (God, meaning “the Name”, as traditionally said in Judaism) fixed me, I had feet and hands. Then Hashem fixed my sister.”

 

Although I don’t have the clearest recollection of what my life was like before I was born, Maayan seems to have a pretty good grasp on things. My little 4 year old is pretty comfortable in thinking of life before life and existence before having a body. I didn’t always have what I have, there was a time when it had to all come together and thankfully it did.

 

What is so profound for me is how simple it is for a toddler. It is somehow obvious to a toddler how things were not always as they are. Maayan loves looking at herself as a baby. She is always saying how, “when I was a baby…”

 

Toddlers are cool with change. They see it all the time. They see baby pictures, smaller clothes and shoes without laces. They see other babies and older kids and are able to see themselves in context of consistent growth. Even more profoundly, at least in my own experience with my daughter, understanding what life was like before birth is as clear as a clear sippy cup.

 

Adults are not so fast with change, it’s a hard thing for them. Birthdays, as signs of change, are not fun for adults. Usually their cards are equipped with such phrases as “over the hill” or “it’s all downhill from here” and other references to hills, gravity and falling. Changes in jobs, relationships, presidents and TV shows are not taken with ease. Let alone thinking of life before life.

 

For toddlers however, change is a given. We didn’t always have what we have. Things used to be one way, now they’re another. At one point there was only me, now there are others. I was smaller, now I’m bigger and my shoes have laces. For a toddler, change is always happening and they’re happy with every move.

 

Life lesson of a toddler #22: Change happens, enjoy the ride & appreciate all the many gifts along the way.

 

Juice Boxes

There is something  that toddlers seem to enjoy more than anything else. It is something that is calming but exciting, something that always seems to be new. Something refreshing even if just after drinking something. That is the glorious juice box.

I’m not quite sure what it is either. Yes, I’ve been thinking about it. Maybe it’s the small package that is just appropriate for a toddler. Cans and bottles are too much. Containers like orange juice or milk are just a spill waiting to happen. Glass is dangerous. Aluminium is too rough and tough to deal with or even open. So it makes sense that toddlers opt for the smaller, more compatible and safer juice box. Hey, I throw one back every now and then….when no one’s watching.

There is another element about the juice box. This element separates it from every other product on the market that I’m aware of. That my friends is the straw.

The straw allows for a clean drink, no spill, easy on the teeth and just gets the job done. On top of all this, the straw is there to begin with! While beer bottles need a tool to be opened, soda cans are prone to opening it incorrectly and wine bottles an entire ordeal to open if you haven’t been trained by professionals – the juice box is catered for the rest of us.

I say we protest the difficulty of cans and bottles. Maybe beer, soda and wine aren’t drunk with straws. Maybe they need to be opened in fancy ways. You know what? Maybe we should change all that. Maybe, everyone should catch on to the simplicity of how toddlers live and consume their beverages. It all starts somewhere, today it can start with juice boxes. Bring your i.d.

Life lesson of a toddler #21: Drink more juice boxes. At the very least, use straws with any and every beverage. People will smile.

Sing a song & make your body happy

Driving home yesterday, Maayan began to sing a song. Although it had rhythm and rhyme, the words were not too familiar to me. I asked Maayan if it was from preschool, and it was not.

 

When we got out of the car, Maayan said to me, “Singing makes my whole body happy.” To which Maayan then slowly walked on the snow, dancing in her footsteps and singing the entire time.

 

Isn’t it so true? When we sing, it isn’t just our mouth that sings. We use our hands, we dance a little and ultimately our whole self feels it. We just feel better!

 

It’s a very powerful thing to sing. It is putting emotion into our words. If a person is happy, their words sound like a major. If a person is upset, their words are like a minor. If a person is really excited, the words make you feel excited. If a person says “Hello” but really wants to say, “I hate you” – we’ll feel it. And if a person says, “I am so upset” but is really calm and happy, we’ll feel it as well. We’re always singing because our whole body is doing it.

 

If we were to sing a happy song, we’ll become happy. If we listen to a totally energetic song, it will give us that energy. The more we sing, the more we feel that song. Why? Because it makes our whole body happy!

 

Life lesson of a toddler #20: Sing songs throughout the day, even make up your own. Your body will thank you.

 

Make a silly face

While we were sitting down at the table, Maayan says to me, “Let’s make silly faces.” Great idea!

 

Maayan did the first one and then asked me to. It was pretty funny, we were both cracking up. In all honesty, I have had some real life experience making silly faces. Back in the day I remember seeing a picture of Harpo Marx, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin as Harpo made a hilarious face. His cheeks puffed, eyes crossed and tongue out made for a very inspiring face. As I did my best to live up to the great ones, Maayan laughed along with sheer enjoyment.

 

Silly faces are a fantastic way of opening up. Whether a person is in too serious of a mood, worried about the latest news or just in need of a good laugh – silly faces are the perfect antidote. They come highly recommended by toddlers.

 

In fact, toddlers are of the opinion that adults should be making silly faces on a more consistent basis. Studies have shown, they say, that silly faces can add years to one’s life and increase productivity as well. In the latest news, they have even recommended making silly faces in board rooms and business meetings. When things might get a little serious, silly faces can fix all that. Someone is encouraged to take the bull by the horns and in the middle of a meeting stand up and say, “Everyone, let’s make silly faces!”

 

Life lesson of a toddler #19: Make silly faces often. It is guaranteed to bring joy to your life!

 

Bath Time

Part of the best time of the day for a toddler is bath time. Time to unwind after a day of hard work in some warm water and bubbles. Only the finest soaps from Johnson & Johnson, some yellow ducks, various toys and some time to yourself. Hold the scotch.

 

Bath time is not a time to be skipped or rushed. Bath time is the essential ingredient in the toddlers’ healthy lifestyle. It’s a time to sing, to think, to play, to relax. The step right before bed time, sleep is that much sweeter and deeper after a good bath.

 

This is so popular amongst toddlers that many adults have even caught on. A good many adults opt for the bath over the shower. Whether it be during a vacation, at a hotel or even in one’s home, more and more adults are adapting to the bath; but we need more of them. Congress should be pushing this.

 

It is not about bath vs. shower, because we’re not just talking about taking a bath. It’s bath time. It is not the bath that makes the toddlers’ life so enviable, but the time they enjoy while bathing.

 

Adults shower, but quickly. You hear adults say such things as, “I’ll jump in the shower” or “Let me just run to the shower”. Experts in the field say that “jumping” and “running” are not a recommended activity to do in the shower.

 

Taking time to yourself is extremely important. It is something very rare for many adults. A solid remedy for this is to ensure you have “bath time” everyday. Bring some of your favourite toys, put on music, let your mind go. Focus on the bubbles, the warmth, the time to yourself. Johnson and Johnson soap adds a really special effect: you’ll even smell like a toddler.

 

 

Life lesson of a toddler #18: Take time for yourself and enjoy a long hot bath. It will add depth to your sleep and years to your life.

 

Don’t worry, it’s ok

The other day at Maayan’s birthday party was the following incident with a few of her friends. Maayan was drawing with her friend while another boy was a little upset about something. Not sure what it was, but he wasn’t happy. As Maayan was drawing she calmly said to the boy, “don’t worry, it’s ok“. The boy said back, “no it’s not!” To which Maayan confirmed, “no, it’s ok. Don’t worry.”

Then they kept on playing.

I didn’t know what was going on, maybe Maayan did. Not too many details were clear for anyone at this point. What was clear though was the reassurance that everything will be ok. Hey, if a 4 year old says it, it has to be true.

In all honesty, does a 4 year old really know that everything will be ok? Maybe it won’t! Whatever the reason this boy is upset – maybe it won’t be ok. Maybe the boy should dwell on what’s gone wrong. Maybe the boy should put all his energy and focus on how bad everything is, how “not ok” everything is. After all, if adults do it…

For a 4 year old, they might not have an 8 ball or a crystal ball, but intuitively they know everything will be ok. Most children from the time they are a baby until they’re even past the toddler stage are able to quickly forget about something bad. If something upset them, in a healthy environment, chances are they’ll be over it soon enough.

Toddlers are able to change perspectives very quickly. They are able to switch focus almost instantaneously. It is a rare quality for adults to do though. Adults are very fond of circular thinking, dwelling and playing rerun on a host of negative experiences. Go into most therapists offices and you’ll hear tons of dwelling and over focus on the negative.

Maybe all we need is a toddler to tell us not to worry and that it’s ok. Not that it will be ok, but that it is ok. If a toddler can figure out how to switch a negative lens to a positive focus, I’m sure intelligent adults can figure out a way as well. Maybe all we need to do is listen to our inner toddler telling us not to worry, it’s ok. You know what? The more we do, the more our brains will be able to see it.

Life lesson of a toddler #17: Really and truly – don’t worry, it is all ok. Move on, move forward, and keep on playing!