While chatting with a friend about all the phrases on repeat in my house (typically being told to my three-year-old), I realized that so many of the mom-things I say to her could be useful for adults too. We all need reminding sometimes!
My daughter, like most “threenagers” I assume, is very emotional. She goes from high to low, hot to cold, smiling to crying, in seconds flat. She can be sitting quietly drawing a picture or building a tower with her blocks and then all of a sudden crayons are flying, the tower has fallen, and she’s thrown herself face first into the couch with a harrumph. I like to remind her in these situations that while the activity may have started out super fun, if she’s not loving every minute of it anymore, maybe it’s time to take a break and find something else to do.
And how many of us grown-ups are guilty of that too? We start projects, groups, teams, jobs, etc with verve and excitement only to find out later that we don’t actually love it as much as we thought. I do this All. The. Time. And while it’s easy to tell our kids to try something new, it’s often difficult to admit that to ourselves. So, try giving yourself the same grace you give your children, and take a break if it’s not fulfilling you anymore.
2. “Don’t be rude.”
We as parents are tasked with raising good humans. Above all else, what I want for my kids is for them to have good hearts, to care about others, and to treat people with dignity and respect. Kids are so pure that steering them in the right direction is a total no-brainer too. When I remind my daughter that making yuck faces during dinner, even when she’s served something as heinous as Brussels sprouts (God forbid!), is disrespectful to the person who made it, she understands that.
Unfortunately, I feel like the basic tenets of being a good person have been lost in this Internet age. So many people hide behind their computer screens to judge, demean, and purposefully hurt others. But why? The Golden Rule y’all: learn it, live it, love it.
3. “That’s enough TV, go outside and play.”
I’m certainly guilty of this one. It is so easy to just “Netflix and chill” or binge-watch every episode of “This is Us” and forget about life outside your front door. But guess what you guys: there’s a whole world out there with trees and flowers and exercise and other humans to talk to. If we want our kids to put down the iPads and video games, we have to lead by example. So, (as I look at myself in the mirror) stop staring at your phone – I promise Facebook will still be there for you while you’re sitting on the pooper.
4. “You look sad. Do you want to talk about it?”
Why are we so afraid of real emotions? How has “fine” become the acceptable response to, “how are you?” When my daughter is visibly sad, I make a point of getting down to her level, focusing on her, and asking what’s up. Now, if I already know that the reason why she’s upset is because I made her sit at the breakfast table and eat all of her eggs, like a monster, I’ll likely ignore the pout. But if something happened and I can do anything about it, I’d like to have the opportunity to help. I might not be able to fix the problem, but saying the words out loud may help alleviate some of her pain.
I know for me, I get so wrapped up in whatever anxiety-causing thing is currently eroding my confidence that I can lose touch with reality a bit. Having someone check in – and genuinely care about what I have to say – is refreshing and uplifting and we should definitely do it for each other more often.
5. “I love you.”
Three simple words that speak volumes. When I tell my daughter that I love her, her whole demeanor changes. She’ll sit up higher in her chair as a huge, eye-smiling-grin covers her face. Then, she beams with the sort of unabashed pride that only a three-year-old can pull off. While us grown-ups might not show it the same way, feeling that kind of love is empowering.
So, if you love someone – tell them!!