Sometimes I look at my kids and marvel at how their innocence and ability to have not a care in the world. Usually their biggest concern on any given day is whose turn it is to use the iPad. While I am laying in bed worrying about the Zika virus, child abductions, work obligations, how in the world I am ever going to keep up with the laundry in the house, the ridiculousness of our country’s current political state, cellulite, world hunger, who will win America’s Got Talent, etc., my sweet cherubs are sleeping soundly in their beds dreaming about Minecraft. If I could bottle up the innocence of my children and keep it for myself, my life would be much less stressful.
Unfortunately, I can’t do that. But if I could take some tips from my kids’ attitudes towards life and adopt them as my own, here’s where I would start:
1. Saying NO
Kids are pros at saying no. Do you want broccoli? No. It’s time for bed. No. How much easier would life be if I could easily say ‘no’ with the same abandon. You should come to the PTA meeting this Tuesday. No. Please send a gluten- free, sugar-free, GMO- free, antibiotic-free, made in America, store packaged, healthy snack for your precious snowflake every day so she can have an afternoon snack while we listen to relaxing Botswananian bongo music. No. She’s in 4th grade. She will not starve. No. Being able to say “no” is empowering and freeing. I wish I was as good at it as my kids.
2. Taking a nap when needed
Ironically, kids don’t appreciate naps when they are young. It is not until we are adults and can’t actually take mid-afternoon naps whenever we want that we understand their true amazingness. How awesome would it be to just fall asleep like a 2 year old whenever our body needed it? Driving in the car? Butts sticking straight up with our face down on the floor and toys strewn all around us? At the dinner table with soup dribbling out of the sides of our mouths? It would be nice to get some much needed rest whenever we needed it.
3. Making and Interacting with Friends
Some of my stress comes from work obligations or social situations where I have to interact with other adults, oftentimes voicing opinions that aren't always the most popular. How much easier would these interactions be if I could approach them like little kids approach? My kindergartener comes home from school telling me has a new best friend every day. "Oh yeah? What's your friend's name?" "I don't know, he didn't tell me!" Pesky little things like names don't actually matter. What matters is that they both wanted to play light sabers at recess. Sometimes kids fight. Sometimes they both want the swing at the same time. There may be some words, there may even be some pushing or shoving. The next day, though, they are back to playing light sabers. No grudges held. Adulting would be a lot easier if we could just walk up to another adult and say "Tag! You're it!" and then chase each other around the conference room. No drama, no grudges, no difficult conversations.
4. Lack of Self-Consciousness
I don't know at what age we start to worry about what others think about us, but little kids don't give a flying you know what. How great would it be to not care? How great would it be to just do a cartwheel in the middle of a Wal-Mart if you feel like it? Or to start singing at the top of your lungs in the middle of Sunday mass when a song gets in your head? My 5 year old is obsessed with the music from "Hamilton." "How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore....." Probably not the best words to sing in church, but how great to not care one iota? Social norms and etiquette? Not an issue. Life would be a lot easier if we could just say and do what we feel without caring about the consequences.
As an adult, if I want to keep a job and actually have friends, I probably need to act like an adult. I can't just say what I want when I want. I can't call people "poopy heads" when they make me mad, I can't sing "Hamilton" songs at church, I can't take a nap whenever I want. That doesn't stop me from wishing I could.