10 Wellness Lessons from a 1 year old... and 1 lesson to NOT do
Yup, you read the title correctly. 10 Wellness Lessons from a 1 year old...and 1 lesson to NOT do. As some will know, and some wont, I have a little 1 year old daughter. She is the real lady behind Light Of Solstice. To put it briefly, as it is a lengthy history, I have always been drawn and interested in alternative healing (was just around just 8 years old when I became the very happy owner of a tigers eye crystal), and had the want to be able to help people. I have also always been creative, and it was just a few years ago that I decided to make my spiritual experiences the theme of my art. When my girl was born last year, and the struggles of being a first time mum in a house we moved in to 3 weeks before her birth, I did loose myself. I was finding things hard. I spent a lot of time assessing my life and what I wanted to do with it, remembering an oracle reading from the year before on my honeymoon where the wonderful lady saw what my gifts were and some advice on what to do with them. When my daughter was a couple months old, I began to journal again, do a little yoga, meditating and creating. I found as well that as I looked at her, I realized how beautiful life really is (and of course how beautiful she is), she gave me guidance and purpose. As I engaged more in what I did pre-motherhood, I found myself again. I knew then that I wanted to be able to help other people with wellness and spirituality, and of course my art factored into this. I completed a Holistic Health Practitioner course I started before having my girl, and with her it all then fell into place. She really did give me the guidance to piece it all together and find what I'm meant to do in life. She is my light, and her name is Rose Solstice <3
Being a mum is amazing, hard at times, but amazing. Watching a little person grow and develop into their own being is just incredible. She brightens up my day much, and teaches me a lot, too. Which is where the idea for this post came from. I have watched her change, literally, on a daily basis, and realized that her actions and methods are in such a pure state that she is living a life of balance and wellness, which is something we can all learn from and get back to.
So, here are some tips I have picked up from Rose,
Be you. As Rose is so young, she hasn't learnt to feel self conscious about things she likes or her little personality quirks. She embraces everything that she is and goes for it. Want to kiss your reflection in the mirror? Go for it. Walk around the living room lifting your top over your tummy * while singing? Why not. She doesn't feel any embarrassment about being herself and how other people might think negatively of her, she is just comfortable as herself. *lifting your top over your tummy while singing is not essential, but if you wish to then go for it!
See the wonder in the everyday. I'm 30 in a few months, so I guess it could be said that I have been around a bit and seen a few things. Rose found her feet at around 11 months, and has not looked back since. She is so eager to explore, everything is amazing - zips and buttons at the moment are particularly marvelous to her. During this afternoons walk, as we wondered beneath the tress, she held her arms out wide, feeling the wind between her little fingers - and she loved it! While she walked next to me on a grassed, leaf covered area, she was almost running, too keen and amazed at the nature around and how beautiful it all was. Even in the most mundane, everyday places, there will be some wonder, you just need to look.
Enjoy every bite. When I was younger, I had a very unhealthy relationship with eating and food, which I am determined not to pass down to Rose. Now though, I would consider it to be healthy, and that I am very aware of certain triggers, as most of the problem came down to emotional eating. Eating difficulties are hard to overcome, but the important thing is they can be, so if you are struggling, do seek help and talk to someone. When we began to wean Rose, she was 4 months old and under the supervision of a dietitian due to allergies. As time went on, and she progressed from purees, to more textured foods and now eats whatever I do, I noticed she really took her time to explore and taste what she was eating. She eats mindfully - there's no rush, no where else to be, and if she's had enough she stops as she knows there is always more food in the cupboards for when she gets hungry later. She will study a few pieces at the start of the meal, deciding what to eat first, putting down some on the table to get a better look at what's on offer. No competition for broccoli or peas though, they are first to go. She takes in the colours,textures and tastes. Any new foods or ones she's not had for a while, she carefully nibbles and really focuses on what she's tasting. We live in a fast paced life, and I know many who often either rush lunch at their desk, or skip it completely. Neither are good. Take time to really enjoy your meal, and make it pleasing to look at. I really like to present it nicely, to make it seem a little more special. Your body needs fuel so treat yourself well with nutritious meals and really take the time to enjoy them mindfully, you deserve it! :)
Enjoy the little things. This afternoon I tried to play a few games with Rose and attempt to engage with her in a few activities, but she was having none of it. She became highly attached to a single piece of mega blocks (like lego, but big so not choking hazard for little ones). We had the blocks out, and even though I was trying to show her how to build with them, she was more interested in taking loads out the bag, and then putting them back in the bag, and repeating. Until she came across this black, single piece block. That was it. She then spent the rest of the afternoon taking it with her where ever she was going. There really is nothing that I can say that makes this block so significant, but she has put it in her toy pram, which I have observed is for items of particular attachment, she has tried to put it in her hair, and held onto it while getting her pjs on. But to her, it was important, and she was quite happy to just be holding this block. As our day rushes by, I think it's easy to forget the little things. There could even be social pressures to have something extravagant. But find joy and comfort in the small things life has to offer - maybe it's the mid morning coffee that gives you 10 minutes to yourself to quietly reflect. Or perhaps it's catching up with a relative or friend. Sometimes, the smallest things have the biggest impact.
Have down time. We all need time in the day to have some peace away from it all and do a quiet mindful activity. I made a little cozy area for Rose with her toys and books arranged around it so she can help herself to anything whenever she likes. She will often go and get comfortable and choose a book to sit and look through. Books are a huge part of our lives - I have read to her from birth, before Covid-19 we went to the library every monday for new books, and she is read to throughout the day and a story at bedtime. But she also loves to choose a book to sit with herself and enjoy turning the pages and interacting with it, before getting up again to do something more lively. Reading is a brilliant mindful activity that can reduce stress and help with depression, plus it can be completely free if you visit your local library. Though any activity that is gentle (such as yoga, walking, crafting etc) can help you wind down from the day.
Let it go. At the beginning of lockdown, I would video chat my parents everyday and have Rose in the view so she could see her grandparents, as I was worried she would forget them. This was a lovely way to stay in touch, but it also had the effect of Rose wanting to take my phone and wonder off with it, pressing the screen and on one occasion even sent my mum and neighbour a message or random typed letters and a link to Rightmove property website. She still has this fascination with phones, and will try and get hold of one to walk around with if she can. Now, when we ask for them back, a meltdown ensues. But as soon as we return the phones to be out of sight, that's it, she's wondering off quite happy and all is forgotten. She doesn't hold a grudge or any ill feeling towards us, it's all in the past. It can be so hard to let go of hurt we have suffered in life, it can take a long time and sometimes we need help and support from counsellors and other professionals. Healing journeys are just that, a journey, and it's a process find our wellness again. There are several things in my life that have taken a while to let go, and part of the learning curve has been that by holding on to it, I'm the one who had been still suffering from it - the person who caused me the hurt is none the wiser and going about living their life. By holding onto the action of the other person and repeating in my mind how it made me feel was causing me a block, and to heal from it, I had to let it go. The person who caused me the hurt (seemingly) has, and so should I. It can take time, and you may need to repeatedly let it go, but you'll get there.
Being in tune with your body. Rose is 1, so obviously doesn't have an alarm clock. But she still wakes around the same time each day, unless she has been unsettled in the night then she will sleep in for a bit. She listens to what her body needs - thirsty? She'll help herself to her water bottle. Tired? She'll come 'tell' us (as in come up to us and rub her face over the nearest part of our body to hers and make a groaning sound) and rub her eyes and yawn. She is living her life in tune to what her body needs, and meets what those needs are (though of course not quite independently because of her being so young). As part of being mindful, tuning in to what your body is telling you is one of the primary ways to achieving and maintaining wellness. We have body clocks and cycles, like many wonderful things in nature, and we need to embrace that and not fight against it.
Use all your senses. Rose is very inquisitive and loves to investigate the world around her. This is great, but as a parent I find one of the most common phrases I use is 'out your mouth' , when she is testing if a new object tastes nice. She will squish objects, drop them on the floor to see if they do anything, smell them, lick them, and explore what it is she is holding. (Thankfully the putting objects in mouth phase is nearly over, making colouring a much less worrying experience in case she decided to eat a crayon.) A part of mindfulness, and an exercise in managing an anxiety attack is to use all your senses to ground yourself in your environment. What can you see / hear / taste / smell / touch? How many of these little details do we miss everyday because our minds are else where? I'm pretty guilty of getting caught up in my head, so I do try to bring myself back into the moment, especially on walks in nature.
Have determination and a goal. Aahh, my little Rose is determine soul, who will keep persisting and trying new ways to get to her goal. Our friends bought her a brilliant pirate ship toy for her birthday, it plays music and is educational, and comes with a captain, crew mate, monkey and octopus. Upon discovering the canon on the front, and how the canon ball came out of it, Rose decided that the crew mate was going in...head first. I tried to show her how it was the canon ball that would only fit, but she waved her hands at me to get out her way, as the she was determined that the crew mate could be going in the canon. Rose spent quite a long time bashing the crew mates head against the canon, until she came to the realization that he wasn't going to fit, so he was tossed aside and off she went to do something else. It was the focus she had in that moment - she set the goal and had the determination to see it through. She did try a few methods of getting him into the canon, and only stopped when she was sure he wasn't going in. We can enhance our life and wellbeing by setting ourselves a goal and being determined to do it. Want to learn a language? Write a book? Write it in your journal and start. And if at first you don't succeed, try another method. I guess in this observation there is also the lesson of knowing when you need to accept that something is not meant to be - Rose went off to find something new to play, and you to can find the next great beginning.
Show you care. There's a couple toys that Rose is particularly fond of - A unicorn hand puppet, Makka Pakka, a knitted Peppa Pig (thanks mum!) Bunny, and Mousey. Throughout the day, she will pick one and smother it with cuddles and kisses. She will literally hold the toy to her face, then tuck it between her neck and shoulders, and if she's sitting, she will learn forward on the floor and smush her face into the toy. With us, she will come up to us and nuzzle into us, sometimes wrapping her arms around us, resting her face on our chest. And if we're really lucky, she will give us a kiss. As her mum, there is just not enough time in the day for all the cuddles and kisses I want to give her, and I could go on at length of how I love kissing her soft chubby cheeks and wrapping my arms around her for an almighty cuddle, and how when she's in bed at night, I can't wait for the morning so I can give her that first cuddle and kiss when I get her out the cot. Showing affection and that you care has so many benefits for yourself and the person your expressing it to. An example being that cuddling someone you care about can help ease stress and boost mental wellbeing, as well as lying next to someone you love at night can help you fall asleep faster. You don't necessary need to cuddle and kiss everyone in your life, but letting them know you appreciate them, are thinking about them and being there for them during difficult times shows them you care and they matter. And of course, expressing gratitude is shown to boost wellbeing, change your outlook to be more positive and lowers stress.
And one lesson to NOT do.....
Resist resting if your tired.
Rose will be absolutely shattered, and we will take her to bed to settle her, but she will refuse to lay down and stay still. She will walk round her cot, fiddle with her clothing, feel the wallpaper, sing....anything to keep herself awake. But then she'll get grumpy and it's 'our fault'. Being just 1, she obviously can't understand that it is important to rest, and that by battling through, she won't be getting the most out of what she's doing because she can't function properly. As adults though, we can understand this, which is why it's so important to take care of ourselves and meet our needs. It can be very hard though to find time - modern living can be hectic, and demands over baring. This is where it becomes essential to have healthy boundaries in place to ensure that you get time you need to yourself. If we don't have time to recharge, our health will suffer. Be kind to yourself, and make down time a priority.
So, there you have it, 10 Wellness Lessons from a 1 year old, and one not to do. Little people are truly amazing, and it goes to show that even at such a young age, wellness and holism are just as important as adulthood.