After years of adulting, perhaps it is time we look to our toddlers to learn some valuable life lessons.
In 2005, a study published in the American Journal of Occupation, Participation, and Health focused on the notion of playfulness in adults and it got me thinking – have we lost are ability to be playful? If you look around and examine the people around you, you will find that there is a plethora of adults sulking to themselves constantly.
Indeed, we are currently living amidst politically turbulent and economically uncertain times. And if you consider the rapid technological advancement of AI with our preoccupations with social media, we may only have a few years until we find ourselves in an episode of Black Mirror (you have been warned). Despite this, we needn’t have to lose our playfulness. Even the most responsible adult needs to allow themselves to indulge in a little playful behaviour!
What does this have to do with toddlers I hear you cry? Well, toddlers are typically the most playful bundles of joy I have ever encountered. Whilst they may be blissfully unaware of the traumas of the world, they certainly know how to have a good time. So, delight in outdoor pursuits, relish in a little friendly competition and overcome embarrassment by simply being more toddler – minus the tantrums – by following our quick, simple steps:
Unless you’re one of the lucky few who work for Google and get to have a slide in your office, it is of course slightly more difficult to get some fresh air or have a play when you’re an adult.
A substantial number of our days are spent at work, in transit or asleep. But this shouldn’t stop us from going outdoors every once in a while! If you live by the sea, try sailing. If you live by a park then go running. Or perhaps try fishing, horse riding, skateboarding, diving, skiing, cycling, rambling, hiking or even paragliding. The world is your oyster and the terrain is only an obstacle to overcome.
Turn the phone off
Toddlers don’t have phones or tablets, laptops or iPads (well they shouldn’t anyway). This why they are so full of life. They haven’t been sucked into the world of social media, the endless rounds of Candy Crush nor the obsession with taking selfies. So turn your devices off, even if it’s for a few hours. You may engage in some withdrawal symptoms but it will be good for your inner child (and actual child) who deserves your full attention. Barbara from Sales can wait until tomorrow.
Not to be confused with letting your inner Larry David let go of social constructs and saying it how it is (although that would be utterly refreshing) but rather being honest about emotions. When a toddler is happy or sad, you know about it.
Toddlers won’t spend time on passive aggressive statements such as, “I’m fine, just tired” followed by hours of sulking, they quite simply tell you how it is. Toddlers don’t bite their tongue and expect you to work out what is wrong and how to can set it right with your telepathic powers, so why should you be doing that?
Leave FOMO at the door
Ever committed to something you don’t want to do? We are all guilty of such things, my friends in particular suffer from the recent phenomenon of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). But trust me when I say, Stop! Nobody cares if you go to the party, and nobody cares if you don’t.
We don’t need to constantly be up and busy 24/7, we are allowed to rest and spend time with the family. It’s not a hindrance, it’s a blessing. Toddlers typically weigh up their options. If they don’t want to do something, they just won’t do it.
Put yourself first
With the cult of positive-thinking and mental wellbeing at it’s all time high, its about time some of us take the time to give this concept ago. We may be cynics, realists and pessimists, but who knows, perhaps it’ll work?
Toddlers are the experts when it comes to putting themselves first, and one of my favourite things they do is nap. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to still have naps as an adult. Not only does it refresh you, but you are certainly due those hours of sleep you missed when your tot was a new-born.
Unleash your creativity
Whether it’s playing make-believe or gluing pasta shapes to paper, the assistance of sandpits, play areas, and endless art supplies makes it no surprise as to why we are the most creative when we are kids.
If years of endless budget reporting, business presentations, and pitches have begun to take its toll, then adult colouring books may be a little remedy to help you get your creativity back on track. Alternatively, try something different like pottery making, glass blowing or even origami. They can all help stimulate your creativity and shock your brain out of the humdrum spreadsheets it’s so used to thinking about.