If you’re really paying attention, there’s quite a lot you can learn from kids about how to follow your dreams. Often times the lessons are indirect, but the ones I get repeatedly from my preschooler are how to insert more creativity into my life and how to stop imposing limits on myself when it comes to those dreams.
The days are long. The nights aren’t always restful. Dream-following can sometimes feel like another chore added to the already-too-long list.
It seems monumentally counterintuitive, but when my inspiration is dwindling and I start to feel resentful towards my kids for zapping my energy, I tune in to what they say and do even MORE. I’ve absorbed some valuable nuggets of wisdom by paying close attention to what they say and do.
Here are the top 4 lessons I’ve learned from my preschooler about following your dreams.
1. The sky is NOT the limit.
I was pushing my 3-year-old on the swings at the playground one sunny afternoon. His wild curls were bouncing and his smile was dazzling. As he swayed with the rhythm of the swing, he said to me, “I want to give the moon a hug. Mommy, push me higher so I can give the moon a hug!” (If that doesn’t melt your heart enough, he later said, “I want to take a nap with the moon.”)
To my son, these were totally feasible requests. There was no scientific argument for why these things couldn’t logically happen. And there was such JOY in the declaration of his desires. He shows me daily what is pure and authentic.
So lesson one on how to follow your dreams? Let yourself dream them without restraint. There are no limits.
2. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it.
Me: “Okay Elijah, we can read 1 more book and then it’s time for sleep.”
Elijah: “I think we can read 2, mom.”
He says it so nonchalantly, like he’s telling me HOW IT IS, but like its no big deal. What if we adopted that attitude about our dreams? What if we went through our days like we believed our dreams were turning to reality — in a matter-of-fact kind of way?
Whether or not you believe in declaring something to the universe in order to make it happen, you will miss opportunities if you do not let people know what you are trying to accomplish. Plain and simple. If I need a cup of sugar, but I don’t ask any of my neighbors it, I guarantee you that NO ONE will show up at my door coincidentally with a cup of sugar. But how many people in the neighborhood probably have that cup of sugar?
Knowing how to follow your dreams sometimes just means that you open your mouth and say them out loud.
Side note: How many books do you think I read to my son Elijah that night? (Yep, 2.)
3. Keep track of your wins.
One night after getting ready for bed, I was sitting with my son Elijah (2-years-old at the time), and he was being quieter than usual. I asked, “Are you feeling okay?” He replies, “No. I think I need to go to the doctor. Remember, mom, when we went to doctor last time?” I remembered. It was actually about 3 months prior to this moment. He continues, “Yeah, I had a chocolate chip bar. I ate half of it while we waited, but I wanted to eat the whole thing. Then I got to eat it after we left, and it was sooooo good.”
Ummmm….. Yes. That is exactly what happened. The kid was 2, and he remembered his chocolate chip win from 3 months ago. I’m also pretty sure he could recall any treat he has ever gotten at any doctor or dentist visit.
These were all wins for him, and he isn’t ashamed to remind me of them. He’s proud to have them on his list of accomplishments, and you can see the confidence and satisfaction in his face as he shares them.
This past year, in January, as everyone was making their new year’s resolutions, my husband and I looked back at the year behind us and listed out all the things we achieved that we were proud of. It had been a really tough year, and we were ready to slam the door on it, but listing out our accomplishments made us do a double-take. We realized how much we were capable of, even in the hardest of times, and it gave us the morale boost that we sorely needed. We were then fully prepared (and much more excited) to set our goals for the coming year.
4. Take a deep breath and relax.
Elijah was just 2 when we were driving over to a friend’s house for a playdate. I left the house a little later than expected and there was a traffic delay, and I must have made some audible sign of my frustration. Elijah said to me from the back seat in his tiny 2-year-old voice, “Mom, take a deep breath and relax. Can you relax, mom?” A 2-year-old calmly asking a grown woman if she can relax! HA!
It was a valid question, a fantastic reminder, and it changed my state completely. I laughed, and obliged with a deep breath. Huh. It worked!
Sometimes I get so worked up about my dreams. I’m trying so hard, but I keep holding on to the fear inside of me. Every tiny decision feels huge, and the smallest setbacks knock me out cold. Anxiety builds and I second-guess the dream.
Then I hear my son’s tiny voice, “Mom, take a deep breath and relax.”
The stories we tell ourselves inside of our minds can get out of control. They can be false, and they can keep us from doing things we are 1000 percent capable of doing. Sometimes it takes the perspective of a child to show us that we have control over how we respond to external factors. So take a deep breath, mom, and relax.
How to follow your dreams: Go full circle.
It’s really a full circle journey, to get to the place in life where you realize you had all the answers at 3. Then you lost them and had to go and have your own kids to be reminded of how to follow your dreams.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from YOUR kids? Share with us in the comments below! And for more inspiration, be sure to read The Ultimate Guide to Motherhood.