Spiritual Love 101 for Babies and Toddlers
BY Alice Grist
You are a Goddess. This is true fact, perhaps on many levels, but none so true as in the view of your baby or toddler. Your child has yet to stumble across the teachings of The Dalai Lama, is too young for Deepak Chopra (his books don’t have pictures), and prefers cartoons to Oprah every single time. Whilst I’m sure you take your parenting responsibility very seriously, and love your little ones, like, times a billion, you may not have considered the effect of your godlike status on their delicate minds.
We all know the first couple of years are pivotal for babies’ development, so we do all we can to get it right. But between diaper changes, food prep, and general juggling, do we give much thought to the soul of our kiddies? More specifically, do we consider how we as parents, with our Divine status, affect the spiritual learnings of our little peeps? Yet, with a little mindfulness and a dash of soul, we can demonstrate the very best of spiritual, soulful living. Embed spiritual love in their hearts from the very start, and here are my top tips on how:
1. Unconditional Love is at the absolute heart of all spirituality. Whether you are Buddhist leaning, Pagan, or an utterly devotedly Christian, the teachings of spiritual thought tend to land us plonk back in the lovely soup of love that holds our hearts high, even on the dullest of days. Without love, life would have no goal, no glue.
To employ unconditional love, forget anything you read by any baby expert, totally disregard advice of friends and relatives, and next time you find yourself in a parenting pickle, consider instead what the most loving thing to do would be. Forget schedules, forget lessons, forget how your parents did things or what Gina recommends, and just do love instead.
2. Living full of love is not just for behind the closed doors of home. We can take our love out into the world and set a beautiful example to our kiddies. This does not mean we should embrace strangers on the train, or declare deep feelings towards the girl on the till in the local supermarket. Not quite. But we can be friendly, polite, calm and yes, loving, to everyone we meet. We can greet everyone with a smile and warm words. It’s that simple. In doing so we help our babies recognize the power of kindness, we show them the innate loving power of confidence, and we start to create a kinder planet, one interaction at a time, rippling down the generations.
3. I happen to be ever so fond of my mother in law. but on the days where she, or anyone else, irks me, it’s super vital that I don’t let baba see it. Why should an innocent child be burdened with adult silliness (no matter how passionately we believe we are right)?
No matter how hard we attempt to infuse our every action with love, it is inevitable that sometimes, someone is going to really piss us off. When this happens our wisest action is to keep our mouths shut. Our children don’t need to hear about our negative feelings on their beloved grandparents, or why the postman is a total prat. Children experience life as though it’s magic. Our negative rantings strip that magic back too soon. So hold your tongue, keep their magic alive.
4. Get into nature and introduce little hands and feet to rocks, water, grass, bark, petals and sand. Show little eyes the world as it is outside of human hands. Nature is, for me, the greatest testament to spirituality. It is my temple, my altar, my Mecca. It is in nature where all the dots join up, where life starts to make sense, where clarity can be gained. You can’t expect toddlers to sit still and meditate, but letting them run wild in a field full of long grasses and butterflies is as healing to them as a good nights sleep is to us!
5. Do whatever you can to cut back on commercialism. The world as we know it wants to sell us all an existence, always trying to get us to purchase meaning and love through a gazillion different products. Do your tiny friends a cut back wherever you can on this soul destroying influence. Fast forward through the adverts, divert attention away from billboards or offensive magazine shelves. When it comes to birthdays or Christmas, put the focus on the experience itself, on activities, on a theme, on the wonder of celebration. Offer them the gift of you and your imagination. In twenty years time they won’t remember what came wrapped bows and ribbons, but they will recall the times you laughed, you played, you made cakes. In these moments your spirits connect in a way plastic and presents will never reproduce.
6. Finally, you must value and love yourself. It’s easy as a parent to become wrapped up in kiddy world and utterly lose yourself. When this happens you move out of alignment with your soul, increase in stress and become a grittier and generally unhappier version of you. To enact any of the above tips, you have to be in the right place. You can only put baby’s happiness first if you are contented too.
Your happiness is easier to achieve than you may think. Focus on each day, each moment. Know that difficult parenting periods will pass. Meditate and give your mind some clear time, free from thoughts, doubts and inner nagging. When baby is napping or otherwise engaged, take the time to switch your brain off. Put your phone/tablet/book down and breathe for a few seconds. Put yourself first for a few minutes every day. Use that time to remember who you are and to keep your heart, mind, and soul crystal clear. Do this and you’ll ensure your Goddess status remains strong for you and your little devotee!