Whether you like it or not, your nieces and nephews are always watching and learning from you. But what can you learn from watching them?
It wasn't until my eldest niece first learnt how to talk that I realised how much I overuse the word so.
Whenever I visited and my niece wanted something, she would turn to me and say, "So... can we go outside?", or "So... what is next?". It sounded odd at first, and I wondered where on earth she had picked up this way of speaking. Until, I suddenly became aware of my own language. Whenever there was a pause in activity, I'd catch myself saying, "So... shall we play with this puzzle?", or "So... what do you want to eat?". Until I started hearing it repeated back to me, I had had no idea that I was even doing it!
It got me thinking. What could I learn from my nieces and nephews if I started observing them?
When you are a child your main focus is always on having fun. You don't see the risk and danger and embarrassment in every. little. thing. Maybe I could learn from my niece just as she was learning from me?
Some people never grow out of this, but the older I got, the more I used to worry about what other people thought of me. It got to the point that I stopped singing along to the radio even if I was on my own.
But singing, or dancing, is such a great way to release endorphins and make you feel good about yourself, so I have decided to stop being scared.
Turns out that not many people care about whether you are making a fool of yourself anyway. And even if they do - why should that stop me from having fun?
My niece prefers her auntie to be silly over sensible anyway (at least until she turns into a teenager!)
Remember when you were little and you got an icecream? For me that was always such a treat.
Now that I buy my own treats, I sometimes forget to really savour the moment. Watching the enjoyment on my niece and nephew's faces this summer when they are given a treat reminded me to enjoy my own just as much.
My niece dresses for one main reason - herself. Whether it's clothes that lets her run around, climb and jump, or clothes that show off her personality (despite my brother's best efforts she is determined to only wear pink at the moment), the last thing on her mind is whether her outfit choice makes her look fat or thin or short or tall.
The biggest body concern that my niece has right now, is whether she is tall enough to reach the bars on the climbing frame at the park.
So I am taking a leaf out of her book, and enjoying the things my body can do for me instead of focusing on the list of imperfections.
I recently started to create stop-motion videos for Be So Baby, to showcase our products. I had so much fun creating these videos that I actually thought maybe I was focusing too much time on fun and not enough on business. I considered whether I should stop or at least do less of them because making videos didn't really feel like proper productive work.
I realise that the videos I am creating might be fun for me, but are actually still just as useful to my business as they would be if they felt like a chore. So I will keep doing them, and stop feeling guilty.
When I am alone, going out is all about what I will do when I reach my destination. Hanging out with my niece and nephew has taught me to enjoy the journey. For them, getting on the London Underground is exciting enough that it doesn't really matter whether we end up at a park or back at home!
Looking out of the window on the bus, making up stories or pointing out fun things that we see is great. And I am starting to take the time to enjoy the journey more even when I'm not with them.
my niece's other auntie is embracing this attitude too!
What else have your nieces and nephews taught you about living your life? Let me know in the comments!
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If you're lucky, when you were a child you lived near to a large close-knit group of family. Not everyone has this sort of idyllic childhood, though, so here are five key reasons that I think the best aunties aren't always real aunties at all.