“Becoming an aunt is absolutely out of your control. There is no prior life planning or thought behind it; it just happens, and the event changes your life. Though not the fruit of your womb, the baby in your arms becomes a reason for celebrating.”
It is often said that an aunt is a unique combination of a mother and a friend for a niece. I am an aunt to my cute little toddler niece. We’ve bonded well together so far and I hope to be a prominent part of her life in the future as well.
Sometimes, I do wish that someone had created a “how-to-always-be-a-cool-aunt” guide for first-time aunts like me. But, relationships are not mechanical. They will never come with a one-size-fits-all solution like a TV repair manual.
You just have to trust your instincts, make your own rules, indulge in fun activities, and do what it takes to keep your bond solid. This is the key takeaway from my time with my little niece.
Apart from this, I learned a few other important life lessons while spending quality time with her that I’m keen on sharing with everyone.
So here goes!
1. Prioritize Having Fun and Making Memories
For me, one of the best things about spending time with my niece is to watch her laugh or smile at the funny things I do. It’s a sign that she trusts me and finds my company to be fun.
Being the reason behind someone’s smile always reflects well on you.
Having fun leads to another beautiful thing: you end up making wonderful memories of the joyful times together. Making and cherishing amazing memories leave lasting imprints on your mind, and are signs of a life well lived. So, how about clicking a few amusing selfies with your cute-as-a-button toddler?
2. Be Adaptive
My niece enjoys playing and being around those who will let her do things her way. Her parents may be busy with other things or might have become a repeated face for her, which is where I step in and turn myself the coolest person she’s ever met! I love playing ball with her or taking her out for an ice cream. In return I get loads of hugs, kisses, and heartfelt love.
Many a time, life requires us to mirror it. Our behaviors and responses are shaped by the kind of life situations we’re in. This is great because successfully adapting to such situations means you always come out a winner!
3. It Helps to Stick to the Basics
When babysitting, I need to remember a few important things about my sweet niece. She does these four basic things: move, eat, burp, and poop. We all know little children convey most of their messages by crying or screaming. As caretakers, it is our responsibility to use our knowledge of the basics, put two and two together, and fulfill the child’s needs.
In the same way, when it comes to tackling the problems life may throw at us, you may want to revisit your basics and find simple but logical solutions to deal with them. They’re often the most effective!
4. Identify What Works and Do More of It
Less food and sleep can make my niece super fussy. A fussy toddler means that I spend most of my time calming her, which leaves me with little or no time to do my own work.
On most days, she eats a bowl full of vegetables, but I’ve realized that when I feed her slightly more than that, she sleeps sooner and better. This allows me to do other things.
It makes perfect sense to identify the things that are working for us and take that route more often. This lesson can very well apply to everyday life as well.
5. Follow the Rules
As a doting aunt, I cannot help but spoil my niece by fulfilling all her wishes and doing crazy kiddy things with her. However, I’m careful not to break the discipline rules her parents have set for her, especially with respect to her food and bed time. This helps shape her behavior to become a well-rounded individual as she grows.
Following rules is a great thing. It is only when our kids see us abiding by them, that they will respect them too. Rules ensure that everyone is safe, healthy, and happy.
6. Try to Make Others Feel Comfortable around You
Babies and toddlers need comforting. My niece is no different. And while her mother is the best source of comfort and support, I do my bit by keeping her as comfy as I possibly can in my care. For example, I make it a point to dress her according to the weather. I also set the room temperature accordingly with a little help from my trusty air conditioning guide, of course. The result is pure love and delight!
You’re going to meet many people in your life. As a good person, you should not hesitate in being kind and making them feel comfortable around you in your own special way. Even a simple gesture like offering them some water or lending your phone charger can go a long way in strengthening your veracity.
7. Keep Your Promises
This one’s pretty easy, really. Simply don’t say what you can’t or won’t do. I wouldn’t ever promise my niece to take her to the park when I know I’d be busy with something else.
Do not make promises to a child only to forget about them and hurt their feelings. Our little ones are sensitive, and will surely remember how you broke their trust! The kid’s parents won’t appreciate it either.
Be a person of your word to uphold your credibility and retain the trust of those around you, regardless of their age. Keep your integrity intact if you want people to take you seriously.
8. Look After Yourself
Don’t get me wrong, I love my niece and would do anything for her. But one cannot serve from an empty cup. It is, therefore, crucial that we look after ourselves or we will not be able to give our best to our loved ones.
Wake up a little early in the morning to make time for yourself. Use this time to meditate, swim, go for a jog, listen to music, or read if that’s what energizes you for the day ahead. When you feel good, it will show in everything you do.
The aunt-niece relationship is more than just a technical association that binds two people by blood. It is a bond, a promise! It may not be a parent-child relationship, but it comes pretty close to that and is a special connection. And if you think it is only the aunts who will teach their nieces about some of the coolest things in life, you need to think again. You may be surprised, just as I was, to realize that your niece is already influencing you to be a better person!
Lori Wagoner is a marketing & business consultant and helps small businesses with their online presence. Lori is also a prolific blogger; she writes for Tweak Your Biz, Project Eve, Small Biz Daily, and many other business publications. You can follow her on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Simon Rae.