Last week, as Zoey was leaving the house to go to school, she grabbed the mini rainbow flag that happened to be by the door. I managed to cajole her into changing it for her Miffy puppet doll instead.
About half hour later, I received a text message from Irene telling me she had lost the Miffy puppet on the bus. It had apparently gone missing in the 5 minutes it took her to get from the bus stop to the bus station and the bus driver couldn’t find it. While in the past I would have gotten really upset and angry at the carelessness of both Mommy and Zoey, I was not upset at all this time.
As Irene went on about how I should not give her loose items to carry and that someone had stolen it really fast, I was thinking to myself, thank goodness it was the Miffy puppet. She was expecting me to get upset and therefore started to state her case for defense. What she did not expect was that I had anticipated something like this happening and so as part of my parenting strategy, I swapped Zoey’s mini rainbow flag (that is impossible to get here in Singapore) for the Miffy puppet (that I bought for $2 online)
So I calmly explained to her that lately Zoey has taken a liking to choosing one of her toys to bring out whenever she leaves the house. As I know she is a toddler with a limited attention span, if she picks something I cannot easily replace, I will swap it for something that I can. This way, if she loses it or misplaces it, I don’t have to get upset and can replace it easily. Win-win situation.
Sure, it sucks that someone had taken it in the 5 minutes it took for Irene to realise it was gone, but honestly, anyone who would take a toy like this probably had a little boy or little girl they wanted to give it to. So in essence, our loss meant that some other child would be made happier. All in all, I didn’t see a real reason to get angry. This caught Irene by complete surprise and she said she expected that I would be really angry and she herself was upset by the thought of me being upset and the fight it would lead to.
This is one of the parenting strategies (it is really a happiness life hack) I advocate. Anticipate that some things are completely out of your control. Instead of allowing the external factors to ruin your mood, put some effort into planning how you can avoid such mishaps in the first place. It can be anything such as swapping a toy, putting items you need to bring out at the door, packing your bag the night before, not having a toddler wear white when you are serving speghetti or not having an adult wear white when we have curry for dinner! (No points for guessing who)
Because of this one toy swap, Irene and I did not have a fight about the lost Miffy. We both felt it was a pity it was gone, but where in the past it would have escalated into a “your fault, my fault” argument, this simply became a “too bad” discussion.
The idea is if you can do something to prevent heartache and headache, do it. Don’t wait for a favourite toy to go missing or a favourite top to get ruined. It’s always frustrating when you realise you forgot to bring something to work or even worst, forgot your entire wallet. A lot of times, this leads to finger pointing and blaming, often with the people you love and care about. When it comes to kids, accidents can and will happen, so instead of waiting for the worst to come, take action to prevent some of it and it will make life that much happier. Where possible apply this small life hack to other areas of your life and I hope you will see what a difference it makes.
Anticipate, take action and be happier.
P/S: And as luck would have it, when Irene got to school, she found the Miffy puppet was actually in the baby carrier, squashed between her and Zoey. So I didn’t have to get a replacement afterall 😉