There is something that you learn very quickly when you’re a parent to a toddler: you must pick your battles. Spending your whole day saying a variation of the following phrases “No”, “Stop that, please”, “Get down from there” and “Don’t lick that!” is exhausting. Some days I am bored of my own whiny voice by 10am.
In order to get through the day, without having some sort of breakdown, I am learning to choose my battles. If Jasmine is doing something I think she probably shouldn’t be doing, I pause, and I ask myself “Is this dangerous?” and then “How dangerous?” Because if it’s a situation that’s not immediately life threatening, I then have to decide if it is a battle worth picking.
For example, yesterday we were out for a walk and Jasmine decided she wanted to hug a lamppost that every dog on our estate has probably peed up against. Because, you know, when you’re 16 months old, lampposts are splendiferous. Do I tell her to “Stop that!” and pull her away, resulting in a meltdown for the next 20 minutes and a very long and painful journey home? Enter stage right, my inner monologue “Is this dangerous? No, it’s ruddy gross, but it’s not dangerous. Then let her hug the lamppost, she can have a bath when we get home.” Battle avoided. Mum happy. Toddler happy (and a now a bit smelly).
I mean, listen, I don’t want to end up being a pushover. Ultimately, I am still in charge, I’m calling the shots. I’m the one choosing my battles, not Jasmine.
Here’s another example: Jasmine appears to be part-mountain yak and wants to climb on everything. Including the coffee table. And this is where I think people will probably start rolling their eyes and shaking their heads… Because on this occasion, I let her do it.
I know not every parent would allow their child to climb on the coffee table but I asked myself “Is this dangerous?” and “and if so, how dangerous?” and the answers were “yes” and “not very”. So instead of pulling Jasmine off of this particular piece of furniture (and subsequently turning it into a fun game for her), I picked up the camera and snapped a photo of her gorgeous smile. I wasn’t going to pick this battle. I’m saving those up for when she’s breaking into the cleaning cupboard or trying to run into the road. When I choose my battles, I want Jasmine to know that I’m serious, I’m stopping her from doing something because I have to.
And, after this picture was taken? Jasmine realised that actually, sitting on the coffee table wasn’t as fun as she thought it would be. If anything, it was a little boring (it turns out that you can’t cause a whole lotta mischief from sat on top of a coffee table). So she got down of her own accord and hasn’t climbed on it since.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.