Dealing with the Unexpected

Purposeful Parent Tip: How You Handle Life’s Hiccups Teaches Your Children Resilience

Has this ever happened to you? You wake up (tired of course), and one of the first things that happens is you spill half your coffee on your desk, your new optical mouse, your cell phone, and of course, anything else in its path. Then your PC starts to act weird. Your email is hacked, and oh yes, you think your daughter missed her first religion class.

Happens a lot right? Ok, maybe not exactly like this, but to say that my morning was a mish-mash of hiccups is an understatement. To top it all off, I was just coming off a few very large hiccups with a new project I’m working on just last night. Does it ever end?

The simple answer? No. This is life and life has hiccups.

When I spilled my coffee this morning and let out a blood curdling scream, my daughter came running downstairs to see if I was ok. She clearly thought I’d been hurt in some way and when I explained to her what had happened and that I was fine, her response was “I thought you were really hurt.”

Fair assumption. Blood curdling scream over spilled coffee? Perhaps slightly out of proportion.

If you haven’t figured this out yet from my postings, I’m a planner. I like schedules and calendars and to-do lists. As a single mompreneur, I have too many activities and tasks to keep track of and if it’s not in my calendar, it does not exist. (Hence my revelation in the middle of the night of my daughter’s potentially missed religion class.)

So when surprises like hacked email accounts or computer viruses or spilled coffee enter my tidy world of routine, I react …ok, I overreact. It’s not a habit I’m proud of and I’m convinced that in a prior life I must’ve been wracked with surprises all the time and now have carried my poor handling of them into this life. Hmmm….

After cleaning up the coffee mess and getting my daughter off to school, I noticed how agitated I was. I could feel my hands shaking, my mind racing, and an overall feeling of discontent. Since I knew I had a busy day ahead, I needed to regroup and fast. I needed to calm down and get my bearings so that I could face the challenges of the day. But how?

Well, here’s how. I’m writing this blog post. Yes – as odd as that sounds, I added another task to my already busy schedule today and am composing this post to ‘air out’ my mind. Writing is therapy for me and allows me to hijack my jumbled brain for a few minutes so that I can recalibrate. It was in the quiet that I could put my crazy morning into perspective and realize that yes, life happens, and how you choose to deal with it tells so much about you.

What did I teach my daughter this morning when I was “crying over spilt milk?” I taught her that a minor blip classified as chaos and deserved an equal reaction. What will she do next time she experiences something similar? Yikes!

My children know me well enough by now to know that their mom overreacts to things. Then a few minutes later, I calm down, assess the situation, and fix it. I don’t know why I do this but I do know that I need to work on skipping that first step – take a moment to breathe – and then continue on with the remaining steps which serve me well.

My good friend, Neerja Bhattia of Rhythm of Success, speaks a lot about resilience and bouncing back. I think I will re-read her books again so that I can teach my children that a spilled cup of coffee does not warrant a scream to wake the dead.

How do you react to life’s little surprises? I’d love to hear how you deal with them!