It's a commitment. Know before you go.
I was so naive. First kid. First tooth lost. I thought, "I'll make it special!" I came up with an elaborate and somewhat expensive ritual and got stuck doing that somewhat expensive and elaborate ritual for two kids worth of teeth.
Then I had my third child and I changed it up. He was so much younger I could start fresh. I made it easier on myself. I'm happy. He's happy.
I'll pass on my learnings in case it helps you be happy too.
Here are my top tips for the Tooth Fairy time of life.
1. You get to decide if you want to do the Tooth Fairy at all.
It never occurred to me to start here. Did you know there are different tooth transitions all over the world? Some kids throw their teeth on the roof. So if you want to have a Tooth Fairy you can. Or you can have a roof ritual. Or a slipper thing. The choices are endless.
2. Pillows are optional.
If you do want to have the Tooth Fairy, you don't have to use the old put-it-under-your-pillow method. Why? Because it's easy to lose a tooth under a pillow and it's hard to sneak in at night and rummage under a pillow without waking up a child sometimes. Especially when the child has a gazillion stuffed animals on the bed and a maze of toys on the floor. Make it easy on yourself. Put the tooth in a bowl next to the bed. Or, even easier, leave it in a bowl outside the bedroom door. It doesn't have to be a bedtime-visiting Tooth Fairy. Again, you get to choose.
3. Manage expectations.
How much money does the Tooth Fairy leave? That is an easy expectation to manage. The answer usually is: whatever they left the first time. But if the Tooth Fairy leaves small gifts instead or in addition to money, what is small? If you have a child who will question dimensions and debate this concept endlessly, use a box. The tooth goes in a shoe box. The toy left cannot be bigger than the box. It has to fit in the box. That's how "small" the toy is. Problem solved. You can also use a smaller box.
4. Plan for vacations.
What happens if the tooth is lost while you are on vacation and your child is with caregivers? Plan ahead. Maybe the Tooth Fairy only visits when a parent is present. So the child knows to wait until you are back to do the tooth thing. Or maybe you have a stash of supplies ready (including the denomination of money needed) so that that Tooth Fairy can visit while you are gone. Regardless, plan ahead. Like if you are on a vacation with your child and they lose a tooth, does the Tooth Fairy visit the campground? You tell me. Or rather, you tell them. Each child is different and some are very intricate in their need for tradition. Some are more flexible. So once again, plan ahead.
5. Plan for lost teeth.
If the child swallows their tooth when it comes out, or it pops out down the drain, you know exactly what to do. Do you leave a note instead of the tooth. Be ready.
6. Keep track of the teeth.
Whether you keep the actual teeth or freeze them or not, keep track of which teeth and how many are out so you know how many are yet to be out. Maybe you will remember. I never remember. I think I will remember. I don't remember. And then I have no idea how many teeth are left when they ask me. For my last kid I bought a box that has spaces for each of his teeth so I know how many and which specific ones. But you can just make a note on your phone.
7. Set your alarm.
You put your kid to bed. They put their tooth wherever and however your family does the tooth thing. You know your job. Tooth Fairy! You get busy. You do dishes. You check Facebook. You go to bed. NO! You must remember to do the tooth thing. I am not kidding: set an alarm. Put a note on your pillow so you can't go to sleep without remembering. But if you are a busy parent (and you are busy because you are a parent) set yourself up for success by making sure you can't forget. Whatever you need to do to remember, do that.
8. Enjoy your whatever it is.
This tooth thing is a passing stage; it's great if you can enjoy it. Think about your child. Think about yourself. Find a path that fits you both and embrace it. Whatever it is.
The Tooth Fairy