Tag Archives: Parenting

Don’t Label Him.

He’s smart.  He’s handsome.  He’s ridiculous.  He’s loving.  He’s generous.  He loves to read.  He loves to run.  He loves to be the best.  He has an easily bruised ego.  He doesn’t always make the best choices.  He has to learn the hard way…

… like his mom.

He’s my son.  His name is James, and as much as I try not to label him, I still do.

Sometimes being a parent really sucks the big one.

We think parenting a toddler is hard, but honestly, the hardest thing about parenting a toddler is making sure they are still breathing by the end of the day.  In the long term, who really cares if your kid can recite the alphabet song before they are two or if they are still pissing in their drawers when they are three?

When they’re tiny, it feels like these things are so critically important that your whole parenting reputation could be broken upon them.

Then your kid, who is certainly old enough to know better, steals a coveted toy from his friend, lies about it, and has to be put in a four-figure leg lock in order to get the truth out of him.

All your delusions of your child’s perfection are shattered and you realize – holy shizzledizzle! –  they really are human and not the second coming of Christ like you thought they might have had the potential to be.

Damnit.

You research the Seven Deadly Sins and realize that your child might indeed be prone to all of them.

Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, Gluttony.

Well, maybe not Lust – at least not yet.  Criminitly, he’s only six.  Though I’m sure he’ll succumb to that one too, in time.

It’s terrifying that someone might label your child a “bad” kid.  A problem child.  Uncontrollable.

Lessons like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” are helpful once you’ve taught them from seven billion different points of view.

Forcing them to prostrate themselves in front of their friend to apologize drives home the lesson a bit.

Grounding them from their favorite activities for a period of time reinforces the seriousness of their actions.

But did he learn his lesson?  I don’t know.  He wants to be like Luke, not like Anakin, so I think our Star Wars lesson was constructive.

Reflecting, I remembered when James was three years old and he was going through a horrid carbs-only eating jag.  I remembered how I kept telling him that when he was two years old he LOVED to eat carrots and peas and meat and all of the things he absolutely despised (Lies.  All lies). Within a very short time, he suddenly started trying most of the foods he had refused not long before.

And this memory is how I obtained some perspective.

I’ve always been a huge believer in self-fulfilling prophecy.  That is, when we label a person they become more prone to act as they have been classified.  I’m human too, and sometimes my beliefs gets all muddled when I’m having heavy feelings about a particular subject.

James is a wonderful boy. He is not a problem child.  Did he make a bad decision?  Yes.  Should he be punished forever?  No.  Will I make more of an effort to promote the wonderful traits he already possesses?  Yes.

Will I blow sunshine up his ass for every slightly honorable thing he does if I think it will promote his trustworthiness in the future?

You’re damn skippy I will.

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Mommy Confession: Bare baby bums are awesome.

From the first time I bathed with my son, James, and held his tiny barely-a-week-old little body; one hand under his florida orange-sized bum and the other under the nape of his neck, I was done for. Even as a newborn, all I could see was absolute perfection and, my God, my kids have perfect little bottoms.

Perfect for squishing.

The sight of pitted and dimpled cheeks peeking out from under a baggy shirt, or even better, total nakedness with the exception of ridiculously huge boots and a cowboy hat, brings on waves of euphoria that rivals even the best hugs or professions of love.

And why the heck not.

Nudity paranoia has been spiraling out of control for a long time. Most moms and dads know that some nakedness (like, 8 out of the girls’ 12 waking hours during the day at my house lately), is perfectly normal and doesn’t deserve such stigma.  But others are so ashamed.  And irrational.

They couldn’t possibly be worried about the dreaded ‘P’ word in the comfort of their own home.  Is it the desire to develop some modicum of “decency” at such an early age or possibly guilt of looking at your child as a sexual being that causes some parents to become so determined against something so normal?

Because people, babies and children are sexual beings.  GASP.  They were born out of sexuality, and they will someday venture out into the world of sexuality themselves (oy, given how painful it was to write that, I’m clearly not ready to think about such things).  Being proud of a healthy and beautiful body (even in miniature), is natural and absolutely no reason for shame.

I don’t understand why some are so passionate about “training” children out of perfectly normal and non-destructive behaviors, when given the appropriate amount of time, they would train themselves out of these behaviors naturally – and be better off for it.

I say we start a revolution.  We give our children back their nakedness and we give them back their freedom.

I will never make my children feel ashamed of their bodies.  I will stop enforcing rules that only exist to keep my children in a cage and have no benefit to their well-being or psychology.  They are magnificent creatures and in the comfort and safety of their home, and as long as everyone is agreeable, they deserve feel as free as they want and to run around butt-ass-naked-as-the-day-they-were-born if they’re so inclined.

Moms, take as many pictures of those beautiful boy bottoms as you want.  Dads, I promise you, if your daughter walks around naked and you think to yourself  “wow, she is absolutely perfect – I’m definitely going to need to buy a shotgun.”  You’d be perfectly normal.

Because baby bums are awesome, and they are only little for a such a depressing little while.  So please let them be young, let them own their bodies, and for the love of all things holy, stop micromanaging your kids in the name of false protection.

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Rain, Rain, Go away.

It has been an impossibly dreary week or two, with rain and drizzle only halting for hours at a time; the odd day of reprieve existing only to tease us.  The forecast for the next week or two is mostly the same.

As I contemplate what to do with a house full of 8 kids – 4 of the kids barely 2 years old and under – I honestly can not say I remember how the kids stayed entertained all winter.  I don’t remember ever feeling so stir crazy as I do now.

I have no clue how we survived those fridgid 4 months where getting the kids outside to play was about as much fun as jamming bamboo shards under my fingernails…  Everyone to the bathroom.  Let’s get your snowsuits on.  Everyone outside.  Keep your mittens on.  Don’t eat the snow.  Don’t pee in your snowsuits.  Don’t throw snow on your sister!  Keep your boots on.  Don’t cry, it’s just a bit of snow.  If you kept your shizzit on that wouldn’t have happened.  Don’t. eat. that. brown. snow!  

It’s enough to make me wonder why we torture ourselves for almost half the year?  You know, fellow Canucks, there are other places to live that don’t have such severe weather.  On days like this, I seriously consider moving to one of them.

It’s almost as if our collective attention spans have radically decreased upon the arrival of the spring.  All of their pent-up energy is being directed into producing as much chaos as humanly possible.  Riling each other up in the worst ways… making forts out of the couch cushions and blankets (and of course, there’s always the one unfortunate child who gets stuck at the bottom of the human piramid)… dumping out every box in the toy room… running around the house like a pack of wild beasts.

At the risk of sounding like a spoiled brat – it’s just not fair!

How do you positively direct such manic energy?  I’d like to know?

Let’s have a dance party!!!

Still, it’ll be nice when the weather clears up and the kids can play in the giant sand pile in front of my garage.

Leah-Rose, the precocious best bud of my littlest, Josie, said it with the best clarity yesterday.  She extended her impossibly petite arm, pointed one tiny finger out the back patio door window, and with her miniature voice rising in anger yelled, “Rain!  You are bad!  You go away rain.  Right now!”


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Julia Rose

Gosh, there is so much to say about my Julia.

She was my first girl and the second love of my life.  She’s Julia the brave, Julia the escape artist, Julia the wanderer, Julia the destroyer, Julia the anxious, Julia the maternal, Julia the savior of bugs, Julia the gymnast…  She’s a beauty with to-die-for curls, her dad’s long black eyelashes, flawless naturally tan skin, plump lips and big blue eyes the size of saucers.

How such incredible bravery can coexist with such intense and painful fear in one individual is something of a mystery to me.  She has no problem climbing to the highest heights, balancing on the most precarious of precipices, escaping out the back gate and wandering off our property alone. (And butt ass naked. Yes.  I was mom of the year when she was two.)  Yet, she had a social anxiety problem that causes her to be glued to a trusted adult and completely unable to speak in any situation that is out of the ordinary for her.

She turned 4 years old last Friday, and for the past several months, the hardened shell she has constructed around herself has been beginning to thin and fault.

She is finally able to express love – she now tells us nightly how much she loves us – SOOOO MUCH (something she had never before been able to bring herself to say).  She loves her best friend Darius to the point where it shatters her heart every time he has to leave.  She professes her love for Peter hourly and loves all small animals and bugs.  Heaven help the kid who squashes a bug in our house.

She is finally beginning to speak to family and friends who she trusts.  Prior to this she wouldn’t even make eye contact, let alone speak, until she had adequately warmed up (this process could take her upward of several hours and this was with family and friends that she saw on a regular basis!).

Her major breakthrough came after we started talking to her about her difficulties and we assigned a name to this big monster.  She is shy.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  Really, it’s more than just shyness, it’s called selective mutism (and on the anxiety spectrum).

Julia outside of the house and Julia inside the house, were two completely different children.  In the house she was loud (LOUD!), rambunctious, loving, sharp as as whip and destructive in her quest for new experiences.  It was such a radical difference that for a long time (before I began to research her “symptoms”) we honestly thought she was just being rude when she was fearful.  We thought she was stubbornly shy (to the nth degree) when it was in fact an anxiety problem –  she had (and still has, to a somewhat lesser degree) a complete psychological barrier that prevents her from showing her amazing personality to the outside world.

There is still some way to go, but the breakthroughs she has been having recently were a long time in the making.  Once we began to understand the fact that Julia’s “shyness” was beyond typical, beyond a characteristic of her personality, it was easier to help her.  Talking about shyness, visualizing scenarios where she’s uncomfortable and working through them with her (over and over), and above all, letting her know that we weren’t putting any expectations on her and not trying to force her to do anything beyond what she was comfortable with, opened her up to a tremendous degree.  The results were close to instantaneous.

We’ve been slowly encouraging the building up of her self-esteem through swimming lessons and gymnastics (both of these come very easy to her).  Building friendships seems to take a long time for her, so having the same kids over often, which happens when you are a childcare provider as I am, seems to be extremely helpful to her.  School, which she starts in the fall, will likely have a positive impact on her as well.

She just has so much potential.  She could literally do anything she wanted to.  If she wanted to be an athlete, she certainly has the chops and then some.  She has muscles on top of her muscles and an instinctive sense of her body and its abilities.  If she wanted to be a doctor or an astronaut, she absolutely has the intelligence and the drive necessary.  She outsmarts the pants off me, and not in ways that I always encourage.  If she wanted to be an artist or a performer, she has vast abundance of creativity to draw from.  If she wants to be a mommy and stay home with her babies, she would certainly excel at that too.  She was born with an ardent love of all little things, people, animals, bugs, and anything else she can take care of and protect.

If she survives to adulthood (which some days, when she’s scaling the play structure in the backyard, seems highly questionable), I’m very certain she’ll do great things.  Regardless, anything she does she will likely be extremely passionate about and she will do with great fervor.  If I had to sum up Julia in one word, that would be it.  She is passionate.  And in this world, I think that’s one of the greatest personality traits a person can have.

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Let’s talk about Childhood Obesity

I’m sitting at my dining room table, on my ample arse, with an ice pack on an elephantine knee from a “traumatic” injury due to slipping on a kids’ dress-up necklace while wearing flip flips, as the kids watch Mulan for the seven thousandth time.

I’m watching (with my jaw unhinged) my tiny 27-lb-soaking-wet two-and-a-half-foot-tall two-year-old Josie inhale her third peanut butter and jam on a hot dog bun sandwich.  That was her snack.  Hardly two hours ago, at lunch time, she ate a full hot dog on a bun, vegetables and dip, half a banana, a large handful of blackberries – for which she cried for more until I offered her a freezie.  Dammit, berries are too expensive right now to be eating cupfuls at a time.  (Especially when you multiply that by the 6 or 8 kids who are normally inhabiting my house during the day.)

say "cheese"!

Not my finest day for impressing healthy eating on my kids.  But what can I say, it’s grocery night.

I wish I could blame it on a growth spurt, but she eats such vast quantities pretty near all the time.  I wonder if I ever had a metabolism like my kids do.  No… they could have only gotten this from hubby’s side of the family – not the “big boned” German farming stock from my side.

Watching her eat like this, I sometimes find it terrifying to think that my kids could end up with weight problems.  We’re not junk food eaters, but that doesn’t seem to matter in my family.  My parents worked hard to instill a great love of healthy food in my brother and I, and while we’ve both always had a better than average level of fitness, I know it’s a struggle for the both of us to maintain a healthy weight (myself more than my brother, but I blame that on the fact that I’ve had 3 kids recently).

We just love to eat food.  Healthy food, yes, but even healthy food has calories and if you eat too much of it…

Food is happiness.  Many of my happiest memories of my family while growing up, were around the dinner table.  It was a safe place where we were all together, every single night.

In my family, it’s almost like we don’t have that “switch” in our brains that tells us we’re full.  Not until we’ve gorged ourselves and are at the point of pulling a Mr. Creosote  (… “It’s only a tiny little thin one.  It’s only wahfer thin.”).

I remember my first meals with my future in-laws.  I was incredibly hungry after dinner because, not wanting to look like a total pig, I only took as much food as everyone else did.  I was still a young 18 years old at the time (and a wee bit chubby, but I hadn’t yet grown out of whatever metabolism I did have) and I was extremely surprised by the smaller quantities of food being consumed.

I’ll never forget my shock as I realized that the portion sizes I had been consuming were significantly larger than what the average person needed.  I was also surprised that I didn’t keel over and die when I didn’t go back for seconds and that I still had some energy left over because it wasn’t all being wasted on processing the gargantuan amounts of food in my gut.

It was a lesson I was glad to learn early, since it wasn’t long before my body became very efficient at processing food.

So how do we prevent weight problems in our kids?  It’s something I’m very passionate about, and something that takes up a significant amount of my brain power.  Being overweight as a child brings about a whole host of problems.  Even if the child is only somewhat overweight, they will often have the same problems though there is a bit of a spectrum.

Overweight kids and teens very often have low self esteem.  It’s a vicious cycle – initially they have a hard time keeping up with other kids physically, which causes them to withdraw socially, which prevents them from actively participating, which usually exacerbates the problem (weight gain).  When the child withdraws socially, they are more susceptible to being teased and bullied and don’t have the self-esteem to properly deal with the attacks, which can lead to depression and more weight gain and eventually, health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes.  A vicious cycle.

Unless the child is very lucky, or the parent intervenes and makes a very serious attempt to rehabilitate the child, the result will often be an overweight, depressed teenager.  Being a teenager is torture enough without bringing in all that excess baggage (literally and figuratively).

Unfortunately, since the “obesity epidemic” has only become a popular cause for concern in the last decade or so, many parents who have children from my generation (a.k.a. the Clean-Your-Plate Generation, also a.k.a. the Snack Food Generation) didn’t have the necessary education or resources to identify that there was a problem at all (“It’s just baby fat – they’ll grow out of it”).  Those who did realize there was a problem, likely had no idea how to deal with it.  And so we have a whole generation of adults who have eating disorders, many of whom are passing those tendencies onto their kids.

And knowing all of this, how the heck do we help our kids?

Apart from feeding kids McDonald’s and junk snacks as infrequently as possible and offering a variety of healthy options, I personally think the key is exercise and activities. Even poor genetics can be mitigated once you’re aware of the problem.  Kids snack more when they are bored, so keeping them mentally challenged is important, as is putting them in sports at an early age to help increase their aerobic conditioning (their stamina and thus, their metabolisms).

Getting kids to exercise, who are not genetically predisposed (like my kids are) to having enormous reserves of energy from birth, is something that would be more of a challenge.  To parents with children who are, like I was as a child, more reserved and observant rather than “joiners”, I plead with you to be even more diligent when serving foods and make more effort to be a good role model for your kids.  Being active with your kids is probably the best way to encourage them to be active.  Take them for long walks, play sports with them, get them out of the house.  Every day.

I’m certainly not the pinnacle of perfect parenting, but I try my best to teach my kids to lead an active lifestyle.  I struggle every. single. day. to keep my kids busy and to help prevent them from having the same difficulties with weight and all its side effects, that I had.  I desperately hope that I succeed.  Because prevention is so much easier than rehabilitation.  That takes a lifetime.

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How do you measure love?

When I was young, I never imagined myself becoming a parent.  I couldn’t ever imagine being called “Mom”.  (Blech – can my kids call me Erin?)

If someone had asked if I wanted to have kids some day, they would have heard a resounding “NO!”  Thinking about it would trigger a fight or flight response that was geared heavily toward flight.  I imagined myself as not liking kids, when in reality I was only scared that I didn’t have the necessary skills to please them and teach them.  At the time, I probably didn’t.  I couldn’t see past my fear to realize there is a tremendous joy that can come from raising children.  All I could foresee was pain (physical and psychological pain) and limitations.

In 2003, when I was in college, my best friend (more of a sister now than a friend, really) had her first baby.  Watching her struggle to finish high school and her college degree, all while raising her daughter by herself with an amazing amount of patience and love, made me realize that having kids wasn’t the end of the world.  Life didn’t end; it simply transformed into something different.  Something scary, yes, but something that I could see might have the potential to be very rewarding.  In the far, far, way distant future.  Far far far distant, not even remotely near, capital-F, Future.

Annnnd, we all know how that went. Two seconds later, I was pregnant.

James was born in 2005 and that’s when I experienced true love for the first time.

Of course, I love and adore my husband (then-boyfriend).  I love my parents.  I love my friends.  I love my cat.  I love pretzels dipped in chocolate.  But, it’s not the same as the gut-wrenching, fever-inducing, endorphin-releasing love that one feels the first time they hold their little baby in their arms.

So how do you measure love?  Well, it isn’t a thing to be measured or contained, but if I could measure love it would have to be by the time I spend with my babies.

My name is Erin, and I’m addicted to love.  I’ve been high on it for 6 years now without pause.  Every time I see my son come off the bus from school, Love swallows me whole.  Every time Julia’s little knees dig into my back at night, Love swallows me whole; Every time Josie gives me her trademark grin; Every time they dress each other up in ridiculous costumes; Every time they fall asleep on the couch in contorted positions; Every time they draw “tattoos” on each other with markers, Love swallows me whole.  I have been permanently and completely altered.

Forever.

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I do it!

You’re in a grocery store.  Some pissed off toddler is screaming off in the distance.  You go about your business, but you notice an elderly couple looking in your general direction with a disapproving expression that seems to be saying “For the love of God make it stop!”    When you realize they are looking at you, you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut.  Suddenly everything comes into focus and you realize it’s your kid who is screeching at the top of their lungs.  Two feet away from you.

Fess up, I know I’m not the only one who has the uncanny ability to tune out their own kids screaming as easily as I can ignore my husband going on and on about microchips.  Blah blah blah.

I’m only reminded of these incidences because as I write this, Josie has been alternating between sharply screeching “MOM!  MOM! MOOOM!” and “I DOOOOOO ITTTTT!”  I’m pretty sure the decibal level of my girls’ screams would test somewhere in the range of an airplane taking off.  Or a freight train.  Or an AC/DC concert.  Do I feel compelled to react?  Not in the slightest.

What set her off?  She wanted to close the front door, and before I realized what she wanted, I had already done it.  So she started screaming, and I started giggling (partly because my defense mechanism against stress is to smile/giggle and partly because, well, her reaction is so over-the-top that it’s just damn funny.)  Then I started ignoring her.

Apart from my neighbors probably thinking I’m beating my kids, I think it’s pretty freakin’ hilarious.  She will slither across the floor screaming, one little hand reaching up to me… helplessly begging me to release her from this wave of sadness.  Just let me close the door… just an inch. Just a centimeter!  Please, mommy, please!

I have this policy where, if the kids start screaming, they do absolutely not get  what they want regardless of circumstance.  99% of the time I stick with it too.  Cheating on that policy is exclusively reserved for moments of extreme selfishness – like when I’m totally absorbed in a book and putting it down to discipline them is a physical impossibility.  They all know that’s precisely the moment to ask mommy for treats they aren’t normally allowed to have.

If someone shows me a better way to teach the baby to stop screaming (No band-aids please.  I’m all about short term pain for long term gain), I’m all ears.

In the meantime, I’ll be practicing my selective hearing and you’re probably going to be hearing a lot of dying cat sounds coming from my house.

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Victorious! Tales from the Potty Trenches.

Potty training.  Those  two words can break a mom or dad.  It’s one of those things that goes either incredibly easy or incredibly wrong, and you never know which side of the fence your kid is going to fall on.  We’ve been on both sides of the fence (on the “other” side twice), so I know firsthand how it feels not living up to some imaginary potty-training standard.

It’s confusing to  figure out which method of potty training suits your family best or where to even start.  All sorts of people feel the need to voice their two cents about it and succeed in confusing you even more.  Some will convince you that “potty learning” should come when the individual child is ready, which is generally somewhere between 2 and 3.5 depending on the kid.  Others are convinced “elimination communication” is the way to go – the earlier the better.  There’s the odd person who will flash disgusted looks if the child appears to be “too old” for diapers.  All their kids were potty trained before they were 2.  Certainly they could have done better.  You secretly feel it’s possible they are right.

Defecation in the sitting position, as used in...

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James was a tough dude.  Him being my first, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  We had a hard time communicating when he was young and I had a hard time being consistent.  My exhaustion level had peaked and I would let things slide when I should have been firm and I was sometimes too firm when I should have let things slide.  After 6 months of torture- peeing and pooping everywhere with absolutely no regard for where the stuff was supposed to go, him hiding to do his business and violently refusing to adhere to any sort of pottying schedule – not to mention the impressive volume of cleaning products we went through, he was finally peeing consistently on the potty just before he turned 3 and he was 4 months shy of 4 years old by the time he had finally decided he’d poop on the potty regularly.  I think I was a bit traumatized after that and I vowed to do it differently with my daughter.

By the time my son was finally fully day-trained, just over 3.5, I started potty training my baby daughter (just over one year and a half) for the second time.   I was so determined to potty train her and so convinced was I that the reason James was so “difficult” was because we started too late, that I started putting Julia on the potty at a mere 3 months old (hey, I never used to have the capacity to do things half-way).  She was a pottying prodigy right from the start, pooping every time on the potty and occasionally peeing and finally “fully trained” by just over one year old.  My confidence was restored.  I was Super-Mom and all other moms would be in awe of my mad skills.

Then, the stomach flu hit us hard.  Three days of being in diapers destroyed all our efforts and she had completely lost any recollection of how to go potty.  After a few weeks of serious effort trying to get back into it, I decided for her mental health and mine that we’d take a break.  Once Julia was 20 months, and I was 7 months pregnant with my third baby, we tried again.  We had barely achieved success when I gave birth to my second daughter, Josie.  Julia made an official declaration that she wasn’t a big girl anymore and stubbornly held to it.  She was a baby and babies wore diapers.  Shit.  She was fully day-trained, again and permanently this time, when she was a month shy of her third birthday.

When Josie (the youngest) was a baby, I professed loudly and to anyone who would listen that I was absolutely NOT potty training her.  Ever.  She was going to be in diapers until she was eight and I didn’t give two hoots who cared.  I had had it with potty training.  Forget it- it just wasn’t happening.  Of course, when she started running to me around 18 months, grabbing her diaper and screaming “poo poo” and started doing this consistently, I began to wonder if it might be different this time.  Neither James nor Julia ever communicated that they were going to the bathroom or that they needed to go to the bathroom.  It was only when they were able to do all the steps by themselves that they were finally house-broken.

Josie was 19 months when I decided to give it a shot.  Just one day… just to see.  That day I followed her around with a sippy cup filling her up with all her favorite fluids and set the timer for every 30 minutes.  Every time she sat on the potty I gave her (and her tag-along sister) a few chocolate chips.  Within a couple hours, she was peeing on the potty and we celebrated with a special treat.  I decided to continue the next day, and she added pooping to her repertoire.  After 3 days, even though I was still in total denial, I started setting the timer for every hour and she started coming to me when she needed to pee or poop.  After a week, I let her go play upstairs and she passed the test by coming down and finding me when she needed to potty.  She hasn’t worn a diaper during the day since then.

Hallelujah!  Victorious!

There isn’t any right or wrong way to potty train.  There are, however, easier ways and harder ways.  I’m no expert and I don’t profess to be, but from my experience my advice is as follows:

1) Start potty training for the right reasons.  Don’t buckle under the pressure of peers or family.  Do it because your child is ready.  Don’t postpone it if you’re afraid or nervous.  Do postpone it if there has been undue stress in the family (moving, new baby, etc.) or if there’s any other reason why you won’t be able to commit your full attention to the task at hand.  Do plan your potty training strategy and don’t do it on a whim.

2)  In my opinion, the child is ready when they can hold their urine for at least a couple hours at a time, are showing some interest in the potty and can communicate enough to say (or sign) “pee” or “poo”.

5)  Start with the right expectations.  Expect to spend a great deal of time at home for the first week.  This is not something that can be done part-time if you want to be successful.  Expect to be attached to your child’s hip for a week or more.  Expect to create and enforce a strict schedule- for the child and for yourself.  If you’re not a “schedule person”, you’ll have to change that for at least a couple weeks so start preparing mentally.

3)  Fill them up full of as much fluid as you can, as often as you can.  It’ll help their bladder mature faster (able to retain more fluids for longer periods of time) and the more times they pee during the day, the more likely they’ll have success.

4)  Always start with half-hour intervals (don’t forget to set the timer!) and even then, expect accidents.  Once the child is accident-free for a day or two, move to one hour intervals.

5)  Start them off naked from the bottom down.  Do not deviate from this when at home.  Gradually you can start adding clothes, first underwear, then pants, then socks and shoes, then outerwear.  Do not be tempted to skip any of the steps before the child is totally consistent with the previous step or they will start peeing/pooping in their underwear and pants and it can become habit.  Not fun to break those, trust me.  If you need to leave the house, use a diaper or training pants, but bring the child to the potty on a half-hour schedule until they are your able to fully trust they can hold it for longer.  Oh, and don’t forget your potty seat.

4) Do a reward system.  I did chocolate chips but if you’re against food rewards, stickers can work (but seriously, chocolate works better).  Give the child a reward every time they sit on the potty, whether they actually produce or not.  Gradually you can wean them off the reward.

6)  Good luck!

If you have any advice or comments for parents who are potty training or your own potty story to share, feel free to leave them below.

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I may not be the perfect mom, but I am SuperMom

 

Yes, it’s true.  I’ve been trying to hide my identity all these years.

For a long time I thought the title of SuperMom was exclusively reserved for those Moms who fit back into their pre-pregnancy clothes upon returning from the hospital; The Moms whose babies slept through the night within the first few months; The Moms who have never blanked out on a doctor’s appointment; The Moms who have the prettiest cupcakes for the bake sale, who find the time to have a shower every day, whose kids were reciting Shakespeare in kindergarten, whose kids have never tasted the delight of nitrates nor the rapture of msg.  I.e.  Not me.  Let’s just say, there have been times where I’ve considered buying stock in Kraft and Schneider’s.

There were a lot of growing pains.  Parenting “mistakes” caused by overconfidence and callousness, by boredom and, yes, laziness.  I’ve occasionally spent more time absorbed in a book, allowing the kids to run rampant, than I’d care to admit.  My dishes aren’t always cleaned as quickly as they ought to be and the clothes have often sat too long in the dryer before being folded – hell, when Josie (nearly two) was a baby I didn’t even bother folding them.  They got sorted and were lucky if they made it into the drawers!

But, it’s a process.  When James (now six years old) was a baby, I was much more slovenly that I am now and I imagine six years down the road I’ll be that much more tidy and organized than I am now.  As most parents do, I work hard for my kids.  We put in the time, day and night, for our kids to have the best lives we can give them.  For me and most other moms and dads, parenting is less about how clean my house is, less about how pretty I look on a given day, less about being the most organized homemaker on the block, less about having genius babies and more about just simply having fun and being good role models for our kids.  It’s about running when you feel like sitting; about hardening yourself and letting them cry, even in front of strangers, if it means being a shrewd disciplinarian; it means being as consistent as you can be, even when every bone in your body screams otherwise.  So why are we so hard on ourselves?  Well, I believe the goal is perfection (a lofty goal indeed).  Who can argue that our kids deserve less than perfection?  Since perfection is an impossible goal, we can only settle for constant and consistent improvement.

I figure, if every single day I talk to my kids… I mean really talk to them and get to understand their innermost feelings; if I get down on the floor to play with them and let them use me as a jungle gym; if I put music on and dance like a maniac with them; if I read them a book or two and sing a few songs, snuggle with them, feed them reasonably healthy foods, encourage socialization and keeping an active lifestyle, if I discipline them as required…  If I do all these things and make a point to do them every day, and if I continue to discipline myself to improve as a parent, wife and human being, then yes, I am SuperMom.  And you probably are too.  (Unless, of course, you’re SuperDad.)

There’s no such thing as a perfect parent.   Here’s to hoping our kids forgive us for the majority of our parenting sins.

P.S.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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