Archive for the ‘
Potty Talk ’ Category
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
You may recall that for some insane reason, I decided to start potty training our then-26-month-old toddler, Roy, when Vera was just two months old. It’s a long road. And we’re still on it—we still use diapers or training pants during naps and at night. Who knew potty training could be such a drawn-out process? Roy really is doing an incredible job, though, and I’m super proud of him.
Here are my key toilet-training takeaways thus far.
1) (Don’t) Push to Start. Too much, that is. I admit, I didn’t like the idea of having two in diapers. But more important than that, Roy had shown an interest in using the big potty for a very long time. In fact, he’d almost trained himself months earlier. My hunch was that making it an Official Fun Event would psych him up for making the plunge. It did. But it was still hard. I can’t imagine what it would be like with serious resistance.
2) Start Strong. We made getting him to the potty the focus of every waking moment over a long weekend. For three straight days, we pumped him full of liquids, made frequent potty trips, and enthusiastically cheered each success. We didn’t leave the house the first day, went on only a short walk the second and took a longer walk on the third. This tactic very clearly laid the groundwork for what was to come, while showing Roy that he was well equipped to handle it.
3) Go Naked. Roy spent those three days naked below the belt so he could easily potty on his own and quickly turn accidents around. We continued the nakedness at home for weeks after that. Now, months later, he wears shorts or underwear, but rarely both. We’re getting there.
4) Keep Rewards Simple. We started out with different amounts of fruit snacks for #1 and #2 as well as an elaborate sticker chart that earned him larger prizes. It was too much. Choose a reward that’s simple, quick and highly motivating for your kid. If it’s not something sugary to eat, even better. I’ve a friend whose daughter goes gaga over stickers, for example, so she used those. Maybe that reward chart would work for you. Roy was obsessed with fruit snacks, which he rarely got. We streamlined our reward system to one for #1 and two for #2, then slowly phased even those out.
5) Customize Accident Reaction. I read where you’re supposed to put on a serious, mad face over accidents. Roy’s sensitive and fairly hard on himself, so instinct told me that doing so would only stress the poor kid out. Instead, we assured him that accidents happen and pumped him up to make the next time a success. Another child may benefit from a stern talking to. Accident reaction—the entire potty-training process, for that matter—is not one-size-fits-all. Only you know what tactics will best help your kid.
6) Be Patient. Running to the toilet every five minutes to grunt magnificently over a drop or two of pee is super cute at first. At bedtime, however, a half-a-friggen-hour of that cuteness gets old quick. Remember, he’s mastering a brand new skill. Whether it’s frequent bathroom trips, camping out for eons on the potty or simply moving through the entire toileting process at a glacial pace, this will not go quickly. Stress will only make things worse for both of you. Build extra time into the schedule; devise fun, creative ways to speed things up (Set a timer! Woo-hoo!); and prepare to be infinitely patient. Deep breaths, my friend.
7) Go Public. Before the big day, we were out running errands and Roy kept asking where the bathroom was. After awhile, it dawned on us that with all this talk about using the big potty, little guy wanted to see how that might go down outside of our home. We started making a point of showing him public toilets when we were out and about. It was a disgusting truth at times, but a truth nonetheless.
8) Port a Potty. We regularly brought his little toilet with us on the road at first. No worries about whether or not there was a toilet nearby. Again, setting him up for success. Bonus: It helped avoid some of the aforementioned disgustingness.
9) Stay the Course. As I said up top there, it’s a long road—not three days, and you’re done. Good days will be followed by bad days. Roy’s gone weeks accident-free, only to pee on the carpet twice in one day. When that happens, part of me wants to buy a pack of diapers and call the whole thing off. Instead, we look at the big picture to see if we can’t pinpoint the problem (daycare difficulties, new sibling-induced neediness, etc.), address that as best we can, then attack toilet training with new vigor for a few days.
10) Plan for Positivity. Take a picture of his proud little big boy face and gaze at it. Give yourself a potty prize. Have a plan ready, to use during kick-off and when setbacks occur, for achieving positivity by any means necessary. Again, stress helps no one. I’ve found that a dirty martini after the kids are in bed, however, does.
Anything to add?
Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
Things have been a little nutty around here. I’ve started working again. We’ve been sick off and on. We hosted a little Easter gathering. Somebody got a big boy bed. I set my phone on top of my car and drove off without realizing it until someone called Clint to say they found it on a busy street a few miles from our home.
Surprise, surprise, it suddenly stopped working one week later. So Vera and I buzzed out to the Mall of America, where we spent an inordinate amount of time in Verizon, taking nursing breaks on the bench outside the store until little girl finally refused to go back in. Outside on the bench: No crying. Step foot in the store: Screaming bloody murder. I totally understood. We wrapped up the transaction in the shopper-packed hallway of the third floor west rotunda of America’s largest mall.
On a whim, I switched from a Droid to the new iPhone, largely because of the camera. (I’m embarrassed to admit that the car/phone incident isn’t uncharacteristic, so I got a LifeProof case, plus replacement insurance through Best Buy for just $15—did you know they offered that for so cheap?? I was shocked.) Now I’m one of those iPhone people. Check me out:
I am often diggin’ Instagram.
Oh, and we have a two-month-old. And decided now was a good time to start pottytraining the toddler. Why yes, I do believe I am slightly insane, thank you very much.
Roy is doing awesome, though. We kick-started the process with the three-day method inspired by Julie Fellom’s Diaper Free Toddlers Program, wherein you let your child run around naked from the waist down and just make getting to the potty on time the main focus of your very existence for those three days. The idea being that this initial focus will lay the groundwork for greater success in the weeks to come.
The potty part he had down in a jif. In fact, now that I think about it, I do not believe he’s had one accident involving #1. #2 has been a little more difficult. Just a little, though. He’s somewhat reluctant about it, meaning that we need to be extra positive and encouraging when we see silent crouching, “the face,” and other signs he has to go. (We also upped the reward. Multiple fruit snacks AND a matchbox car, what what?)
In fact, it went so well over that three-day weekend that I didn’t even think to get nervous about having that Monday, Day 4, alone with the kids. It started out as it usually does, with all three of us lingering in bed too long, then eating a leisurely breakfast too late. We went on to play trucks and read some books, then we broke out the play-doh.
We were having so much fun that I lost track of time and let play-doh time inch into lunchtime, which therefore looked to delay naptime. This is not a good thing on a normal day, but to a kid whose world is being thoroughly rocked by the pressure of trying to time his bowel movements so that they end up in that white thing in the bathroom, it’s an emotional disaster waiting to happen. When my statement that I was going to start lunch was met by wide-open-mouth wailing and alligator tears, the delicate nature of my situation suddenly struck me. Newborn sleeping in a sling strapped to my chest, plus hungry, tired pottytraining toddler. Not good.
Of course the play-doh clean-up process and lunch took twice as long due to a few minor breakdowns, and of course I was somewhat harried and on edge, despite my best efforts to remain calm. Then just as we’re about to head upstairs for naptime, Roy runs over to the potty and poops, no drama whatsoever. I couldn’t have been more proud if he’d won a Pulitzer. “Great job, hon!” I said. “Now hold on so we can wipe.”
And that’s when his eyes met mine, and I could see that little devilish twinkle sparkling amid the exhaustion and overstimulation, the twinkle that wins at times like these when everyone has been pushed to the edge. “Roy, no-no-no. You stay right here,” I said in my best Serious Mom voice. It was all I had.
It wasn’t enough. He ran off, naked butt peeking out from under his striped t-shirt, giggling that strung out tired-toddler giggle-screech, heading straight for the couch. “Roy, stop right now!” I tried, speed-walking after him, clutching Vera’s warm, sleeping body. He laughed as he scrambled up on the couch, butt-planting down into the tan cushions before scrambling further and butt-planting it again. And again. And again.
All I can say is, thank god for Bac-Out. And the fact that I paid extra for fabricguard. We cleaned it up together, Roy excitedly declaring, “Oh! More poop!” every time he discovered a spot I’d missed. I was significantly less thrilled.
In related news, I am happy to report that we seem to have had a #2 breakthrough last weekend. Fingers crossed it sticks. We’re on Day Three accident free.
So yeah, it’s been a little nutty around here. Is it crazy that I love it, poop cleanup and all?
Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
Look who’s wearing big boy undies.
Not often, and not for long, but we’re practicing. Gearing up for our three-day-weekend potty training extravaganza, scheduled to begin next Friday.
Changing a newborn’s diaper pushed me over the edge. Once I had something to compare it to, I realized Roy’s bum had grown huge over the last couple of years. And his poops. They’re practically man-sized.
Plus, on a daily basis, he disappears into a corner and turns quiet with concentration, and when we ask what he’s doing he says, “I’m pooping.” And when we ask if he’d like to do so on the toilet, he simply refuses. It’s just so purposeful. Quite the opposite of the helpless baby on the other side of the room, grunting and wriggling and unselfconsciously expelling large quantities of bright yellow liquid into her teensy diaper.
Enough is enough.
Clearly I’m ready. Outside of often refusing to #2 on the toilet, he seems ready. Pees on the toilet several times a day and exhibits extreme pride over his Thomas and friends undies, as well as a desire to keep them nice and dry. When we were out scouting big boy beds at Ikea last weekend, he kept asking Clint to take him into the bathroom—not to potty, mind you. Just to suss the situation out. See what he was signing up for.
So next Friday, we’re starting our pants-free potty training weekend. Just me and my mom, two potty chairs, lots of water and one toddler, naked from the waist down. It’s a version of Julie Fellom’s Diaper Free Toddlers Program. We call it The Potty Train. All aboard!
Monday, January 23rd, 2012
My story on cloth diapering appeared in the January issue of Parents magazine. It’s called Diaper Decisions, and it’s on page 78 (or you can read it here). If you’re at all considering cloth diapering your baby, check it out. I did lots of research, interviewed lots of experts and boiled the whole topic down to the basics. Which was surprisingly hard. But when I think back to my own route to using cloth diapers, it shouldn’t have been that surprising.
My first pregnancy, I was very overwhelmed at the idea of having a baby. Terrified, even. Not only did I have no clue about what it would mean to my day-to-day life—time, money, work, social life, generally moving about the world—but babies apparently required incredible amounts of stuff. There were lists and lists of things we “needed” to have. I approached each item with skepticism. If I determined we did, in fact, need it, the next question sprang up: Which one? There are tons of strollers out there. Tons of high chairs, bibs, clothes, lotions, burp cloths, toys, cribs, mattresses, changing tables… the list goes on. Each has pros and cons and varying price points. It’s truly exhausting.
Cloth diapers? Especially exhausting. A new parent has no frame of reference. Some people like one kind for reason, others like another kind for another reason. Who knows where you’ll fall? Eventually, I just gave up. There wasn’t enough space in my brain, and the pile of gifted boxes of disposables was growing. I figured they would last me until I could better sort things out.
They disappeared sooner than I imagined, of course, and when they did, I bought more. It felt like the easy choice.
Then a friend gave me a full set of prefolds and covers. I tried them. I stayed with them. After a full wear-wash round, the intimidation factor disappeared. I got it. It wasn’t that hard. I was saving money and helping the environment. Finally. (Edited to add: Possibly helping the environment. Experts disagree as to which is more eco-friendly, cloth or disposable.)
Full disclosure: I did not keep up with cloth diapering. It got more difficult as Roy grew older due to the range of food. Meaning: The poop situation was too much for me and my washing machine. It’s worth noting that this may not have been a problem had I gone with a diaper service. Also, I’m thinking of re-introducing them, as I hear it might aid in potty training. We’ll see.
I do, however, plan to start the little girlie out in cloth diapers—the same ones Roy wore—and continue with them as long as possible.
If you’re thinking of going cloth, here are a few quick pieces of starter advice:
1) Invest in a just few different kinds for a test run. An all-in-one (such as Bum Genius) or two, and a prefold/cover situation. If even a few sound like too much $$ to plop down, know that some stores, such as DiaperJunction.com, offer 30-day trials. Or, buy a few used off Craigslist.
2) Consider a diaper service. If you have that option, of course. If you’re serious about it, it could keep you in the game longer. Diaper services provide the cloth part, and you provide the cover, so you are saving money—up front and by likely not caving and buying disposables down the road. If you don’t use a service, I’ve heard that diaper sprayers (which attach to your toilet) help in the #2 department.
3) You don’t have to go all or nothing. Even in the thick of cloth diapering, we still used disposables at night and for longs periods of time out and about.
Any questions? Advice? Comment away!
Oh, and one more thing…. if you’re going cloth diaper, you might as well use cloth wipes. They’re super soft and inexpensive. Here’s my wipes solution recipe:
2 c water (optional: steep with an herbal tea, such as chamomile)
2 t oil (I use olive, but feel free to experiment)
2 t liquid baby soap
a few drops essential oil, such as lavender or tea tree (optional)
Combine all ingredients. Spray on cloth wipe, or directly on baby’s cute little bum.
Image: Stack of Diapers Isolated on White Background via Shutterstock
Thursday, September 8th, 2011
We got our doggie—what my friend Jen aptly termed our “practice mammal”—five years ago. We fell for the little black-and-white fuzzball instantly, naming her Nico because I have a thing for The Velvet Underground. Nico deserves credit for instigating our most beloved family routine, evening walks.
It was such a foreign thing at first, leaving home in order to walk around the neighborhood behind an animal in the hopes that it might poop. Even odder was picking that poop up, securing it inside a little plastic bag and then carrying that bag with me as I continued to walk. Those first few outings, I could think of little outside of, I am right this instant holding my dog’s poop. I’d see other dog-walkers and for the first time, it hit me: They’re all carrying poop. Little did I know that becoming a dog owner also made me a member of the Turd-Carriers Club, legions of folks who routinely mill about the world with their beloved canine’s fecal material on their person. I knew that technically, it fell within the bounds of “normal,” but I still had the distinct feeling that it shouldn’t.
Flash forward five years, and I no longer think about the fact that I’m toting poop. It’s old hat. Yesterday’s news. My name is Berit, and on a daily basis, I carry my dog’s poop. Actually, now that I have a kid, on a daily basis I not only carry poop, I wipe up poop, hope for poop, plan for poop and cheer for poop. It’s a fact of life. A stinky, disgusting fact of life.
In all honesty, I don’t have to pick it up much anymore. In this house, being pregnant and therefore constantly on the verge of puking gets you out of poop duty. Now, on our nightly walks, Clint pushes the stroller and I walk the dog, and when Nico stops to do her business, I call out, “Pooper!” so Clint can turn the stroller around and scoop.
The other night we were on a walk, and for the millionth time I watched Nico do her thing—circle and sniff, then hunch over, all four paws nearly touching, with a look of slightly embarrassed forced nonchalance on her little doggie face. It’s hard to blame her. What if you were expected to poop out in the open, in front of the mailman and everyone, on a daily basis? I’ve had that thought before. I know I can’t be the only one.
Maybe I was overly giddy at finally starting to feel better. Maybe I’ve grown a little too comfortable with poop. Maybe I’ve simply lost my mind. But that evening, for whatever reason, I called out, “Pooper!” then proceeded to mimic Nico’s poop-pose right there on an unknown neighbor’s front lawn.
Yes, I did.
On two legs, not four, but I do believe I had the hunch and the face down pat. And as I waited for Clint to turn my way, I heard laughter coming from behind me. Meaning from the direction of the home to which the yard belonged. Luckily, this was a homeowner who did not get irate at the sight of a pregnant woman, family in tow, mock-pooping on her lawn.
“Of course you saw that,” I said, relaxing back into a normal stance.
“At least you’re picking it up,” she countered, as my knight in shining armor swooped and scooped.
Touché. Yeah, it’ll be a while before we take that route again.