Help! It’s Potty Training Time!

With every milestone and every new accomplishment done we, as parents, feel relieved and proud that our babies are moving smoothly from one stage to the other. The minute we finish with one achievement we start thinking of the following one. Potty training could be the most tedious and stressful deed to parents, especially if the child is not ready for it yet.

Our society puts a lot of pressure on the parents and the child where they expect him to be potty trained as earlier as possible.  While some toddlers accomplish this task at around 24 months, others struggle and might even continue wearing a diaper till the age of 4 years.

In the French system, for example, if a 3 year old child has continuous accidents in the classroom, he/she would have to stay at home until he/she is potty trained. The American system on the other hand does not accept students below the age of four where they can guarantee that this phase has been done and over with.

Friends, relatives, and grandparents start with their nosy questions as to whether or not the child still wears a nappy. As a mother – especially a first time mommy – you might feel overwhelmed and wonder what you need to do to help your child get rid of the diaper as fast as possible.  And so you start surfing the net and you try all those magical steps of 7 Easy Ways to Potty Training or Successful Potty Training in 3 Days etcetera..

  
I will be telling you about that issue as a mom of five and how different the experience was with each one of them.

Girls are potty-trained earlier than boys, and most people relate it due to the physical development of a girl where she can feel that she is having a bowel movement. This does not really apply to all children as my second son was potty trained at 13 months of age. Yes that early! So there is an exception to every rule.

First of all, as a parent you should know that there is no perfect or correct age for potty training. Each child is different and his/her readiness depends on biological, psychological, and emotional factors. It is very significant to know that the age when the child masters potty training has nothing to do with intelligence or future abilities as many parents suppose.

You can try pre-potty training simply to encourage your child and to have him/her get used to the idea. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the child will be trained faster.

With my first son, I was delighted when he started showing signs at 15 months and I took advantage of the situation and encouraged him. After a few weeks of consistent practice, I thought we made it. Unfortunately, for some reasons, he regressed and started having accidents, and then he simply stopped thinking about going to the toilet all together.

I tried everything my hands came on to have him proper again, but my trials went in vain. First of all, I tried around five different styles of potties until I came across one that looked like a giraffe and was very practical for boys. Then, I bought him a very interesting book named The Potty Book For Boys by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. The book included a stuffed toy boy who had a diaper along with his teddy, and a potty. We used to read the story, act it out using the characters, and try to follow in with the steps in real life.

potty book

When that approach was not very successful, I printed out charts for him and had a sticker every time we succeeded in avoiding accidents. He soon got bored of all those stickers.

chart

I felt frustrated that I even tried bribing him with M&M’s and candy, but my son would not collaborate. Here, it is important to mention that as a new mom I didn’t know any better, but bribing, especially with candy, is not a proper parenting method as it communicates the message that it is acceptable to eat unhealthy stuff – but that is beyond the scope of this article.

At that time, my second son was almost four months, I knew I was simply putting a lot of pressure on myself and on him, and this had to stop. Otherwise, I would go crazy. Eventually, my elder son succeeded in wearing underpants again even though he continued to have a few accidents every now and then. Note that he had a dry diaper all night ever since he was 15 months of age. This helped me in understanding that he had no physical weakening in controlling himself and that helped me realize that he simply needed more time.

With my second and third boys, I didn’t even consider putting the anxious effort in trying to have them potty trained. They both looked up to their brother and took the good habit from him. Of course, I set a schedule where I would gently remind them to sit on the potty for a wee every half an hour, and from their facial expressions I could tell when there was a bowel movement. 

  

So we would simply rush again to the toilet. Seeing how their brother made it to the toilet made them realize the concept early, and once a child is ready to be potty trained it usually takes a week or even less.

Nowadays, I am at a stage where I could potty train my twins, and the differences in readiness to be clean are astonishing. For instance, my baby girl started to show me signs that she needs to poo when she was around 10 months of age, where as her twin brother doesn’t even care if he takes a wee anytime and anywhere he feels like it.

The bottom line behind this article is to tell you my dear readers that the more worried we are about parenting stuff, the harder and more complicated things get. By nature, God has perfectly created this astounding machine, which we call the human body. If we truly understand our children’s development and we know where their level of maturity and readiness are, we will help them accomplish great milestones with pleasure.

In summary, I can brief it down to the following points:

  • Yes you will have accidents.
  • Yes you will feel frustrated when the floors are clean and then your child feels that it is the best place to have his bowel movement take place right there.
  • Be consistent and set a certain schedule for the child as it might help. For example, a mom can start by having the child sit in the mornings on his/her potty until the child feels he/she does not want to sit anymore. She can try again around noon time if the first trial was not successful.
  • At the beginning it is quite difficult and you feel that the only two words you use often are pee and poo. But that is only natural and part of growing up.
  • Praise your child for succeeding but do not exaggerate.
  • Do not show your frustration as kids are smart and they know how to take advantage of this amusing situation.
  • Do not be affected by the society’s harsh comments, “Oh my he still wears a nappy!!” They only make you feel bad about yourself and your child.

girl on potty

In conclusion, you are the only person whom your child looks up to. In delicate situations you need to be spiritually positive about it. Note however, if you have any doubts and feel that there is a physical or psychological hindrance, do not hesitate to consult your paediatrician or seek any other professional help.

What is something you wish you knew about potty training? It would be interesting to know about your experience on this matter as we can always learn from each other. 

On the Internet there are many helpful sites that you can check. 

Below is a link to an entertaining song called the “Potty Song” which I came across;

www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoAMgjAmCdw

And for more details on potty training check this website which I found helpful for parents:

www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/ages-stages/toddler-preschooler-development-parenting/potty-training-guidelines

sticker image taken from: familycrafts.about.com

girl on potty: ehow.com

How Can A Mom of 5 Manage Her Time?

When people know that I am a mom of five, I always get a wide eyed look, a shock, and then the very famous question, “How do you manage?”
It is true that I have a lot to do, and many are the times where I feel overwhelmed with my duties. But I am not the only one. With so many things on mind, we as moms of this generation are bewildered with our tight schedules and our children’s jammed timetables.  We always have something to be realized, and we feel mortified if we do not achieve our goals, thinking that we are no longer super moms.

The fact, however, is that we should come to good terms with ourselves and learn to accept the idea that it is impossible to have everything done the way we visualize things. I am not saying that we should give up on our dreams. In contrast, we should always seek on attaining new objectives and improving ourselves, but to do that we need to manage our time efficiently so that we reach them smoothly, and with as much less stress as possible. The key to all of this is set in a person’s mind, and that is what I actually do.

SET YOUR PRIORITIES:

Having a clear idea on what your priorities are, facilitates a person’s living. By doing so, you are able to put value to your target and know where to start from. For example, if I am planning on having a party for my child, my main focus will be on the event itself. I try not to commit myself to any other social obligation as there will always be time for any other social event.

After all, time is mental since we create it, and a person can manage anything he creates. Once you believe in this, you will never use words like, “there is no time,”, “I am very busy,” “this is not the right moment,” etcetera. With your priorities set, you can then visualize when the good time to move on to another goal is. Moreover, a mom can decide what priorities she wants in her life, and it could range from her children and family, to work and social activities.

priority

MULTI-TASKING:

As women, God has granted us with a special skill of multi-tasking, where we can answer the phone, stir the pasta in the pot, and check on our toddler who is having some fruits in his high-chair. In fact, due to this unique characteristic, we can achieve a lot of our “to do” list. We should make good use of this skill, yet we should not abuse it. After all, we need to be able to carry on with our responsibilities. That is why when I feel that I cannot commit myself to something which I am unable to do well, I simply do not do it.

multi tasking mom

BE ORGANIZED:

Organization is the key to success. Having things under hand facilitates my work and helps me in managing my schedule. Whether it is a mental or a physical organization, having things in place, saves time and opens doors to new experiences. I usually assign main chores with clear instructions to the members of my family and this insures the fluidity of managing my house in a systemised manner.
There are many ways where order, neatness, and efficiency can be attained at home. For example, I set the menu of the week over the weekend, post a ready-made grocery list on the fridge, and have extra chicken stock and cooked vegetables in the freezer. By doing so, we will not need to go the supermarket more than once in order to do our grocery shopping. Hence, we gain some time.  There are millions of interesting ideas on the web that show you how you can organize your household, from toys, to kitchen utensils, etcetera. Check out this link for an efficient grocery list builder:  www.kidspot.com.au/shoppinglist/ShoppingList.asp

organization

JOT OR DRAW YOUR PLANS:

If you are a visual person, jotting down your notes or even drawing your ideas and thoughts, helps you to attain your objectives easily. If for example, I am redecorating my living room, I draw a sketch on how I visualize it. This facilitates in applying my plans the way I imagined them to be. Moreover, I will purchase items that are needed instead of buying a lot of stuff which I might later discover as useless.

LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE:

That inner voice is our intuition. As I mentioned earlier, once your body tells you that you need to stop and have a break, do that. We can not continue working in the same rhythm if we exceed our capacities. We always need to push the restart button every once in a while. It is absolutely normal and human to feel that you are not in the mood of being active every single day.

ESTABLISH A ROUTINE:

Even though routines and schedules seem tedious and tiring, but they make things structured. As mentioned before, the better the organization the more effective the time management is.Your routine is also controlled by you, and it is up to you whether it is boring, interesting, strict, fun, cultivating, or enlightening.  Routine establishes order, and with order things move smoothly. As a mom of five, I am assertive and flexible at the same time. I always remind myself to be flexible and accept sudden changes. It is important to go with the flow and learn to adjust quickly to any new transformations.

routine

Get Help:

Having someone to help in doing the household chores, facilitates a mom’s life. Recently, I have been having an amazing French teen-ager who comes once a week and stays with the twins. Meanwhile, I can spend some quality time with my third son, who seems to be missing those days together. The elder two boys have homework, so they will be working on it. It is also helpful if you can hire a teacher who might help in finishing up a few assignments and preparations. We  have also adopted this option this year, so I can be free to be with the rest of my children and spend some fun time together.

DO IT WITH PLEASURE:

Whatever I perform, I accomplish it with pleasure. Whether I am baking, changing my baby’s diaper, tying my boy’s shoe lace, or even helping my son with his school project, I do it with pleasure and try my best to live that moment. By time, I do hope that this will become my innate nature and it is known that once a person finds pleasure in the things he/she is doing, he/she will attract positivity and feel contented. I know that it is hard to be attained, but it is not impossible.

pleasure image quote

Helping Children Deal with Fear

We all get scared or frightened at a moment in time. There are some things that we fear when we are very young and we face other fears as we grow up. To be free from fright is not easily attained, but coping with fear and overcoming it needs skills and practice. Helping our children overcome their fears at an early stage of their lives facilitates things for them later on in the future.

Children are afraid of many things and then it transforms according to age. This is a list of what they might worry about when they are alone;

Fear of the dark, bugs, not being popular, hospitals, vaccinations, doctors, nightmares, being rejected, failure, of being away from parents, school, teachers, and the list goes on.

I have listed some of the ideas that we implement and others that I have come across.  Here it is important to note that my husband plays a wonderful role in thoroughly discussing these issues with the boys. I strongly recommend that dads be involved with the children’s psychological fears as it helps them in accepting their emotions with no shyness.

Let your child decide:

It is very normal that your child would want to avoid doing something that scares him. At that point it is not healthy to push the child or force him into doing what he fears the most. You would not help. In contrast, you make him become a person who cannot face his fears, and agrees to do things he is not convinced of. When my child refused to go down the slide in the water park, I told him that if he does not feel like doing so, it is ok. However, I explained that I am sure he will enjoy it if he gives it a try, especially because it is safe and secure. Ten minutes later, I hear him shouting to me from the top of the slide, “Maman, watch me!” He has decided to take the risk after all and face his fear. I simply guided him through it.

  

 Understand your child’s fears:

Talk to your children about the things that they fear the most. Ask them, “What makes you feel scared? How do you feel about it? What can you do to make it less fearful?” etcetera.

I have once came across a superb idea where the child, along with the parent, develop a Fear Thermometer stating what they fear the most to the least, ranging from 0 to 10. Having them visualize the fear make things easier for them to surmount it.

When I did the thermometer with my third boy, he proudly said that he is not afraid of anything. So I directed our conversation towards a few points and he then said that he would give a 10 for the fear of being lost. I told him that I would also put a 10 if I lose him. It was a good occasion to review the steps we have discussed before in case we get lost. The most important one is that we should not freak out and try to be able to tell the security or police man who I am and what my parents’ phone number is.

Drawing the fear helps tremendously as the child would be able to realize that it has to do more with his thoughts rather than reality. In fact, it is never too early to guide our children in learning about mind control.

Set specific goals:

Once your child is aware of his fears, he can set goals that help him overcome them. You can always start with the ones that cause the least anxiety, and have him decide that during this month we will work on overcoming the fear from the dark which I have experienced myself when I was around six years oldAt first, my mom simply went with me into the dark rooms and showed me that there is nothing to be afraid of. She continued to accompany me the first few times, and thenstarted to wait for me at the door where I would turn on the light fetch the things I need then turn it off and leave. Finally, she asked me to try to go alone. I remember that I used to come back running as she would be standing for me at the end of the long corridor. She then would thoroughly discuss it with me to see how things went and what I felt. Soon I realized that it was all in my imagination. 

  


Be patient and show empathy

Overcoming fear takes time and patience. If your child senseyour empathy, he will know that he is not alone in this situation. You can share incidents about how you were also scared at certain times in life. It is very important that you as parent not to ignore or make fun of the fear the child is facing. After all, you are his sanctuary and support system. You do not want to increase his anxiety or lower his self-esteem in addition to the troubled feelings he already has.

Be realistic:

Talking about fear is important, but at the same time it should not create a trauma for the child. He has to know that there are always scary events going on, but at the same time he needs to learn that they should continue to live normally and enjoy their time by not focusing on a specific fear. We always make them realize the importance of being cautious especially when it comes to talking to strangers for example, but we make sure they are not overwhelmed by their fears.

Almost a year ago, the boys were spellbound by the “Bloody Mary” image and asked us if she exists. Apparently, they have been told that they can summon her in a very dark toilet. So we all went into the toilet and followed the steps the boys told us to do, and they realised that there are fears which the mind creates and sets boundaries to our peacefulness.

Read Stories:

Reading books takes the child into a world of imagination and creativity. Many lessons can be attained through these books. Having books that discuss fear is an excellent way of tackling the issue.

“Can’t you Sleep Little Bear?” by Martin Wadell is an amazing story that talks about overcoming fear of the dark.

  

“What a Bad Dream” by Mercer Mayer talks about dealing with nightmares.

  

Our boys do have the tendency to come during the night saying that they have had a nightmare. At that moment, we allow them to snuggle between us. Being close to the parents at night gives the child the comfort and security he needs even if you are deeply sleeping.

With children, there will always be surprises and challenges to explore and investigate.  Communication is the best key that leads to exploring what goes on inside their smart little minds.

Peanut Butter Cookies

The never ending cravings of peanut butter reside proudly in our household. Last week, one of the boys was sick and had to stay at home for about a week. We had to make some interesting activities. So when he asked me to bake him peanut butter cookies, I made sure he will participate  and we enjoy the baking together. I surfed the net, checked a few recipes here and there and came out with not a very healthy recipe but a tasty, chewy, and fullfiling one.

Ingredients:

2 eggs 

1 cup soft brown sugar

1/2 cup caster sugar

3/4 cup melted butter

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 and a 1/2 cup flour

1/2 a teaspoon baking soda

1/2 a teaspoon baking powder 

Peanut butter chips

Chocolate chips 

  
Method:

Heat the oven.

Beat the eggs with a pinch of vanilla.
Add the sugars and continue to mix well.

Add the butter. Then the peanut butter.

Fold in the the flour, baking soda and baking powder.  

Fill half of an ice cream scoop with the batter and pour it over a baking tray covered with wax paper.

The batter will spread alone. Add a few peanut butter and chocolate chips on each.

  
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and enjoy every bite.