Hey all! Yet again, I’ve been MIA. This time I’ve been stuck down the rabbit hole that is potty training, something that has literally consumed my life for the last two weeks. But since I am finally writing again, I guess it’s safe to say we’re making progress! Today I’m going to share some of my reflections on all things potty training, plus another thing I couldn’t help compare the potty training experience to: sleep training. Then I’m going to share some new podcasts I’ve been digging lately because they (along with some quick HIIT workouts) have literally kept me sane lately!
Before I get started, I want to share a link to the second piece I wrote for the blog Swaddles n’ Bottles. This is a fertility diet piece I wrote about a diet you can adopt if you’re trying to get pregnant. This isn’t a “diet” so much as a list of recommended foods and nutrients to include in your diet. Food can’t get your pregnant, but if you’re looking to start or expand your family, eating a healthy, well-rounded, balanced diet can help support any impending pregnancies.
When we decided to tackle potty training, we knew Isla was showing us every “sign” she was ready and she honestly had been for awhile. For quite some time she was telling us whenever she went potty in her diaper, and sometimes she was even upset and crying about a wet diaper or withholding poop or going somewhere private to do #2 because she was ashamed or wanted privacy. For months we’ve been leaving a potty around, “so she could get used to it,” hoping she would just want to use it instead of diapers with as much enthusiasm as she exudes about the idea of ice cream for dinner.
Thankfully a good friend lent me a book that several other mom friends had mentioned to me and all of these preconceived notions (see above) were cleared up and I finally stopped dreading potty training and was looking forward to it. This book has been my Bible lately. Thanks to every single mom who recommended this!
Fast forward 12ish days. I’ve done more loads of laundry than I can count, used a few extra rolls of paper towels for clean up, and lost my temper way too many times–BUT we are making amazing progress. We even enjoyed a successful day trip with our favorite new accessory in Boston last week and zero accidents on Father’s Day! These are our happy faces in Boston:
Buuuut, back to the beginning. Literally, the first weekend we started potty training was like a slap in the face. The first day Isla did awesome. But then she came down with the worst virus we’ve ever seen in her (with high fevers and no other symptoms–we even had her tested for Lyme disease because she was so sick) AND her two year old molars cut through.
Some of the “highlights?” Isla didn’t want to poop in the potty. I made her these fun, calming bottles of glitter which she
hated disliked very much.
We had to give her a stool softener per our pediatrician’s recommendation and it backfired. Thankfully I’m not sharing any photos of that. Yes, some moments have been rough and literally shitty. Potty training is not for the faint of heart, yet trusting that Isla was ready and capable, we are supporting her in her learning and I’m glad we’ve trucked on.
That being said, for anyone else climbing this mountain, potty training is really testing my patience so if it’s testing yours, you’re not alone! For those really close to me, it’s probably more accurate to say potty training is teaching me patience. Patience is not a virtue that comes naturally to me. I really have to work at it. And sometimes, parenting requires more patience than I have which is why I make a point to surround myself with respectful parenting reminders (like reading, podcasts, friends with similar parenting philosophies). When it’s come to potty training, I find myself losing my temper, yelling more than I’d like and then spending my post-bedtime time making a plan for how I can do better the next day.
It’s not even the accidents themselves that are tough for me. I expect messes. More than helping her learn how to pee and poop in a socially acceptable receptacle, reflecting on the last week and a half, potty training has been a struggle as it’s magnified some of Isla’s most challenging behaviors. Though developmentally normal, behavior like testing boundaries and not listening have been magnified through this process and it’s been so incredibly hard. Isla is a strong and independent almost two year old. She honestly doesn’t like being told what to do, or needing help (she definitely gets these traits from mom…). Naturally, power struggles happen and it hasn’t been easy for anyone, but we’re all getting there. At least she’ll use the toilet when we tell her now vs. breaking down into a giant temper tantrum of tears (most of the time).
Processing potty training, I can’t help but compare it to another parenting experience on my list of not-so-fun things: sleep training.
Every parent has their own personal preference and philosophy about sleep training. For us, we have adopted a version of Dr. Ferber’s methods, though I do prefer to think about the process of sleep training as teaching your child a life skill of self soothing vs. just labeling the method, “cry it out.”
Sleep training wasn’t fun with Isla, but it wasn’t difficult either. Isla slept through the night from week 2, self soothed fairly naturally, and responded quickly to our sleep training. 3 nights of encouraging self soothing and she had it down, only needing to reinforce at regular sleep regression times.
Josie was born and EVERYTHING we did with Isla didnt’ matter. Josie was the complete opposite.
When Josie was born, I had to hold her for 2+ hours to get her to go to sleep and stay asleep until she was 3 months old, when I quickly started trying to help her self soothe. She woke up several times a night when she would nurse, but more than anything–to just be held. The only prop that could stand in for this mommy sleepytime magic was the swing. We used the swing sparingly with Josie, but by the time she was old enough to learn how to self soothe (she didn’t want to be swaddled, could bring her hands to her mouth, etc.).
I love baby snuggles, but I also love to feel well rested and I was eager to get a little time back in my evenings with my husband and to pick up the house before my tiny toddler tornado woke the next morning.
To sleep train Josie we had to take the swing away completely. Josie was almost 6 months old when she started to sleep through the night and really self soothe regularly, but as soon as she figured it out she was so much happier during the day–and so was I! I wasn’t a walking zombie anymore!
It’s hard to hear our babies cry, so while in the trenches of those first few days of learning to self soothe where I was inundated with mom guilt, I reminded myself of these key things:
- Babies cry. It’s literally one of the only ways they can communicate with us in the first year. When Josie was crying, I reminded myself she was in a safe place in between reassuring her, I watched on the camera to reassure myself too.
- Sleep is key for everyone! I’ve had many a chat about this with both of our kids and I swear it helps. Our kids are capable and understand so much more than we may think. A solid night of sleep can be a regular thing and is so important for all of us.
We’re still struggling with some spotty early wake ups with Josie and tackling room sharing, but we’ve stuck with a method that works for us with no regrets.
I share all of this to remind myself that I can sleep again if we have any more kids AND to say that yet again, as parents we’re all working through a lot of the same stuff, and we’re all just trying to do what’s best for our kids. I commend each and every parent who can co-sleep with their children or soothe their kids into toddlerhood, but that method just doesn’t work for our family. Josie helped us reconsider our parenting choices with and tested our philosophies. If you’re sleep training your little one, I encourage you to trust your gut and do what works best for your family. What every child needs can be different so keep surrounding yourself with people and materials that support your philosophies and remember with all things parenting: it’s just a phase of life and it will pass!
Lastly, I’ve been listening to some awesome podcasts lately so I want to give them a quick shout out.
The first is directly related to sleep training. I’ve been loving the quick episodes of Little Z’s Sleep Podcast. Becca Campbell is a pediatric sleep consultant and I found her page when I was looking for answers after yet another early morning wake up. I’ve basically binged on her podcasts and gathered lots of tips and tricks on how to help our kids get the sleep they so desperately need. They say “happy wife, happy life.” And I seriously struggle to be my happiest and enjoy life when my kids are overtired and cranky so supporting their sleep is one of my #1 priorities.
The other podcast I’ve really been enjoying is Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. I loved Shepard in the TV show Parenthood and I’m really enjoying his sitdown chats with friends and various “experts.” I saw this podcast in my podcast app’s “featured” list and had to check it out. While there is one episode that features parenting advice from Wendy Mogul–author of Blessings of a Skinned Knee and clinical psychologist–I actually love that most of the episodes I’ve listened to are about nothing parenting related. I’ve enjoyed taking a break from all topics parenting and learning about different topics from Scientology and addiction, and I loved listening to the marital banter between Dax and his wife Kristen Bell (this is the episode that actually sucked me in). If you have some time, check it out!
For now, that’s all folks. Tell me, what are you up to these days? Share in the comments section below.