Random Ramblings: Potty Training, Sleep Training, and More Podcasts

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.

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Potty Training

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!

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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:

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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.

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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).

Sleep Training

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!

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Here’s our happy, well-rested girl.

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!

Podcasts

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. 

Random Ramblings: Respectful Parenting, Healthy Eating, & Podcasts

Today I’m checking in with a whole bunch of randomness to help clear my mind AND share more about honest and raw truth about myself, my life, and my habits with you– my awesome readers!

The forecast is finally tempting us with temps above 50 later this week, but as we’re waking up so another day where snow is falling from the sky (it’s April 10, right?!), I’m trying to keep my attitude and outlook positive today. Aaaaand I’m living in struggle city. Or after experiencing a not-so-pretty grown up temper tantrum when my toddler refused to stay still while I got her dressed this morning (she often does this as my husband so nicely reminded me), I’m living in failure city.

Clearly I’m harboring some mom guilt today. I know I’m far from a failure, but my high strung and short-tempered self is jealous of those who are a lot more patient than me. And honestly, I’m just in this funk, AGAIN. Mother nature, please stop knocking me down with your cold and snow! Hopefully this is the real, real end of winter.

Thinking about parenting and how I can avoid more mommy meltdowns when the weather can’t be my excuse anymore, I’ll share that we’re trying to practice respectful parenting using a lot of Magda Gerber’s principles. Gerber really emphasizes respect for and trust in our growing babies. The big picture of our goals mean we trust that our children are capable growing little people. We try not to yell when there are meltdowns or defiant moments, instead opting to stay calm, gently redirect while being firm, but fair. When conditions are ideal (ie. when everyone is happy and sweet) it works awesome. And when a meltdown happens and I use the tools I’ve been learning, I find I stay more calm and the hard moments end sooner and more productively. Alas, when parenting children who are trying to make sense of these huge emotions they’re feeling every day sometimes it’s hard, for everyone! This morning’s mommy eruption was not in line with my parenting goals. Grace. Being a mom keeps me seriously humble and thank goodness I know I’ll have lots more opportunities to do better.

Other things on my mind today: healthy eating. As I mentioned last week, I’ve been motivated to really get my diet back on track. I’m reducing my chocolate chip intake by handfuls (no, seriously…) and replacing my cravings for sugar with more veggies and natural sugars like fruits.

I’m currently chomping on carrot sticks and hummus.

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I can’t say cutting out the junk food is easy right now (cravings are real and you don’t have to be pregnant to have them), but I’ve done this before and know it will be worth it.

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Breastfeeding can’t continue to be an excuse to keep eating junk (at least not for me) and I’d like to rely less on high rise yoga pants and flexing my muscles to mask my postpartum pouch (which of course, I’m super proud of and grateful for, but hello–I’m human and fitness focused!).

We’ve restocked the freezer and pantry at Costco and Aldi a few times in the last couple weeks and I’m excited to feel prepared to keep working at self improvement.

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With two kids, my dinners have been so simple over the last six+ months and thankfully these even healthier meal options are still super easy. I know I haven’t been doing the “What I Ate Wednesday” posts anymore (because they were time consuming and not as popular), but I am still meal planning and some of the menu offering in our home over the next couple weeks will include:

  1. Salmon with Veggies
  2. Pesto Chicken and Veggies
  3. Chicken with Avocado Salad
  4. Ham, Apple, and Sweet Potato Egg Scramble
  5. Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
  6. Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Shredded Chicken (BBQ or Buffalo Chicken)
  7. Healthy Ramen with Asian Beef and Asparagus (this last one is an original from my kitchen! Watch for a recipe later this week)
  8. Turkey Quinoa Taco Casserole
  9. Burrito Bowls with Cauliflower Rice

If the actual meal isn’t popular, these are all dishes with at least toddler and baby-friendly ingredients (yes, Josie is eating now too–she looooves food), like avocado, sweet potato, salmon, meatballs, and loads of veggies (most of which both girls will actually eat if they’re not too tired). Sweet!

Something else I’ve been doing that makes me feel good is listening to podcasts. It’s a fun way to listen and learn while I’m driving, with the kids, or getting some work done. Some of my favorites lately have been:

  1. Well-Fed Women – I love the honest advice these two women give on health nutrition, and fitness related topics. Their podcast description says, “Expect real talk, moderately amusing banter, and empowering advice for women, from women” and I think this sums up their show great. I’ve really enjoyed episodes #162-#165 in the last few weeks.
  2. The mindbodygreen – This podcast is full of awesome info on a whole host of health related topics and all from pioneers in the health industry.
  3. Unruffled – This is a parenting podcast by Janet Lansbury, a parenting expert focused on the respectful parenting practices we’re trying to use. Listening to this podcast helps me stay mindful and focused on my efforts and reminds me I’m an imperfect human capable of trying again when I slip up.

If you’re interested in more of the ramblings from my brain these days, follow my IG account where I’ve been trying to post more regularly. Things I’m thinking about sharing in the upcoming weeks include healthier dessert options, ways you can cleanse your diet and jump start weight loss, what we’re planting in our garden this year, exercises you can do at the office, and a workout you can do on your next hike, my Costco and Aldi grocery lists, the benefits of fermented foods, and more.

Tell me, what are some topics you’d like to hear more about? Share on social media, or in the comments below! 

 

Toddler Obstacle Course

The days are snowy and cold around our part of the country (hello, New England!) and that means on days not filled with daycare, mom is left scheming activities and various forms of educational stimulation to keep our toddler busy and happy.

We have one of those children who does not like to sit still. At 17 months, her mind and body are always going. She’s super curious and hungry to learn everything she possibly can and she wants to be as independent as she can (while still stopping for hugs and kisses). While it can be hard to accept her strong spirit at times (like when she’s having what feels like the 100th meltdown in a day because she can’t express herself yet and cannot physically do all that she wants to because hello–she’s 17 months!), I ultimately love her zest for life and enjoy coming up with fun activities.

When we’re stuck inside I’ve had to dig deep at times and today’s post is one way I keep my toddler busy and in turn, myself busy too: toddler obstacle courses. I’m constantly telling parents, “If you keep up with your kids, you’re going to get so much exercise!” My Fitbit affirms this because even being cooped up inside on a day when I don’t do my own workout, I do nearly 10,000 steps a day, “just” being mom.

This particular activity is a favorite around our [messy] house (looking at the photos below, yes, our house seriously is this messy about 10 minutes after we all get up in the morning until after bedtime). I piece together a handful of “obstacles” which keep her moving and keep her brain occupied too, challenging her and helping her grow. The activities are short and realistic. They don’t take too much time to complete and they’re fun enough that my toddler will do this activity for 30 minutes or more sometimes. Other than finger painting, that’s probably the most time she can focus on one activity currently so I’ll count it as a mom win!

I’m sure I could put together multiple versions of this post, and maybe I will in the future. But my hope is that this post will help jog your own fun creations and spur off a fun cold or rainy weather activity for you and your little one(s).

After I set up the obstacle course, I demonstrated each activity and then had Isla follow. I then coached her through each activity if she got distracted or forgot what the “challenge” was. Which meant I participated a lot too. Trying to fit through the tunnel was an awesome ab exercise!

  1. Tunnel – I crafted a tunnel out of a couch, our coffee table, and a blanket. You could always use a store bought tunnel too. We love obstacle courses so much that we’re actually getting one of those for Christmas and I’m sure Isla will love it! tunnel
  2. Climbing over an obstacle – For this I used a giant stuffed animal and we army crawled over it. You could also use a couch cushion or a few pillows stacked on top of one another. Carrying a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is totally optional.climbing
  3. Stepping activity – I used a dog bed and Isla had to step in and back out, crossing to the next activity. Again, you could use a foam pad, pillow, or even a folded blanket. I wanted something that would challenge her balance and wouldn’t be too big so she could actually take small steps. I made sure I was nearby to catch her if she stumbled.
  4. Sorting – I grabbed two empty baby wipes boxes and filled one with balls from our ball pit. She then transferred the balls from one box to another. Either one by one, or she loved dumping them from one box to another. You could also use blocks, toy food, plastic Easter eggs, etc. sorting
  5. Balance beam – Finally, we did not use an actual balance beam here, but rather a piece of masking tape on the floor. Place your tape and then have your toddler walk heel to toe down the line–an awesome activity for balance and agility! balance

How do you keep your little ones busy when you’re at home? Share in the comments below.