Friday, June 06, 2014

The 3 P's for Potty Training and Parenting

The dreaded potty-training started in June. I didn't have to drive the kids to school or activities, so I planned to camp out for a week or two and usher my three-year-old out of diapers. I expected the worst, having experienced this unpretty and stressful stage with two other children. 

But my little guy surprised me. Maybe it was because of his sibling audience. Maybe he was just "ready." Maybe Mom here finally stomped her foot loud enough that he got the message. The little guy pulled up his undies and walked around like a professional toilet flusher in less than a week!

I couldn't believe it. Yes, there were a few accidents, but my trainee took over rather quickly on his own.

So grateful and relieved, I thought, "Wow. That's it? My job here is done."

After around 10 years of changing diapers, I was stepping out into a brand new season...

Then, a month in, my son peed on the couch three times in one day. Wet his bed nights in a row. Wouldn't tell me he had to go until it was too late. 

He tricked me! 

Frustrated and discouraged, I was back at square one- setting the potty timer, physically taking the boy to the bathroom, cleaning up messes, and washing extra loads of laundry. 

Potty-training is exhausting and demanding.
So is parenting

The hardest thing in each task is staying objective and keeping my cool. It's the same challenge I face when my kids don't listen, as well as when I'm housebreaking a preschooler.

So how can I lessen negative reactions to repeated offenses? For every aspect of parenting I'm attempting to keep the following P's in mind: 

Put on patience like you put on clothes. Count to ten. Take a deep breath and say, "It's okay." Lower your expectations. You're dealing with kids learning a new skill. It will take some time, so take your time.

Put on a good attitude. Choose a better perspective. Try to make it fun, even if you don't feel like smiling. Have a sense of humor and watch the stress dissolve. Being positive never hurt anybody.

Put your eyes on the goal and keep going until you get there! Focus. As with patience, remember that no matter how long it takes, they will learn. It will just take some longer than others, so those kids just need you to keep at it. Persevere. Don't quit until they get it!

So on the days, when you're tired of telling kids to pick up their trash, remember their manners, or clean their rooms, tell yourself, "Be patient. Stay positive. Persevere."

They will learn. Thank goodness for that! My son figured out bathroom logistics just in time for preschool :-)

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

So Now That It's Summer, I Have a Plan

Okay, ya'll (that's how we say it in the south), summertime is upon us!  And as much as I love the break from hurried mornings and cram-packed afternoons, let's be real about what an 11 week school break also means.

Summer means having around 14 hours (depending on the ages and internal alarm clocks of your kids) of dead air.  There will be no other entertainment or adult supervision but us


I make no concrete commitments during summer time, but this is at least the third summer I've created a flexible family calendar of events/themes.  The point is to give me a goal every day to play with my kids.  To be intentional.  Even for an hour.  
Because it's summer!  
Because there will still be cleaning and errands but only one summer a year to make moments together. 
Because without some sort of plan, summer break can lead to CHAOS!

Granted, it's not a fool proof plan.  Kids get sick.  Friends cancel. Sometimes, all we want to do is live in our pjs. The goal is not to stress over details here.  Some weeks I have a field trip on the calendar and other days I just wing it.  The great thing about this plan is that it can be tweaked as needed.  With families, flexibility is key.  
This is my effort to beat the inevitable boredom and schedule some organized fun.  While some of my friends spend straight days at the pool, I need a little variety (and shade)!  That's why I came up with this little summer plan:

  • For craft projects, play doh, finger-painting, puppet shows, movie making, baking, or whatever you love to do or love to put off until inspiration strikes.  Check Pinterest!  Look at what you already have around you.  Sometimes, it's just fun to make something.  For this one day, let them make a mess.  It'll clean up.
  • To kick off our week (even while nursing a sick 3-year-old back to health) we glued miscellaneous beads on small canvas squares- because we already had all the supplies on hand! Easy.
  • Time to get out of the house for the morning!  Find a park, a pool, a museum, a trail...anything.  It's about exploring and getting the wiggles out :-)  And if you go before it gets so hot you can't breathe, you have the rest of the day to get things done around the house while your kids veg out on the couch.  You're welcome.
  • Pool, sprinkler, water guns, slip-n-slide, beach.  The end.
  • For trips to the library, math activities, writing stories and reading them.  This is a day for using our brains, because learning can be fun outside of school when you find things you're interested in!
  • Just in case you can't organize sleepovers and play dates on other days of the week, this one is just for that!  One day a week, I make a point to invite someone over for a visit or call my kids' friends to meet up. 
  • My weekends are for family.  They're for sleeping in and doing things together.  I don't like to map out every minute of our time.  I love both spontaneity and rest, so these are my general goals for Saturday and Sunday.  A last-minute cookout or watching the kids play from the front porch.  It doesn't matter.
It's our first official week of summer, and my kids have already been asking days in advance what we're going to do.  They know that they have something to look forward to each day, which is great. So then later, when they complain about not having anything to do (and they will), I can point to my calendar and say, "Well, I did this for you already.  You are responsible for your own fun now.  Get creative!" After all, a little boredom is the starting place for some of the best ideas, right? I'm off the hook!

How do you spend your summer?

You can find me on instagram and share your summer adventures with hashtags  #themomseason #makesomethingmonday #takeatriptuesday #waterfunwednesday #thinkathoughtthursday #findafriendfriday