Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Potty Training Tuesday #10

Boys and Aim

Moms, do yourselves and your future daughter in laws a favour and teach your son to aim from the beginning.  Unless you want to spend the next 18 years cleaning up pee off the floor and listening to your daughter in law complain about it for the rest of your life!

For some little boys, this isn't really an issue, they just naturally seem to know where things need to go. 

 For others, a few simple reminders:  "Point your penis down" or "Put your penis in the potty" does the trick.

Still others, need constant, repeated reminders to keep things in the right place.

And then there are others who need physical assistance each and every time.  If your son is one of these children, I suggest taking his hand and using it to hold/place his penis where it needs to be.  This not only gets things in the right place, but should teach him how to do it himself!  And hopefully, keeps your fingers out of the line of fire!

And finally there are the ones who can't keep their hands off it.  Little boys often seems to think that potty time is "play with my penis time".  And although this is a perfectly normal, natural exploration of body parts, if he happens to pee while exploring, it's going to get messy!

Another tidbit of advice, (that yes, I have learned the hard way) is that until you are 100% confident that your son has mastered the aim issue, don't stand in front of him while he's on the potty.  Stay off to the side to avoid a shower from the waterfall that is bound to happen from time to time.  

You really would be surprised how far that pee can fly!  Somehow, the laws of gravity do not apply to penises and little boys pee!

If you aren't having any luck with getting the pee in the potty/toilet with your son sitting on the potty, you can try standing up.

The best way that I have found to do this is to have him stand on a stool, facing the toilet, lean forward, putting both hands on the toilet tank and let gravity to the rest.  I know, I just said that the laws of gravity don't apply to little boys and pee, but there are exceptions to every rule!

All in all, find a way that works to teach your son the importance of getting the pee IN the potty not AROUND the potty will make your bathroom cleaning a lot easier!!

Stay tuned for more tips, tricks and advice every Tuesday!  And please do share your own experiences!  I am always looking for ways to make potty training easier for myself, not only at work, but also at home as I will soon be jumping in head first to potty train Liam!

Tune in next week to hear about where we're at with Liam's potty training journey.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Organization . . . In Baby Steps

I can organize . . . at work, I am very good at organizing and keeping things organized.  At home, not so much!  I would love for my house to be organized and tidy all the time but I don't think that will ever happen.  I just don't have the time or energy to have a "perfect" house.

But something has got to be done because not only is it not a "perfect" house, it has become an absolute disaster.  Not quite sure when the tornado went through, but it did and the results are not pretty.  Every room seems to be overflowing with unorganized piles of stuff.  And it makes me want to scream or cry or sometimes even both.

It is so overwhelming, that I don't even know where to start.  So, I just don't.  I started trying to organize our back room in the fall, got overwhelmed and quit.  I haven't touched it in months and it is worse than ever.  

So, I've come up with a new strategy.  Instead of trying to tackle a whole room, I am just going to pick one job at a time.  I am going to organize my house in baby steps.

Over the Christmas holidays, I took the "in with the new, out with the old", philosophy, getting rid of anything that could be replaced with the new Christmas items.  Three boxes of stuff are ready to be delivered to New Moon Rabbit Rescue for their spring garage sale.  Good bye baby toys, hello toddler toys!

I've also organized my recipe box.  Now, I know this probably sounds like a quick, easy job, but it wasn't!  
I didn't want this anymore!

I spent hours sorting and rewriting recipes from scraps of paper on to proper index cards.  So that it could look like this!
So much better!!

In the grand scheme of things, it is a little thing, but it has brought a glimmer of organization back into my kitchen and some motivation to keep going!

Last weekend, I decided to organize my spices.  I bought a lazy susan type spice rack when we moved into the house eight years ago.  It was a nice spice rack.  I really liked it at the time.  But not anymore.  Now, it had become a counter top dust collector.  And my spices had long since outgrown the rack and were now taking up space in two different cupboards as well.

The spice rack dust collector!

A mess of spices in the pantry.

Another unorganized mess of spices in the cupboard above the stove.

So, everything came out onto the counter.

Once it was all on the counter, I had no choice but to continue.  Everything got organized, containers got filled and labeled.  Then, it all got nicely placed into a drawer.  There was lots of garbage.  There was lots of mess.  There was lots of sneezing.  But I am so happy with the results!
My new spice drawer!

And I am still motivated to keep going.  I'm not sure what I will tackle next . . . more kitchen cupboards?  My desk in the back room?  My bedroom closet?  The bathroom closet?  The possibilities are endless but I will keep taking organizational baby steps through my house.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Potty Training Tuesday # 9

Potty Training Rewards

Rewarding your child for potty successes is a good incentive to keep your son or daughter motivated.  I find that using stickers as a reward works quite well.  Stickers are tangible and visual for your child and inexpensive for you!

Create a sticker chart and put it somewhere your child will see it often so that it also serves as a reminder that he or she should try to use the potty.

In the beginning, your child's sticker chart can simply be a piece of paper with your child's name or a simple title, for example "Liam's Potty Stickers".  Let your child choose a sticker and place it on the sheet for each success on the potty.

As they progress, the chart can evolve to having a column for each day to track how many times they use the potty each day.

And again, as your child gets closer to being fully trained, you can modify the chart/reward system to getting stickers for staying dry for a period of time (ex. one for morning, one for afternoon, etc).

You can give your child bigger rewards for completing the bigger milestones.  For example, the first time they stay dry all day, you could let them pick out a package of special underwear to buy.  Or a small toy or book the first time they stay dry all week.

The thing to remember is that giving too many bigger rewards makes it difficult to stop giving them when they are no longer required for motivation.

For the same reason, I always advise people to stay away from using food (especially candy) as potty training rewards.  Most kids get more than enough junk food without adding in a candy every time they use the potty.  And it is a lot easier to wean your child off getting a sticker every time they pee then it is to convince them that they don't need a candy every time they pee!

Also, stickers on a sticker chart serve as a visual reminder for your child to use the potty as well as a way to track your child's success.

If you child is in daycare, you could check with their caregiver to see what kind of sticker reward system they use for potty training, in order to keep rewards consistent.

And once you are confident that your child is completely 100% potty trained, there is nothing wrong with giving them a one time, more substantial reward.  Potty training is not easy for kids and they do deserve some kind of recognition for their efforts!

Stay tuned for more tips, tricks and advice every Tuesday!  And please do share your own experiences!  I am always looking for ways to make potty training easier for myself, not only at work, but also at home as I will soon be jumping in head first to potty train Liam!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Toddler Torture Time - AKA Bath Time

There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING about toddler bath time in our house that is enjoyable.

From the moment the "B" word is mentioned, there are protests.  I get the bath ready and then go looking for the boy.  This is the first strike against bath time, as he has to stop whatever he is doing.  Generally, he runs away from me yelling, "No, no, no."  But it doesn't take long before I have cornered him.  Then the tears and howling start.

Then comes strike two for bath time.  I start to take his clothes off and you would think that I am skinning him alive by the way he screams, cries and kicks in protest.  Not only does this child of mine HATE having his clothes taken off and being naked, but his most loathed thing in the whole world is to have bare feet.  He ALWAYS wears socks.  If the socks come off for ANY reason, the world comes crashing down around him.  

"Mine sock, mine sock," he yells with tears streaming down his face as if someone had stole a priceless item from him.  It is a horrifying tragedy.

So, he is already mad, no angry, no furious as I haul him kicking and screaming to the bathroom, where the tub, full of water and toys awaits him.  And that is strike three, the water.  The toys would be great fun if there was no water, without water, he could keep his clothes on.  Without water, he could keep his socks!

Despite his active and insistent protests against bath time, into the tub he goes.  This is when he starts to call for reinforcements.  "Daddy, Daddy?" he calls, working hard to sound as tortured as possible.  When Daddy doesn't instantly appear, Liam starts wailing.  "Dadadadada Daddddy!"  Daddy comes, but doesn't save him, which causes even more howling and wailing.  Liam's world is not a happy place at this moment.

Now, you would think that after three strikes, that would be it, bath time would be out and we'd be done.  However, the torture has just begun!

The next strike is the biggie!  The worse of the worst tortures.  It could possible even rival Chinese water torture.  It's gasp, time to WASH!  We start with the hair.  

Now, over the past two years, we haven't once washed this child's hair without hysterics.  No matter how I try to wash his hair, (sitting up or laying down; hand held shower head or small cup)it is always traumatizing for both of us.  We've opted for the hand held shower head lately.  It isn't really any more traumatic than and other way we've tried, but it is the fastest.  And if he's going to scream and cry like he's being beaten, I want it to be as fast as possible!

In the past, once his hair is washed, Liam would calm down while I washed the rest of him and then would be content to play with his bath toys.  But that made the whole process much less frustrating for Mom, and we wouldn't want that, now would we?

The entire time I am cleaning him, Liam continues to scream and cry, "No Mommy, No, Mommy," while struggling to get out of the tub.

Finally, when all is clean, I tell him that he can play, he continues to yell.  "No out!  Out!  Socks, mine socks!"

So out we get for more torture, being dried.  Towels and bath robes are as bad as the bath itself!  More screams and cries.  And then the body lotion.  I would skip this step if I could, but he has excema and needs his cream.  But I swear, it's just lotion, not some kind of poison that I am applying to his body!

And heaven helps up all if I don't put those socks on immediately.  I don't know what he thinks might happen if he doesn't have socks on but they are very important to him!  (His bedtime Elmo even has to wear socks!)

When Liam is finally dressed and diapered, life begins to return to normal but usually a sippy cup of milk is needed before he completely calms down.

And for me, relief and exhaustion.  A struggle that I don't want to face again, but that I know I will be in the middle of again in a day or two.  If I am lucky, I'll be able to put it off for three days.  

I thank my lucky stars that I don't live in an apartment as I am sure one of my neighbours would have reported me to CAS by now.  The way the boy cries "No Mommy, No Mommy," over and over again, every time, I wouldn't blame them!

But seriously, it breaks my heart every time I have to bathe him and make him cry like that.  Bath time should be fun.  He should be slashing and making a mess of my bathroom.  I should be the one saying "No" when he splashes too much or tries to jump in the bath tub.  It shouldn't be this traumatic experience for either of us.  

But I am at a loss of for what to do.

We have bath toys.  I've tried bubble bath.  I've tried every way I can think of to wash his hair.

I wait as long as I possible can between baths so that he doesn't have to experience the trauma as often.  But maybe that's a mistake.  Maybe more often would get him more used to it but I can't bear to upset him anymore than necessary.  

All I can do is keep trying and hope that it is a phase that will someday (soon?) be over.  Until then, bath time will continue to be toddler torture time in our house.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Toddler Art - Snowmen

No two snow flakes are alike, so I guess the same should apply to snowmen, right?  Especially when they are made by toddlers!

I love doing art with the toddlers at the daycare.  I don't always enjoy the mess taht goes along with it, but that's beside the point!  I have fun doing all kinds of art - finger painting, easel painting, glueing, colouring, etc - with them.  But my favourite is a glueing project where they glue pieces together to actually create something specific.

I've done eyes, nose and mouth on faces, putting Humpty Dumpty back together, faces on pumpkins, leaves and petals on flowers and most recently, snowmen.

When I do these projects with the kids, I glue one together a head of time, so that they have a visual example of what we are creating.  Then I put glue on the pieces, one at a time, and let them stick it on their paper.  I point to each piece of the sample as I give it to them, but they choose where to put it.

When it is all said and done . . . well, take a look!
Some are standing proud and tall.
Some are a little wobbly.
Some look like they have fallen over.
Some look like they are just pieces floating in the air.
Some look like they have melted.

I may be a little biased, but this is Liam's snowman, and it is my favourite!

It really doesn't matter what the finished snowman looks like.  The kids know that they have made a snowman and they are happy and proud of their creations.  And the parents love to see what their children's masterpieces.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Potty Training Tuesday #8

Dealing With Accidents

With potty training, comes accidents, there is just no way around it, you are going to be cleaning up pee and washing poopey pants.  But how you react to  your child's accidents really depends on how your child reacts.

Children react in many different.  Some continue to play, completely unaware that anything is out of place. Some get very upset and cry.  Some get angry.  Some tell you what they've done.  Some even hide from you.  

Regardless of how your child reacts, the most important thing for you to remember when dealing with accidents is to remain calm and positive.  No matter how upset or frustrated you are about your child's accident, you have to be very careful to keep positive so as not to discourage your child from using the potty.

Never be angry with your child for having an accident.

Do not yell at or punish your child for having an accident.

Remember that potty training is something that your child needs to learn.  And much like learning any new skill at any point in life, mistakes will be made.  Accidents are the mistakes of potty training.

If you child is in the initial stages of potty training, you may find that they are completely unaware that they have had an accident.  Personally, I don't understand how they can continue to play as though nothing has happened with soaking wet pants, but they do!  In this case, you need to focus on labelling what they have done, what needs to be done and what they should be doing.

"Oh-oh, you peed in your pants.  Let's clean that up and get you out of those wet clothes.  And then you can try to pee on the potty again."

Talk to you child as much as you can about peeing in the potty versus peeing in their pants.  I really like to emphasize the "yucky" feeling of wet pants and explain that if they pee in the potty their pants will stay dry and comfortable.

If your child is consistently unaware of accidents AND not having success on the potty, that might be a sign that he or she isn't really ready for potty training.  The best thing to do in this situation, is to take a break.  Continue to encourage your child to sit on the potty when getting a diaper change, but take a break from full time potty training.

If your child gets upset or angry, you need to reassure them that there is no need to be upset.

"It's OK, it was just an accident.  We'll change you into clean, dry clothes and then you can go play again."

Give lots of hugs and reassurance that you are not angry and try to find out what it is about accidents that upset or anger your child so much.

"Why are you crying about this?  Can you tell me?"

I have seen kids who get upset because they don't like the way it feels, others because they don't want to get in trouble, others because they don't want to change their clothes.  Once you know why they are so upset, you can address the specific issue.

If your child tells you when they have had an accident, you should give them some praise for telling you, especially if they are in the initial stages of training.  At this point, your child may not yet be able to associate the felling of having to pee with actually peeing.  Or they may not be able to control the urge long enough to get to the potty.

"Thank you for telling me that you did a pee but next time, try to tell me a little sooner so that I can help you use the potty.  Let's get you changed into some dry clothes."

If your child hides from you, there is a good chance that they are afraid that they are in trouble or they are embarrassed that they have had an accident.  This is more common with older potty trainers (3 years or old).  Be extra careful in these situations to keep any frustration you have hidden.

"Oh well, maybe next time we'll make it to the potty."

If you think your child is hiding because they are embarrassed, approach them quietly so as not to draw attention to anyone else who might be around.  Reassure them that accidents happen and that although it is uncomfortable, it's not really a big deal.

"Don't worry about it, we'll change your clothes and put these ones in the laundry."

You should always encourage your child to sit on the potty after having an accident.  Sometimes there is more to come but the child may not be able to communicate that to you.

Remember, accidents happen in life and in potty training.  Do what you can to make the best of it!

Stay tuned for more tips, tricks and advice every Tuesday!  And please do share your own experiences!  I am always looking for ways to make potty training easier for myself, not only at work, but also at home as I will soon be jumping in head first to potty train Liam!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Back to Reality

After the hustle and bustle of Christmas, there was nothing I needed, nothing my family needed more than some down time.  

The past week of pajama days, afternoon naps and playing with Liam were a much needed break from routine that we all needed.  

For the most part, we did a whole lot of nothing!  
We watched a lot of TV, spent hours playing cars and Liam did LOTS of art (colouring).  
We only got dressed when we had to go out somewhere.  
Henry and I drank lots of wine after Liam was in bed for the night.

But, all holidays must come to an end.  
Eventually we have to go back to the reality of having to work for a living.  

Reality reared it's ugly head with a growl when the alarm went off at 5:00 this morning.  OK, maybe I was the one growling as I dragged my weary butt out of bed. 
(Because, wouldn't you know that after over a week of sleeping perfectly every night, the night before I have to go back to work, I don't sleep worth poop!)

I showered and got dressed in a sleep blur before going to wake up my poor little bear.  After a week of sleeping as late as he wanted, I was greeted by a particularly grumpy little bear.

"NO MOMMY, NIGHT NIGHT," he cried as I gently tried to wake him.  "MINE, MINE," he screamed as I took off his pajamas.  Thankfully, he was soon settled with a sippy cut of milk and TreeHouse TV.

And well, we won't even talk about Henry's response to early mornings, other than to say that morning is his most hated part of every day!

But we made it to work - EARLY!  

And that was it. 
Back to reality.
Back to rules and routines.
Back to paying attention to other people's kids more than my own.
Back to working for a living . . . it may pay the bills, but somedays, that's all it's good for!

But, on the bright side of things, I booked my two weeks of vacation for our trip to Nashville in June . . . 153 days until I am on holidays!

And there are a few long weekends between now and then, right?