Martha Stewart Mommy Parenting Tips!
Martha Stewart Mommy shares her tips & advice on surviving parenthood & creating a memorable childhood!
Toilet Training 101!
(For Cheryl & Finn!)
This can be a tough one, but after having participated in this with more kids than I can count, I have definitely perfected the “ins & outs” so to speak!! Here’s what I’ve learned!
First & foremost, every child will come to this in their own time. You will never see them attending their high school graduation in a diaper, so don’t despair if your first attempts don’t make it. The biggest key to toilet training is the child’s own preparedness. If you think it’s time, usually for our own sanity, go ahead & give it a shot. But don’t make yourself crazy if your child isn’t interested….you can persist, & succeed, if it’s necessary to your current situation, however, if you have the time to wait, it’s best to back off & try again another time, when your child is more interested in the process. Toilet training should not be a stressful or traumatic time, for either of you! That’s not to say you can’t be consistent with the “discussions” about using the toilet, & asking them to give it a try periodically. However, leave it at that & continue with the diapers if they are fighting you on it. Typically the easiest kids to train are the ones who are ready for it themselves!
Forget the training potties!! All you are doing is toilet training TWICE! These are completely unnecessary tools & simply serve to prolong the process. A small stool (with non-slip bottom for those tiled bathroom floors), so the child can reach the toilet, & a simple, inexpensive plastic child seat for your toilet will suffice. I have these items in both bathrooms, & the plastic seat travels easily with us. Pull-ups or training pants are also a waste of time & money, in my opinion, & again, only serve to prolong this process. They are also far more difficult to “change” than a diaper, & I have had to do many a shower hose down after trying to remove a poopy Pull-up!
The biggest key is patience & the willingness to focus on the task. You need to choose a time that is settled & quiet, & will be for a couple of weeks. This is why…the quickest way to toilet train is a naked bum….completely naked, no undies, no pants, just a naked bum. Anything on their bum in the beginning will make them forget they do not have a diaper on, & you will likely go through their entire wardrobe in a day. Because we need more laundry to do! Finding the time when you know you will simply be at home, or for me, even the summer & being able to run around outside in the yard half naked, for at least the first week, will get you pretty far, pretty fast! And though you will be cleaning up messes, it’s still a far cry easier than cleaning them up if they’ve done it in their pants.
Absolutely bribe them! Works like a charm. Take all that money you’ve saved on unnecessary training products & hit your local dollar store. A grab bag of small, inexpensive items can be a huge incentive, especially with “#2” since that seems to be the more difficult task for them. With my son, I had Hot Wheels, with another, I bought the tubes of Little People, & handed them out one at a time. One was a candy fanatic, so treat sized boxes of Smarties did it for her, & the with last, it was random dollar store items. I put them in to a fun grab bag, & they would get to reach in & pull something out. Even simple stickers can work. For the 2 or 3 weeks you’ll need to do this, it is TOTALLY worth it. Shopping together for “big kid” undies is also a great incentive! Keep the bigger bribes for #2, & the verbal praise going at all times! Slowly phase out the “bribes” as they become more consistent with their habits.
Tips & Tricks!
Don’t worry about your boys standing up. Teach them sitting first, otherwise you will be cleaning up messes both in & out of the bathroom! My trick? Send him in to watch Dad as he got older…& yes, the Cheerios in the toilet bowl to improve their aim! However, that came well after he was completely trained, & again, your son won’t be in high school attempting to sit on the urinals. The other benefit to waiting for him to be well established, was being able to teach him to hold the seat up with one hand & pee with the other…to this very day, that habit means he has never left the seat raised for any of the 4 girls in the house to encounter!
Do not focus on night training at all until your child is well established with daytime toilet use. Most kids will be close to four years old before they go all night. When you are ready to attempt this, limit fluids after dinner, ensure they use the toilet before bed, then before YOU go to bed, pick them up, & sit them on the toilet again. All of my kids have also whimpered & fussed in their sleep if they have to pee, & being tuned in to this & ready to go grab them & plop them on the toilet at 2 a.m. has saved me many a wet bed…worth it despite the interrupted sleep!
Be sure to take spare clothes (including socks, it runs right down in to there!), plastic bags for the soiled clothes, & wipes when you are ready to venture out with a training or newly trained child. Ensure you know where the public toilets are (I can peg all of them within 10 square miles of my house!), & be sure to ask them regularly….even if they say “no”, a periodic visit to the toilet can curb any accidents.
Remember…a NAKED BUM is the quickest way to accomplish training. From there, progress them to just undies, no pants….seeing their undies will be a constant reminder that they are NOT in a diaper, & will help instil the “big kid” thinking, especially if they are excited about the ones they have chosen! For some reason, having pants on seems to completely erase from their little brains the fact that they are not in a diaper…I’ve seen it a million times! I think it’s the feeling of being “wrapped up” or “enclosed” the way a diaper does, that having pants on seems to give them. Being children, they are easily distracted, & will need constant reminders to use the toilet, especially when fully dressed…& often, you need to simply pick them up & take them until they get used to reading their own urges, most of us are pretty in tune to our kid’s daily timing & facial/body expressions by now!
Get rid of the diapers! Hide them out of sight & just say no in the first few days, until you determine if your child is ready to succeed. Going back & forth between the two confuses & prolongs the process. I have pulled them out for longer car trips, but try to avoid using them for anything but bed time. My last was SO not ready on my first attempt that she actually learned how to put her own diaper on! I knew after that to keep them hidden, & fed her some nonsense about only having 1 left for bed time….every day….she was two, she bought it!
“Bottom” line?? “When the child is ready, the teacher will appear”…& this CAN be a fairly quick & painless process if you are willing to take a week or two at home with your naked baby & bagful of goodies…yes, it really can be that simple! Trust me, I’ve learned these lessons the hard way, & like most things with parenting, you just need to relax about it, & not put stress on either of you by having expectations…every child will get there eventually! Good luck & happy toileting!
Martha Stewart Mommy!
This next one was originally intended as a blog post, but in the end, I felt it a better fit for my new Mommy-ing page!
In All Fairness…
So lest you go judging me again, I feel the need to explain how a few things work here in Crazy Town. It has not escaped the attention of The Mayor’s office that the activities my children participate in follow just about every sexual stereotype in the book! But this is NOT a parenting trap that I have been unwittingly sucked in to. My kids have been given free choice of every option available to them based on their abilities, not their sex. Scratch that, not even based on their abilities, free choice period! They find out as they go if they have the “ability” for it. Despite free will factoring in to their choices, the fact of the matter is, boys are boys & girls are girls. And yes, our girls were offered soccer & hockey along with the boy, & many of their girlfriends play both sports, & play them well, along with baseball, ringette, etc. I myself played soccer for 9 years growing up, & loved it! My daughters just weren’t interested, The Diva for obvious reasons, & The One I Butt Heads With has always fallen in to the creative category over the athletic one. Granted, The Baby hasn’t been given a choice as of yet, but should she turn around in a few years & tell me she is tired of cheer & wants to give hockey a go, we will be behind her all the way! By the same token, if they chose ballet or Brownies, that’s great too! The fact that I was also a cheerleader in high school helped me recognize it in The Diva as a viable option, & as much as I love the fact that my girls are cheerleading just as I did, I am not living vicariously through them. Had she decided after that first season she no longer wanted to do it, I’d have dealt with it & moved on to the next thing. But the truth is, she loves it, I love watching her, & now my other 2 daughters have fallen in love with it, & I love watching them! Besides, they do have a Parent team at our gym, a pretty good one in fact, if I was stuck on “recapturing” my own cheerleading days, all I had to do was join in & go to town!
For those of you who know me at all, you’ll know that I’m a strong, independent woman, who will always strive to raise her daughters to be the same. Even if the male ego can’t recognize those traits in women & chooses to translate it in to “Bitch”, I will never allow my girls to think they can’t do anything they want to do…they just choose to do girly things! Of all of the parenting lessons I’ve learned, I have said it again & again, you have to let them be their own person. You can’t fight their nature. All you can do is guide, support, & counsel along the way, then cross your fingers & hope like hell you made an impact!
A girlfriend & I recently had this very discussion, laughing hysterically at how, when our first born sons were little, we tried desperately to keep them away from any & all weapons, going so far as to not allow them even a water pistol, thinking we were sparing them a future of some day grabbing up an AK47 & going on a violent shooting rampage! However, we both learned very quickly that we were fighting a losing battle against the very nature of little boys, when we discovered that they could, & would, make weapons out of ANYTHING. Denying them access to these toy replicas only served to spur on their imaginations, as they built them out of Legos, toilet paper tubes, &, as we howled in laughter at the memories & the extent to which they‘d go to have “guns“, my girlfriend even spoke of jimmy rigging Furbies to shoot Cheerios out of their mouths, just to make the point…you can’t fight their nature. We were naive, first time Moms, certain we were raising kinder, gentler boys with our efforts….yeah, not so much! Because boys will be boys…which brings me to another aspect of my parenting I’m sure some of you have wondered about…
Yes, my son IS glued to his X-box much of his free time. But I will tell you why I allow him such freedom with that. Every kid is different, as evidenced by the 4 rug rats here in Crazy Town, that are each as different as Crazy Town is crazy. The One We Screwed Up by attempting to squelch his very nature, is, by his very nature, enamoured with his first person shooter games. He is also pretty much a straight A student, who never gets himself in to any trouble, has no real “rough” side to him, outside of beating on his sisters, that could be spurred on by such games, is equally active in hockey & outdoor play when the weather permits or enjoying a good book when it doesn’t, & will always do as he’s told around the house, even if it does mean walking away from his game. We also have a deal in place that requires Mom have the first “go through” of any new game, as well as renting a game before he buys it so I can make the final decision, & my occasional perusal through his X-box live friend list & online conversations, including walking in unannounced to grab the headphones & take a listen….& yes, there are games he is not allowed to play just yet. Thus he has never presented me with a valid reason to limit his game play. On the other hand, we have The One I Butt Heads With who DOES get limitations on her “media” time, given her poorer grades & homework struggles. Yes, it can be a fine line having “different rules” for your kids, but there is a way around having to hear the constant, “But HE gets to, it’s NOT FAIR!”. By setting general expectations for ALL the rug rats, with a general set of rewards & consequences in place applying to all of them, you can avoid most of that. In this manner, you can ensure the kids don’t see it as “different rules” for each of them, rather a standard that is expected regardless of personality…the different personalities may just wind up with more reward or punishment as a result, but parents can still maintain their claim on fairness!
Now as they get older, their differences, including the boy/girl thing, will come in to play more often, & I will attempt to handle it as it comes. But the fact is, my son will always be safer out on his own then my daughters will be, thus society, not us as parents, often dictate the rules around going out. For example, my son was walking his little sisters to school without me when he was 9, but now that my daughter is 9, I’m just not prepared to have her & her little sister walk to school without their big brother or myself watching over them. Common sense & the horrors of the world around us dictate that. And I wholeheartedly agree with my girls this time…it ISN’T fair! I’ve struggled my whole life with my resentment towards a society that limits me because of my sex, never feeling safe out on my own, knowing I‘m a potential victim for the mere fact of being female, especially a rather small one, & it pisses me off to have to turn around & do it to my daughters. But I’d rather that, than have them never come home again. So I throw that resentment in to teaching them that they don’t have to be limited anywhere else in their lives, they can do or be anything they want. And I make every effort to raise my son to be the kind of man that will treat women with respect & equality…which shouldn’t be too hard given that he lives with 4 of them! We’ll just beat it into him if necessary!
So yes, I have my girls in “girly” pursuits, & my boy in “manly” pursuits, but they are all happy where they are, they have made those choices for themselves, & they are simply following their inherent nature. And yes, I have limitations around “media” time & what’s appropriate or inappropriate for each of them. But when their homework is done, tidy up is done, they‘re basically well behaved, regular kids with no glaring emotional issues to cause me to believe that playing a shoot ‘em up game will make them go Postal someday, & I’m well aware that from April to October they barely glance at a screen or monitor of any sort in favour of outdoor play, then they are free to immerse themselves in technology as much as they want. And of course there will be varying standards with which we deal with our children, there’s just no way around that when we have different ages, sexes, & personalities on hand. The trick is to give THEM at least the illusion of fairness while you’re doing it! Though I may not have all the answers, & will certainly have many more parenting lessons ahead of me to learn, hopefully you can find some wisdom from the mistakes I’ve made over countless years spent raising, & caring for, children! Happy Parenting!
Martha Stewart Mommy!
(And on sharing this with my boy, now 11, he has given me a crash course in guns, informing me that an AK47 is more of a “terrorist weapon”, while the picture I’ve used is an M16, a “military weapon”, & a crazy person going on a shooting rampage would likely choose an Uzi or something along those lines…so on his insistence, I have added in an AK47, & an Uzi, & labeled all 3, to ensure I “got my facts straight.” Yeah, thanks for the input son! Just can’t fight nature….!!)