"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Potty Day: The Third and Final Cut

We take a mixed bag approach to Potty Training in our house. On the one hand, we are in no hurry to reach the milestone. We wait, and we wait, and we wait, until our toddlers are practically screaming their potty-training readiness (and until the birthday presents they received for their, um, third birthdays have already lost their brand-new lustre). On the other hand, despite our apparent laid-back approach to the start of potty training, we go full-throttle once out of the starting gate. We do a guerilla-style, don't look back, leave no man behind, 24-hour crash course in Big Kid Bathroom Use and once we've picked the date for Potty Day, there are No More Diapers. (Pull-ups at nap and bedtime for the first few months, but these are new, Big Kid "Nighttime Undies," not diapers.)

It worked for Evan. It worked for Max. I had no doubt that it would work for Molly.

To be fair to our littlest potty training contestant is not, yet, three. She will be in about a month, but she's still, technically, "two."

But, according to our pediatrician (and the whole wide world) girls are ready to potty train earlier than boys. At Molly's 18-month well-check, her doctor concluded the exam with, "So, have we started to potty train yet?" I laughed in her face. At the 2-year well-check, again the doctor asked. And again, I responded with a less than civilized, "Haha! Uh, no." At her appointment for her 2.5-year well-check, Molly conversed pleasantly and maturely with the doctor, who asked her, "Molly, do you use the big girl potty?" Molly looked at me. I looked at the floor. The doctor smiled warmly and reminded me, "You know, most girls are ready to potty train at about two years old." I just knew we couldn't go to Molly's three-year check-up in February without those big girl undies.

Also to be fair, despite what they say, Molly was not showing any signs of potty-training readiness. She typically wakes up wet and never announced when she needed a new diaper. Walking around with a saggy, stinky dipe never seemed to bother her in the least. In fact, the only readiness she did demonstrate, was a Mastery of the Language of Potty Training.

If you know my sweet, cuddly, bashful, peanut of a little girl, this may come as a surprise to you: Molly has the worst Potty Mouth of any of my three kids. She's so vulgar that, to the sheer and utter delight of her big brothers, she rewrote the lyrics to Shake it Off:

'Cause the Poopers gotta poop, poop, poop, poop, poop
and the Peers gotta pee, pee, pee, pee, pee.
The farters gotta fart, fart, fart, fart, fart.
Poopy Butt!
Poopy Butt!
Butt Butt!

So, we were going to capitalize on the Using All The Potty Words element of Potty Training and just go for it. 

We went for it! Just like we did for the boys, we offered a small treat (an M&M or a mini-marshmallow) for successful peepee in the potty and a Poopy Present (a small, wrapped gift...stickers, new socks, mini Lalaloopsy, etc.) to unwrap after successful poops. We have eight or ten Poopy Presents, so that we can continue to reinforce successful pooping during the first week. The peepee treats will continue until we start to forget to use them...for the boys it was the first four or five days.

And she nailed it. After a slow start brought on by the fact that she, like her brothers, has the largest-capacity bladder ever, and the ability to hold it FOREVER, she was using the potty (for all! potty needs!) on her own by bedtime last night. She woke up this morning, swapped her pull-up for Elsa and Anna undies and has been batting a thousand all day. What a girl.

Princess Big Girl Undies, sitting upon her throne of towels.

Lesson Learned:
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Forget potty-training until your kid is ridiculously old and mature and ready. After three kids, I'm a definite believer in this reward-based, 24-hour approach to saying Goodbye to Diapers. Now we just need to find a way to get her to leave the Potty Words in the bathroom...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Organized

There are a lot of moms out there right now saying, "That's it. This is the year. In 2015 I WILL get organized."

I am not one of those moms.

You can't "get organized" if you already "are organized."

I've been organized since birth. It's genetic, I think. My mom was somehow able to keep the house, all eight of our schedules, and her brain organized and running smoothly. I inherited that trait, but that's not bragging...that's an admission.

Read more about me and my Need For Clean over on BonBon Break....

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Organized

...and everything in it's place. As it should be.

Lesson Learned:

Let's make a deal: Don't hate me because I'm organized, and I promise not to judge if I have to scoot a pile of laundry over before sitting down on your couch.

Friday, January 2, 2015

the sweet spot

Parenthood is hard. It's exhausting mentally, emotionally, and physically. There are days, as a parent of young children, that you feel like you cannot catch your breath; you are overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of your responsibility, you are running on empty due to little and interrupted sleep, and you are in Constant Physical Contact with one or more of your tiny, needy children. And it feels endless.

Until, all of a sudden, you wake up one morning and you realize that you have reached The Sweet Spot: that magical time during which your children are the perfect balance of big enough and little enough. 

In this center of the Parenting Venn Diagram, your kids are big enough to be somewhat self-sufficient. Yes, you may still be preparing their meals but, when they sit down to eat, you can, too, without anyone on your lap or attached to your boob. Your kids are capable. You can tell them to put on their shoes and coats and They Can. Some of the most-challenging child development milestones are behind you (colic, sleep-training, cutting teeth, teething while nursing (!), potty training--we're almost there with our last one!). Best of all...wait for it...your kids can Entertain Themselves for short-to-medium lengths of time. 

But, they're still little. They still cuddle in close to read books together at bedtime. Their eyes still light up at the mere mention of jellybeans. They're still goofy and unaffected and un-self-conscious. They think you are the Knower of All Things and you kind of are...with occasional help from Google. When they get out of the bath, you smell their freshly-shampooed heads and they're still baby sweet. 


This Winter Break, it hit me. We're in The Sweet Spot. 

I first caught of glimpse that we may be here on our first day off from school. We went to our brand-new indoor trampoline park and It. Was. Awesome. The boys were, of course, in paradise. But, surprisingly, Molly was, too. She bounced everywhere, racing ahead of me and her brothers calling back, "This way, boys! Let's jump on the big, BIG trampolines!" She jumped down the trampoline runway and (gently, slowly) lowered herself into the foam pit. We paid for an hour, we could have stayed for two...and Molly would have kept up with us. 

When we traveled to my parents' house, it started to become more clear...Sure, the kids were still up ridiculously early every morning of our trip but, finally, they can hang despite having had little sleep. Seldom are the all-out, day-ending, exhaustion-induced meltdowns. They're big enough to be able to wake up early, have a busy day of sightseeing and holiday festivities with family, catch a quick cat nap in the car if necessary, and stay up until (a later than normal) bedtime.

But they're still little enough to want to pose for dorky pictures with their parents.

We returned home to a house cluttered with Christmas decorations and new toys. While I spent the next day and a half de-Christmasing the house, the kids played. By themselves...together...but independently from me. There were tears demanding my involvement once or twice, following a too-roughly-tossed couch cushion and over a dispute involving what may or may not be a Creeper action figure from Minecraft (I have a lot to learn, apparently, after Minecraft took over our house this Christmas). But for the most part, they settled their own quarrels and entertained themselves happily and productively. Big enough to play independently, little enough to still Play.

We enjoyed a low-key New Year's Eve. We watched a Jake and the Neverland Pirates special and toasted the New Year (well, the end of the show, actually).

The Sweet Spot? Big enough to toast, little enough to go to bed at their regular bedtime on New Year's Eve. The bedtime, by the way, is another indication that we are in the Parenting Sweet Spot: our three kids, 7.5 years old, 5, and nearly 3, all go to bed at the same time....kind of. While I'm reading to Molly and Max, Sam is playing Legos with Evan. Then Molly goes to bed, Sam reads an extra book to Max, and I go to read with Evan. Their bedtimes are technically staggered, but the bedtime routine all happens at once. We're not yet at the point where we are negotiating who gets to stay up until what time and "that's not fair!" and "but I'm older!" etc. Right now, it's simple.

We started the New Year with something completely new.

The Sweet Spot is when all three kids can go ice skating with just two adults and a stack of buckets.

Big enough to join in, little enough to think they're destined to be the next Olympic figure skaters after their first trip to the rink.

We wrapped up our Winter Break with a trip to the movie theatre...just me, the kids, and Big Hero 6. It was right in the middle of the day, but the fact that it was going to eliminate any hope for naptime didn't deter me. Naps are No Longer Necessary. I wasn't sure I'd ever say those words, yet here we are. At long last and, at the same time, all of a sudden. 

Big Hero 6 was a great movie. All the kids loved it...we're in that Sweet Spot, after all. There's no movie-selection negotiating or splitting up at the theatre. We all still love the animated feature (which, to be fair, is easy when Disney keeps hitting it out of the park...). 

At the end of the movie, as we approached the escalator, littlest Molly said, "I do it myself! I go on the escamator all by myself!" I held her hand and grabbed hold of Max's and got ready to take our big All By Ourselves step. But I couldn't. My biggest boy stood at the top of the escalator, motionless. "Go ahead, bud!" I said. "We're ready!" He looked at the moving steps, hesitated, then looked back at me. 

"Hold my hand?" he asked.

My perfectly big and little boy.

Lesson Learned:
In 2015, I'm going to enjoy this time of our lives. I'm going to enjoy my Big Enough and Little Enough kids, knowing that I paid the dues to get to this point, but that it won't last forever. 

In 2015, I'm going to be Present in the Sweet Spot.