We started potty training Ivy today. A two-fold reason, the first being that she is 21 months and showing all the cues (telling us when she pees and poos her diapers, showing an interest in sitting on a potty when her big sis does, etc.) and the second being that our hard water is rendering our waterproof diaper covers useless. I found a wonderful soap to use on cloth diapers formulated specifically for our hard water except that it’s expensive, well the shipping and handling anyway, and it makes Ivy break out. So my choices, diapers that work and make her break out versus diapers that don’t work and leak through all her clothes but leave her bottom rash-free. I took the third road of chucking the diapers and potty training early. By early I mean earlier then I was planning which was when the weather warmed up and she can casually run around in her undies without me doing 50 million loads of laundry from beginning pee accidents in pants.
I’ve discovered that I am not good at the potty training thing. All of my children are late, late potty trainers with very stubborn wills and all have had a history of regression that takes at least a year or more to pull out of. So, this being my fifth round, I’ve decided to take a different tactic.
- Pray, pray, and pray some more! Not for common sense or the how-to’s (I’ve read a million books on those), but on keeping my patience, using a gentle tone, not getting frustrated too early, not giving up too soon, and staying consistent.
- Use this as a positive reinforcement for Delilah (3 – still potty training) and Luc (5 – finally just finished potty training!!!) by including them in the process and making it about all three of them.
- Mommy training. I don’t expect Ivy to get it in the two weeks we will be concentrating on it, I more expect me to habit-train myself on taking her and being consistent with the work so that when the two weeks are up and my normal schedule resumes we don’t fall off the bandwagon.
- Set reasonable expectations. For Ivy, stick to practicing sitting on the potty and making it positive and the transition to big girl panties. For Delilah, getting consistent potty use and practicing getting pants back on in a timely manner. For Luc, continuing with encouragement for jobs well done.
- Maintain the schedule.
It is this first and last point that has made the biggest difference today. Giving it over to God constantly has made me keep an even keel (#321). And the gentle nudgings of the Holy Spirit have helped me encourage in places I wouldn’t otherwise, especially with the older two. It is easy for me to ignore little things with them because they should already know better (i.e. wiping themselves, washing hands, flushing, etc.) but I have treated them both as if they are training for the first time in order to keep it positive for Ivy and the praise is totally lifting them up, making them feel included, and keeping them on track (#322). Praying has also helped keep me from distraction (#323). As I am tempted to just do a quick kitchen cleanup the Holy Spirit reminds me that we have a schedule of chores and let’s just let that be enough. When I am tempted to hop on the computer because the baby needs to nurse the Holy Spirit whispers in my ear that I will just let time slip away and then that one-on-one interaction with Ivy will be broken.
Before in training I had taken book reccomendations on completely clearing my schedule and devoting all my attention to the trainee. That sounds great in theory (and may be with a first child) but is not practical with trainee number five! When I’ve tried this in the past then chaos ensued. The littles would make messes everywhere because they had unlimited freedom with no boundaries. And the older children would make messes everywhere with their well-meaning crafting and negligence of chores. I would end up frustrated and potty training would be derailed as I tried to pull some semblence of order back into our lives.
I’ve also tried the maintain-current-schedule theory with little success as well. I would spend the whole day answering school questions or keeping toddlers out of trouble or getting laundry, dishes, meals done and the poor trainee would have an inconsistent trainer.
So, what to do?
In my brilliance (okay, not mine but the Lords!), I came up with two solutions. The first I’ve already touched on ~ keeping the other two toddlers/preschoolers involved in the training process right by my side. This has left my house reasonable clean all day (#324)! No messy playroom to pick up (#325). No toys strewed everywhere (#326). No food snuck and left sticky on tables and walls (#327). It has been wonderful and an eye opener on how our school days should go.
The second solution is guided project learning for the older ones. I needed a way to still school them without them needing me to be there. We’ve done project weeks before and the biggest challenge for me is the huge mess it creates as they “work”. The biggest challenge for them has been staying on track or not abandoning it as they are distracted by other play. I knew I could easily assign basic school work that they could independently work on but I also know their personalities and that would’ve turned into drudgery for them really fast which, in turn, would’ve led to daydreaming and getting distracted which would’ve led to me constantly
nagging reminding them to get back to work and me not being focused on my trainee. I needed to keep them engaged for their 2-hour morning school block while allowing them to work independently. So I thought and planned ahead. I allowed them to check out library books that they wanted. Then I took those same books and turned them into a schoolish project that they could work on but would appeal to their individual interests and keep them going all week. It worked wonderfully (#328)! (I will post on that tomorrow!)
Both solutions allowed us to maintain our schedule better then we’ve been doing for weeks (#329). (Again, giving me great food for thought about how we “do” school.) And the best part, laundry got done (#330), dishes got done (#331), chores stayed on track (#332), I did very little yelling (#333), and my littlest ones had lots and lots and lots of mommy time (#334). And now as Ivy naps I have this incredible free time – an hour or so – before dinner needs to be made where my house is cleaned, chores are caught up, and the kids are happily playing in the playroom after all working together as a team to make sock puppets (#335-337). We have sticker charts that are being happily filled in (#338 – thank you pullups.com for your customization for each child!) and I have a moment to breathe (#339). It has been a very, very good day again reminding me that when I sacrifice my own needs to meet the needs of others, my needs end up getting met exactly how I need! And all the glory goes to Him who sustained me!
Edited Addition ~ Ivy went in the potty!!!!! At exactly 8:04 her 4 older siblings started dancing joyfully around the room and she looked perplexed at the pee, perplexed at their dancing and then got it and danced joyfully herself around the room. A thrilling moment in our mundane household! (#340)