Potty Training Readiness

About a week ago, as we were getting Little Oats ready for the bath, she declared “I go pee!” Since she was diaperless, I put her on the toilet to see what would happen. Sure enough, she peed…and cheered herself on when she was done. I was surprised, but sure that it was just a fluke; after all, she was standing *right* beside the toilet.

The next morning, we were headed out the door for daycare, and she announced again “I go pee!” She ran into the bathroom, tugged at her pants, and asked me for help. I took her diaper off, sat her on the toilet, and again, she peed and cheered. This has happened randomly and spontaneously at different times throughout the last few days, and every time, Little Oats is thrilled with herself. She will occasionally go if we ask her, but it’s usually her own doing. So, despite the fact that we hadn’t planned to potty train for another several months (she’s 22 months), I started reading, researching and planning out our potty training approach.

So, how do you know that your child is ready for potty training? Here are some great signs and signals from different sources (BabyCenter, this article)

Signs of Potty Training ‘Readiness’

  • walks and runs steadily
  • urinates a fair amount at once (as opposed to a little bit several times a day)
  • has regular bowel movements at somewhat predictable times
  • has ‘dry’ periods during naps, at night, or for at least 2 hours (showing bladder control)
  • can pull pants up and down
  • seems to dislike the feeling of a dirty or wet diaper
  • shows interest in others’ bathroom habits
  • can give a verbal or physical sign of bowel movements
  • takes pride in accomplishments
  • isn’t hesitant or resistant to using the toilet
  • is in a generally cooperative stage
  • understands the feelings of ‘having to go’ and can tell you before it happens
  • can follow simple instructions

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Toddlerhood & Discipline

Many experts say that the two most important things parents can give their kids is love and discipline. Loving our kids can come pretty easily, but disciplining them can be difficult or frustrating. When I hear the word discipline, I think of punishment. Even the dictionary defines discipline as punishment. I grew up in a home where I was punished whenever I got in trouble. It left me feeling hurt and distrustful of my mom who was the one who did the disciplining. Even as an adult, it still stings when I think about how I was disciplined and how that impacted my relationship with my mom.

When I became a teacher, I had to have a discipline policy in my classroom. It consisted of rules and consequences. It was a set of boundaries and expectations of behavior in the classroom so that all children could learn and feel safe. When I first started teaching, my inability to effectively implement my discipline policy greatly affected my classroom. It wasn’t chaos but it wasn’t pretty. It left me feeling frustrated and flustered at time. I was just trying to survive.

Being the parent of a toddler can feel like that. As a first time parent, when Little SB is pushing my buttons and having a meltdown because she didn’t get her way, sometimes I just want to throw in the towel. It makes me wonder whether she is doing that on purpose or not. But I know she isn’t doing it on purpose because there are certain characteristics of toddlers that make them the way they are. As the parent, I need to remember that she is learning about the world and doesn’t see it the way I do.

As I stated in a previous post, I’ve been attending a toddler parenting class and the class on discipline was such an eye opening one for me. I’ve always thought of discipline as a way of addressing misbehavior, but it should actually be an ongoing way of interacting with your child to encourage good behavior, prevent misbehavior, and resolve problem behavior when it occurs. It should provide guidelines and support for your child as they are learning how to behave and manage their emotions and relationships with others.

Encouraging Good Behavior

– “Catch them being good.” At my old elementary school, we used to have something called “GOTCHA’S.” Basically they were like referrals but were given to kids when we caught them doing something good. So many times, we focus on the negative instead of the positive. During a typical day with Little SB, I find myself saying, “No, don’t touch that.” Don’t jump, don’t do this, don’t do that, etc. I focus on what I don’t want her to do so much that sometimes I forget to acknowledge what she is doing. I’ve been trying to be more intentional and praise her for her behavior and catch her doing good instead of constantly criticizing or correcting her.

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Choosing a Double Stroller – Britax B-Agile Double Review

When we found out we were expecting Baby Lion, the one piece of baby gear that I insisted I had to have was a double stroller. Living in the suburbs, but also in a walking-friendly area, I used my single B-Agile stroller at least once, sometimes 3-4 times a day! I knew that having two children two years apart would make getting out of the house a struggle, and if I was to ever leave the house with both kids in tow, I really wanted to have a stroller that could contain both of them.

The most important criteria to me were:

  • Size – would both kids fit comfortably? Would I fit through doors and down aisles when shopping?
  • Weight – would I be able to easily get it in and out of the car?
  • Ease of folding and loading – again, would I be able to easily get it in and out of the car?
  • Maneuverability – would it be easy to steer one handed?
  • Infant Seat Compatibility – would our Britax Chaperone seat be compatible?

Other things we considered:

  • Ease of setting brake – we stop and go a lot, so I wanted this to be simple.
  • Recline – could Baby Lion recline for a nap while Little Lion remains upright?
  • Snack Tray – This is a favorite feature on our single B-Agile, and it was important that our next stroller also have this feature.
  • Cost – Since this was my one big new item, I was okay splurging a bit, but we still had a budget to work with.
  • Storage – Could I hang the diaper bag and put things into the basket?
  • Safe for jogging – would I be able to use it as an every day stroller as well as a jogging stroller?

Despite my great love for my single B-Agile, I was not quite so brand loyal that I didn’t consider other strollers.

We compared the B-Agile Double, the City Select, the City Mini Double, and the Contours Options Double. We did not consider the Britax B-Ready because I personally am not a fan of the seat configurations where the child in the back is below the child in the front, although if this does not bother you it might be another option.

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Thoughts on Race and Parenting

As is very obvious to anyone following me here on HB, I am white, Mr. T is Indian (well actually, Malaysian-Indian), and our children are biracial. Although Mr. T and I grew up in the same general area (and met in high school), because of our different ethnic backgrounds we had pretty different experiences growing up. My parents and I never had any reason to suspect that a teacher was holding me back because of my race, or treating me differently because of it. Mr. T was not so lucky – I’ve learned some of his experiences over the years, and am constantly wondering how things may have changed in the last few decades and what sorts of things K & D will experience growing up.

14759391676_491d8dd383_z-600x450Throwback to our highschool graduation

My in-laws immigrated to the US just before Mr. T was born. Neither of his parents learned English growing up – his father came here to be a driver for their country’s ambassador. He married Mr. T’s mom when they were both in their early twenties, and when he brought her to the US she got a job in a nursing home. They started their own nursing home when Mr. T was a young child, and run a network of them now. To many, this is the American dream come to life. My FIL likes to say “I came here with $5 in my pocket and now look!”

Mr. T was a very conscientious student growing up, but ran into some teachers and others who assumed he wasn’t capable because of the color of his skin and the accents of his parents. He’s told me stories of teachers giving him a lower grade, assuming his English was incorrect, and having to petition them to give him a fair score after double checking. When he was on sports teams, some coaches never let him play, so his father ended up becoming a coach. Mr. T says he still got limited field time, but at least then the reason was to not show familial preference! Mr. T’s youngest sister was placed in an ESL kindergarten class because she was shy and a teacher assumed she didn’t speak English – Mr. T had to go to the elementary school to get them to place her with the other kids.

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How to cool down without the AC

My mother in law has been a labor and delivery nurse for more than 30 years. When our baby was born, we were always worried about temperature and she said “cooler is better.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the best temperature for babies is between 65-70 degrees, which was shocking for me because 65 degrees seems pretty chilly!

Baby Pencil was born in April so we were OK temperature wise for the first couple months, but then summer hit and it was super hot! We don’t have central AC in our apartment so it was a lot of trial and error to figure out how to cool down our rooms without blasting a fan in his face. I felt like Macgyver trying to figure out how to arrange our fans and doors and watched the temperature on our monitor like a hawk!

If you don’t have an air conditioner, here are some fan suggestions:

fans for nurseries

Honeywell Floor Circulator  |  Vornado Floor Fan Circulator  |  Vornadobaby Nursery Air Circulator  |  Dyson Bladeless Fan

I actually have the cheapest option of the above mentioned choices – the Vornado floor fan. (20% off your nearest Bed Bath and Beyond!) It works pretty well and I actually like that it is loud. It also serves as an extra white noise machine!

My current MacGyver set up is:

  1. Lukewarm bath before bedtime
  2. Turn on ceiling fan at the lowest speed (this air does not really reach him because his crib is on the side of the room.)
  3. Leave the door a quarter open
  4. Turn on the Vornado fan from the outside of the door, facing up, at the second to highest speed
  5. Turn on the AC wall unit from our bedroom door and close all doors including closet doors. I turn the AC to about 70 degrees, so it isn’t very cold. It just gets rid of the muggy air.

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Taking Time to Notice the Happy

Having twin toddlers is a special kind of crazy. I love those little bundles of energy, but it sometimes feels like my day is one big blur of tantrums, emotional breakdowns, and discipline. For a while, I was truly feeling like I must be a terrible mother because my kids were just unhappy and miserable all day long. I knew toddlers were challenging, but it was just constant fits, crying, timeouts, and neediness and that had to equal out to me doing something wrong. After talking to a couple of my mommy role models, I realized that while toddlers can be a special brand of torture an emotional, physical, and mental challenge, my perspective on my kids was skewed by the fact that there are two two-year olds. I lost sight of any of the sweet, funny happy moments because nine times out of ten, I was dealing with an unpleasant moment with the other twin when one was having a great moment. It’s hard to separate in my mind that they aren’t both constantly distraught and demanding tyrants because as their mama I’m dealing with one or the other’s unhappy moments all the time.

quiet momentA rare quiet moment with all three boys.

At the end of the day, I don’t feel like we had a lot of time being happy or having fun. But my very wise mommy role models all said some version of the idea that when their kids were toddlers, they had to force themselves to make a special effort to see the good things to make sure they actually noticed and remembered them in the haze of toddler chaos. One of them told me, “I tried to watch for anything good–even if it was just that they all walked out to the mailbox without having any issue. And we had a very short sidewalk, so really take whatever you can. Find something, however little, so you realize that they really are happy and funny and sweet throughout the day even if it’s just for a few seconds at a time.”

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Preparing For a Stay at the Grandparents’

Mr. Cowboy and I will celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary this August — yay! Because we were hoping to be home with our Lil’ Cowgirl by then (or at least be bringing her home!), we decided to celebrate early by taking a child-free trip to Cancun. With the timelines of Korean adoption being rather unpredictable and optimistically hoping we could be in Korea as early as May or June, we opted for an early April trip. My parents graciously agreed to care for Lil’ CB while we were gone and because Lil’ CB has had several sleepovers at their house, we knew he would be comfortable there. We also knew he’d have lots and lots of fun and probably be spoiled rotten.

Even though he’d be staying somewhere he’d been before with people he knew and loved, this was the first time Lil’ CB would be away from us for more than one night. Plus, my parents would be driving him to and from school and various activities, so I wanted to make sure things were set up to be as easy and seamless as possible for Lil’ CB and my parents so that Mr. Cowboy and I could have fun in the sun without worrying too much about our little guy!

Here are some things I did before leaving for our trip:

D E T A I L E D   S C H E D U L E:

Between school, soccer practice, a soccer game, and a birthday party, Lil’ CB had quite the packed schedule while we were away. I wrote out a detailed schedule with times, addresses, phone numbers, and routines. While I told my parents that aside from the school schedule and the soccer game, they didn’t have to stress so much about the times (in fact, they ended up skipping soccer practice), it was helpful to have all of the needed information in one place.

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