We Are Both Right

I’m Sorry, is it a 5-Second Rule or a 5-Second Guideline?

©hmpalassi/stock.xchng

Exposure to some germs can't be all bad, right? ©hmpalassi/stock.xchng

I was browsing in a gift shop at some tourist trap on vacation one day and stumbled upon a funny little saying embroidered onto a pillow:

I keep my house like I drink my martinis — dirty.

I’m not saying this is an expression I relate to — I don’t even like martinis — but I do confess to being on the (ahem) messy side sometimes. Now messy doesn’t necessarily equal dirty, but I think the last time my kitchen floor saw the mop was before the holiday season.

(Of course I’m kidding. It was definitely after Thanksgiving. I’m not a barbarian.)

Despite my joking, I do clean my house (please tell my husband to stop laughing). But I’m not a crazy person about it. Call it lazy, call it progressive, call it gross, but I think a little dirt and exposure to germs isn’t the worst thing in the world. I feel like everywhere I turn, everything is antibacterial — I mean, do we really need antibacterial pencils and socks?

This may be old school thinking, and you may never want to set foot in my house after you read it, but isn’t it important for kids to develop an immune system? If we let all of these products do the work for us, will we ever be able to fight germs ourselves?

So yes, the “5 second rule” is alive and well in our house. And when I came across my toddler son with my sneaker in his mouth, I sighed and I shuddered, but I didn’t freak out. (Same for the time when he was at my grandmother’s house and ate food out of the dog’s bowl.)

Somehow, this system seems to work for us. My kids get sick, but no more than any of their peers. In fact S., the 22-month-old with a taste for footwear and kibble, was on antibiotics for the first time ever just last week.

Now lest you think I’m a total slob with no regard for bleach and its properties, when there is a new baby in the house, I’m a bit extreme in the other direction. I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in every room and ask people to use it — after they’ve washed their hands. Everything gets washed twice (the dishwasher is my cleansing tool of choice).

And certainly, babies or no babies, regular hand washing for all family members is required on a regular basis. So we’re a clean bunch. Mostly.

Just don’t ask to look inside my closets.

How is it in your house? Are you meticulous about keeping things clean and germ-free?

************************

Our guest blogger BostonsMama takes germs a bit more seriously than I do. Which is why if I ever go to her house, I will gladly eat off the floor.

I’ll Keep My Kids Germ-Free (and Healthy), Thanks

©asolario/stock.xchng

Let's face it: Kids are gross! ©asolario/stock.xchng

As a mama of three and a half, you would think that time and experience would have forced me to relax some. And it has, to a degree, I am not nearly the uptight mama I was when I had my son Boston. At least, I don’t think I am all that uptight anymore. Others, my husband included, might beg to differ. But I am less of a nut case, I am not worried about perfectly coifed children anymore. Kids get dirty. They aren’t going to stay stain free with perfectly arranged hair all day. They are kids for crying out loud. I have finally learned to let them just be kids.

There are some things I have not lightened up on at all though. I am still paranoid about keeping them clean from a germ standpoint. I am the mom that uses a cart cover and a highchair cover. I am the mom wiping off the table with a wet wipe before I let the kids touch it. I am the mom going through thousands of wipes a month in general. It is a big nasty world out there and I don’t want it smeared all over my kids. Grocery cart handles are supposed to be the dirtiest thing in America and my kids all seem like they can’t help but lick it when they are sitting there. *shiver*  Buying wet wipes by the case isn’t my only addiction. I have to buy Clorox wipes the same way. Have you ever used those babies? Best little instant sanitizer ever. I would much rather use a Clorox wipe than a wash rag on the high chair any day. Another sweet little gem is the awesome, always effective, magic eraser. One use and I was in love. Those little rectangles of seemingly nothing clean better than anything.  I thought my tub was clean until I got a magic eraser. I was SHOCKED. It was three shades whiter when I was done. That new found love immediately took over my toys.

Most of the time we buy things used. I bought a Little Tyke slide at a garage sale for the perfect price of $1. I also bought a little car and a Fisher Price piano for $1. A steal people. I took them home, wore out two magic erasers, then gave them a bath in soapy water (magic erasers much be washed off of toys with soap, they can leave chemical burns on baby’s delicate skin) and we have been playing with those toys for four years. I have spent more on batteries for the piano than all of the toys combined.

But it doesn’t stop there. If a bunch of kids come over, I whip the Clorox wipes again and wash down everything in the playroom. Kids are gross. Not just other people’s kids, mine are too, but kids are gross. It just isn’t worth it to me to deal with sick kids because I didn’t bleach everything off at the end of the day.

I have heard all the arguments that we need to let our kids get exposed to germs so they can build an immune system. I understand that, but I also think it is stupid to just let it be a free for all. I was mocked by EVERYONE when my son was born because I wouldn’t take him out or let people hold him.  They told me I was being over protective and worrying too much. I respectfully disagree. It was RSV season, it is stupid to expose a newborn to something like that. In the end, there were six of us that had babies in a two week period, four of those babies ended up being admitted to the hospital for RSV. Boston didn’t even catch his first cold until he was ten months old.

I know that I am uptight in this area, but I have no intentions of changing in the slightest. In four years with three kids, I’ve had three ear infections, two pukes, one flu, and maybe a half dozen colds. That is amazing numbers. Until about a week ago I didn’t even know what it was to have a scary sick kid, I’ve just never dealt with it. My sister brought my nephew over sick and infected my kid so much that he ended up on oxygen. She knew he had pneumonia and brought him over anyway. After that experience it just made me recommit to bleach everything and stay away from anyone that has a cough. People can tease me all they want.  I like my kids healthy.

BostonsMama is a wife; mommy to Boston, Scarlett, Isla & Quatro; a blogger; stylist and crazy person. You can read about the life and stories of her sweethearts on her, blog They Call Me Mommy. Keep up with her on her Facebook page.

**************************

In our new series of guest blogs, we invite other mommy bloggers to share a different point of view on topics where Suzanne and Amanda actually find themselves agreeing (for once). After reading this post, self-proclaimed mess (in more ways than one) Amanda says she may have to check out these magic erasers of which BostonsMama speaks so highly.

We’ll Use the Potty Sooner Rather than Later

Elimination communication depends on you to interpret your baby's timing, signals and cues. © BabyBjorn

I hear about potty training as a two-year-old issue and even a three-year-old issue now.

I know that my mother would be appalled to see three-year-olds running about in diapers. No child in our family has ever been in diapers past two; if I let my baby be in diapers that long, I’d never hear the end of it. Some of us were trained before one.

In fact, family tradition dictates that one of baby’s first birthday presents will be a potty chair. Potty training starts when walking starts. I was potty trained before one. Now I’m working on having my son Norton potty trained early, too.

We use elimination communication. For months now (since Norton was six months old, actually), we’ve been putting Norton on the potty before he gets a bath. For the first week, he cried when I put him on the potty. Then we figured out that it was because he was cold and naked, so we started to warm up the bathroom a bit.

He stopped crying on the potty, but he still wasn’t actually using it. Instead, he was peeing in the bath as soon as his little bottom hit the water. That was when we started putting his potty on the bathroom counter and splashing water from the sink over his little foot. It took about a month of this before we had success.

The day that Norton used the potty for the very first time was just downright euphoric. I cheered so loud that I scared my baby and made him cry, then proceeded to brag on Facebook about my little genius baby using the potty. Then he didn’t do it again for a week.

Elimination communication wasn’t easy to start, but we got him to the point where he uses his potty nearly every night. (Of course, we’d have probably gotten a better start if I didn’t brag about it on Facebook. There’s no quicker way to get my kid to stop doing something than to brag about him doing it in the first place.)

Now that he’s almost a year old, we’re trying to get him to use the potty more frequently. We’re putting him on the potty before naps and after naps, and also first thing in the morning. We aren’t necessarily having success at these times, but he’s cooperating with the experience. He’ll get it soon enough. Each time he uses the potty is a success.

There’s one huge advantage to doing it this way: Norton is already used to the potty. He’s already comfortable sitting on it, and he even holds his little foot out over the sink so that it may be splashed. When he’s officially a toddler and is really ready to be completely trained, then we’ll move forward with no hold up. Less time in diapers means less laundry for me (because I mostly use cloth) and less money literally thrown away with disposables.

It’s really not even that hard, nor is it a hard core commitment. You can use elimination communication on a part time basis, or you can go diaper free and use elimination communication all the time.

It’s not about forcing your child to be potty trained before he’s ready. It’s just recognizing your child’s cues to recognize when he or she has to go. Eventually, they’ll start communicating those cues to you so that you know that it’s time to go to the potty.

Really, potty training can be hard enough if you wait until they are old enough to be stubborn about it. Why delay it if you don’t have to?

Enyo is an ex-pat living in the Great White North. You can keep up with the adventures of Enyo, Norton, and their puppies on her blog, “Motherhood Looms: Where’s My Yarn?” or stop by to chat with her on the Motherhood Looms page on Facebook.

**************

In the first of our new series of guest blogs, we invite other mommy bloggers to share a different point of view on topics where Suzanne and Amanda actually find themselves agreeing (for once). Thanks to Enyo for enlightening us on the ins and outs of elimination communication — which Suzanne didn’t quite get until now.

Potty Training is So Old School (But I Still Prefer It)

Waiting to potty train -- at least until baby can walk. © Marco Ariesen/stock.xchng

Up until a few weeks ago, I had no idea what elimination communication was. But thanks to Amanda who connected the dots for me (‘You mean that’s what they call holding a baby over a potty?’) and her pointing me in the direction of a friend who follows this method with her infant son, I feel better.

Because for a while there, I really thought I might end up in mommy summer school. I rely so heavily on intuition that I tend not to read the parenting handbooks until it’s time to put a label on what it is that I’ve been doing all along — like I did with parenting styles. That’s just the type of mom I am.

So when it came to potty training, I dove in head first, without researching a thing. Honestly, I didn’t think there was anything to research. I did it the only way I knew. Wait until your child knows what a potty is, realizes that no one else taller than them is wearing a diaper, and then sit them down. And wait some more.

Somewhere between age 2 and age 3, it clicks and they are potty trained.

To have started that process a whole two years earlier when my baby didn’t even know — well, anything — I’m not sure what difference it would have made. And essentially, with elimination communication, you are carrying your baby around, sans diaper, trying to time their needs just right so that you are holding the baby over a potty or a receptacle of some sort every time the baby needs to “go.” Talk about responsibility. I can barely predict that for myself, never mind a creature who is predictably unpredictable.

The theory behind it is that you start your baby using the toilet almost from birth — say every twenty to thirty minutes. It’s common practice in Asia and Africa, where potty training tends to be completed in baby’s first year for this reason. Call it what you like — infant potty training, natural infant hygiene or “potty whispering” — but it relies upon the parent to interpret an infant’s body language and cues. Part of the appeal among Western parents is that the practice is environmentally friendly and cheaper because you aren’t relying on diapers, either at all or for the better part of two years. Some even say it creates a stronger bonding experience between parent and child. Oh, and you don’t have to deal with diaper rash.

Sounds great.

But I don’t think I could do it.

The way I see, there would be little time for anything else if you had to hover around a potty every twenty minutes, every day of baby’s life. It’s bad enough you have to carve out a week for intense potty training when the child is two, dismissing any thought of grocery shopping or taking a trip to the playground, instead chasing a naked toddler around on your hardwood floors.

Although, according to practitioners of elimination communication, if we had actually followed that method from the start the child would already associate the urge to eliminate with a potty because of all of their training, and we wouldn’t be saying “uh-oh” in the pile of Mega Blocks.

Still. I don’t see it happening. It’s almost like starting to teaching a baby division at their first birthday. You can talk about it all you want, and the child is still going to get it when they’re ready. So either you spend years “teaching” them from an early age or weeks when the natural capacity to comprehend it kicks in.

What do you think? Have you ever tried elimination communication? Or if you didn’t get it until now like me, would you ever consider it?

For our guest blogger Enyo, she did what she knew best too. Having been brought up with the practice of elimination communication, it was more of an expectation than an expedition when her son was born last year. And so she checks in to tell us how it’s going…

Teaming Up in the Potty Training Department

Suzanne recently ‘fessed up to some fellow mom bloggers at Playdate Crashers about why potty training her toddlers was such a slam dunk. Seems that she had a little help, and Amanda couldn’t be more jealous.

It’s been a long running joke among my working mom pals that you finally see a return on your investment at day care when they help potty train your child. I think more parents might start paying a few hundred dollars a month if they only knew that someone else would readily take care of that dirty work! But all joking aside, potty training your child while he or she is attending day care can be a very positive experience — for you both. Read more…

Tell us about your child’s potty training experience, and if you would have been as open to someone else taking the lead.

Considering a Cloth Diaper Conversion

I have to say, I feel somewhat uncomfortable and even a bit hypocritical, writing in support of something I don’t practice in my daily parenting. But it is something I believe in and who knows, with your help, maybe I can change my ways.

I wish I used cloth diapers for my youngest son S. It would be unfair of me to say I wanted to do with C. and A. when they were little, because honestly, the thought never occurred to me. But with S., I like to think I’ve been a bit more thoughtful in my parenting (making my own baby food for instance), and cloth diapers were something I seriously considered.

So why didn’t I? Why don’t I now? I’m not sure.

Actually I am.

It’s laziness. Pure and simple laziness.

© Kissaluvs

© Kissaluvs

The truth is when I was pregnant with S. and researching all the various options for cloth diapers, I started feeling overwhelmed. bumGenius. FuzziBunz. gDiapers. Bummis. Adorable names, cute patterns and colors, all giving me no direction whatsoever.

I didn’t know where to start. There were so many choices and different ways to do it — I was afraid I’d do it wrong, or invest in cloth diapering and hate it or it wouldn’t work. Which is silly of course, all I needed to do was read a bit more, but that’s where I was at the time.

Now, four months shy of S.’s second birthday, I’m wondering if it’s worth switching over. Part of me says to give it a try, the other optimistic part says to let it go. To keep my Amazon Mom Subscribe and Save once-a-month delivery of Pampers and just stay at the status quo until he’s potty trained. (Which I’m hoping to tackle over the summer.)

The reasons to use cloth are many and far-reaching. Ultimately, despite an initial investment, they save money, although if I switched now I’m wondering if I would realize a savings difference. For S., there’s less chance he’ll develop diaper rash and asthma even, thanks to less particle emission. And as I understand it, kids in cloth diapers potty train much faster. Plus, I never have to worry about running out — with my washing machine, we always have a supply handy.

Big world-wise, the benefits are tremendous. Less waste, less carbon footprint, less landfill filler from our family. And those are big reasons. (And make me feel guilty that I didn’t do cloth from the beginning.)

So talk to me. Do you use cloth diapers? Is it worth for me to switch over? And if so, where do I start?

Suzanne always used disposable diapers and never gave it a second thought. (Well, maybe half a second.)

Disposable Diapers or Bust

Jonathan Werner/stock.xchng

I could hang my laundry on the line but I use a clothes dryer. I could ride my bicycle to work, but I drive. I could grow my own vegetables and go halves on a cow, but I frequent the supermarket instead.

So is it any surprise that I exclusively used disposable diapers for my two babies?

Cloth diapers just seemed like a lot of work — a lot of work at a time when I was already struggling to keep up. My mommy brain didn’t have the capacity to worry about intercepting leaks, scrubbing waste out of white cloths (really, why are they white to begin with?), and doing an extra load of laundry every day.

Why complicate matters any further?

Dare I say that as a first-time mom planning to return to a full-time job outside the home, it wasn’t worth it to me to spend my time dealing with the logistics of cloth diapers? Selfish maybe, but I had no interest. Zero. Cloth diapers were never even a consideration for me. And I figured day care probably wouldn’t think much of them either.

Of course I’m well aware of the environmental advantages of using cloth diapers over disposable. In fact, I spent the first five months of my first pregnancy in one of the earthiest crunchiest towns in this country. I heard and read plenty about eating only organic food, home births, breastfeeding, and using cloth diapers.

I also knew that there were diaper services that would do all of the dirty work for you. But that still seemed like a lot of extra (read: unnecesary) effort and expense.

So when it came down to it, I chose convenience over saving the earth. According to my sources, I have already contributed 11,224 diapers to landfills (give or take 3 or 4 for the times I ripped the cheap tabs on the generic diapers). Though I did make an effort to cut back on our plastic consumption the second time around — by ditching the diaper pail that neatly wrapped each disposable diaper in yet another layer of plastic spun into the shape of a sausage link. I seem to think that there are far more risky propositions jeopardizing this green earth for my children’s children than our four years worth of plastic diapers sitting in a landfill.

Still, my apologies to Mother Earth. Maybe I can make it up by skipping baths (aka saving water) after my kids turn green playing in the recycled tire playground near our house.

Don’t give up on me yet though. If I take a page out of Amanda’s book, it looks like I might get more thoughtful about my parenting choices if I ever have a third child.