We Are Both Right

Not Exactly the Second Home I Was Hoping For

©clambert/stock.xchng

If Amanda never had to go into one of these for the rest of her life, she'd be OK with that. ©clambert/stock.xchng

I hate public restrooms. The thought of going into one makes me cringe. Not because they are dirty or grimy or simply gross. I mean they are (some of them anyway, some of them are nicer than my house). And certainly I appreciate their function. On more than one occasion we have been saved by their close proximity.

It’s that lately I have been spending so much time in them, I feel as if I should be sending the collective owners part of my mortgage payment.

I am the mom to a semi-newly minted potty-trained toddler who still needs some assistance in the bathroom. When we are home, he uses the toilet, I don’t know, five or six times a day? (It’s definitely at least three, because any time I sit down to eat, there he is with his urgent cry “Pee pee! Pee pee! I have to go pee pee!”) In any case, it’s a reasonable amount, one you’d expect from a nearly three-year-old.

When we are out however, it’s double that number. Easily. Our whole family hit the toy store (shopping for his birthday presents no less!) and went out to lunch over the weekend. We left our house at 11:30 and were home by 3. He asked to go to the bathroom no less than five times. And by “asked” I mean, “shouted the words ‘pee pee’ and ‘poopy’ so loudly that I was pretty convinced that other people were getting ready to bring him to the bathroom for me.”

Why the increase? Does he feel the need to mark his territory? Is he bored? Does he think I don’t get enough exercise (heh)? Does he have a bladder control problem? Does he like the hands-free dryers? I’m not sure, but because he is still somewhat new at this and because I know what happens when you ignore the persistent plea of the diaper-less (like the time our potty-training eldest boy peed on the floor of a house we were thinking of buying a few years ago), I always respond to his entreaties. And quickly. Or as quickly as you can find the one employee in the entire store who can direct you to the non-marked restroom (behind the door with the hanging “Employees Only” sign), while being followed by a pint-sized person yelling “Poopies! I have to make poopies! Mommy! Now!”(That was yesterday’s adventure in Dollar Tree. We might have gotten some stares.) Even if it means closing my eyes, holding my nose and bringing him into the oh-so-awful port-a-potty at the Little League Fields. (“Do. Not. Touch. ANYTHING.”)

It’s usually always me, too, even if my husband is with us, simply because I feel like women’s bathrooms are generally always cleaner than the men’s room. Which makes me think there might me some sort of conspiracy going on.

Still, I am proud of him — he has yet to have an accident while we are out — so I guess he’s doing something right. Even if it means I lose my place in line, my dinner gets cold (or worse, taken away) or I misplace my other children for a minute or two. (True stories!)

What is it with toddlers and public restrooms? Have you had a similar experience?

11 Years Later, Still Parenting by the Seat of My Pants

There is a small potty chair in the middle of my living room. Not surprising when you consider we have a two-and-a-half-year-old living here, but downright shocking if you know my take on potty training.

No potty seats and certainly not in the living room. You learn to do your business on the toilet on a potty ring. In the bathroom.

So why do I have a toddler watching television as he attempts to go to the bathroom?

Because he’s my third child and I’m tired and desperate.

To be fair, I didn’t buy the potty seat. It was sent to me to review for one of my other writing jobs. I had considered passing it off to someone else, but then I re-evaluated my stance when S. took an interest in the box.

Now our living room is one step above a public restroom, but at least he’s sitting on an actual toilet with his pants down, which is something he wouldn’t do yesterday. (Small victories people. It’s all about the small, strange victories when you’re a mom.)

potty training chair arm and hammer potty munchkin

We do need a new chair for the living room, but I was thinking recliner. ©Arm & Hammer/Munchkin

The potty ring isn’t the only way I’ve changed in my style of mothering. With nearly nine years separating kid number one from kid number three it isn’t surprising that we do things differently (and a are a bit more relaxed). As a one-week old, youngest child S. was being carted around to Little League games where I would nurse him in the stands and chat with the other moms and dads. When our eldest C. was a week old, we would maybe, possibly venture out for a walk if the weather was just perfect. If we were in public when it was time for him to nurse I’d whisk him away to a private place where we would be left alone.

Obviously, my thoughts (and consequently my parenting style) have changed on lots of things — some major, some minor — and while I’m not shocked by it, I am interested in my evolution from a know-it-all-yet-panicked first-time mom to a quite zen, oh-let-him-drink-soda-once-in-a-while third-time mommy.

And apparently a woman who encourages public urination.

How has your parenting style changed over the years? What is one thing you swore you’d never do that you do now?

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.

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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.