People will ask, "what is the difference between raising boys and raising girls?". Up until a few days ago I didn't have an answer because I haven't found it that much different yet. The other day something happened that was eye-opening to me. One of the boys had to go to the bathroom. They used the last of the toilet paper, finished their business then went about their day. Minutes later Jena had to use the bathroom. She walks in. She sees there is no toilet paper. Without saying a word she leaves the bathroom, heads down to the basement, where we keep the extra toilet paper. She returns with a roll of toilet paper and replaces it. All of this was done with no prompting from me. I have never even taught her or explained to her to do this. She did this all on her own. Not one of the boys has ever done this. Ever.
That is the difference between boys and girls. Happy Monday!
Oh...totally off subject but look at my big girls! Today Emma is 8 months and Tess is 18 months. Jena will be 4 in two weeks. Where is the time going?
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
If there is one thing I dislike about raising kids it's potty training. To date it is my least favorite parenting thing to do. I don't know if I'm just the worlds worst potty trainer or what but seriously it has been a challenge and struggle for almost all of them. I still have two to go so I can't say how they will be but my hopes aren't high for them. It does not matter that I have used the same method of training with all of them in the beginning of the process. You know, the can't fail "set-the-timer-every-20 minutes and don't leave the house for 2 weeks" method just about everyone uses. Yeah, it's not fail proof in this house. Neither is the, "okay Jr. today's the day we get rid of diapers all together and now you will use the potty, never have an accident and never need diapers again" method. Then there's the sticker charts, rewards of m&m's and mints (or whatever you use), the promises of a special outing if they go the whole day without an accident and the incentive of receiving that toy they have been wanting if they could only go a week with no accidents! You know, all those tried and true tips, tricks and methods that seemingly have worked for every other kid in the world. Well not so much in this house. Don't get me wrong many of these things I have done and tried and promote but there has not been one way or one method that has worked for all of them. At least that has been my experience so far.
If I have learned one thing about raising kids it is that no two are alike and just because something worked with one it does not mean it will work with any others. Isn't that discouraging? Am I making you want to give up right now? Believe me I have had a lot of moments during this journey of potty training where I ended up in the fetal position ready to throw in the towel convinced that my children would be teenagers still wearing diapers. The great thing about getting through the process and looking at it from the other side is finding out that they do learn, some more quickly then others, but they do eventually graduate out of diapers into those coveted underwear (the ones you let them choose themselves of course, as an incentive to stay dry!).
I have had a few who were very stubborn about the whole thing and it didn't matter what I did or what I tried they just would not do it unless it was on their terms in their time. After I had this experience with my first one I vowed we would never do it like that again. I felt so much pressure to have him potty trained young, convinced I was a bad mother if he wasn't, listening to other moms tell me their fool-proof methods and if I only did it like them he'd be trained (but he wasn't), and all the while stressing myself and him out big time. It was not fun for either of us. I started training him at 2 and he was not fully trained until he was almost 4. With my second I refused to force it. I introduced it at 2 but he showed no interest so I let it go. I decided I would wait for the signs that he was interested and start actively training him then. That's not to say we didn't introduce the concept or ask him if he wanted to try but we didn't force the issue. One day when he was almost 3 we were getting ready to take a bath and he says, "pee". I asked him if he had to pee and he said yes. I put him on the potty but he said he wanted to stand. I stood him in front of the potty and he peed in the toilet. From that moment on he never wore a diaper. That was it. He had decided he was ready and that was that. He wasn't dry at night but during the day there were no diapers, pull-ups or accidents. I was on cloud 9. I thought I had figured it out. Go me! That high would not last because 3 other kids have been potty trained since him and only one of them was that easy.
Try not to get discouraged. I promise you if you are actively introducing the concept and making a deliberate effort to train your child they will not graduate high school in diapers! If you are a mom who is struggling with potty training your child I encourage you to talk to some friends who have already been through the process. Pick their brains and find out what worked for them and what didn't. Be willing to try different things but also be willing to say, "he's just not ready yet". Believe me it's not worth the stress you will both be under if you try forcing something that is just not ready to happen. If you know a mom (or dad) who is struggling with potty training offer them some help, if you are able. I don't mean advice, I mean help. Offer to come over and spend a few hours with that child. Sometimes all the child needs for incentive is to "show-off" for someone else like a relative or close friend of the family. Two of my kids only became fully potty trained after spending some time with their grandmother and aunt. They were so proud to go potty for them it was all the encouragement they needed. It was also an incredible blessing to me. I also have a very generous and selfless friend who last year while I was taking care of a new baby and also 7 months pregnant and trying to potty-train my just-turned 3-year-old (and really hoping to avoid having 3 in diapers) offered to keep her overnight for a few days so she could try potty training her along with her girls who were potty trained. Because I ended up delivering early this never happened but the fact that my friend was willing to do this meant so much to me and it is something I will never forget. Not only did it show me how much she must love me but it also was an example to me of how I might minister to another mom if the opportunity ever presented itself.
In closing I will leave you with some things I feel were beneficial in the training of my kids to use. They're not fool-proof...these are just ideas.
* A timer. This is how I have begun the process with all of them so far. Set the timer for every 15-20 minutes and when it goes off have them sit on the potty for 10 or so minutes. Keep repeating this. I can't say any of mine have trained because of this method but it definitely helped in establishing the concept of potty training. I also do not schedule any appointments or outings during this time and plan to stay home for a couple weeks.
*Sticker charts. I had one who loved this. He got to choose the stickers at the store and I kept the chart right in the bathroom.
*Rewards. I use chocolate chips. A couple for pee, a few extra for poop.
*Incentives. I told one of the kids if they went the whole day without an accident (this child had accidents because he was too involved with playing to stop what he was doing and use the potty) I would take him to the store to pick out his own underwear. It worked...but only with this particular child.
*Family/Friends. If you think your child would be more willing to "perform" for someone who is important in their life because they want to show them how big they are then ask that person if they would be willing to help you out. It worked for me twice. I didn't ask these people though, it just happened they had my kids while they were potty training and that was the incentive those particular kids needed.
*Commando. I had one who would not use the potty if they had underwear, a diaper on or a pull-up on. One day I decided to take off all those things and leave the child in just pants. It worked. This child has not had an accident since I did this. It took a couple months of going commando but now they wear underwear and have no accidents.
If you have any tips, tricks or methods that have helped you please feel free to share. I still have two more to go and I know I will need all the help I can get!
Friday, April 4, 2014
School vacations can be a really fun time with our kids! I for one always look forward to the break. Not only do I get to see my school kids more but I also get a break from the morning rush. Sometimes though, if we are not organized with our time, school vacation can end up being a dreaded time. Not all mom's get the luxury of being home with their kids during school and summer vacations, I realize this! But if you are one of the lucky ones then it might be helpful for you to have a game plan. You don't have to have every second of the day scheduled but having a plan that you and your kids can look at can be a huge help in making things run smoothly so that you and your kids can enjoy your time together!
My schedule is based on the fact that we spend a lot of time at home. Home is a fun and happy place for us so we all enjoy being here but in this season of life it is also out of necessity that I spend a lot of time at home. Not only is it not feasible for us to take day trips to amusement parks and museums but it's also challenging with a lot of little ones, on my own, to do some of the more elaborate activities. I had to learn to be content at home, especially as we added more and more little ones to our quiver. It didn't happen overnight but now I can say that I truly am content being at home with my kids. I have, however, had to find activities that will keep them busy...not entertained 24/7 but just provide options of things they can do. I will provide you a break down of what my school/summer vacation schedule looks like to give you an idea of how things work here. This obviously is a very individual thing and if you find you do want to implement a schedule for your family you will be adding and subtracting things from this, you will be doing things at different times of day, you will be tweaking it to make it fit your life and goals.
***This is the schedule we follow on days we are home. On days we have an outing planned things do not run like this. I implemented this to help me on the days (upon days...) we spend at home. ***
7:00- Okay to wake up (usually they start stirring around 5:30-6...I don't have sleepers. They know they have to lay quietly in their beds until 7, unless they need to use the bathroom.)
7-8 am- Play with Lego's quietly in rooms (everyone shares a room with at least one sibling and they all have lots of Lego's in their rooms to play with. Of course they can choose to read or do something else...they just need to be quiet)
8 am- Breakfast. (This might be too late for some of you but part of loving vacation is not having to get up and make breakfast right away and rush in the morning. Lazy mornings are what I look forward to most. I love having extra alone time with the baby before everyone comes down for breakfast!)
8:30-Chores, brush teeth, get dressed
9:00- Reading out Loud (I pick a book or two that we read together over vacations. We recently finished a story on missionary Eric Lidell. We will start 10 Boys who Changed the World during April vacation. I love this tradition of reading aloud with kids!)
9:30-Play outside (we have a swing set, bikes, trampoline, scooters, balls, bats, etc. There are plenty of activities for our kids to do outside along with the woods that surround us, which offer the perfect backdrop for exploring and imaginative play!)
10:30- Snack & read Bibles (for my younger ones who can't read we have picture Bibles that they can look at. This summer I am hoping to be more consistent about having them memorize Bible verses.)
11:00- Arts & Crafts or drawing at the table (I pick up crafts online or at the dollar store and save them for a rainy day. My kids also love to draw and we encourage this a lot at our house. I keep lots of supplies on hand so we always find something to do).
Summer Vacation: Cursive writing practice (which is a Bible verse they are copying), math flashcards, worksheets (you can find free printables online that are great), etc. (during the summer vacation we spend some time three days a week on school related things)
12:30- Chores & put younger ones down for a nap
1:00- Quiet time for everyone. Reading in beds or sleeping.
2:30- Free Play (outside, playroom, Legos, drawing, etc.)
3:00- Snack & younger ones up from naps
3:30- TV or Video Games
4:30- Clean up and get ready for supper
5:00- Supper ( If its a really nice evening we might choose to go outside and play instead and eat later.)
Our evenings are not as structured, with the exception of family devotions after we've cleaned up from supper. Sometimes we go back outside and have a campfire, sometimes we watch a movie, sometimes we just veg and everyone does their own thing.
I know for some of you you're thinking, "there's no way I could structure things like this". I get that, I really do. I have to do it this way for my sanity and if I want to make sure I accomplish things I feel are important to accomplish. It is so easy for me to get sidetracked and lose sight of time. Then before I know the day is gone and we haven't done half the things I had hoped and the kids spend way more time watching TV or playing video games than I wanted. This works for us. My kids are used to their super organized mom so they do well living like this. If you are someone who have never been very structured then it might take awhile to get your family on board! Do we follow it perfectly everyday? No, we don't. Some days I am not feeling well and I let them watch more tv than I would prefer. I'm not perfect and our schedule isn't perfect but it does help keep us organized, motivated and accomplishing things so for that I am thankful!