Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Progress On The Potty & What We're Working On Next

After a phone conversation with my mom on Sunday night, I started to wonder if we were kidding ourselves thinking Sebby would get the hang of using the potty at such a young age. She said that of all of us (12) kids, I was trained the earliest at 18 months because I never liked being in soiled diapers and was very self-motivated to get on that potty. The (7) boys in our family took a longer time to be potty trained because they were so interested in and focused on playing that they never wanted to take a break from playing to go to the potty. She was worried that one of my brothers would be going to school in diapers because he took so long to get the hang of it. He was just so focused on playing that he would forget about everything else in the world.

Throughout the day on Sunday, Darren and I wondered if it was worth it to persevere with the training or whether we should give up and go to church, or go to the park or anywhere other than our flat. We decided to stick it out till the end of the day and then re-evaluate. 

I decided that I would continue on Monday and had my first day of solo potty training. I was thankful that the day went by far faster and better than I had imagined. By 11:30am, he'd had his second pee in the potty and had cooperatively dropped everything to run to the potty and pee when I asked him to show me how he could pee. He had fun playing in the kitchen while I cooked a meal for a family in our church who recently had a baby and enjoyed being allowed back into the living room to play with some of his toys. On days 1 and 2 of potty training, he was largely confined to the entryway of our place where there are minimal distractions and it is easy to keep an eye on him. Although he did one poo in his underwear, I was encouraged with his progress and glad we hadn't given up.

Today was our fourth full day of training and it was another encouraging day for us. Sebby took his first big trip out of the house in training pants when he came along to my midwife appointment. We put him on the toilet twice while we were out but he didn't do anything (it was pretty distracting in there with lots of buttons and things to touch). I was so proud of him when we arrived home two hours later to find his clothes dry. As soon as he sat on the potty, he peed there. His diaper was dry when he woke up from his nap and he peed in the potty shortly after waking up. He had a small accident this afternoon but managed to rush to the potty fast enough that most of the pee ended up there. The only disappointment of the day was that he did another poo in his underwear. 

I'm not sure how we can help him learn to get to the potty to poo but that's something that we still need to work on a bit more. Any input or advice would be much appreciated.

We also need to start working on teaching him to pee when we're out of the house. We scoffed when we heard of people bringing a potty around with them but now I'm beginning to understand the reasoning behind it. I still think that it's not at all practical for our family (carless people who babywear & walk everywhere) to bring a potty when we go out but I am concerned abut making sure that Sebby is able to use the toilet when we're out. Again, we welcome any feedback and suggestions from other parents who've been there.

This potty training adventure has been a challenge but it has been so rewarding to see Sebby "get it" so quickly. To see him rushing to the potty and sitting down to pee after only a few days of work on it is amazing. I love how after every time he pees, he stands up and says "WOW!" and puts his face down really close to examine the pee in the potty. He's really proud of himself too.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What Potty Training Is Teaching ME!

I thought potty training was about teaching year child a key life skill but within a few minutes of beginning the training on our 20 month old, I realized that he wasn't going to be the only one learning.

Choosing to try a very focused training method (using the "Toilet Training in Less Than a Day" book) at the minimum recommended age of 20 months, I should have known it would be a challenge. 

The book outlines that there are three prerequisites for beginning potty training using their method:

1. Physical Readiness
The child must be able to walk around the room easily on their own.
They need the dexterity take down and pull up underwear by themselves as part of the training.

2. Bladder control
Can they stay dry for several hours at a time?
Do they seem to know they need to pee?

3. Instructional Readiness
Can they understand & follow instruction?

Although Sebby seemed to meet all the prerequisites that the book outlined, there were some roadblocks to progress due largely to my weaknesses in parenting. He understands very well and follows instructions when it comes to everyday things like pointing to objects and helping around the house but he isn't accustomed to being always expected to stop what he is doing and obey right away. He is also used to me giving in easily when he begins to get upset, usually by letting him nurse to calm down.

Other roadblocks we faced have to do with Sebby's temperament and personality. He is very active and never really sits. Over the past few weeks, he's gotten increasingly good at independent play and as a result, he tends to get so focused on what he's doing that it is very difficult to get his attention. If you do try to get his attention when he is focused on something else, he tends to get quite upset.

As a result of all of these factors, we had an even bigger challenge ahead of ourselves. I quickly realized that my parenting strategies of communication and follow through with Sebby needed to change ASAP and that the whole process of potty training would be more difficult for both he and I. We both had more to learn than just how to use the potty. 

Thankfully we decided to begin the training for a brief time yesterday evening (2 hours) because it gave us enough time to try out the method then re-work a strategy for how to tackle it today. I was so glad that Darren has been around because although I read the book, he did a fine job of identifying aspects of the method that weren't working for us and re-engineer a new strategy to try this morning. He was also far better at training Sebby than I was because he was more able to follow through on getting Sebby to listen to the instructions and not give in to tantrums. There were a few tantrums (one lasted 45 minutes) and they were pretty exhausting, especially for me because he spent a great deal of time demanding to nurse.

Here are a few of the things that we did differently than what the method suggested:

1. Reading on the potty

The book recommended having them sit for long periods of time on the potty at first (10 minutes!) to get them used to it and hopefully give them success at peeing in it at the same time.  

Getting Sebby to sit still in any location for more than 30 seconds without a book or smartphone in his hand is impossible. We decided that if we had any hope of getting him to sit on the potty, we would need to do something other than ask him to sit and relax. We chose reading books and it worked! This morning he peed three times in the potty in three hours, all because Darren spent most of the morning reading to him while he sat on the potty.

2. Not using the doll

The method suggested using the first hour of training as a time to have your child teach a doll to go to the potty. 

We realized after a few minutes that Sebby had no interest in the doll and wasn't very motivated to teach her anything or even look at her. He didn't even seem to get the concept of teaching the doll  so we decided after a short time that we would put the doll away and focus on Sebby. Thankfully we didn't spend money buying a doll, she was borrowed from a friend.

Only this afternoon did Sebby begin to take an interest in the doll, sitting her on the potty and pointing out all of her body parts.

3. Not doing so many practice runs

The method said that if the children had an accident, you should get them to practice the whole series of events from rushing to the potty to taking down their underwear to sitting on the potty ten times in a row.

For us at the beginning, simply getting Sebby's attention and having him follow through on pulling up his underwear sometimes took 15 minutes or longer or worse resulted in a tantrum that lasted 30 minutes. He wasn't upset because he wasn't able to pull up his underwear on his own but because he wanted to play with something else. Or he wanted a snack. Or he wanted to nurse. Or because he had no idea why all of a sudden his parents were being so strict about having him follow instructions right away when they would have normally just let it slide. There was no way we were going to get him to run through the whole series of events ten times. We focused on getting him to obey one separate instruction at a time before advancing to having him obey several instructions.

So upset!

4. We gave far fewer candy rewards

The book suggested giving praise in various ways including special candy treats. Early on in the training, they recommended giving rewards very liberally as they were learning each little skill in the sequence of events.

We found that the candy distracted from what we were trying to accomplish because Sebby would get so focused on the candies that he would throw a tantrum because he really wanted a candy or some sugary juice. Since he isn't used to having candy, he became increasingly jittery and unable to focus or sit still the more "rewards" he received. 
5. Playing in between practice sessions

The book recommended staying in a room with minimal distrations for the entire training time.

We thought that keeping Sebby in the same room for the whole day would be too intense for him. We decided to allow him to take breaks to play in another room of the house. Did he have "accidents" while playing? Yes, a few times. But it was worth our sanity and his. Without taking breaks, I think we would have ended up with even more tantrums and maybe would have even given up.

With these few adaptations to their methods, along with some adaptations to our usual parenting style (not giving in to his tantrums and making sure he followed through on any instructions we gave him), we started to see success by the end of our day today! He peed in the potty several times throughout the day and definitely got used to sitting on it.

By bedtime, he seemed to be really enjoying practicing running to the potty, pulling down his underwear and sitting down. He wasn't running away and getting frustrated when it was time to pull up his underwear after getting off the potty.

It might take another day...or more...but he is definitely making progress. Especially because we realize that he is learning than just going to the potty through this process, we see the value of spending this time teaching Sebby to use the potty although it has been tiring. Since I know that my approach to parenting has to change, it has been a really good exercise for me as well.

Wish us luck tomorrow!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ready, Set, Go...

Not sure where I got the idea to start attempting to potty train Sebby but I think it's because potty talk was all around me. Seems I had several friends who had kids slightly older than Sebby who were brainstorming about strategies lamenting about the trials and frustrations of potty training their toddlers. And somehow I decided that it would be a good thing for us to attempt before Little Lungette made her appearance. 

A co-worker shared that she had potty trained all of her 4 kids before the age of two by spending three focused days with them on potty training. I was intrigued by her method and thought of attempting it because spending three days on potty training sounded manageable. 

Then following various Facebook conversation threads on potty training, I read about a concept that really caught my attention. A few co-workers mentioned having seen success with a method called "Toilet Training In Less Than A Day." I thought that sounded amazing, although maybe a bit too good to be true.

After a bit of internet research, I was convinced I needed to try it. The method was developed in the 1970s by two psychologists, learning specialists working on a project to learn about what is involved in learning and how learning could be made more rapid. They found that their method helped most children in their trials learn the skills involved in potty training in about 4 hours. 

I ordered the book, a used copy first edition copy from 1976, from Amazon & read the whole book the afternoon it arrived (its short & sweet, the key chapter being the method). Sebby & I went shopping for supplies (a potty, big boy underwear and treats to reward him as he learns the necessary skills) then we set a date to try it before Darren's work schedule gets crazy busy. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

We Met A Fireman

Walking up the hill this morning after a little outing to the Botanics, a woman stopped me to ask about the Pod (I had Sebby on my back as usual). As we chatted, she told me that there was a Family Day at the Fire Station near our place.

I knew Sebby would love it so hurried home to give him lunch and a nap so that we would have time to drop by before it ended.

Sebby's favourite cartoon is Fireman Sam! For months, he's been interested in emergency vehicles fand points them out when they pass as we're walking. Since we live so close to the fire station, we hear the sirens every time a fire truck is dispatched to a fire and Sebby stops what he is doing to listen.

It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon for a visit to the Fire Station! As we walked into the parking lot, we were surprised to see how festive of an atmosphere it was! There was face painting, a bouncy castle and 2 fair rides but Sebby passed by quickly on the way to the open police van parked nearby. Then he noticed the fire truck parked with doors open and hurried over to take a look. 

As I passed him to the fireman to sit him in the seat of the truck, he started to get a bit scared and asked to get down.

Daddy got in the fire truck instead.

We talked to the fireman and watched other kids get in and turn on the sirens in the truck instead.


Although he didn't want to get in the fire truck, just before we left, he decided he wanted to sit in the police van.

Driving the police van.

What a fun little afternoon activity!

Welcome Back Killer Leg Cramps & Enjoying Sebby Time

It's hard to believe I'm already 33 weeks along. This has been a stellar pregnancy, I've have felt very healthy throughout except a few weeks of pelvic pain that was sorted out after a few visits to the osteopath. The fact that the early morning killer leg cramps have recently appeared is only a very small inconvenience. I have nothing to complain about.

In excellent pregnancy-related news, we had a scan (ultrasound) this week that showed that Little Lungette's placenta was in a good place (there was concern in the previous ultrasounds that the placenta was too low). We had been praying that the placenta would not be covering the cervix because I really wanted to have a homebirth. The ultrasound also showed that her head was down, getting cozied in and ready to come out in a few weeks.

I'm sure the next few weeks will fly by! This time we don't have any extra freezer space to prepare food in advance so we don't have too much more to do in order to be ready. I'm just waiting for a sunny day so that I can wash the new clothes and nappies we've been given. 

And I'm trying to cherish of these last few weeks of having just one child. Sebby is 20 months and at a really fun stage, starting to talk a lot. As we're walking outside, he is a constant stream of observatory dialogue, pointing out everything he sees. It goes a bit like this...

 "dog, dog tail, dog eyes, dog nose, tree, door, brick, dig dig (digger), raining, hat, baby, tree, raining, umbrella, dog, chair, door, duck, car, car, police, flower, bunny, door....."

He's getting to be such a big boy and loves doing everything he sees us doing. He's becoming a great help! He sets the cutlery on the "big" table before meals, he helps cook, he scoops the coffee into the coffee grinder for Daddy in the mornings and he puts the groceries from the shopping cart onto the counter at the grocery store.  

Helping make pizzas.

 He can say his name now...almost. He calls himself "BOBBY!" The funny thing is that when we were back in Canada, his little cousin called him "Bobby" too. We think it's pretty hilarious and try to get him to say it as much as possible.

We tried out a great new playgroup yesterday called Mainly Music. I really recommend checking it out as the program started in Australia but is now hosted in cities all over the world. There is a half hour of singing (it's fun and age appropriate for Sebby) then a snack time for the kids. The last half hour is a free play time for the kids and snack time for the adults. There are home baked goodies and drinks. The other parents in the group were so very friendly and welcoming that I decided on the spot to commit to going as often as possible. I also love that it only happens every other week because it makes it more manageable to plan to commit to going every week of the session. Another bonus is that it only costs 1.50 each week. For such a well organized program, that's a steal!

Hope you have a great weekend! We're enjoying a lazy rainy Saturday morning in. Daddy is editing pictures from our time in France and Sebby keeps bringing him books to read. I'm trying to motivate myself to get up and make pizza dough so we can have pizza later but this couch is just so comfortable.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Adventures in Babywearing

We've always loved the convenience of babywearing. We started wearing Sebby a few days after birth because he fell asleep so easily in there and the carrier was far easier to bring with us than our big, shiny stroller. 

Sebby in the Beco at home (2 mths).
We wore him around the house, on walks, in the mall, to weddings and especially when we traveled.

Tucked in warm on a chilly, rainy day in Iceland (7 mths).

Our first day trip after moving to Scotland, a tour of Stirling Castle (8 mths).

 Edinburgh (10 mths).

Spain (11 mths).

We traveled a lot during Sebby's first year of life and loved our first carrier (a Beco Gemeni)
 because it was super easy to put on and comfy to wear. It was really convenient because  Sebby could go anywhere we went. 

As he got older and more adventuresome, he wasn't content in the carrier for such long stretches, though. On our Christmas vacation trip to Berlin, Prague, Vienna & Bratislava, he still spent the majority of his day in the carrier but Daddy gave some shoulder rides too

Berlin walking tour (12 mths).

In January we bought our second carrier because we noticed that Sebby was getting too big for our Beco and wearing him was starting to feel uncomfortable. We got a toddler carrier that was a similar design to our old one (a Boba 3G), simple to use and really comfortable to wear...until I got pregnant. 

Being pregnant, I feel really uncomfortable with anything tight around my stomach so the straps of the carrier that buckled around my waist weren't an option anymore. We started researching alternative carriers and I was able to borrow a woven wrap from a babywearing group in Glasgow.

 We loved the versatility of the woven wrap but we found that with a very wiggly toddler it was difficult and time consuming to put on.

Trying out the woven wrap in Italy. The Leaning Tower of Pisa (16 mths).

 We returned the woven wrap and continued looking for other options. I heard about Pod  carriers from another pregnant mom and although they aren't super popular, I was able to find one to try out at the babywearing meet in Glasgow.

As soon as I tried it, I knew it was the perfect option for us! A Pod or Podegi is a Korean style baby carrier that worked for us because it was like a combination of our favourite features of a buckle style carrier and a woven wrap...it didn't have to tie around the waist and was easy to put on quickly because it has a structure to it.

I started looking to purchase a custom one ASAP and found a Canadian woman on Etsy who made great custom carriers at excellent prices and said the carrier would be en route to the UK within a week after my order. I was so excited!

The Pod has been perfect for us because I find it easy to use and pack since he often wants to walk, I can easily tuck it in my bag.
During our time in the Baltics (Riga, Latvia and Tallinn, Estonia) this summer, Sebby loved wearing his little dinosaur backpack so he could be on the ground exploring.

Daddy & Sebby exploring Riga while wearing their backpacks.

 Sometimes he wanted to take a little "too much time" exploring, though!

Enjoying the sights and sounds as he rode on Momma's back in the Pod.
 And when he got sleepy so he took cozy naps on Momma or Daddy.

Sleeping in Riga (19 mths).

Our time in the South of France challenged our commitment to babywearing and the summer heat won out! It was in the mid 30's Celsius every day. We survived our first of two weeks carrying Sebby but we were both a bit miserable with him on my back. He kept waking up from his naps because he was too hot to sleep and I felt like I was operating in slow motion because I was too hot to move any faster.

We took a day trip to Cannes and after some shopping and a little walk around the Old Town, we ended up spending browsing around in various shops to see if we could find a cheap umbrella stroller.
Cooling off in a fountain, pre stroller purchase.

Probably the BEST 40 euros we spent during our trip, the umbrella stroller we got helped us have a much more pleasant second week of vacation! Sometimes the weather is just too hot for babywearing, especially for a pregnant momma who doesn't enjoy hot weather much to begin with!

Enjoying a beautiful & breezy walk to Monaco along the seaside.

Now that we're back to cooler, Scotland, I'm enjoying carrying Sebby on my back again. I love having him up close to talk with while we're walking. He continues to be really observant and is getting even more chatty as his vocab improves. Plus it's great exercise.

We'll definitely hold on to the umbrella stroller and will probably need to start using it more once Little Lungette is born. I'm not sure if my body will be up for tandem babywearing but I do want to give it a try.

And I'm excited to try out our new, secondhand, stretchy wrap (it's a Boba Wrap) with Little Lungette. Only a few more weeks to go!

Comment to share about your adventures in babywearing!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

French Playground Rules!

Spending quite a bit of time on French playgrounds with Sebby during our vacation, I couldn't help but think about the book "Bringing Up Bebe." Although I haven't had the opportunity to read the it, I've been wanting to learn more about French parenting philosophies, mostly because I preceive them to be somewhat different from mine. 

We went to a playground almost once a day, sometimes twice a day even so were able to make some interesting observations. The biggest one was that :

French playgrounds are set up as spaces for parents to relax and children to socialize.

French playgrounds have NO swings!
The playground equipment was designed for children to use on their own. 

French playgrounds have benches all around the perimeters.
The benches are always full of parents & grandparents.
French parents do not follow their children around the playground!

French children go to the park to play with other children.
When they bring bikes or toys to the park, they are expected to share them with others.
Parents are quick to discipline their kids when they don't share or play nicely.

We embraced the playground culture in France and let Sebby play while we relaxed on benches in the shade. Since we were confident that other parents were supervising their children from a distance also, we enjoyed the freedom to do the same, using the time to chat while we watched Sebby and the other kids play. It was great!!!

I'm going to miss such laid back days at the park now that we're back in the English speaking part of the world where parents of kids Sebby's age either follow their children around at the playground or spend the majority of their time playing with them instead of stepping back to encourage them to play alone or with the other children.

Back at the Scottish playground today, Sebby was excited to get back on the swings! Although I didn't follow as closely as I used to, I returned to supervising him more closely too, especially since much of the playground equipment in our closest park isn't age-appropriate but that doesn't stop him from attempting to climb on it.

However, I realized that although I wasn't relaxing on the bench, I still had an opportunity to get to know a few other moms. One of them told me about an outdoor playgroup that happens every Wednesday afternoon at a little meadow just down the street from our place. It sounds like a lot of fun and we're planning to go next Wednesday. I'm really excited, I just hope it isn't raining!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Home But Missing Someone Very Special

"Oh noooo!" 

On the bus on the way to the airport in Nice this morning, Darren & I had a terrible realization. Sebby's best friend, Baa Baa (his stuffed sheep), was left behind at the guesthouse! I felt like a terrible parent for not checking to see if Sebby's best friend had been packed.

They'd been playing together at breakfast and as we rushed out to grab the bus to the airport, it totally slipped my mind to make sure that Baa Baa had been put into the bag. (He was probably left on the couch in the guesthouse.)

We decided the best course of action (to avoid even more disappointment) was to not make a big deal about it and quickly change the topic of conversation when Sebby mentioned Baa Baa.

The most heart breaking part of the day was this evening while we were praying. We asked Sebby what he was thankful for and he said Baa Baa. Aww, poor Sebby, he was thankful for his "missing" best friend.

We assured him that Baa Baa was fine, still vacationing in France and would hopefully join us in a few days. Then we sent him to bed with 2 new friends, Bear Bear & Giraffe. Thankfully he didn't seem too distressed but I still feel horrible and am determined to get Baa Baa back if at all possible. I've emailed the owner of the guesthouse asking him if he could send Baa Baa back to us. Here's to hoping for a positive response!

Until then, here's a reminder of happier times, Baa Baa napping in between Daddy & Sebby.