Sunday, February 6, 2011


Last fall we visited the "Butterfly Palace" in Branson (fun and cheesy vacay with Nana and Papa!) and learned that some caterpillars actually liquefy themselves within the cocoon in order to undergo metamorphosis into a butterfly. J and I kind of feel as though the past few days have been our chrysalis stage as a family and we truly entered this week parenting a baby and left it parenting a butterfly. No, wait, a kid.

The book we used for potty learning emphasized the importance of parents sending a clear, confident message to the kid that "You are a big girl/boy and we believe in you! You can do this!" J and I definitely got this message through to Evie and she will adamantly tell you now that "I am NOT a baby." This week we went from diapers to panties. We went from afternoon nap to reading time. We also put her high chair downstairs and went permanently to her booster seat. It's not a big deal since she had already been in her booster 80% of the time, but it sent a clear message. Finally, we rearranged her room and put her crib totally out of commission. She'd already been mostly sleeping in her toddler bed, but again, it added to our "big girl" message.

What worked:

*sticker charts: she got to put one tiny Dr. Seuss sticker on a sticker chart every time she peed and the charts were numbered 1 to 26, so she got a special reward on #26 (a favorite movie or game). By the end of the weekend, less than a week into training, she'd already weaned herself from the sticker charts by getting bored of them and not asking for stickers every time she peed. Yay!

*naked bottom time: at our house this is "nakey jakey time." We didn't start this until a few days in, but it has worked really well. If I need to get something done and let Evie take more responsibility for her own bladder control, stripping her bottomless with access to a potty has worked really well. She hasn't had any accidents so far when she's going "nakey jakey." This approach has its limits when it's time to go to school or on an errand, but if I need to do the dishes it's very handy.

*the timer: as J said this week "Pavlov's dog!" If we told her to go potty she might obey or she might resist, but when the timer went off she quickly ran to the potty without argument. The timer removes the human relationship from the equation; it's an inanimate object telling her it's time to go instead of her mother saying it...her mother who also tells her to stop walking on her books and to eat her macaroni with a spoon...the bossy mom who must be defied because Evie is 2 and is her own woman now! Anyhow, the timer was great for about 4-5 days, until we all got used to the new routine and weaned ourselves from it. Now we use a combination of parental prompting and Evie responding to signals from her bladder. Yay!

What didn't work:

*hand washing: Evie is prone to eczema and in those first few days of training while she was going every 20 minutes, she started having bad rashes on her hands from washing them so much. We've backed off from the hand washing and are only enforcing it for after poop. Urine is sterile anyhow. We'll re-introduce it when she has more bladder control so that it won't affect her skin so much. And we are enforcing it when we're out and about in public restrooms and guest bathrooms.

*panties at night: the book we used suggested that Evie could learn to hold her bladder at night, so we gave it a (very) brief try. The first night I woke her up at about midnight when I went to bed and took her to potty (and she was dry!), but she cried and asked to sleep in our bed. Ack! The last thing I need is a toddler in big girl panties coming into bed with us...we don't have a waterproof mattress pad! I did get her back asleep in her own bed and I set my alarm for 7 am to wake up before her. I planned to wake her up and whisk her right to the potty, since many kids pee as they wake in the morning. But when I went in to wake her she was already soaking wet and VERY sad to be woken up from sweet dreams to find a stinking wet bed and pajamas. FAIL. So now we are using "special nighttime panties" (pull-ups) for bedtime and will wean her from them when we think she's ready (i.e. when daytime dryness is easy).

*3 day potty training: the book is called "Potty Train in Three Days" and it took much longer than that for Evie. Day 1 and 2 were very stressful as she could only hold her bladder for 15-20 minutes at a time. Day 3 was better, but Evie still hadn't made the brain-bladder connection. Day 4 was hopeful...only 2 accidents! Day 5 was bliss, no accidents! (But we were still prompting her to pee each time and she was taking no responsibility for it all.) Day 6 was only one accident. Day 7 was horrible; we went to storytime at the library and she was terrified by the big, public toilet there. She refused to go on the potty and had an accident at the library, then repeated the pattern 2 more times that day...putting a tiny bit of urine into the potty and saving the majority of her bladder contents for her clothing. By the afternoon I was despairing and in tears, wondering if I needed to put her back in diapers. But we survived, and the next day was her first day back at "school" (parent's day out). She stayed dry through school!!! Since then it's been a breeze; each day she can hold her bladder longer and is more apt to tell us "I need to go potty!" instead of letting us remind her to go.

I can't believe it...I am a mother to a little girl with curly pigtails, skinny legs and big girl panties. There is very little baby left in my Evie Bea. But if I close my eyes, kiss her cheek and breathe in her sweet scent I can still grasp those memories of the chubby infant she was, not so long ago. My baby is only 2 and I'm already sentimental about her babyhood!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

BIG Girl

Today Evie officially became a big girl. We are having a blizzard, like much of the country right now, and Evie's school (Parent's Day Out) was canceled, so I took the opportunity to start 3-day potty training (this is the book).

This morning I put Evie on the potty in the morning, threw away her diaper and put her into panties, then had her help me load up all diapering gear into trash bags and take them to the garage. (Changing pad, wipes, diaper cream, swim diapers, EVERYTHING.) We talked about how she was a big girl now and not a baby and it was time to say goodbye to diapers and use the potty from now on.

(I have to add, here, that we have been slowly potty learning since she was about 14 months old and so by this time she knows exactly what to do on the potty, how to pull her own pants up and down, how to flush and wash her hands independently, and how to push in her bottom to make herself go. She still needs some help with wiping and with knowing when she needs to go. She has been putting about 60% of her poop into the potty for the past few weeks, as well. She was very prepared to start today. At least *I* knew she was prepared even if she didn't.)

I won't go into the specifics of this particular PL (potty learning) system but just say that it involves positive reinforcement and the parent keeping a close watch over the child to prevent accidents. We had several accidents this morning because Evie has been the type of child who pees tiny amounts into her diaper all day instead of having learned to hold her bladder. It is frustrating to have her pee a tiny amount on the potty and then wet her panties 10 minutes later, but it's all a part of the learning process and I have faith that it will get better tomorrow and the days after that, as she learns bladder control. This afternoon she did much better and kept the same pair of panties dry from about 3 pm until bedtime!

Unfortunately, she did wet her bedtime panties about 10 minutes after lights out, so we'll need to leave more time tomorrow night between dinner and bed so that she can leave her dinnertime milk in the toilet. The book we're using suggests "fortifying" the bed with extra mattress pads and sheets and limiting liquids before bed--giving the child a chance to learn night dryness instead of automatically using pull-ups at bedtime and sending the child the message that "you can't stay dry at night." We're going to give it a few days and see how Evie does, but we won't bat an eye at going back to diapers for nighttime if she needs it. But right now our plan is to wake her up to urinate before we go to bed and hope she is sleepy enough to go right back to sleep. My parents used that method for my brother and I for years and my mom swears that it works.

I might be crazy, but along with this major milestone I'm combining a second one by letting Evie drop her nap. She's been showing signs for weeks now: fighting her nap for over an hour and then sleeping too late in the afternoon and then fighting bedtime, or taking a good nap and then refusing to fall asleep until 10 at night, or skipping her nap altogether and then going to bed like an angel. So today I sat her down after lunch and told her "You're a big girl now, wearing panties, etc... and big girls are allowed to say 'no thank you' to nap time. Would you like to say 'no thank you' to a nap today?" Of course she said yes as soon as she understood what I was saying. So I told her that instead she and I would have a reading hour in her room. I put a "magic reading carpet" (beach towel) on her bed and I sat in her rocking chair. She read picture books and I read my novel. I only got about 5 pages read between talking to her, reading to her and taking her potty 2 times (plus one accident), but it's a start. I hope that our reading hour becomes a huge success as we continue; I love the idea that I still get a little break of silence to have some time for myself, besides that I'm modeling a love of books for Evie.

She did very well this afternoon after reading hour and fell asleep at about 8 pm after lights out at around 7:15 (much of the 45 minutes in between was spent singing "Peas Porridge Hot," going potty and having her panties changed). Forty five minutes to settle down and fall asleep is pretty normal for Evie, but it's a long time considering the lack of nap! Hopefully she'll settle quickly into the new routine.

In conclusion, she is getting rewards for using the potty. Every time she urinates with a dry pair of panties she gets a sticker on a reward chart and when the chart is full she gets a special treat (like playing a favorite game with us) and when she poops in the potty she gets a piece of gummy candy. The gummy thing is not a great tradition, but I started it a couple of months ago and, what can I say? Gummy is very motivating for my daughter.

Wish me luck with day 2!

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