The Bumpy Road to My Potty Trained Toddler

My soon to be 4 year old, stubborn, strong willed son has been “potty training” for what seems like forever. We tried a reward system, we tried convincing him he was a big boy and he didn’t need to wear diapers anymore, we tried the 3 days without diapers….twice. Nothing seemed to be working.

He would tell us things like, “I’m not ready” or “It’s hard for me”. We would validate his concerns and ask him why he wasn’t ready or why it was hard. His answer was his favorite answer when he does not have a real reason, “It’s why mommy”. (I still am not completely sure what that means.) When we did the reward system he would only go potty when he knew we had prizes and when the prizes ran out, he suddenly ran out of pee pee for the potty. Oh, my little smarty pants was totally working us.

I was devastated that nothing seemed to work and he could not stay consistent with the potty training. I would call my mom and ask for advice. She would assure me that it was okay, some kids take longer to potty train. I wasn’t satisfied with that answer after hearing it time and time again. (I should have trusted her, she is my mom you know.) So, I did what every mom does. I googled it. Why isn’t my toddler potty training? Potty training a stubborn toddler. The lists goes on and on. Then I admitted it to myself that yes, I do have a strong willed son and a resistant potty trainer.

After all my google research, I decided to lay off the potty training and see what would happen. I waited and then waited some more. Then, last Monday my son woke up and said “I don’t want to wear these diapers anymore!”. I had not had one sip of my morning coffee yet, so I was still trying to process what he had said with so much excitement. I responded with “Okay, so what would you like to wear today?”. He said, “big boy undies!”. I was celebrating and doing a happy dance in my head. He wore his big boy undies and he has been wearing big boy undies for three days straight!

He got mad on the first night when we put a diaper on him for night time. We though he might wet the bed and he proved us wrong. He popped out of bed, ran to the potty, and changed back in to his big boy undies. The thing that he did seem to have a fear about was doing #2 in the potty and he was successful with that too! Can I tell you what kind of excitement and glow we both had after that success! We were both on top of the world! We made some fun cupcakes in celebration of his potty success. If you would of told me a few years ago that I would be baking cupcakes to celebrate poop in a potty, I would of laughed! Motherhood can make us do some inexplicable things.

So, after all of our ups and downs with potty training I have come to a conclusion. If you are like me and struggling to potty training your toddler, don’t feel bad. Don’t doubt yourself as a parent and don’t doubt that little one either. The amazing thing about being a parent is you learn so much along the way. With this potty training adventure I have learned that sometimes you have to stretch your patience even farther then you thought possible but it pays off in the end. I learned a lot about my little guy too. I learned how strong willed he is and it always amazes me how smart he is. I’m not mad at him for potty training on his terms. Somethings take longer to adapt too. I don’t ever want him to lose that stubborn streak or strong will because that might just help him get through challenges in life. The last lesson I learned throughout our potty training adventures is always listen to your mother!

Payment by Toddler Hugs and Kisses and Baby Giggles and Grins

Sometimes being a stay at home mom and being able to contribute zero dollars to the family funds is frustrating. I went from being a very high earner with my retail management job to bringing in zero. We made the choice as a family to go from two incomes to one. This was definitely a hard decision to make, but the “pay” I get from my job now is priceless. I am going to admit I wonder if I made the right decision some days because I feel like we aren’t where we want to be financially. My husband is great at reminding me that what I am able to give our boys now is so, so very important. I am so thankful for his never faltering attitude about our decision for me to stay home with the boys. But, still I feel a little guilty now and then about not contributing to our cash flow.

When I was at my management job I had a handful of older ladies that were retired and working for fun that had been SAHMs for their kids years and years back. I remember one of them telling me a few days before I left my position that staying home with your kids is so amazing and to remember that sometimes money might be tight, you might not be able to go out to eat or go out of town as often, but it was the most valuable thing you could do for your little ones. Every time I wonder if I made the right choice for our family on our financial side, I think of her. I remember her telling me that so vividly and wondering if I would have those days and sometimes I do. So maybe it takes longer to pay off a credit card bill or a car payment. That is okay and I have to remember to be okay with that. If you are feeling like things are tight because you are staying home with your babies just remember you are so valuable. The value you are giving to your kids surpasses any amount of money a salary could pay you. You, stay at home mama, are priceless.

Simple Acts of Kindness

Today while Baby B and I were out, a gal passing me while I unloaded our groceries into our car offered to wheel my cart to the cart corral for me. Wow, what a great gal! I was so thankful for her act of kindness and it made me stop and think….

I was at a super center, so it was a very busy atmosphere. Through out our shopping trip I kept getting cut off by other peoples carts and getting blocked in, etc. I was starting to get a little frustrated. Then at the end of my shopping trip, after I had walked three parking lot aisles looking for my car (I forgot I hadn’t parked in my usual spot), this lady helped me out. Something so simple, but so nice. I didn’t have to take my cart to the cart corral with the babe.

This friendly, kind woman reminded me of a post I saw a few days back, it said something like: “Real queens fix each other’s crowns.” She was a queen. She was there just when I was about to lose my cool and she gave me a helping hand. It made me feel like she had my back. Even though I didn’t have my family with me to help me; I had her, a fellow queen. So if you are out there and struggling through your day mama, we’ve all been there. Even if you are not a mama, you’ve been there and had those days. You are not alone. So if you see someone having one of those days, give them a helping hand. You may never know what kind of impact it may leave.

The strength of our human connection is sometimes underestimated.

Believe in Me

There is so many reasons why I love J so much, the list grows each day. Something I have noticed lately is he truly, 100% believes I can do anything I set my mind to. This is the man you should marry. The one who sees your potential and doesn’t hesitate to encourage you to follow your dreams.

I wanted very badly to stay home with our baby boys, but I did have a lot of doubts before leaving my career of 11 years. I wondered if we could budget and stick to it (we still have work to do here). We both made good incomes and one of our incomes was enough to live off of but there is a major transition time from going from two incomes to one. When I was still working we could go out to eat all the time and go for quick weekend trips whenever we had the time. That was the thing, we didn’t have as much time together. Now we have time but sometimes we don’t always have the discretionary income to do whatever our hearts desire, which is okay. It’s great to have the extra money, but I wouldn’t trade the time with my boys for the money again. I doubted our abilities to budget, but J never did. He kept telling me when I was trying to make this decision to leave my career that we would make it work. Here we are, 7 months after me leaving my job and we are making it work.

Still, some days I feel like I am failing at being a stay at home mom. The baby has been cranky and crying all day and my toddler has been defiant. Some of those days I just want to cry, some of those days I do cry. J always hugs me and tells me I’m the best mom and that there will be hard days. Sometimes his hugs are all I need to know that it will be okay and tomorrow will be better.

There are two things I always wanted to do but never had the time when I was working. That was to blog and to start my own Etsy shop. Now that baby B is enjoying sitting in his rocker or swing, I feel like my hands are freed up. I was nervous to do both of these things, but J knew I could do it. He always believes in me and that is invaluable to me.

It doesn’t matter the situation, he never loses faith in me and frankly, he believes in me more than I do most of the time. As we get older we definitely change what we value in our relationships. I know now that J always believing in me means he will always believe in us. I can’t tell you how much love that fills my heart with. That is definitely the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.

From Our Wedding Day in Eagle River, Alaska. I was 4 months pregnant with Baby B and it was far too cold for this AZ girl to be wearing that dress, but I did anyway.
Photo Credit: Uros Nikolic

Little Treasures

We tend to move through life fast. Caring for an infant, a toddler, and my husband tend to keep me pretty busy. Currently my infant doesn’t want to be put down ever, like not even for 5 minutes. I have decided to just wear him most of the time to at least free up my hands. My toddler is energetic, busy, and always calling for mommy. My husband, I love this man to death, but he can never find the work pants hanging where the work pants are suppose to be hung. (We organized his closet with work clothes and non-work clothes, so this has helped.) We can get so wrapped up in all these little things in life that keep us going non stop.

This is why I love Sundays. The day of the week I know that my hubby will always be home. It’s the day of the week we can take it slow and enjoy each other. My hubby and I can lay in bed and admire these two little perfect boys that through the night ended up in our bed. We can look at these sweet little angels that are off in dream land and sometimes Baby B will smile in his sleep. We can make coffee and breakfast together. We get to run errands on Sunday together or we get to enjoy eating lunch out together. It really doesn’t matter what we do because we are doing it together. We get to appreciate our togetherness and the fun things our boys are learning and doing.

So go ahead and take a day that you ignore that heaping basket of dirty laundry or those dishes from dinner the night before. Take a day you don’t have to do anything, but you get to do things together. Even if its like us and its just fun to go to the grocery store together (and easier with my husband there too). Take in the smiles from your loved ones, the house you’ve made a home, together, and take in all those little treasures.

The Generation Gap and Wearing Pajamas All Day, Every Day

My dad lives with us and we love, absolutely love having Papa in house. Every now and then I find funny little things about living with three generations under one roof. My dad is a baby boomer, a go-getter, and an early riser. I use to be an early riser until I started nursing my newborn again. After we came home from the hospital, some days I was running on zero sleep and my half cup of coffee. I know my dad saw I was struggling the first few weeks of being a mom of two and I think he cut me some slack. He didn’t make one mention of my pajamas all day, every day.

My dad is very passive and I think he really didn’t want to hurt my feelings. Also, he probably knew from having four kids of his own that you should not mess with a mama when she is home with a new baby. I honestly think he thought we were never going to change out of our jams. All three of us. My toddler, my newborn, and me. We started to venture outdoors to play in the yard, in our pajamas. I think this frightened Papa. Maybe the neighbors would see us! Maybe the neighbors would think we had just given up! So after a couple weeks passed, he started to make comments. But not to me, to my toddler. He would say each morning, “Hey why don’t you get up and get showered and get your day going?”. Oh, I may be nursing in my bedroom but I can hear you Papa and maybe, just maybe today we will change out of our jams.

I decided, we will change out of our pajamas! We will change out of our pajamas to go to the grocery store! I have tried really hard since bringing Baby B home to still be presentable in public. Some days its really hard. Baby B spits up constantly, so you can’t put your outfit on until right before you dash out of the house. So, it’s decided we will change out of our pajamas some days but not all days. We won’t completely let you down Papa. We won’t meet you for dinner in our pajamas. We will really try not to run our errands in our pajamas. But…the days we get to snuggle and play all day, we will probably stay in our pajamas all day.

Down Day

Thursdays are always a little quieter in our house. It’s the day of the week, every week, that my 3 year old son is always at his dad’s house. This day is always a struggle for me, so I call it my down day. Down day can be interpreted two different ways and how we handle that determines how our day will go.

The first way to interpret down day is to be down, sad, and cry at everything. I’m not better than this interpretation of down day, I have done this many times. I will feel sorry for myself and make myself feel like the victim of the situation, of my previous marriage. I know that many parents with joint parenting time feel the same heartache I feel on these days; knowing that I’m not the only one that feels this way helps me on these days. I have to remind myself that my son needs his biological dad too, he needs to know him, he needs to spend time with his grandparents. That is all good for him and what he needs always wins over what mama needs. When I feel like I’m doing what is right for my son that makes me feel a little better too.

The second way to interpret down day is to think of it as a reset day and to reflect on what’s going on in our lives. And now I have a baby B to snuggle with and reflect with on these down days. When I start my day as this kind of down day, my day is much brighter. I reflect on everything I am thankful for and maybe even get a few extra chores done.

Down days aren’t easy but we have to make the most of the cards we have been dealt. We can’t give in and be down and sad on these days because we need to take care of ourselves so we can be the best mamas and daddies that we can be when all our little ones are around. We don’t want our littles to feel bad or guilty when they go to their other parent’s house. That’s not fair for them. Yes, sometimes we will be sad and give into that down day but we don’t have to stay there. This year I AM going to have more down days that I reset and reflect and less down days where I am sad. If I end up having a few sad down days here and there, that’s okay. We have to have a goal and even if we mess up, know we are doing the best we can.