I worried about the timing of all these new things in our lives for the kids. They were moving into a new house the same week that they started a new school and I went back to work. That’s a lot of change for me, much less for the kids. Rather than try and cram all the changes and reactions and things we’ve done to help (or hurt) the transition, I thought I’d break them up into several blog posts this week. I’ll start with Bean at school because that one is the most predictable change and reaction.
Bean is at a prime age for change to be unsettling. He knows our routine and schedule and, more importantly, he knows when we’re NOT doing our normal routine and schedule and that made school a little bit of a challenge. He spent a lot of time this summer up at the church nursery, so he sort of understood the concept of daycare. But he also knew the church nursery workers and so walking into the daycare where he didn’t know anyone was tough. The best technique with Bean (though it will differ from child to child, I’m sure) is if I give him space to feel out a situation by himself, while still being close so that he can see me. So, I stood there for a few minutes talking to his teacher while Bean cautiously ventured into the classroom with the other kids, always looking back to see if I was still there. It helped that someone had a Lightning McQueen car. He locked right in on that.
What I should have done was snuck out then. It’s what everyone says is the right thing to do. And I think I know that’s the right thing. But I don’t like the idea of him turning around and suddenly I’m gone. The thought of that kind of panic setting in for him makes me really upset. So instead, I did the wrong thing and called out, “Bye Buddy! I love you!”
And, of course, he started crying. (sigh)
I bent down, gave him a big, happy, quick hug, and told him in a singsong voice that I loved him and I would pick him up in the afternoon. He still cried, but by the time I got Gracie checked into her classroom and peeked back in on Bean, he wasn’t crying anymore. He was walking through the classroom, holding the teacher’s hand, looking at all the toys and other kids.
Our daycare has one of those video monitoring systems, so I have been logging in from my classroom and checking on Bean this week. Mostly, he seems to be doing really good. He plays and reads books and loves the slides and swings outside. And the first thing he says to me when I pick him up every afternoon is that he had “fun with fends.” He cried a little on the second and third days that I dropped him off, but by Friday he was just walking into the classroom on his own like a big dude.
On Friday afternoon when I picked Bean up, his teachers told me that he had had a bit of a rough day and had cried quite a bit. Though it breaks my heart (I cried myself when I told Chris about it), I know that days like that are just part of the adjustment period and process for Bean. The first few days may have been a little scary and overwhelming, but they were also sort of exciting for Bean. Something new and adventurous. But by Friday, I think he was realizing that this would be his new daily routine. The novelty wore off a bit and the tears flowed. He’ll work through it and, in the end, I’m sure it will just add to his incredible flexibility and comfort level with change. But when you know your child is crying because he’s scared or frustrated or lonely…well, it’s just about one of the worst kinds of hurting a parent can feel, I think.
Once we’re past these first few weeks of transition time, I know how happy Bean and our whole family will be that he is in daycare. At his age, I love that he is getting the opportunity to socialize and learn skills from others and from his peers. I miss him all day long when he’s at school, but I see the value in daycare for a two-year-old.
But for a four month old? It’s pretty hard to find value in daycare for Gracie. But she’s doing really great and I’ll give you her full report tomorrow. For now though, it’s time to get the kids up and going for their second week of daycare. It’s onward and upward from here…
(This picture has nothing to do with daycare. It just makes me giggle. The End.)
Recently I was asked about my daily schedule with two kids this summer. I have gotten several emails asking that same question, so I thought I’d do a post about it. Life with two young kids has been fun and exciting, but I’ve learned how quickly things can get out of hand when you have two. A pleasant morning or afternoon and quickly turn into a nightmare if you’re unprepared and so this summer has been a trial and error process of finding just the right balance of organized chaos.
5:00-7:00am – Gracie wakes up sometime in this time frame and gets a bottle.
7:00 – Bean wakes up, has breakfast, watches Sesame Street
8:00 – Gracie, Bean, and I all get dressed for the day (if we have plans or errands to run, which we usually do)
9:00 – I load the kids up in the car and we head out to whatever errands or activities we have to do that morning. I have found that it’s easier to get up and out in the mornings with two small ones because we still have nap time in the afternoons. Plus, it’s so hot after about 11:00am that it’s better to stay inside and be cool after that. Gracie usually naps off and on during these trips and Bean’s in a great mood in the mornings, so these trips are usually a lot of fun.
Our favorite morning adventures and errands: The library, the splash park, the post office, the bank, and grocery shopping
10:30 – Gracie gets a bottle. If we’re out somewhere, I just feed her in the car. Bean also gets hungry around this time, so I make sure if we’re on the go that I have a snack for him. His favorite go-to snack at the moment are dry roasted peanuts and string cheese.
10:30 is also the time I try to schedule play dates to start if we have one. That gives us about two hours or so of playtime with friends before lunches and naps. Gracie can’t really hang in there much longer than that, so the 10:30 start time works out really nicely because of the kids ages right now.
12:30 – Lunchtime for me and Bean
1:00 – Gracie goes down for her afternoon nap. This one is long (about 2 hours) and in her crib.
1:30 – Bean goes down for his nap. The nap time rule in our house is that he doesn’t have to go to sleep, but he has to stay in his bed. I let him bring a few toys and books with him when he lays down and usually he plays quietly for about 20 minutes before falling asleep. He very rarely skips naps right now (thank goodness!).
3:00 – Gracie usually wakes up and has a bottle.
3:30 – If Bean hasn’t already woken up himself, I wake him up. If he sleeps later than 3:30, he’s a bear! Bean gets a snack while Gracie and I play around. Then, we all play for a while.
Favorite activities right now: Building racetracks with the big blocks for matchbox cars, working puzzles, reading/playing with Bean’s LeapFrog books and reader
5:00 – I start to get dinner ready
6:00 – Chris gets home and we all eat dinner
7:00 – Bath time for Bean and Gracie. We do them together in their bathroom with Bean in the bathtub and Gracie in her infant bathtub on the counter.
7:30 – Chris reads books and puts Bean to bed while I give Gracie her bottle and put her to bed.
8:00 – Bedtime for both kids
Of course, this is the ideal schedule on perfect days when everything works out. We’re pretty flexible, but for the most part, this is the skeleton on the schedule we try to keep. Everyone is happier when we all know what’s coming next. Bean is even starting to know what’s happening next and he’ll say things when we’re out like, “Go home, take a nap?” or when it starts to get darker outside, “Bath and night night?”
Our schedules will shift a bit when I go back to work in a couple weeks, but for now, this is what most of our days look like. Well, this and about 10,000 trips to the potty…
I blogged a couple months ago about how we were starting to introduce potty training to Bean. Step One for us began right when Bean first started telling us that he needed a diaper change (around 18 months) and consisted of us putting him on the potty every time we changed his diaper or whenever he’d show some kind of interest in the potty. We figured if he knew enough to recognize that he was going to the bathroom, then maybe it was time to show him what the real bathroom was for. The point of that step for us wasn’t to get Bean to use the potty, necessarily, but was more to acclimate him to the idea of what a potty was and what we were supposed to do when we sat down. Occasionally, we’d time it right and he would actually use the potty. That was almost always on accident and surprised Bean as much as it surprised us, but we’d make a really big deal about it, give him an M&M (more on those later), and throw a big potty (har, har, har…). When those accidental potty successes happened, they were a great time to help Bean connect what it was that he was supposed to do in the bathroom.
This went on for almost two months. We probably could have done it sooner than we did, but I didn’t see any point in hurrying. Bean’s attention span was still really short and getting him to sit still on the potty for any length of time would have been really hard and would have ended up making the process miserable for both of us. So, we waited and waited until we thought Bean was mentally ready to try to use the potty. We knew he was physically ready, but he needed to be able to comprehend and focus on what he was doing and so we waited until we thought he was to that point. I had been tossing around the idea of starting for the past few weeks when I spoke with a friend last week who said she had just finished potty training her 18-month-old son. She said they focused on it for one solid week and by the end of it, he was doing really good. That was all the motivation I needed. I came home and told Chris I was going to start potty training Bean the next day.
And we did.
I followed my friend’s lead and took Bean to the potty every 15 minutes. I’d set my kitchen timer and when the buzzer went off, he soon learned that it was time to go potty and so he’d run into the bathroom, ready to give it a try. For the record, every 15 minutes is as annoying as it sounds. We’d be in the bathroom for 15 or 20 minutes, then I’d get a 15 minute break to get stuff done before the timer went off again. But that was such an important part of the process for Bean and I’m so glad we were regimented and scheduled. Going every 15 minutes meant that I was catching him just about every time he had to go to the bathroom. If he hadn’t actually gone potty in 30 minutes (two sets of 15), I knew that he was getting close and so I’d back the timer up by 3 minutes and set it next time for 12 minutes. If he didn’t go that time, I’d back it up to 9 minutes, and so on until he actually went potty. Then I’d start the timer over at 15 minutes. I know it sounds complicated, but the whole point was to catch him so that he was using the bathroom in the actual bathroom. After three days of the 15 minute routine, Bean started to actually be able to hold it until it was time to go potty and so I moved the timer out to every 20 minutes instead of every 15. After a day of that, we bumped it out to every 30 minutes.
I had read about a bajillion different ways to potty train and there were mixed ideas on how, when, and if to use Pull-Ups or real underwear. I decided to quit the diaper cold turkey. Except at night, during nap time, or when we’re out, Bean is wearing big boy underwear now at our house. He gets up in the mornings, we use the potty, and we put on his big boy underwear to start our day. I chose to use this method because I thought it would help him understand that wearing big boy underwear was different than a diaper. When he has an accident in his underwear, he tells me right away, usually by yelling, “Makin’ messes! Makin’ messes!” Whereas, when he was in a diaper, he could be smelling up to high heaven and he’d still insist “it’s not Bean…”
Another thing I did was have Bean help me clean up when he’d had an accident. I NEVER reprimanded him or punished him for having an accident, but asking him to help me clean up gave us a chance to talk about how important it was that we go potty in the big boy potty and it showed him that when we go potty in our underwear, it makes a mess, but when we go potty in the big boy potty, there is no mess. I talk really dramatically as I’m cleaning and say things like, “Oh, no! We need to clean up this mess, don’t we? Next time, let’s use the big boy potty when we have to pee pee, okay?” Usually, he just sits there next to me, holding the paper towels, asking if there are any more Lightning McQueen underwear that he can wear today. And that’s okay. I want him to understand the whole process and I think helping me clean up is part of that, but I want us to focus on the successes more than the accidents. Truthfully though, there haven’t been more than 5 or 6 accidents in the whole week we’ve been doing this. I think going so consistently and so often has really helped that.
There are a ton of different ways and methods of potty training, and I certainly don’t think my way is the only way or the right way for all children. But here are a few tips I’ve picked up in the past week:
1. I let Bean bring any toys he wants into the bathroom with him. Since we’re going potty so often, he doesn’t like to be interrupted during his play, so he gets to bring his toys with him. Then, we sit in the bathroom and play until he goes to the bathroom. (FYI: Keep a set of kitchen tongs in your bathroom if you do this, in case you need to pull Buzz or Woody out of the toilet…)
2. Bean gets to call people on the phone after he goes potty to tell them. He loves talking on the phone and so we call Chris or Aunt Ginny or grandparents and Bean gets to tell them all about using the potty. It gives him other people to encourage him.
3. Bean is too young for a sticker chart, but he loves stickers. So, I put a piece of butcher paper up on the wall in the bathroom instead of an actual chart and Bean gets to put his stickers on that. He shows his stickers to everyone who comes in our house!
4. Getting him to stay on the toilet for any length of time can be tricky, so I keep a variety of things to do in the bathroom with us. We sing songs, work puzzles, read books, color, play with his toys – anything to keep him sitting on the potty until he actually goes.
5. Bean gets one M&M when he uses the potty – not when he’s just sitting there, but when he actually goes. If you use this kind of edible reward system, make sure your kids wash their hands BEFORE putting them into the candy jar. I learned that one the hard way and had to throw out a whole bag of M&M’s. Oops.
6. We talk about going potty all the time. Even though I have a timer set, I ask him a lot throughout the day if he has to go potty. The idea is that he is soon able to tell me when he has to go, so I try not to lose sight of that. Verbalizing the potty routine is just as important as going to the potty.
7. I have tried to stay close to home this past week while we stuck to our strict potty schedule. In the last day or so, we’ve run some errands and I’ve put Bean in a diaper, but most of the time when we got home, his diaper was dry and he went potty right away. Being close to home and able to commit to the process really intensely for a week has really helped him catch on a lot quicker than I imagine he would have if he’d been switching back and forth between a diaper and underwear.
8.Â I didn’t bother with pants.Â Bean wears a t-shirt and underwear around our house right now.Â For one thing, he doesn’t have much time between when he thinks he has to go and when he actually goes, so the less we have to mess with between him and the potty, the better.Â But mostly, it’s to save laundry!Â If Bean has an accident, that’s underwear AND pants that now have to be washed.Â Instead, I just rinse out the dirty underwear, throw it into a laundry basket in my laundry room, and do a load when it fills.
9.Â I have a “big boy towel” that Bean sits on when he’s on the couch right now.Â I don’t want to make him feel bad, but I also don’t want him having an accident on the furniture.Â So, he gets the “very special big boy towel” when he’s on the couch.Â He loves it.Â He asked if he could take his big boy towel to church with him.Â That made me giggle.
10. Here’s a video tour of our bathroom set up:
We are on our 5th day of hardcore potty training and Bean is just now starting to tell me that he has to go potty. I kept telling him to tell me when he needed to go, but he never would. He’d either go when I took him or he’d have an accident. Finally, just today, I started getting more specific with my instructions. In my most energetic voice, I said to him in a staged whisper, “Bean, next time you have to go potty, you ruuuuuuunnn over to Mommy and say, “Let’s go potty, Mom!” and then we’ll ruuuuuunnn into the bathroom together, okay?” Once I made it sound like a secret game, he started telling me all the time. He’d come running over to me, yelling, “Potty, Mom!” and we’d take off to the bathroom together. I have noticed that he is doing that a lot even when he doesn’t have to go to the bathroom, just because he likes the game. But that’s okay to me because he’s also telling me the times when he really DOES have to go potty, too, and that’s the whole point. The novelty of the game part will wear off eventually (especially because he’s figuring out he doesn’t get an M&M just because he tells me…). Today, he told me every time he had to go potty and tomorrow, I might forgo the kitchen timer all day and see how we do.
Potty training so far has been a lot of work, but, like most parts of parenting, it is really rewarding. Bean’s building confidence in himself every time he uses the potty and sharing that with him is a lot of fun. Plus, seeing those beanpole legs disappear up into big boy underpants makes me giggle!
I blogged a couple months ago about the latest change in Bean recently – he’s become scared of “scawy” things.Â He didn’t like scary cartoons.Â He even got scared at Winnie the Pooh when they went into the darker part of the Hundred Acre Woods.Â But the one that he didn’t like the most was Zorg from Toy Story.Â How do I know this?Â Because we were in the Toy Story shop at Disney and Bean practically scaled up my body when he saw a stuffed Zorg on a display.Â We went back to that same store a few weeks later and, though he was better, Bean was still really scared.
About a week after that, a friend gave Bean a set of Toy Story figurines for his birthday and guess who was front and center in the pack?
Our friend, Zorg.
Bean flipped out, so we threw Zorg in a kitchen drawer and Bean went on about his merry way.
But a few days later, Bean started talking about Zorg. A lot. We’d be driving down the road and out of the blue he would say something like, “Zorg scawy.” And so I’d say something back like, “Zorg isn’t scary, buddy. Zorg is just pretend. He isn’t real.” And so Bean started saying things like, “Zorg no scawy. Zorg no real.” Whenever he’d say something about Zorg, I’d talk in a singsong voice about “silly Zorg,” and Bean continued to repeat his mantra: “Zorg no scawy. Zorg no real.”
This went on for about a week. And then it intensified. Bean started talking about Zorg even more, but now he was saying things like, “Zorg and Buzz friends” and “silly Zorg!” For the most part, I kept my mouth shut. Clearly, Bean was working through this issue and except for the occasional affirmation that Zorg was pretend and Zorg wasn’t scary, I pretty much let Bean talk through it himself.
Then, one morning I was getting breakfast ready and Bean walked over to the drawer where I’d thrown Zorg on his birthday.
“See Zorg?” Bean asked.
“Okay,” I said, nonchalantly. But inside my thoughts were reeling. If I pulled this scary guy out, would I need to put Bean in therapy now or wait until he was a bit older?
So, I pulled Zorg out. And Bean whimpered a little, so I put him back.
“Bye bye, Zorg!” I said happily as I closed the drawer. And then we moved quickly on to breakfast.
But Bean kept going back to the drawer and asking to see Zorg. So, I’d bring him out, Bean would whimper and tell me to put him back, and then we’d go do something else. This went on for about a week. Sometimes, when we’d be in the kitchen, Bean and I would talk to Zorg in the drawer. I wouldn’t get him out, but we’d stand right at the drawer and yell things in there to him like, “ZORG WANT SNACK?” and “ZORG NEED BATH?” Bean thought that was hysterical.
And then one day when I took Zorg out of the drawer, Bean didn’t whimper. He kind of nervously laughed and said, “Bean hold Zorg?” So, I put Zorg in his hand. Bean held up Buzz in the other hand and before I knew it, he was playing with Zorg and Buzz on the kitchen floor.
It is crazy how much Bean is learning these days, but it’s equally crazy how much he is teaching me these days. I learned from him about this whole Zorg situation that being scared of something for a toddler is really more about not being familiar with that something. I also learned that you can’t rush toddlers. They really are little people. They have their own needs and they move at their own pace. Had I pushed Zorg on Bean and insisted that he was just being silly, I would have really made things harder for Bean. He just needed his own time to warm up to that unfamiliar thing.
Toddlers fascinate me. They go through almost the exact same emotions and process things very similarly to how adults do, I think. But they do it at such a slowed pace that it seems overly dramatic. But I bet if I slowed down my emotions to a snails pace, I probably have the same reactions to things as Bean does, I am just able to process things quicker.
Isn’t that incredible? Our minds are fascinating things!
I’m sure we’ll encounter even more things that Bean is scared of – and they’ll probably be things that I can’t put away in a kitchen drawer for him. But I’m glad Zorg was our first obstacle. So is Bean.