Sunday, August 6, 2017

An Honest Review of "Potty Training in 3 Days: The Step By Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty Diapers" by Brandi Brucks

       I like diapers.  I really do.  I've heard that many parents view getting their kids out of diapers as this huge relief accompanied by this incredible sense of freedom.  Me, personally? I don’t get it. I mean, would it save money to not have to buy diapers? Sure.  But diapers are easy. They get shipped to my door each month via Amazon Prime with next to no effort on my part.  I can go out and about with my kiddos and change them at MY convenience.  And they are oh so versatile! They can be changed pretty much anywhere…..your lap, the trunk of the car, the backseat, a table at a restaurant, the floor…I could go on.  With diapers there is no, “I need to go potty,” from your toddler in the middle of Target with a cart full of items and your 4 month old asleep in your Moby wrap. Um.......okay. No prob. Let me just step out of line here, now that I’ve waited 10 minutes already, and find a place to stash this cart (since there is a clearly marked sign on the door of the restroom stating that no unpurchased merchandise can be taken in) so I can take you to the nasty public restroom where you will have to sit on a germ infested toilet and I will have to bend over to the ground to help you pull your shorts and underwear down, lift you up onto the toilet, and then redress you, all the while trying to balance a diaper bag (because there is probably no hook on the back of the stall door) and a sleeping infant strapped to my body.  There is no, “I need to go potty,” when you’re stuck in a traffic jam in rush hour traffic on the interstate and you have to pull over and let your kid pee on the side of the road while nosy rubbernecking commuters give you dirty stares.  Nope. None of that. That’s just not fun for anyone.  But apparently, parenting is not all about me or my convenience. Dang it.  And.....word on the street is that it’s frowned upon not to have your kid potty trained when they enter public school. So, with all that said, and knowing I had only 3 weeks left before heading back to teaching full time, I recently decided I had better make the most of the rest of my summer break and get on board with the whole potty training thing.  
     Today marks one week since I began potty training my 2 ½ year old…..and O. M. G. I can safely say this has been, without a doubt, my least favorite parenting “adventure” yet.  It has been one of the most frustrating, annoying, disgusting, stressful, and anxiety ridden weeks of my mom life. But it’s also had its joys, celebrations, and a few good laughs.  However, I wouldn’t call it even. The highlight….seeing the giggles and grins on my son’s face when he finally went pee pee on the potty for the first time and listening to him cheer himself on with “Yays!” and “Whooohoooos!”......and also listening to him belt out “Twinkle Twinkle” (and every other song he knows) at the top of his lungs while he sat on the toilet trying to pass the time.  The lows?? Ummmm…..I’m not even sure if I could even put those in a nutshell.  Wait….yes, yes I can. MY. KID. ATE. POOP.  Yep...... He did. That actually happened. That would be the lowest point of the week for sure.  But after an exhausting and stressful week, I have to say we are making good progress.  He had an accident yesterday, but today he STAYED DRY THE WHOLE DAY! I’m so proud!
    Okay, so here’s the deal. I was all about researching potty training methods before beginning this adventure, because Lord knows I didn’t want to screw it up and spend the next 6 months trying to backtrack and undo all the bad I’d ignorantly done initially.  Therefore, I figured it would be best to educate myself fully on potty training, be as consistent as possible, and just get er done!  I found lots of book options out there.  One book suggested to me by some friends was “Oh Crap Potty Training.” I read the reviews and it looked decent.  But the methods that were the most attractive to me were the ones that touted training in “3 Days.” I mean, who wouldn’t want to get the whole diapers to potty transition done in less time, right?  After lots of research and reading reviews, I decided on “Potty Training in 3 Days: The Step by Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty Diapers” by Brandi Brucks.  The following is my detailed set of notes, commentary, reflections and general review of the book, method, and how it worked for us!

About 2 weeks before I planned on starting training, I finally sat down and read the potty training book that I purchased from Amazon: “Potty Training in 3 Days:  The Step by Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty Diapers” by Brandi Brucks.  I literally sat down and read the entire book in one sitting and took very detailed notes on my legal pad.  I felt like I was cramming for finals.  A few thoughts…. I liked the book.  It was very straight forward and had a lot of good thoughts on several things that I wouldn’t have thought about.  I like that her method is not a “we’ll just try the whole potty thing and see how things go, and if it doesn’t work out or he doesn’t like it, then we’ll go back to diapers” kind of deal.  It’s a “Okay, I can tell you are showing the signs of readiness here, so here we go!  Starting today, no more diapers. Let’s do this! No looking back.” She is all about the "go big or go home" mentality, in a sense. She reiterates over and over that YOU are the parent and YOU have to ACT like the parent. You are the boss, not your child. You need to have a plan with rules/guidelines and stick to it. Kids will often test the limits and you have to be prepared for that and be prepared to be firm. She talks a lot about how half of potty training is your mindset/attitude as a parent and how you go into it. Her writing comes from the perspective of someone who you can tell is very consistent, structured, and firm, but loving. As a teacher, I loved her focus on being consistent and sticking to the plan, even when things get tough.  Most people give up too early while trying to implement an initiative and then wonder why it didn’t work out.  I liked how she stressed the importance of perseverance.  

So, obviously I strongly suggest that you read the entire book because otherwise you won’t be able to grasp the big picture of Brandi’s method and all the details she gives that will be helpful during training….but here are some notes I took to give you the general gist.  

    • Brandi suggests that the prime age to potty train your child is between 2.5 and 3 years old.  Too much earlier can mean they don’t have the communication skills, and too much later can mean that they are too attached to diapers and may resist training more.  The less time a child is in diapers, the easier it will be to transition to underwear.

    • Brandi says that your child needs to have at least 3 of these 5 Readiness Signs before you begin training.
      • 1) Your child knows when it is time to be changed.
        • THIS WAS THE BIG ONE FOR US! Up until a few weeks prior, Harrison could have cared less that he had a poopy diaper and would never tell us when he needed to be changed.  We would just smell it and then know. Once he started doing this was when we knew it was time, because he had all of the other “readiness” signs down pat.
      • 2) Your child can hold her bladder (diaper stays dry for more than an hour)
      • 3) Your child doesn’t have hard poop.
      • 4) Your child can follow directions/communicate.
      • 5) Your child shows interest in using the potty.

    • Brandi starts by disposing of some potty training MYTHS.    
      • 1) Placing little potties around the house will help.
        • She says NO to this...because you want to train your child to use the bathroom IN THE BATHROOM, not in the kitchen, and the living room, and the playroom, etc.  (I get the logic behind this, and I’m not going to do it. I know you should always “begin as you mean to go.” But in the back of my head I’m also thinking...gosh it’s a long way to the bathroom when your child is peeing mid-stream! A little potty strategically placed would be helpful. But oh well. I’m sticking to her plan!)
      • 2) Boys are harder to train than girls.
        • She says this is not so.
      • 3) Your child will tell you when he is ready to be potty trained. 
        • While Brandi does state that there are some unicorn kiddos who do this, it is very, very rare. The vast majority of children aren’t just  going to wake up one day and tell you they are ready to stop wearing diapers.  You shouldn’t just wait around for this, especially if your child is getting closer to the age of 3 or beyond.  When your child is showing the signs of readiness, you as the parent need to make the decision to start.
      • 4) Pull ups help you with training.
        • Brandi says pull ups feel just like diapers when worn, so why would a child feel any less apt to pee/poop in a pull up as they do in a diaper?  She says no to pull ups (except for night time and naps….however, they are to be called “sleeping underwear”) and straight into undies!
      • 5) Taking your child to the potty every 30 minutes encourages training.
        • Do you have to use the potty every 30 minutes as an adult? Well, guess what? Your child doesn’t either.  Brandi says that this method can cause kiddos to get frustrated and that it also is counterproductive when it comes to getting your child to learn how to “hold it.”  When you are out and about, you aren’t going to be able to take your child to the potty every 30 minutes.  She says that making your child go too frequently also keeps your child from ever having to actually communicate to you that they have to use the potty.   (MORE ON THIS LATER…..this is one “MYTH” I disagreed with.)


Brandi suggests that you start a couple of weeks before training by doing the following things to prepare your child mentally for training:

  • Draw your child’s attention to being dirty and wet when you change his diaper. Say things like, “Eww poopy! A dirty diaper feels yucky!”
  • Start trying to change your child’s diaper IN the bathroom and preferably while standing up, so he can get used to pulling his diaper off/down, just like he will be pulling his underwear up and down while standing.  
  • If you aren’t already, have your child accompany you to the potty so he can see how things work!
  • Talk it up!!  Talk excitedly about going to the potty and get your child excited about how they will soon get to go pee pee/poo poo in the potty and get to FLUSH the potty, etc! 
  • Brandi didn’t say this specifically in her book, but I have found that reading books about going to the potty have helped get Harrison excited about it.  We started reading these books months before even thinking about potty training.  Our favorites are: Potty by Leslie Patricelli, Boys Potty Time by DK Publishing, and Even Firefighters Go to the Potty by Naomi Wax & Wendy Wax. 


  • Set aside time for potty training!  Brandi says that the best way to achieve potty training success is to set aside a few days (a long weekend is good!) where you can stay home and totally focus on potty training.  This means you have NO WHERE TO GO!  Setting aside a few hours here and a few hours there  is not going to get the same results as 2-3 whole days. Block several days out on the calendar in advance.
  • Remember, YOU are the parent. YOU are the boss, not your child.
  • Make a plan and STICK TO IT! Brandi warns that nothing is more confusing to a toddler than inconsistency. If there are multiple people who take care of your child, they all need to be on the same page too.  This means mom, dad, grandma, daycare lady, or whomever will be interacting with your child need to know your plan and adhere to it.
  • Keep calm and carry on! Kids feed off our attitudes and energy, and if we act frustrated about potty training, your child will pick up on your negative feelings.
  • Stay positive! There will be accidents and it will get messy, but just clean up and move on.
  • Enjoy it! This is bonding time for you and your child. You get to have one on one time with your child for 2-3 whole days and you get to help them to reach an important milestone!
  • Don’t give up!  Do not stop the training before completing a full 10 days of your plan, even if your child is not doing well after the initial 3 days.  You CAN teach your child to pee/poop in the potty with minimal or no accidents after 3 days, but it does take longer than 3 days to create a habit.  So don’t get frustrated if things aren’t perfect after 3 days.  Remember, underwear is a new way of life for your child.  No going back!  
  • In order for this method to work, you have to be completely devoted to paying attention to your child.  This means TURN OFF THE TV, PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE, and no texting, emailing, etc. while your child is awake. You have to be looking at them so you can pick up on their facial expressions, signs of needing to go potty (tugging at themselves, crossing legs, hiding, etc).  They can’t be left alone. Wherever they go, you go. This means you may need help caring for another child, etc. Be prepared to be “all in.”
  • Stop stressing…  You are already an expert on bathroom related activities.  So get confident!

Harrison proudly showing
off his new undies from Target!

  • Underwear (Brandi didn’t specifically say to do this, but I took Harrison to the store to let him pick out his own undies about a week before starting and that got him really excited about wearing "undies.")
  • Overnight Pull Ups for nighttime and naps  (Brandi states that it is not developmentally appropriate to expect 2 year olds to hold their bladders all night long or for 2-3 hours during a nap, so pull ups are okay for this purpose only, but they should never be referred to as diapers or pull-ups. They should be called “sleeping underwear” and regular underwear should always be worn over them so that’s what your child sees when they look down.)
    • (FYI, I HATED PULL-UPS!!! They leaked constantly...more on this later!)
  • Baby Bjorn Potty Seat (Brandi says that the little training potties are not the best for potty training because they just add one more step to transitioning to the big potty later, which makes sense. She says that the potty seats which go on the real potty are best to start with. They are also less clean up and mess. She highly recommended the Baby Bjorn potty seat. I did purchase this one and we did like it.)
  • Potty seat, step stool, and treat
    containers all ready to go!
    Step stool for potty (I bought 3 of these and returned the 2 I didn’t like.….I liked the Baby Bjorn brand the best...most sturdy and best size for stepping up to sit on the potty.)
  • My potty training "supplies" ready to go!  Froot Loops were not on
    Brandi's list, but I'd heard little boys like to "aim" for them in the potty!
    And the Expo markers were for drawing on the back of the potty lid..
    another potty training hack I'd seen on Pinterest!  
    JUICE (While Brandi states that she is a supporter of kids drinking only water or milk and agrees that juice has way too much sugar, she also stresses that the key to successful potty training is to push those fluids so your child needs to  go potty often, and sometimes the best way to do that is with something that tastes yummy!  So even if you are not a juice buyer, she says to make an exception for this purpose.)
  • REWARD  (While Brandi does state that she is normally not a fan of using food as a reward, she says that you want to use a reward that is small but something that your child will REALLY like and want to work for!  Toys aren’t great because who has the $$ to buy your child a toy every time they pee/poo?  Plus, a toy care might be great for a little bit, but the allure wears off after the 5th or 6th toy car is earned.  Candy works best in her opinion...skittles or M&M’s. They are cheap, they are small, and kids really like them! But she says you can definitely use non-candy items like goldfish or raisins or marshmallows.)
  • Stickers to give your child when he/she goes potty and a sticker chart to put them on.  (Brandi says that while some kiddos could care less about stickers, others are highly motivated by them, so it’s worth trying!  She says peeling stickers are good for fine motor skills too, so she suggests letting your child peel the sticker off and put it on the chart himself.)
  • Planned indoor activities to do with your child for a few days (Things that are fun, but not messy….so if your child starts peeing you can scoop them up and take them to the potty with minimal clean up.  Brandi suggests not going outside to play until the end of the 2nd day or even the 3rd day, since it is harder to be right near the potty when you are outside.)
  • Try to stay with your child in the rooms of the house that are closest to the bathroom.  Consider laying some plastic sheets or trash bags down on your carpets to minimize clean up and try to have your child stay off furniture if possible.  It’s easier to clean the floor than the couch!  
  • Pre-prep meals for the first couple of days so you don’t have to take time to fix food. This means taking your focus off your child, and that can’t happen.  Prep some easy to serve meals for you and your child.  And make sure to serve foods that your child likes and will eat during these few days. The last thing that you want to deal with during potty training is meltdowns over eating.  
  • If you have younger children, try getting some childcare help so you can focus on your toddler.  

  • In a nutshell, Brandi’s method goes like this….
    • The first day you have a ceremonial “diaper throw away party” and go around the house and let your child help you throw all the diapers away in a trash bag because they are a big kid and don’t need them anymore.
    • You put them in underwear and introduce them to their sticker chart and treats and tell them that if they sit on the potty and ACTUALLY go peepee or poopy, then they get a treat and a sticker.  
    • Don’t ASK them if they have to go potty. Just keep saying over and over all day…..“Tell mommy when you need to go potty,”  “You’re still dry! Good job! Let me know when you need to go peepee,” etc.
    • Push the fluids!  Get them to drink as much as possible so they have to go a lot.   
    • Watch your child LIKE A HAWK….  Wherever they go, you go. And if you have to do something, they come too.  If you go to the bathroom, they go to the bathroom.  Do not take your eyes off them for a second.  They are not to be out of your sight because you have to watch for them to pee….because when they do, you have to scoop them up and put them on the potty so they start to put it together that when they get that feeling, that means it’s time to use the potty.  
    • If they have an accident, do not show anger or frustration.  Just clean it up, but do bring it to their attention such as, “Wet undies feel yucky!  Remember peepee goes in the potty.  Make sure to tell mommy when you need to go peepee,”  or “We don’t peepee on the floor. We peepee in the potty.  Let’s try to get it in the potty next time.”  You can even let them feel their wet underwear so they can tell the difference between wet and dry.  
    • If they are making some kind of a signal, sound, facial expression, etc. that you think indicates they need to go, then take them to the potty, even if they haven't told you they need to go.  They may cry or say they don’t have to go, but make them sit anyway for at least a little bit and try to go.  
    • Stay positive, happy, and encouraging…..give constant praise and affirmation.
    • Do NOT let your child watch TV or play on an ipad, do NOT use your phone for more than 30 seconds at a time, and do NOT give your child diapers back.
    • Repeat……...for 3 days. But Brandi does say that if your child has not gotten the basics down by Day 3 to continue the plan for 10 days before reevaluating.

Okay….now for OUR personal experience with this method….

Now that I’m on the tail end of training, I can say that this method does work, but you may have to slightly tweak it for your needs, and it definitely takes more than 3 days. But here were my main thoughts:

  1. Brandi is NOT KIDDING when she says you have to watch your child’s every move.  You literally HAVE. TO. WATCH. THEM. LIKE. A. HAWK.  I lovingly called it “Crotch Watch” because that was basically what I was doing all day long….staring at my son’s crotch. This was by far the most stressful and exhausting part of training!!!  I’m always keeping a close eye on Harrison, but there is a huge difference between being in the same room with a child and truly watching their every move.   We could be playing together and he’d be a foot or two away from me, and I’d look over out the window or something and take my eyes off of him and he’d say, “Pee pee momma!” and sure enough he’d be peeing!  I’m like, “I took my eyes of you for like .4 seconds and you’re having an accident.”  And she is also not kidding about the whole technology usage thing on both you and your child’s part!  We don’t let Harrison watch TV anyway, so that wasn’t an issue. But I had a few important texts that were time sensitive that I received and had to return during the day, and I also had to make a phone call at one point.  Just as she said, when did Harrison have an accident??? During the 15 seconds I looked down at my phone to send a text, and while I was talking on the phone (even with me watching him while I talked).  No lie.  Just put your phone away and be done with it.  And get used to watching a crotch all day.  I totally understood why she said to meal prep ahead of time after enduring this part.  I was sooooo glad I had taken the time to make lunch the night before we started. I continued to pre-make our lunches and Harrison’s sippy cups for the next several days just to have one less reason to take my eye off him.
  2. Probably the other hardest thing about potty training was that I also had a breastfed 3 month old to care for during this whole process.  I quickly realized why Brandi suggested getting help with childcare for younger siblings.  My husband was working and out of town for the first part of potty training, and it was soooooooo hard to watch Harrison's every move by myself when I was constantly having to sit down to nurse a baby, take a baby up and down the stairs for naps, etc.  It was very stressful.  I would try to get Harrison to go potty and then nurse the baby right afterward so I would have a lesser chance of him having an accident while I was nursing.  It helped some, but not always.  I just had to have him follow me up the stairs when I went to put the baby down for a nap, etc.  Honestly, my poor sweet baby was ignored a LOT during potty training. I’s not like I left him crying in a corner alone or anything.  But I definitely did not interact with him nearly as much as I normally do, and I had him just sitting in the swing, bouncy seat, on the floor in the Boppy, etc a good deal because I just couldn’t be two places at once.  If Harrison said, “Peepee in potty mama” and started running to the bathroom, I had to go too. So I just had to lay baby down somewhere and run with him so I could help him get undies down and get up on the potty. I tried babywearing some, but bending over constantly to get undies on and off, cleaning up accidents on the floor, etc was just not conducive to having an infant strapped to me.  So, I would definitely recommend getting help with the care of younger siblings if possible.  
  3. Brandi specifically said “Don’t expect your child to tell you BEFORE he or she starts to pee.”  I’m so glad she said this in the book, because after the end of Day 2, I started to get worried. Harrison would tell me he had to go potty, but it was already after he’d wet himself….like every time!  A few times he told me he had to go and he was still dry, but mostly he had already started to pee before he realized the feeling.  It can be somewhat disheartening when it happens over and over, but it’s totally normal. They get better and better as it goes.
  4. There are going to be LOTS OF ACCIDENTS those first couple of days.  Just be ready. Go ahead and have out your cloths, paper towels, carpet cleaner, etc.  It’s hard. It sucks. But it’s just part of it.  If you have hardwood floors or tile, try and keep your child on those surfaces as much as possible as opposed to carpet.  Avoid sitting on the sofas/chairs.  And one tip I found to be helpful was to feed Harrison sitting on the kitchen counter! Haha.  Accidents often happen at meal times and it was easier to see him...and his crotch of course….with him sitting closer to eye level.  
  5. As a result of the LOTS OF ACCIDENTS, you will need to buy LOTS of underwear!  We bought several packs and still had to wash underwear the first night because we went through so many. If you don’t buy but a pack or two of undies, get ready to do laundry a lot.
  6. Letting Harrison just go around in underwear with no clothes on made things MUCH easier.  There were actually a handful of times that I just let him run around naked.  Not only is it less work to pull down shorts and pull undies over shoes, etc. it’s just a lot less laundry to do when they have an accident.  I know many potty training methods suggest to have the child just go completely naked, and I don't think that's necessarily a bad idea. Though, I do think they need to get used to the feel of underwear since that is what they will be wearing in the long run.  
  7. As Brandi states, you definitely have to get on the same page with whoever else is going to be helping you with potty training…, grandma, daycare provider, etc.  I’m really glad I took as detailed notes on the book that I did, because that allowed me to share them with my husband without him having to read the whole thing, so we could be on the same page.  After 5 days of training, I sent my little buddy to daycare and gave his in-home daycare provider a sticker chart, stickers, a jar of Skittles, another Baby Bjorn potty seat, and gave her a detailed description of our plan, etc. so he would have consistency at home and at daycare.  
  8. Brandi was all about the Baby Bjorn potty seat in her book, and after ordering it, I see why.  I had purchased another potty seat, the OXO brand, and it doesn’t even compare to the Baby Bjorn.  It is MUCH more sturdy, sits flush to the regular potty seat, and even adjusts so it doesn’t move around, which makes it more secure.  Harrison never wanted to sit on the other Oxo potty seat I had previously bought, because it moved around while he sat on it and made him feel insecure and scared. Definitely recommend the Baby Bjorn! I actually feel like the little training potties I had bought Harrison were a total waste because they are so small! When he sits on them, his little wee-wee is basically hanging off the front if it….not exactly ideal for getting pee IN the potty! And if he scoots back far enough so his wee-wee is in the potty, his backside is up on the back of the potty so far that if he pooped, it would go on the potty seat, not the potty. So we liked the potty seat. However, with that said….I also found it worked VERY WELL to sit Harrison backwards on the real potty seat with no training seat at all.  If you scoot their fanny all the way to the front of the toilet so they are facing the lid of the potty, they can’t fall off that way, and then that leaves little boys especially plenty of room to aim IN the toilet.  I gave Harrison a dry erase marker and let him draw on the potty lid while he sat, and he liked that.  It distracted him and made things easier when he was in a mood.
  9. I feel like the whole potty process was kind of 2 steps forward and 1 step back.  It’s like we made progress and he would do great and tell us before he had to go, and then other times he just had accidents.  It was somewhat frustrating on Day 3 when he would sit on the potty for like 10 minutes and do nothing, and then literally less than 5 minutes later would have an accident.  Clearly he had to go before, but didn’t. What exactly do you do about that?  Towards the end of Day 3, I no longer told him, "Tell me when you need to go potty."  I just started taking him every 30 min or so.  One thing Brandi specifically said in her book was that taking a child every 30 minutes doesn’t help training because no one has to go pee every 30 minutes.  But you know what?? He stayed dry the entire evening (with the exception of peeing outside) once I started doing that.  It sure as heck kept me more sane and kept me from having to clean up a ton of pee all over my house and change underwear every 5 seconds.  I have heard from numerous people who potty trained using the “go every 30 min” method and did fine.  I continued through Day 4-7 taking him every 30-45 minutes and he had MUCH fewer accidents.  He still told me sometimes that he had to go, but overall, I just took him. He would sometimes say he didn’t have to go, but then he’d pee a lot when he sat.  So clearly he didn’t have that feeling down pat yet. I just didn't make it a choice. 
  10. The treats/stickers are definitely a motivator.  And the sticker chart actually helped me to track progress.  When you’re in the middle of training it seems like everything just sucks and you are getting nowhere, but being able to look at Harrison’s chart from Day 1 where he only got 3 stickers and then seeing Day 2 where he got 8 stickers was so nice and gave me hope!  Brandi says you can wean them off of the stickers eventually but continue to do treats for a while after they are trained.
  11. Buying juice was a waste. Harrison wouldn't drink any of it, which I was slightly happy about because I don't let him have juice anyway (we just do water or milk). But I needed him to drink and sometimes that was a challenge. If you buy juice anyway, then I guess I'd buy it for potty training. But if you don't, then I wouldn't start just for this, unless your child has had juice before and you know they like it.
  12. Praise, praise, praise!  Cheer, clap, etc. for even the tiniest drops of peepee!  It makes a difference.
  13. Pull-ups were absolutely horrible. I bought the "overnight" kind like Brandi suggested, but every time Harrison wore one to bed he woke up completely soaked.... his undies, shorts, sheets...everything! After changing sheets for the 3rd time I threw in the towel. He just pees sooooo much at night that it just wasn't able to hold. So even though Brandi states never to give back diapers, I changed back to diapers instead of pull ups for naps and nighttime only. It just was getting ridiculous. I continued to put his underwear over his diaper just as she states so when he looked down he saw underwear, not a diaper. And I just continued to call the diaper "sleeping underwear" so he didn't think he was getting diapers back.
  14. One thing I ran into was that Harrison was not able to pull his own underwear up and down and got very frustrated when I tried to get him to do it.  He is getting better, but he still gets frustrated.  I wish I had practiced pulling undies up with him before we actually started training.  But for training purposes, I just pulled them up and down for him so the focus was placed on him learning how to use the potty, not on whether or not he could pull his underwear up and down. 
  15. Brandi very clearly said not to put little training potties around the house, and I did not do this.  But after Day 2 and still tons of accidents I was about to break down and do it.  I know the goal is to get them to use the potty IN the bathroom, but I think it would be totally fine and not detrimental to the end result to put a training potty in the room you will be with your child.  Especially if your house is big, or your child’s room/playroom is far away from the bathroom, it just doesn’t make sense to have to endure added stress by running them to the potty all the way down the hallway or across the house. And being father away from a potty definitely increases the number of accidents to clean up.
  16. Just be prepared….during training, you will get NOTHING done.  And I mean nothing.  Because anything you might want to do would involve you looking at your task, not at your child’s crotch.  This means no unloading a dishwasher, no vacuuming, no cleaning, no folding clothes, no nothing.  You may start a task such as this, but then your child goes into another room or says they have to go potty, so you stop what you are doing 15 times anyway and it never gets done.  And even if you can concentrate for a moment, that is the moment they are going to have an accident. Get help from your spouse or somebody with household tasks, or wait until nap time or after bedtime.  But during those times, you are probably going to be so freaking exhausted that you need to sleep too. So I take it back, just get used to a dirty house. 
  17. Being homebound sucks. If you’re used to being on the go, you will need to get your game face on. For the first 3 days of potty training I did not brush my teeth or put on clothes until nap time around 1:30 or 2pm. On Day 3 I didn’t eat dinner until after 9:00 at night.  Everything I did revolved around watching Harrison’s every move.  On Day 4 I had a dentist appointment and my mother in law came to watch Harrison. I’ve never really seen a dentist appointment as an “outing” before, but it was practically like a vacation after being cooped up in the house for  the 4 days prior!  If you have a spouse at home, after your little munchkin goes to bed at night, it may be a good idea just to go to the grocery store alone....or go get a Starbucks coffee or something, just to get out of the house! The couple of times I was able to slip out for even 30 minutes helped my sanity so much!
  18. Potty training most likely WILL take more than 3 days.  Your child can definitely get the basics down in 3 days, but the chances that your child will be 100% trained and accident free in 3 days is unlikely.  The reviews on Amazon said similar things…  Most people said it took 5 or 6 days to get things stable.  With us, 8 days.  But who’s counting?! For the record, Brandi does say that you need to continue the program for a full 10 days before reevaluating, so I gave her that amount of time, and he was fully trained before that mark, so I'll still count her method as a success!

  Potty training is definitely a lot of work, but it is an important milestone in our little ones' lives, and we get to be a part of it! So pick your method, hunker down, and get it done. I would definitely recommend getting Brandi's book because it has a LOT of good information (way more than I could write in a blog post), but I wouldn't be opposed to reading more than one method and then combining what works best for you and your family. I think the important part is to be consistent and stay positive even when things are tough! Good luck mamas!
- Beth

****** EDITED TO ADD ******. We are now exactly 2 weeks from the day I started potty training and Harrison hasn't had an accident in days. We continued the going every 30 minutes thing for about a week but he's definitely going longer now (45 min to an hour) between bathroom visits, he's getting even better at telling us when he has to go instead of us just taking him, and he's getting way better and pulling up his undies by himself too. We weaned him off of the stickers after about a week, and now instead of Skittles he's getting pieces of cereal (Chex or Froot Loops) as a treat if he goes peepee or poopoo, but we plan on weaning him of that soon too. I am very pleased at his progress! It seriously seems like it's been an eternity since we started training, but it really hasn't! Less than 2 weeks to be completely trained with no accidents isn't too shabby in my book!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Reflections on My 1st Year of Motherhood... The 8 Biblical Qualities I Want to Instill in My Son

** Disclaimer: I wrote the majority of this post on January 24, 2016, the eve of my first born son's first birthday. Life got in the way and I never posted it, but today, almost a year and a half later, I finally finished it. My little one year old is now a spit-fire curly haired toddler of 2 1/2, but my prayers for him haven't changed. ***   

 Tonight I laid my baby boy down to sleep, and tomorrow when he wakes, he will be 1 year old.    One year ago today, I was 2 weeks past my due date and 80 lbs heavier than I am right now.   One year ago today, I sat in a labor and delivery room hooked up to a pitocin drip and bouncing on a birthing ball, breathing in and out through ridiculously painful contractions. One year ago today, I would soon be lying in a cold operating room, shivering, and absolutely terrified as they cut me open after a long, emotional, and unproductive 21 hours of labor. How has it been One. Whole. Year. since I brought forth a little life into the world?  One year since my prayers were answered and the desires of my heart to be a mother were fulfilled.  One year since I heard the sound I had been waiting to hear for 9 son’s first cry.  One year since I put my beautiful baby boy to my breast and he latched on for the first time.  One year since my love and appreciation for my husband grew to an entirely new depth….
   Everyone tells you that it will fly by. Everyone says “don’t blink.” When you are in the midst of those first few weeks with a newborn and you are waking up to nurse every 2-3 hours, other moms tell you to cherish those night wakings because one day you will miss them. And that is the absolute last thing you want to hear. In the beginning, you live in the present. You go day by day, hour by hour.  You are just trying to keep your head above water…..making it to the next feeding, the next morning, the next shower! You truly believe that your reality at the moment is going to stay that way forever.  But it doesn’t. It is gone in the blink of an eye.  I certainly don’t miss being tired now that I have experienced what it is like to have a baby who sleeps 12 hours straight, but every now and again I think back with fond memories of those long nights while I was on maternity leave.  It really wasn’t so bad.  I think back to the precious memories I have imprinted into my mind of all those sweet baby moments….the coos, giggles, splashes in the tub, milk drunk smiles, and that intoxicating new baby smell…...kissing his dimpled little hands and tiny feet, rubbing lotion on his soft silky skin, and blowing raspberries on his tummy. As Harrison has gotten older, I have loved spending evenings at home sitting on the floor playing with toy trains and blocks and reading the same 4 books (Harrison’s favorites) over and over. I love the way he smacks his lips after he gets done nursing as if to give “compliments to the chef” for a tasty meal. I love the way he twists his hands back and forth like he’s revving a motorcycle when he gets excited about something.  I love the way he just randomly bursts out in song in the car, in his crib, while playing, etc. Although it probably has damaged my hearing, I love the way he will squeal at the top of his lungs for no reason and then giggle like he just cracked himself up.  That boy surely loves to hear his voice!  There have been stressful times, of course, but I truly have enjoyed my first year of being a mother.
Oh the difference a year makes!
   Over the past few days, this flood of memories and emotions has come over me. I keep recalling distinct memories from pregnancy, labor, birth, and those first few weeks home with a newborn. That whole span of time in a mother’s life is such a beautifully overwhelming time, and it carries with it such a strong and deep range of emotions - hope, excitement, worry, anticipation, exhaustion, frustration, love, disbelief, gratitude, contentment, joy...and so much more.  It’s hard to describe the sensation of all those emotions coming back to you at once.  And while I have been working through all those emotions from the past, I am also being flooded with all of these thoughts and feelings about the future.  If his first year has gone by this fast, that means all the years to come will fly by too.  I have been entrusted by God to raise a man….. a Godly man….and I really don’t have a whole lot of time left.
    Before Harrison was born, I thought a lot about what kind of young man I wanted him to become.  Of course, I realize that I do not have ultimate control over his future. But God does. And God has entrusted me and my husband with the care and teaching of our son. While some parents try to downplay their role and influence in their children’s lives and seemingly think of parenting as the ultimate game of Russian roulette, the bottom line is that we have a huge impact on our children’s lives. While there is no secret parenting “formula” that will guarantee a child who is kind, respectful, responsible, obedient, and Ivy League bound, we as parents have been given the task of shaping the people that our children will become.  Parenting is a responsibility that holds great weight, and that should not be taken lightly.  Yes, our children will have their own unique personalities, but it is our job as parents to teach our sons and daughters how to become men and women of noble character and to ultimately teach them how to become more like Jesus.
   When I was pregnant, I talked over and over about wanting to make a list of the qualities that I wanted Harrison to have when he grew up. I wanted to write them down, because when you write something down, you take ownership of it. I wanted to write them down and post them in a prominent place so I would constantly see them and constantly be held accountable for them.  I figured if I was reminded everyday of who I wanted Harrison to become, I would be more purposeful in driving my daily parenting decisions to align with that vision…….since all those decisions will ultimately affect the man that he will one day be.  
     Right now, I am the #1 woman in my son’s life.  I hold his heart.  I get all his kisses and all his snuggles.  When I walk in his room to get him out of his crib, his face lights up when he sees me.  He grabs my face with his chubby little hands and squeezes me. When he is sad or hurt, he wants his mamma.  And I like it that way.  But I know that one day that my son will grow up and will love another woman.  My prayer is that one day he finds the love of his life.  I pray that he marries his love and that they will be blessed with a happy marriage and one day, children.  But I want him to be a good gift to his wife. I want his mother-in-law to rejoice in the man her daughter has chosen. And not only that, I want his life to have meaning and purpose and for him to make a mark on this Earth and leave it an even better than when he entered it.  And so my prayers begin now.  My action begins now.  I am writing down these traits, because I want to hold myself and my husband accountable for instilling these traits in our son.

1) Believer/Seeker
  • If I could have only one wish for Harrison, and nothing else, it would be that he would know the Lord, because if he grows up to love and serve God and devotes his life to becoming more Christ-like, all these other qualities will follow suit.  I want Harrison to truly grasp the fullness of God’s love for him, and I want him to know God and walk in the Light and Truth of His Word.  I want him to continually seek His face and have an inner longing for all those things that are good and holy. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” Phillipians 4:8

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14

2) Integrity & Noble Character
  • I once heard someone describe integrity as being the same person in private that you are in public. It means having sound moral character…..doing the right thing even when others are not and even when you think nobody's watching.  I want Harrison to have integrity and to uphold his strong morals and values even when it is not “popular” and even when it is not easy.  I want him to be a leader and not a follower.  And when he chooses to do something that does not uphold integrity and good character, my prayer is that he gets caught EVERY. SINGLE. me, my husband, his teacher, or whomever. I want him to learn that it never pays to be untruthful or to compromise your integrity. 
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out…”  Proverbs 10:9

3) Hard-Work, Self-Motivation, & Perseverance

  • There are few qualities that speak higher of a man than his work ethic.  Laziness is not an admirable quality in anyone, but especially not in a man.  I want Harrison to know the value of hard work, and I want to make a conscious effort to try and resist the urge to make his life too easy by doing things for him that he can do for himself or by "rescuing" him from difficult circumstances that will teach him important life lessons.  I want him to become independent and learn the sense of accomplishment that comes with working hard towards a goal.  I also want him to WANT to succeed.  This is one quality that is sorely lacking in today’s youth.  They only will put forth effort and action if they are forced to, get a reward for doing so, or are threatened with a consequence if they don’t.  I pray that Harrison is self-motivated and learns to persevere through challenges even with things get tough.  

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  Colossians 3:23-25

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”  Proverbs 14:23

4) Servant’s Heart

  • The qualities of kindness and generosity were originally what had come to my mind, but I am changing that to “servant,” because anyone who truly has a servant’s heart acts kindly toward others and wants to love and serve them.  I want Harrison to love who he is, but I want him to hold others in even higher esteem and to having a heart of giving and be known for his outpouring of love, thoughtfulness, and generosity.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

5) Patience/Gentleness

  • Patience is one quality that people have far too little of, myself included. In today’s world where everything is at the click of a button, instant gratification is basically expected.  I want Harrison to know what it is like to wait for something. I want him to understand delayed gratification and that good things do indeed come to those who wait.  I also pray that he does not ever struggle with anger.  There is nothing more unbecoming of a man, or anyone, than a volatile temper and a brash/harsh personality.  Though I want him to be strong, fiercely loyal, and protective of those he loves, I want him to be gentle and even-tempered.

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."  Proverbs 15:1

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."  James 1:19-20

6) Self-Control

  • Self-control is a quality many people don’t like to talk about because it “holds one back” in a sense.  But there is a reason it is one of the Fruits of the Spirit.  God wants his children to exude self control because there are so many sinful things in this world and He wants to keep us from them….not because he wants us to be deprived, but because he loves us and wants us to protect us from the trappings of the Enemy. I love the song "Slow Fade" by Casting Crowns, because it speaks of how easily it is to get pulled into sin if you don't keep your eyes, ears, and heart open to the temptations of Satan. The lyrics say, "Be careful little eyes what you see, for it's the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings." 
    I pray that Harrison has that inner voice inside of him and gets a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach whenever he knows he is being tempted with something that he should not do or see or even consume.  As he grows up, I pray that he is able to stand up to temptation when he is offered drugs, alcohol, introduced to pornography, or sex before he is married.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where addictions are rampant and completely consume individuals until they are left as nothing more than empty shells of the people they once were.  Praise the Lord, many people overcome addictions.  But there are far more who do not.  My own brother has gone down this path and is still living with the repercussions, so I have first hand experience with how an addiction can literally ruin someone’s entire life.  I know that my son has free will and the ability to make his own choices, but I pray that by God’s grace and goodness, the quality of self-control will come forth within him when the stakes are high and keep my sweet boy from going down the wrong path.  I want him to walk in the Light.  

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. ... “  Galations 5:19-25

7) Wisdom

  • I still remember driving past a local church and seeing this quote on their sign out by the road. I said it over and over again to myself as I drove by so I wouldn't forget it, because I thought it was so profound: "Wisdom is the quality that keeps you from getting into situations where you might need it." - Doug Larson. I feel like wisdom is really the product of having many other qualities such as knowledge, experience, understanding, insight, and good judgment. But it certainly is a quality held in high esteem by the Bible. Have you ever met a child who is wise? I have. As a teacher, I have met a handful of "old souls"....children who are wise beyond their years. They come few and far between, but they always seem to have this joy and peace about inner light almost. They are very grounded and they don't seem to let the trappings of this world lead them astray. Usually, wisdom comes with age, but there are some children who learn to become wise early in life, and it serves them well. I want Harrison to enjoy his childhood, but I pray that the gift of wisdom is bestowed upon him.

    "Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.."  Proverbs 3:13-18

    8) Joy

    • 15 years ago I would have probably said that the words "happiness" and "joy" were basically synonymous. But through learning about joy over the years, I have learned that happiness and joy are not really the same thing. The Bible does talk about happiness, and it is not a bad thing at all, but joy is different. It is a state of attitude.....a choice. One can be unhappy, but still be joyful. Happiness ebbs and flows with one's life circumstances, but joy comes from within. I pray that my son has true joy in knowing that he is saved by God's grace, and that no matter what circumstances he finds himself in on any given day, he can still have joy. I pray that he understands that material things can bring happiness, but not joy and that people should be valued over things. I pray that he learns early on that true joy comes from hope in the Lord.

    I know my parenting journey has only just begun, and I know I have made plenty of mistakes already and will continue to as the years go by. I can only thank God for the opportunity to be a mother in the first place and ask Him to grant me the grace, wisdom, and discernment it takes to intentionally love, discipline, teach, and guide my son so he is able to grow into the man God wants him to be. - Beth