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A few weeks ago I set a date to potty train our 2 and 3 year old girls — and it worked! We still have accidents here and there, but there are no more diapers during the day which is what counts for us right now.
The method I followed requires the parent to watch the child like a hawk for the first 3 days. Hawk-watching gives a person some time to think. Here’s what I learned during that time. And it has nothing to do with potty training.
We Don’t Have to Do Something Just Because It Exists
Ever since our first baby was born, I have felt pulled in a thousand directions on how to teach and entertain her. There’s just so much out there. Whether it’s well-meaning friends and family, acquaintances, Pinterest, or the internet at large, EVERYONE has an idea or opinion. And people like to share.
Moms everywhere lose their minds from time to time trying to process this opinion and information overload. Or is that just me?
There are endless options of things you can buy for your baby/toddler/preschooler. Pinterest offers no less than 9,762 sensory bin ideas. Printables, crafts, DIY toys. It’s just…a lot.
I have been struggling with this for the past 3 years. I’m by no means cured. But this potty training time gave me the space to find some clarity on the subject.
One of my main motivators to starting potty training was that I had reached a breaking point where I had to admit to myself that I was never going to be the homeschooling stay-at-home mom. And I made my peace with that. These girls were going to go to school, and they would need to be potty trained before that day came.
I felt the pressure of being everything for them lift. Even if they weren’t to go to preschool, I realized that I still don’t need to be everything. We don’t need to do everything. Simple is enough.
They Don’t Need to Be Entertained Every Second
I let them sit at the table to have breakfast with the TV off. If they requested a show I kind of just ignored it or changed the subject. But they didn’t really. They could be self-entertaining at times, with no intervention from me.
I was really trying to be this ultimate Montessori mom. Because I genuinely love the Montessori philosophy, but I was trying to force things to work that maybe just weren’t really working. But I still could be my own kind of Montessori mom, in my own way.
I started going through all the toys in the house (the garage is another story). I immediately got rid of anything that was broken or missing pieces. I took out some of the more baby toys and let the girls play with them to see if they were still relevant.
I got things organized the way I wanted them, and I realized we have enough. And I’d like to think that I’m doing enough.
I had some of their toys arranged in bins in a cubby shelf in the living room, and was trying to hold myself accountable to a well-thought-out toy rotation that wasn’t really happening.
I got clear on what toys to let them have access to and what to store on higher shelves and just bring out for the girls when we are ready to use them (especially things that have lots of pieces like puzzles and blocks).
While there are so many things out there that we could be doing, we don’t have to do it all. Certainly not just for the sake of entertainment. I can choose to give them an activity, or I can choose to let them just play. They ask to color with crayons almost every day. They love it, and I love it for its simplicity and the fact that I didn’t have to think ahead or plan anything.
Teaching Them to Clean up After and Take Care of Themselves Is an Activity
I turned clearing off the table after breakfast into its own activity. They LOVE bringing their dishes to the sink (once I get them in motion). I kind of just waited around until their dishes were cleared to do anything else. Like if they wanted an activity or TV, I would remind them that we still needed to clean off the table.
I involved them with spraying down the table and wiping it. They also LOVE this, especially the spraying. I reminded them to bring their dirty clothes to the hamper in the laundry room after they got dressed. And we are still working on hair brushing.
All this stuff counts as educational and relevant and worthy ways to spend our time. What a relief. Because I don’t have to have an activity planned for all the time in the day that these life skills take.
I’m Not Totally Screwing Everything Up
I do have to remind myself often that I’m not totally failing. Because it’s easy to measure ourselves up against the other moms out there and wonder. All the ideas on the internet are great to have access to. If they are approached from a place of “optional”.
I’m trying to approach all the ideas out there from a place of “I am enough, I’m doing enough, and we have enough” — then let me see what the idea is and determine how/if it fits into our lifestyle.
I was trying to be something that I’m just not. I may not have time to pull off an entire homeschool preschool curriculum, but maybe I’m not meant to do that anyway. I’m meant to figure out how to do this thing called being a mom the best way that I can.
If they eventually learn how to decide for themselves how to live their own lives the way they want because they see me living my life that way, that’s kind of what I’m going for.