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I’m so glad you stopped by! I’m Rosita, previous teacher and daycare owner, current stay at home mama in the great up north country of Minnesota. Here I share my experiences as well as aaaaalll the tips you need for raising happy little individuals (while somehow maintaining your own sanity). Visit the “tots” section to hear about tips and and encouragement on everything from breastfeeding and toilet training, to tantrum taming and educating. Visit the “tidbits” section for thoughts on faith, marriage, relationships and life.

Tackling Your Toddler's Teeth

Practically everyone who’s ever worked with toddlers knows how difficult it can be to brush their teeth! They are happy as can be to ‘brush’ by themselves (too bad the dentist doesn’t find that sufficient), but when it comes to letting you shine those little incisors, their miniature mouths seal shut tighter than the lid on a pickle jar. So what can a parent do?

Thankfully, after decades of working with little people, I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be that hard.The trick is to get them to want to cooperate. Here’s a few of my favorite tips to accomplish that!

Find a Fun Brush (characters are great)- tell them “Lightning McQueen (the toothbrush) wants to race over all your teeth and see how fast he can go. Are you ready?”

Toothpaste Matters! – Get a toothpaste that tastes good of course. Flouride or no flouride…that’s a whole new post! But my two hygienist mommy friends who also love natural health still vote yes to flouride. This one has flouride but none of the yucky sugars and dyes: http://bit.ly/totpaste

Sing a song! – You can YouTube toothbrushing songs or just change the lyrics to one of your kids’ favorite tunes to words about teeth! They won’t judge your lame rhymes but they’ll have more fun (i.e. “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is now “This is How We Brush Our Teeth”)

Look in the Mirror – Toddlers love to look at themselves! If you’re able to plop them down right on the sink so they can get nice and close to their reflection, you can usually buy a few moments to brush

Take Turns– “Mommy’s turn, then your turn”. Your toddler might be more compliant if she knows her turn is coming soon!

Distraction If your toddler is too young to spit yet, you can lay them on the floor and, while you’re brushing, give them a small book to look at or an interesting toy that won’t easily drop or roll. They will be so distracted they won’t mind that you are brushing

Play a Toothbrushing Game– You might be tired at the end of a long day, but muster up some energy to get silly! Playing games is by far the MOST helpful toothbrushing trick! And here are our favorites (Bear with me on these …they are ridiculous! But ridiculous is… well, just what the dentist ordered)

Germ Blasters -Your kids’ toothbrush transforms into a magical ‘Germ Hunter,’
out seeking germs to blast away. As you brush all over be sure to occasionally
shout “I found one” and blast (pretend to throw) it to the moon *sound effects
appropriate


Animal Hunt -Your toothbrush is an Animal Hunter, seeking out a fox, a mouse,
a skunk (etc) that has crawled into your child’s mouth. Whisper “Oh, boy, is it
there? Little Mousey, is that you?” as you brush around. Make it squeak when
you ‘find’ it and when you’re all done brushing scare it away with a loud “Roar”

Racing-(as mentioned above) your toothbrush is car racing all over teeth (lots
of vrooming is effective)

Toothbrush Train– Your toothbrush is a train, chugging over the ‘teeth tracks’ as
you brush. Lots of chugging sounds and choo-chooing are great

Shiny Teeth- tell your tot you want to make their teeth soooo shiny. After you
brush, pretend to be blinded by their teeth (fall over, be dramatic)

  • Get an Electric Toothbrush -And lastly, despite all the tricks, your time in their mouths is still going to be shorter than you’d like. Make it count! Electric toothbrushes do a far better job at cleaning! But they do take a little getting used to (We use one like this that has replaceable heads http://bit.ly/totbrush and LOVE it)

And that’s it…you don’t have to be afraid anymore! Now go and tackle those toddler teeth!

I'd love to hear from you! What tips and tricks do you use for brushing your toddler's teeth?

What Kids Should Never Have to Know About Sexual Abuse

I wish I didn’t know what I know about sexual abuse. As a child, I wish I’d never known what its like to wake up retching from the red hot sting of shame caused by what someone older and bigger has done to you. I wish I didn’t know how the stains on your soul can be so sickening, the repulsion so strong, that nourishing your own body disgusts you. I wish I didn’t know what it’s like to be a ten year old girl, sitting with a school counselor every day, weeping, because they are making you eat. I wish I’d never known what it’s like to fall asleep at a gathering of friends, and wake up to unwelcome hands inside your clothing. Or to finally love someone deeply, spending hundreds of hours with them before learning that they struggle with sex addiction and have harmed children in the past. I wish I didn’t know what it was like to watch a close friend discover that her husband struggles with pedophilia. Or to unearth a secret, so buried within your own family that the walls crumble around you when it comes to light. I wish I didn’t know these things.

And I wish it wasn’t true that 1 in 10 children will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Maybe then, I could watch my kids wrestle, tickle and play with others without remembering how these can be grooming behaviors, or how 92 percent of sex offenders are known and trusted by their victims. I wish it wasn’t true that sex offenders are inconspicuous, that they can be nice, kind, ‘normal’, and even married with kids of their own. [1] Maybe then, I could gather with my friends for a bible study and not have that deep sickness about what’s going on with the kids downstairs. I wish it wasn’t true that the church is one of the places most vulnerable to sex abuse because sex offenders consider naive, trusting church families easy to target. [2] Maybe then I could drop my kids off at the nursery without wondering how thoroughly the volunteers have been screened. I wish it wasn’t true that up to 40 percent of sex abuse is actuated by a peer who is older than the victim. Maybe then, I could drop my kids off at a playdate or a sleepover without any concern. [1]

But the sad truth is that I cannot unknow and I cannot uncare about any of these things. And I cannot be quiet about what I know anymore. Because, though I was raised to be an overcomer and therefore considered talking (or even thinking) about the impact sexual abuse has had on me to be a weakness…I was wrong.

It is sheer strength that lets us leave the place of denial.

And I have now faced the fact that my experiences have impacted me. They have made me stronger. They have given me knowledge about the reality of sex abuse in our world.

I wish I didn’t know what I know about sexual abuse, but because I know it, I can keep my children safe. I can make sure they are never left alone with anyone who hasn’t been thoroughly screened. I can insist that background checks are not enough (I know three offenders who wouldn’t be flagged at all). I can be watchful about interactions (like roughhousing and sitting on laps), teach them about good and bad touch and be cautious when they are with peers.
And though, the world may overlook the prevalence of abuse, and friends may scoff at these boundaries I set for my kids, I can be glad that they are simply blessed to not know what I know.

I want to make sure my kids are blessed that way too.

[1] https://www.d2l.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/all_statistics_20150619.pdf

[2] Tchividjian, Boz “Startling Statistics: Child sexual abuse and what the church can begin doing about it” 9 Jan 2014 https://religionnews.com/2014/01/09/startling-statistics/

Dear Mama, You Will

Dear Mama,
both Beautified and Broken by birth,
You will
feel Whole again.

Dear Mama,
Delighted and Distressed
by your babe’s endless cries,
You will
find Quiet again.

Dear Mama
filled with both Gladness and Guilt,
You will
find Peace again.

Dear Mama
both Cherishing and Challenged
by your child’s constant need of you,
You will
find Space to breathe again
(and it’s okay to want that).

Dear Mama
both Beaming and Bruised
by the work that consumes you
You will
find Rest again.

But for now
it’s
Okay
to Cry and to Celebrate
simultaneously,
to Grieve and to Glory
all at once,
because

Dear Mama,
though you may be
bewildered and beaten,

He will
carry you through

Hear My Heart: A Case for Compassionate Discipline in Early Childhood

You’re desperately scrambling to get out the door in the morning. You’re helping one child with her shoe, changing the youngest’s diaper and putting on your mascara at the same time. Drenched in sweat with hair that is starting to frizz , you wistfully imagine that maybe today you’ll make it somewhere on time. All hope of that dissipates quickly, however, when three-year-old little Johnny, completely undone by a bump in the toe of his sock, unravels on the entryway floor. You try your best to appease him while zipping up jackets and carrying the baby on your hip, but you are tired, time is ticking, and his temper isn’t easily quelled. Before you know it, you are yelling, begging, bribing and threatening him to get out the door. He still won’t cooperate so you attempt to carry him but as you pick him up two tiny arms start flailing at your face. That. Is. It. He has crossed every line you’ve ever drawn and he is getting a spanking. You swat him firmly on the behind and finagle him into his carseat. Finally you are on your way. You arrive at your appointment just in time, but your heart is heavy and your children, despondent. This is not how you hoped the morning would go.

Before I go any further, I need to tell you that I know this story oh so well! When managing multiple little people, each of their individual moods and preferences over the smallest things can drive a parent or caregiver to insanity! From our perspective, the thing that’s troubling them is so trivial yet they refuse to reason! I mean, is it the singular goal of their little lives to make sure we never leave the house or finish another task?

We all struggle with responding well in these difficult moments. And we always will. Yet the culmination of our responses has the power to shape a tiny being’s personhood. A type of personhood, that despite our various parenting styles and methods, I suspect we all agree on. I mean, don’t we all desire that our children become respectful, contributing members of society who know we love them unconditionally? If so, then learning to parent with compassion through situations like the one above will aid all of us in our efforts at shaping them well.

So what exactly do I mean by parenting with compassion? Does parenting with compassion mean being permissive, or allowing our children to have whatever they want? Let me say this clearly once and for all. NOT. AT. ALL.! Parenting with compassion simply means formulating and communicating clear, appropriate expectations and showing empathy while we discipline. It means hearing the heart behind our children’s behavior and using effective techniques to help them see that they are valued and loved. In order to form appropriate expectations, however, we need to first become familiar with the basic brain anatomy of young children and how it effects their decision making, levels of socio-emotional intelligence and self-regulation.

So let’s take a peek at those growing little brains! Research shows that from the time of birth, brains develop sequentially. We can observe that sensory pathways (hearing, vision) are formed first, followed by those parts that aid in language development. However, the frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for self control and decision making, is one of the last areas to develop in early childhood. Indeed it is not fully developed until the age of 25! [1] Within the frontal lobe of the brain, two compartments (called the vmPFC and the DLPFC) influence behavior dramatically. One of those parts (the vmPFC) forms decisions based on sensory input (sight, sound, touch). The other part (the DLPFC) is tasked with making decisions based on value systems and background. When people make good choices, specifically those that require will power, brain scans show that both of these sections of the brain ‘light up’. They are communicating with each other; one part relaying the sensory information and the other screening it through the lens of ethicality. [2] However, this complex communication is not happening in the brains of children younger than four years of age because these young brain areas have not yet developed pathways to one another. By the age of four years old, rudimentary pathways have begun to form but even then they lack much of the sophistication required to determine what choices are right, wrong or even beneficial. It makes sense then why children may behave impulsively, touching and grabbing and seemingly destroying everything in reach. When they continue to touch the same forbidden thing again and again, they are not always trying to challenge us. They are just trying explore the tactile environment and don’t understand the impact of their choices. With this in mind, we can adapt our ideas about what is normal behavior and guide them gently to better choices.

While immature frontal cortex development hinders a child’s behavioral choices, another part of the brain impacts their ability to manage emotions. The limbic system, the seat of all sentiments, is where our strong feelings arise. The ability to control one’s emotions is a skill called self-regulation. Self-regulation is attained when the limbic system in the brain fires up the (you guessed it) frontal cortex. It should come as no surprise when scans of young brains showcase radical activity in the limbic (emotional) system with very little activity in the frontal cortex (self control part of the brain). Again, the relationship between the two has not yet matured.[3] It is helpful to reflect on this insight when we see our children melting down over an activity they don’t want to leave or even a bump in the toe of a sock.

Our little people feel very big emotions, yet their ability to understand and manage them is very small.

Knowing this, we can indeed expect that they will tantrum on the regular until those little brains are more developed. And rather than demanding they act like adults when they are feeling intense emotions, we can use the opportunity to help them through it. Supporting and teaching them suitable skills to weather an explosion of emotion is an enormous part of being a compassionate parent.

The last crucial aspect I’d like to examine as we go about setting standards for our kids is their capacity for socio-emotional intelligence. Early childhood exists in a cognitive stage called pre-operational, a stage where thinking conceptually is an impossibility. This means young children (particularly those under eight years old) are paralyzed in their interpretation of abstract information; especially when it comes to deciphering another person’s desires, feelings or abilities. [4] When we are distressed by dressing our family for a looming doctors appointment, the last thing to cross a child’s mind is how we are feeling about that. When they throw a toy, hit, bite, or misbehave in general, they are reacting to their own emotional upset, not attempting to harm another individual whose feelings that cannot imagine. Yet how often do we assume that the emotional behavior we see from them is calculated by their determination to aggravate us?

When we stop imagining that our children have ill intent, we align our discipline choices with reality and open another door to parenting with kindness.

Now that we understand more about our children’s levels of development and we’re able to envision fair and appropriate expectations, how then can we go about disciplining with compassion? I am so glad you asked! Because this topic is vast, I’ll be creating a whole post on that alone. But to get started, I will leave a list here of my top five ways to discipline with compassion:

  • Validate a Child’s Feelings– verbalize what you hear them saying and tell them you understand
  • Communicate Expectations and Consequences – whenever possible, let them know ahead of time what you expect and what will happen if they don’t comply
  • Let Consequences Be Logical– as much as possible, connect the behavior with the consequence in a natural way (i.e. you hit with the stick, now you lost the stick)
  • Let them Feel– give them space to cry, scream, and process all the big emotions. If they are being loud or disruptive, give them a separate space where they can do this
  • Apologize when you know you’ve messed up (as we all will), don’t hesitate to apologize and start over

These are just a few ways that we can show our children empathy in our parenting. I find I must confess, however, that despite having studied development and trained classrooms full of children, I’m a prime example of how we will never accomplish any of this perfectly. Thankfully, we don’t have to shame ourselves into better parenting…apologizing is just one more opportunity to show them that we care!

What are your thoughts about compassionate parenting? Have you ever experienced a time when gentleness impacted your child in an unexpected way? I’d love to hear from you!

[1] California Institute of Technology. “Mechanisms Of Self-control Pinpointed In Brain.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090430144543.htm>.

[2] Leisman, Gerry & Melillo, Robert. (2013). The Development of the Frontal Lobes in Infancy and Childhood: Asymmetry and the Nature of Temperament and Affect. 10.13140/RG.2.1.4461.7041.

[3] Rintoul, Betty Ph. D “Early Brain Development and Self-Regulation” <https://nceln.fpg.unc.edu/sites/nceln.fpg.unc.edu/files/resources/1-Brain.pdf>

[4] Selman, R.L. (1971a). “Taking another’s perspective: Role-taking development in early childhood”. Child Development.

It's Potty Time!

Okay, first, let me start with a confession. I am uncommonly enthusiastic about potty training. I know, I know…who ever could be? But there’s a few reasons why. First, I know how to do it quickly and painlessly. After lots of training in childhood development, plus even more real life training as a nanny, a teacher and then a daycare owner, I have assisted dozens of families in making their dreams of ditching diapers a tangible reality. I also get super excited to watch my own littles hit this milestone, to stop shelling out hard earned dollars for diapers, and to help other moms see how easy it can be. 

But why do we need more info on potty training? Certainly this issue has been covered adequately by now and there aren’t any new methods under the sun. While that is probably true, my hope is to share about the fastest and most effective way to train (and I have seen them all!), along with my favorite tricks to make it a positive experience, and ways to solve common problems that can develop along the way. Now go ahead and read up so you can glean from all my years of messy experiences…and skip half the mess! 

Determining Child Readiness

First things first…you need to determine if your tot is ready. Considering there are myriad blogposts on this already, I won’t go into a lot of details. But suffice it to say, there are emotional and physical signs of readiness and you will want to make sure your child is showing them. For now, I will just name the basic questions that may help you decide. Does your child have dry diapers for 2-3 hrs at a time? Does your child seem aware (tells you or hides) when she is peeing or pooping? Is your child able to say a simple word like ‘pee’ or ‘potty’ or gesture to you (sign?) when they need something? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’, there’s a good chance you have a child that’s physically ready to potty train! Determining emotional readiness is a bit more complex but here are a few starting questions to help you out. Have there been or are there about to be any major changes in our lives (a big move, a baby coming, divorce or separation)? Has your child been experiencing any unusual mood or behavior changes? Does your child resist being on or near the toilet to ‘try’ going potty? If the answer to these questions is yes, you may want to wait another few months and then consider training.

What You’ll Need

Now, let’s say your child is ready. Then Congratulations, this is going to be fun! You will want to go ahead and take a minute to gear up! If possible, you will want: 1) Lots of easy to pull on and off pants…think sweatpants, joggers, leggings or anything free from buttons and zippers (we visit thrift stores to stock up), 2) Way more toddler underwear than you ever imagined…fun designs or characters a plus (I buy two dozen pairs but you could squeak by with less if you wash more frequently), 3) 2-4 pairs of vinyl or plastic pants (I like these ones http://bit.ly/pottypants1), 4) a child sized potty and/or toilet insert (2 is even better!) Definitely a case could be made for starting with the just the insert but I find that many kids, including mine, tend to be more comfortable starting on a toddler sized potty. That said, I have both for different stages (Here’s what we use at our house: http://bit.ly/realpotty and http://bit.ly/seatwithsteps) 5) some rewards like stickers or small treats (chocolate chips, m&m’s, raisins).

Ready, Set, Go!

You’ve got all your stuff, and you’re ready to get started! Now plan a time when you have at least 3-4 days you can be at home with a clear calendar. If you’re a working mama, is there a holiday or long weekend coming up? If you’re a SAHM can you postpone activities for a few days and hunker down? Trust me when I say that fully focused time upfront will save months of work down the road. Once you’ve found a good time in your schedule, take the opportunity to explain to your child that tomorrow all the diapers are going bye-bye and she will be using the potty (like mom, dad, brother, etc).

Day One Wake up in the morning. Change your last diaper. Remind the child that they will be putting pee and poo in the potty from now on. If using a small potty, move it to your desired location ( I like to keep one on each floor in a visible place but that’s a matter of preference). Next, show them where the potty is. And finally, take the diapers away. Did I really just say that? Yes. I. Did. Take them away! Take them totally away (okay there is a sleep time exception I will discuss later)! But during wake times your child will now be wearing nothing on his or her little bum for the next several days. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Won’t he just pee and poop on the floor? And the answer is, yes. But not a lot. The first day it could be frequent. The second day it should be less, and each sequential day it will decrease even more. I promise it is worth the cleaning up effort!

Your child’s experience seeing and feeling what it’s like to ‘potty’ without a diaper will teach them more quickly then anything else you can do.

So please, no pull ups! They are the devil, I swear! Okay, not really but they don’t allow your child to feel when they are wet and they extend the potty training process for months! And no underwear …yet. Just let your tot be beautifully naked and free! And when an accident happens, simply move him/her to the toilet and say “whoops! pee goes on the potty.” It’s super important not to let frustration show when they’ve had an accident. Accidents are part of learning! If your child becomes afraid of ‘going’ this will lead to worse problems. So do whatever you can to stay calm, and when your child successfully eliminates on the potty, praise him and offer a reward.

In the first couple days of practicing on the potty, try as much as possible to refrain from telling or reminding your child to go to the bathroom. I know this is legitimately hard. But power struggles will often develop when a child feels constantly nagged to go and power struggles are so much more difficult to overcome than cleaning up after a few accidents! Allow yourself to trust that wetness and accidents are the most powerful teachers and they don’t pit you against one another (as long as you keep your cool, that is…which I know you can!)

Now let’s talk briefly about *the nap and sleep exception. This first day, feel free to put a diaper on your child at rest times. But be sure that you and everyone in your home knows to remove it immediately when they wake in the morning! It’s okay to continue night diapering because most kids aged 3 and under are not able to wake up on their own from sleep to use the restroom. You may be able to continue using diapers at rest times without issue in the days to come, or you may need to visit the Problem Solving section at the bottom of this page if you do run into problems (such as a child holding his poop all day for that rest time diaper). Also note, that if you’ve started potty training later (age 3-4) and diapers are dry at wake up times, you may be able to skip nighttime diapers from now on.

Day Two and Three Stay naked and press on! Take these next two days to hunker down and keep practicing. Every successful elimination reinforces this new idea to your toddler. You should notice a few less accidents on day two, and will observe that your tot is more aware when he/she is about to go. On day three, most children (especially age 3 or older) will be successfully using the potty the majority of the time. Children younger than 3 often need a little extra practice but if you are ready to take this on, don’t be afraid. My children were all completely day trained by age 2! If however, you are not seeing any progress at all by day three, your child is likely not ready to potty train. You can wait a few months and start again or if you’re really eager, continue naked training until progress develops.

Day Four It’s time for undies! Make a big deal about how big he/she is when they put their undies on. If you’ve bought ones with characters or designs on them get silly and imitate the voice of the characters. “I’m Spiderman and I really want to stay clean and dry. Please don’t pee or poop on me.” You can employ this tactic a lot in the coming days! And even though you might feel ridiculous, your kid will think it’s great. And the best part about this is that it gives you more ability to do those reminders you’ve been itching to do, because now you’re not the one ‘lecturing’…it’s just Minnie Mouse! You can also employ this with any of your child’s toys i.e. “Dolly says, ‘can you use the potty?’ She wants to see if you can.” Regardless of your prompting, expect an increase in accidents on the first day or two of underwear. The warm snugness of underwear will almost always remind your little one’s brain of the comfort of the diaper and trigger them to respond as if they are wearing one. Typically, once they’ve soiled a few times they start to remember what they’ve been working on the last few days.

Now that your tot is in undies, you may be ready to return to your normal routine. Since your little ones skills are so new, its a good idea to put plastic covers on over underwear whenever you leave the house. It’s also essential to pack extra pants, underwear, wipes and a bag for wet clothing. At first, I pack one pair of clothing for every hour we will be gone and then decrease as time goes in. If you’re going somewhere without bathrooms bring your toddler potty along! This is also super helpful to remember for the next several months if you have a road trip coming up, or just loads of errands you’d like to knock out quickly.

When you arrive at a new destination, be sure to point out the restrooms to your child as soon as you enter. If you’re at a very exciting place (like the zoo or a playground) you may want to keep an eye on the time and if it’s been close to an hour head over for a bathroom break. If you must return to work at this time, be sure to communicate with your childcare provider ahead of time about your needs and expectations concerning potty training. For consistency’s sake, it’s important everyone is on the same page.

Day Five and Beyond

So what’s next in your potty training journey? Well that depends on the child. Some children will master their new skills quickly and be ready to start wearing underwear and pants full time. These children may have occasional accidents, however they are infrequent. Other children may need more naked practice to get the hang of it. If you have to return to work or just back to daily activities that require clothing, try to have the child naked whenever you are at home. If he continues having frequent accidents (more than 3 per day) after two weeks time, check the Problem Solving section of this post. If none of the things mentioned there apply, you may choose to either go back to full time naked training for a few more days, or wait 2-3 months and try training another time. Whatever you do, don’t waver on your decision to use diapers. It’s either all diapers during wake times or no diapers. Inconsistent messages will only confuse the child and cause major setbacks.

If your child has made good progress and you are using a child sized potty, you can begin to wean from that whenever you feel the child is ready. If he shows a lot of resistance, hold off on switching for a bit longer. You can also try weaning from using treats simply by distracting your child immediately after a bathroom break.

Problem Solving

Regardless of how perfectly you’ve followed the above methods, unforeseen problems can arise. Don’t get discouraged! They are part of the learning curve! I will try to address a few of the major problems that can cloud your peaceful potty plans below.

Problem #1): Holding Poop – your toddler doesn’t poop until he has a diaper or underwear on

One of the most prevalent issues, and one of the most frustrating, is your toddlers newfound ability to refuse pooping for hours and even days…until they get that rest time diaper or underwear. This can definitely prolong the process for all involved but it doesn’t have to mean going back to diapers. The number one reason that a toddler holds their poop is fear. For years, your child’s poop has been caught by a diaper that’s securely fastened to their bottom. This feeling of the diaper being snug around their waist and bum has sent repeated messages to the brain that this is where its safe to let their poop fall. Now, the feeling of letting it fall into thin air (the space between their bum and the toilet water) is disconcerting.

When I’ve encountered this with the children I’ve been helping train, I’ve had to decipher two things: how committed is the parent to being done with diapers? And how can I make sure that every poop a child does is done while naked? If a parent is really committed, this problem can almost always be overcome. But it isn’t easy and it does take some extra time.

First, the child has to be completely naked for enough days to have several (5-10) bowel movements while diaper free. This means night and rest time diapers have to be taken away as well. This is hard guys, I’m not gonna lie. But the alternative is waiting 6 mos-1year (sometimes more) while a child continues pooping in their underwear … or to give up and go back to diapers.

So here are the choices for handling sleep times diaper free: 1) Wake your child every two-three hours throughout the night to try using the toilet 2) sneak a diaper on your child after they have fallen into a deep sleep (usually about 30-45 min after they initially fall asleep) and remove it before their usual wake time 3) place several layers of bedding or towels on your child’s bed and wake every few hours to check if they are soiled. We have a bunch of waterproof mattress pads like these (http://bit.ly/mattresspadbaby) at our house that make the job a little easier.

Again, after your child has had 5-10 bowel movements (which depending on the length of time your child is able to hold it may take a week or a bit more) while diaper free, he will begin to accept that this is the new way and start feeling comfortable using the potty. If you have been consistent, and followed all other suggestions, and this acceptance still doesn’t come, you can confidently say that your child is not yet ready and try again at a future date (I’d recommend at least 3 months down the road).

Problem #2: Wetness Not Working-your child does well naked, but doesn’t seem to mind wetting her underwear or won’t stop playing to go.

Some children hate being wet more than others, for sure. If yours is one that doesn’t seem to mind, try delaying how long you wait to change her into clean clothes. Don’t leave her wet for an hour by any means, but fifteen minutes should be sufficient time to start feeling some discomfort. Also, if you can, make sure that she isn’t using the plastic underwear so she can feel the wetness on her legs and even socks. You aren’t trying to punish her by any means! Just allowing her brain to absorb the message that this isn’t a desirable way to spend the afternoon.

Additionally, when it’s time to change her clothing, make her do more of the work, even if she protests. If she’s old enough to do it herself, set her in the bathroom and tell her she can come out when she’s removed her wet things. If she still too young to undress independently, make sure she puts an effort into helping take off wet clothing and at least has to touch her soiled items. Touching urine soaked clothing is simply not fun and it’s a rare child who doesn’t mind doing it. Plus, slowing down and having her help will take her away from the play things she wants so badly, thus reinforcing the message.

Problem #3: My child will only use the potty at home

Truthfully, this isn’t a major problem. As long as your child makes it home, that is. If your child is continually having accidents on the way home from daycare or activities because he has refused to use the potty at a new location, that’s a little more challenging, but nothing impossible to solve. First, go ahead and use those reminders by characters and cartoons (or an extra special reward) to be sure he goes before you leave the house. Next, have a toddler potty with you if public bathrooms are scary (heck I think they’re kinda scary). Let him use this until he’s comfortable. Further, if your child regularly attends a daycare, ask if you can bring your potty from home for a while to help him transition. This can help him relax a little more since this is the seat he’s used to. Letting him hold on to a favorite stuffed animal or blankie while he goes is also a way to help him relax. But even if you do nothing, you can almost always be sure that he will outgrow this one on his own with time.

And that’s it! I hope you’ve found this information helpful and that it aids in making your world diaper free! If you have any other issues or questions, drop me a comment! I’d love to help.

Sanity and a Sink Full of Dishes: Making Peace with Imperfection

What do you see when you look at a sink full of dirty dishes? Are you one of those blessed people who roll with the punches and let it pile up with hardly a thought or care? I can not tell you emphatically enough that I am NOT one of those people. In my recent reading of Ian Cron’s,  A Road Back to You, I discovered that I’m a solid One on the Enneagram scale. If you’re unfamiliar with enneagrams, this personality style is also known as The Perfectionist. I would assume that it is strongly linked to the type A of personality typology. In his book, Cron quotes this one haunting phrase that, I believe, if spoken aloud, could expose all the other Perfectionists in one fell swoop: “There is always an unmade bed somewhere.” Ugh. If you or someone near you is cringing when they hear this phrase, you know you’ve found a One. It doesn’t have to actually be an unmade bed that makes you shudder, of course. Its simply the idea of things being left undone…eternally. Gasp.

   If dirty dishes, a pile of laundry, a messy car, or a check list that never gets checked make you uncomfortable , believe me when I say, I understand! The thought that I could ever enjoy a moment of peace with all those loose ends untied has, for years, eluded me. How? How can we ever find deep joy when the pile of things to do never ceases to exist? Do we just need to work harder? Faster? Manage our children better? Demand that our husbands, co-workers, roommates help more? Do we need to write better lists, print better spreadsheets, manage and organize and plan more efficiently? What do we really need to find in order to experience the rest that our souls are longing for?

After all my efforts at ending the chaos that exists all around me, after all my attempts at escaping this same chaos through entertainment, or vacations, hobbies, coffee or sleep,  I have finally acknowledged that peace can NOT be found this way. When we hold on frantically to every piece of our day, trying so hard to keep all the things from falling, we just end up weary and sore, frustrated and bitter.  We find ourselves working our lives away, trying to check the elusive last item on our lists because when that happens we will finally be able to (rest, have joy, be at peace, etc).” And the most shameful part of it all is that, we start seeing anything in the way of these lists as a frustration. Our children’s needs. Our spouses or friends needs. Nothing but burdens. Nuisances. Inconveniences. How can we fix this? What needs to change?

In two words: Our Lens. 

And let me start out by describing what I don’t mean when I say that. I don’t mean that we need to “see the glass as half full, believe in ourselves more, think positive, be more thankful” etc. What I do mean is that we need to confess to ourselves, to our God and maybe even to someone we love that the lens of our heart is cracked clean through and we need help. Then we need to spend some time examining the reasons its been broken, remembering His faithfulness to us, and then letting go of our misplaced ideals, ideas, and identities.

So what are some reasons our lenses get broken? What are the things that have shaped us to believe we need perfection in our homes, our appearances, our work places, our relationships? I believe that more often than not, the desire for perfection is birthed in our spirits during those times we have walked through disappointment and pain. When a parent disapproves of us, or lets us down. When a co-worker doesn’t show up. When no one around seems to care about the things we care about it. When we experience or live through something horrifying. Through all of these difficulties, we may begin to believe that we are the keepers of the world. That no one but us can hold all the fragile things of life together. The good news is that there is Someone who can. The even better news is that He is much more capable of keeping it all together than we are. But trusting Him to do that takes great strength, courage and a strong understanding that He is good to us and will be careful with our hearts and our lives.

Sometimes, to get to the root of where our perfectionism started, we must take a serious look at the moments in our lives where things felt out of control. As we examine these things, we have the opportunity to tell God all the ugly things we feel we feel about them, to show Him all the broken pieces. We need to get real with Him and with ourselves about the ways we feel He hasn’t shown up for us. We need to process those places where we’ve lost faith in His desire to protect and defend us.

I had the opportunity to wrestle with some of these deep and painful things over a cup coffee at Starbucks the other day. I wrestled them out in my journal. I wrestled them out in my car on the way home. And I wrestled with them throughout the week as the world kept spinning around me and my family created their continuous clutter. It surprised me how excruciating it was to even imagine letting go of the things I want perfected. How raw I felt talking to Him about the times in life that I have felt abandoned. About those circumstance of life that have shaken my faith in His promises and created in me the belief that if I let go of one single detail the world will spiral into utter calamity.

In fact, I’ve had to keep wrestling with these things over many days and get really honest with God about the fear I discovered beneath these piles of things undone. And especially, over being seen while standing straight in the middle of the imperfection. Indeed, being the not even close to perfect one. Certainly, the need to control, at its heart, is wracked with big Fears that strike at the very core of our identities and stability. But these are fears we need to look straight in the eye if we are going to defeat them. Asking difficult questions is a good starting point. What am I trying to stop from happening? What will happen if it does? Who am I if this does not get accomplished?

After we’ve delved deeply enough to see how festering the wounds inside of us are, it is a beautiful and healing thing to speak the truth over ourselves and all the lies we’ve allowed to take root in us. We need to spend substantial time confirming to our souls that even if our worst fears are actualized, He will not leave us alone in them.

For me, reassurance of this comes from scribbling furiously on paper about all the good things God has done in my life, recalling times He has shown up, ways He has helped and is helping now. This is one of many ways, to recall His faithfulness. Reading scripture about how He’s rescued His people again and again, singing to Him about His works on our behalf, talking to someone about ways He has been kind are all other ways to do this important work. But ultimately, we need to remind ourselves that the God we serve is good, and we can trust Him with all the moving parts of our lives.

Once we’ve confessed our brokenness, taken responsibility for our doubts, and remembered His faithfulness we need to affirm the truth that the image of the invisible God residing in us gives us an unshakable worth. Worth that reaches far beyond a neighbors scowl at our unkept yard or a teachers grimace at the crumbs on our child’s face. We need to recall the words that He says about those who are in Christ and speak them over our souls. To stand in front of the mirror and say even if I fail at this, my God is my treasure and I am His.

When this truth has sunk deep into our hearts, we are ready to do the unbelievably glorious work of Surrendering. Surrendering is the breakthrough that comes when the healing has begun. But rarely does it come all at once. It’s the small obediences, the seemingly trivial ‘yes’ that we say when we hear His prompting, that will crack open the door for Him to show us He is working on our behalf. And little by little as He continues to show up, we are able to relinquish our agenda to His plans, and realize that each and every hour, ripe with all its trials and chaos, holds the power to become our greatest good.


This wild surrender of our ideals, ideas, and identity is what clears the grime from our broken lenses. And with a clear lens, we are able to do what 2 Corinthians 4:18 instructs us to and “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

The other day, my kitchen sink was piled high with dishes as I cared for a feverish, asthmatic child. But for the first time in a long time, my heart remained still and calm within me. It seems to me, that after a gut wrenching week of prying my hands away from my own life, He has restored the lens of my heart. And that restoration has given me the perspective to look past the temporary things; the sink full of dirty dishes, the wrinkled clothes still sitting on the laundry room floor. And instead, as I hold my sweet child in my arms, to discern the eternal honor it is to nourish his sweet little soul. 

As these and more unseen, eternal things begin shifting into view, a sweet rest hovers over our home. We have sickness, we have dirty dishes. And yet, somehow, we also have a whole new Peace.

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