Potty Training Dos and Don’ts

Potty Training Dos and Don’tsPotty training- intimidating, exciting, and a whole new ballgame. For me, it has been a definite adventure. From buying “Frozen” panties to sinking to new levels of bribery, potty training has been successful but definitely something I have learned a lot through. As your child approaches this adventure, here are some dos and don’ts I’ve learned along the way.

Do encourage potty training. Don’t push it.

Many moms see the signs that their little one is ready to start potty training from 18-24 months of age. For my daughter, this was the case. She began to tell me when she was wet and the first time I sat her down on the potty, she went. It’s great to encourage your child towards potty training at this age, but don’t push it.  Many 2 and 3 year olds are still wearing diapers. Pushing your child to potty train usually backfires. Stress, the need to please mommy, and anxiety can creep into your little one’s head and all of a sudden it’s not a fun adventure anymore for anyone.

Here are some signs your little one may be ready to start potty training:

  • They tell you when they are wet or dirty and seem bothered by wetness.
  • They can follow basic instructions and understand them, as well.
  • They seem interested in the potty.
  • They start to know how to pull their own pants up and down.


Do praise for good success in potty training. Don’t lose your cool when accidents occur.

Potty training opens up many opportunities for positive reinforcement with little ones. Stickers, treats like m&ms, and the opportunity to wash their hands like big girls and boys, are all great rewards. We’ve used them all. You can find fun, printable charts online to use to track your little one’s progress and get the whole family involved. As your little one starts to potty train, accidents will occur. My daughter had several accidents in the beginning of wearing panties. She knew she had to go, but she didn’t tell us she had to in time. Getting upset or frustrated is easy. Maintaining your cool and being calm with your child is not, but it is important. Make sure they know it’s okay and you still love them. We all make mistakes and move on. Don’t make too much of it. They make all kinds of carpet and sanitizing cleaners for a reason.

Do get your little one interested in their own success. Don’t worry or stress.

You can find fun, entertaining books about potty training online and at your local library. Some of my daughter’s favorites are My Big Girl Potty and Big Girl Panties.  Use potty training as a bonding experience. We read books, sing songs, and laugh a lot during potty time. Johanna looks forward to having our attention while she’s on the potty. Don’t worry if your little one doesn’t catch on right away. Several things can influence the timeline for potty training. For us, introducing a new baby in the middle of potty training was a roadblock. Johanna started losing interest and having accidents. Thankfully, that has passed and she is doing great now.

Remember, you are supermom. You are there to teach and build-up your child. Potty training is a new way to do this. So go get some fun panties and let the journey begin!

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana. Her daughter requests a pretzel after going potty these days.


Friday, November 21, 2014
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Holiday Events with More than One Child

IMG_3076I remember the first Christmas party we went to after becoming parents. My daughter was 4 months old. I found something to wear that I could nurse in and didn’t look totally frumpy, and we went to a friend’s house for a little cocktail party. When we got there, Maisie was asleep, so I carried in her baby bucket to the guest room where everyone had their coats. When she began to cry, I excused myself and shut the door so I could nurse her back to sleep. Then I rejoined the party.

Oh, those were the days.

Now we have three girls, and honestly I wanted to write one line for his post: Get a sitter! The end. Taking small children–especially toddlers–to a party can be stressful. You don’t know if they will have a meltdown or not. You have no idea what they will say to people. You don’t know if they will decide that this is the time to find out what happens when we jump on the couch. But it can be done.

1. Know the layout. Who’s hosting the party? Do they have kids? Do they collect Faberge Eggs and keep them on display throughout their home? People who have kids or are totally devoted grandparents are going to be much more understanding when your toddler goes crazy. If you know others who are coming, ask them what they are doing with their kids. Sometimes having other kids there makes it easier, sometimes it might make things harder depending on the age and number of little ones. Outdoor events can be equally as daunting–if you are doing a walk-through light display or activity, make sure you bring enough carriers or wheels for all the kids–even big kids get tired–and extra coats or blankets.

2. Make sure they have something to do. Whether they have toys and games for little ones, or you need to bring them with you, make sure the kids have something to do while you chat with the grownups. Many stores have $1 coloring books, sticker books, and holiday crafts for little ones this time of year. You can also give them a job, like decorating cookies, if the host is willing.

3. Feed them before you go. We still do this even when we go out to eat. It ensures no one will get hangry while you’re out, and you can avoid battles over food since everything is basically desert at this point. Maybe you’ll even get to eat something without sharing!

4. Be ready to bail if you have to. My rule of thumb when taking my kids anywhere is not to go anywhere or do anything that I am not prepared to bail out of. Sometimes this means not being mad that I just spent money on something, like a movie ticket or entrance to an event, and sometimes this means not being disappointed that I have to leave a party. I just always try to stay mentally prepared for the nuclear option.

The most important thing you can do as a parent is set yourself up for success. Don’t take your kids into a situation where you are going to feel self-conscious, stressed out, or like people are judging you the whole night. There’s just no reason to do that to yourself or your children. For me, if I can’t go somewhere and relax and have a good time while I am there, it’s not worth going.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.

Thursday, November 20, 2014
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Staying Warm While Babywearing

Babywearing can seem  like a labor of love in the summertime, when it’s hot and muggy out and you are wrapped up tight together when you really just want to have cool air blowing on every pore of your body. But in the wintertime, it’s warm and cozy.

Staying Warm While BabywearingIn some parts of the country, and for our good friends in Canada (Eh?) even having that tiny ball of heat pressed up against your ribs isn’t quite warm enough. It can be hard for even the most experienced babywearers to enjoy wearing when you are constantly having to take off your carrier to put on a coat. So how do you manage outerwear while rocking that fabulous wrap?

Here are a few creative ideas for staying warm while babywearing:

  1. Coats made for babywearing. Etsy has a great selection of coats that are literally made for babywearing. A huge plus is they are also cute as maternity coats, or even just wrap jackets! There’s also this softshell version that lets you front or back carry and will also keep you dry.
  2. Poncho. A poncho is the easiest solution since it’s easy to throw on and off, and it’s not size specific if you’re still in the process of shedding pounds post-partum. You can even make a no-sew version if you aren’t picky—microfleece and polar fleece don’t have to be sewn. A few slits for your heads and maybe a little fringe if you’re feeling fancy, and you’re done.  The benefit to these is they are cheap and you can wear it with any kind of carry.
  3. Staying Warm While BabywearingCoat extender. These are also easy to make or have someone make for you. If you know someone whoknits or crochets, just take your favorite jacket, strap on your baby, and measure the length from buttonholes to buttons, and from top button to bottom button. Have them whip up a coat-extender panel  (and matching hat, of course!) in that size with the buttons where your buttonholes are, and vice versa. It will keep your coat nice and snug and baby wrapped in woolly goodness.
  4. Infintity sweater. If you don’t live somewhere terribly cold, a stretchy, knit infinity sweater will probablywork just fine for you. The perfect kind for baby wearing will be one with lots of draping in the front, or a large cowl neck, and preferably long ends that you can wrap around you and tie.

Remember: Don’t ever put your baby in his or her car seat while bundled up in a heavy coat. Heavy coats will compress on impact in a collision, which will affect seatbelt function.

Hopefully these ideas keep you and baby warm while enjoying some time outside in the beautiful winter weather.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer, mother of three girls, and Texas native who recently moved to upstate New York.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
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When You Aren’t Ready for Another Baby

When You Aren't Ready for Another Baby

Five months pregnant with baby #3.

I know a lot of people who have had their second, third or fourth baby without as much planning as they would have liked. I know a few post-vasectomy babies. I know a few anniversary babies. I know one (very tired) mama with Irish twins. There are plenty of theories on what constitutes the perfect age gap between siblings. There have even been scientific studies to determine the ideal age gap for siblings. There are also health benefits and consequences to just about every arrangement.

So many factors determine when we have kids and how many we have–age, income, lifestyle, career, illness, your relationship with your partner—it’s just really no one’s business but your own why you spaced your kids like you did. When you have two kids, I feel like there’s less scrutiny. When you have one child, everyone–even total strangers–will ask when you are having another. When you already have two or more, people react to a pregnancy like it’s bad news.

I got a lot of comments when I started to show with #3, since baby #2 was still less than a year old. People actually had the gall to ask if it was planned. I always responded with, “What can I say–we have a happy marriage!” And that usually made people uncomfortable enough to quit prying.

Those questions were hard for me not only because they were invasive and overstepped major boundaries, but because baby #3 wasn’t planned. We wanted to have three, always. But we planned to start trying when our middle daughter was 2, not 10 months. I was convinced that I could track everything ovulation-related after baby #2 and then when we were ready, we could time it just right and get a boy. I never got the chance.

My second period after Alice was born was a week late. One day I reached up to get something out of the microwave, and I felt it–like a goldfish in my pelvis. I froze. No. Nononononono. I forgot what I was doing in the kitchen and ran to the bathroom. I grabbed a pregnancy test and sat on the toilet. Both strips turned red the moment liquid hit them.

I burst into tears. I just had a baby. I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t do another labor, another long pregnancy with my back aching and legs cramping, only this time chasing two toddlers instead of one. We drove a tiny Honda Civic. Our house only had three bedrooms. I cried more.

My oldest daughter came in the bathroom. “Mommy, please stop crying…you’re scaring me.”

I ignored her and she ran to get daddy. He didn’t even know yet. He walked in and asked what was wrong. I held up the test and continued to cry. He took our daughter into the other room and closed the bathroom door so I could have privacy, and I loved him for knowing I needed space in that moment.

I began imagining scenarios that would lead to me not being pregnant any more, and the tears slowed to a halt. I realized that wasn’t what I wanted. I already loved this baby. I already couldn’t wait to meet her. I knew so many women who had lost babies, who couldn’t have babies, who would have cried tears of joy in this moment.

I still felt horrible and sad and overwhelmed. But I was too blessed to wish this away. So what if our car was small? Babies don’t take up much room. So what if our kids would have to share a room? They were scared of the dark anyway and would probably sleep better. I was in a committed, supportive relationship with a man who was an amazing dad. I had a very flexible part-time job. It wasn’t ideal, but we could do this. I could do this. I walked out of that bathroom refusing to shed another tear.

It still stung when people asked nosey questions about our timing, about our house, about our car and everything else. At first I told everyone it was unplanned voluntarily, but I soon got tired of apologizing for our lives. We were the only ones affected by this pregnancy. I decided not to care what anyone else thought unless they were planning on pitching in.

We brought Clara Howard Burt home after spending about 12 hours in early labor and two in hard labor at home, and 45 minutes in transition and pushing in the birthing tub at the hospital. Clara was the easiest baby of all three.  She nursed a ton, rarely cried, and to this day goes down for bed without a peep. She’s the child who carefully puts all her clothes in the hamper and puts her shoes away before she gets in the tub. She says “thanks” without being told. She can find my keys and phone when they’re lost. She’s amazing, and she’s just what I needed.

It’s hard to have an unexpected baby, no matter how fortunate the circumstances. It can be hard to be grateful, even when you know people who deserve to have news like this. It can be financially hard, even in the best of times. But you’ll survive, and you’ll love, and you’ll be fuller than ever before.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014
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Taking a Toddler Out to Eat

Taking Toddlers Out to EatIt’s humorous that I am writing this blog when I currently posses several unused restaurant gift cards. Why are they unused? It’s not because I don’t like to eat out, it’s more because taking a toddler to a sit-down restaurant can be intimidating. The possibility of tantrums, constant movement, and having to leave a restaurant are fears that lurk in all moms’ minds. However, we can conquer these fears and successfully take our toddlers out to eat.

Here are some tips for taking your little ones to your favorite restaurants:

Be Timely: It’s important to take your toddler to a restaurant when they are well-rested and not irritable. For example, my daughter is usually getting tired and needs to wind down for her nap and around 12:30 p.m., so a late lunch date is not an ideal situation for us. She does much better right after nap time, so an early dinner would work best. Choose a day of the week when restaurants don’t have long waits. No 2 year old wants to wait an hour at The Olive Garden, no matter how good the breadsticks and salad are.

Be Prepared: I always have a few toys in my diaper bag for Johanna, even though she is 2. I have learned that crayons and stickers work the best in restaurants. Bring a few toys and maybe even something your toddler hasn’t seen yet, like a new coloring book. They will be delighted to color or put stickers on the new pages. Brining along a sippy cup is important and maybe even some small snacks to accompany your toddler’s meal choice. We all know how quickly they can change their minds. If you are potty training, bring extra clothes and pull-ups.

Be Ready: Perhaps you are going to a new restaurant. Look-up the menu online and see what you might like to order. Look at the kids’ menu and see what items they have that you know your little one will enjoy. Use this time in public to work on manners and self-control.

Enjoy Yourself: No mom can plan for everything. It’s hard to know how each restaurant experience will go. Just remember to have fun! You are their mom. Punishments may have to be given while you’re out. Potty breaks may happen more than you like during your dinner. Just remember that you are enjoying family time and helping to mold your child into a healthy member of his or her world. Eating out is fun! If all else fails, get your food to-go and go home and eat.

I think it’s time for us to use those gift cards.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2 in Northeast Indiana. She loves to eat out, but she doesn’t do it as much as she used to.

Monday, November 17, 2014
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