I’m taking a day off from Name of the Day for a little update on our lives. The truth is, there hasn’t been much to report. We’ve been working on sleeping through the night with Len and potty training with Lu, but if you’re reading this hoping for some quick advice, you might as well stop now. I have advice, but that advice is to be patient.
There are so many “3 day” or “1 week” methods for the issues I’m currently working on. But those methods aren’t for us. And I’m certainly not trying to insult these methods. If you can get your kid from diapers to underwear in 3 days, that’s excellent! But we can’t. Trying to rush things has made every member of our family miserable, and though the misery may be short lived… it seems unnecessary to me.
Lennon was moved to a toddler bed over a month ago. I breastfeed him to sleep and I usually have to breastfeed him back to sleep 3 times a night. This is progress. When we first started it took me an hour or longer to get him down at night. He’d wake up in 45 minutes, again it would take over an hour to get him back to sleep… repeat until morning. Now it takes me about 10 minutes to get him down, each time. Yes, there are exceptions. But usually, he goes down pretty well. So though I’m looking forward to him sleeping through the night, I’m grateful for how far we’ve come. I get alone time with my husband once Lennon is down for the night, something that didn’t happen when we were bed sharing. He’s getting milk 3 times throughout the night, which is a lot less then when he got milk all night long. He’s happy to be in his own bed and is in better spirits in the morning as a result of a better night’s sleep.
Could we have made this process quicker if we closed the door and let him cry? I’m sure. But I’m not sure he’d genuinely like his bed if we had done that. I like that his first few nights in his toddler bed he toddled down the hall to our room, because now the fact that he doesn’t do that anymore makes me feel accomplished. If we let him cry more, we might be done by now. But he would have definitely woken his sister, so perhaps I’d be complaining about how now we have to retrain her to sleep through the night. (For the record she does still wake about 50% of the time and needs to be snuggled back to sleep. I do not want to make this percentage go up.) My breasts would probably hurt if I went from feeding him all night to no nighttime feedings at all. And if it affected my day time supply, our misery would surely last 24 hours a day for a long time. It’d probably be over by now, yes, and my life would probably be easier in many ways. But, that’s not how we’re doing it. I’ve never been a pull the band aid off fast kind of girl. If you’re going to pull a band aid off me, do it slow, assure me you’re being as gentle as you can and that it’s almost done. Don’t just run up and rip the sucker off. Sure, the pain is over faster, but I just may consider you a jackass the rest of my life.
With the new year I decided to focus on one task at a time. I thought if I devoted all my hours to one task, didn’t let myself feel guilty about the others, they’d get done quicker. Lennon sleeping through the night in his own bed was task one, Lucille potty training is task 2. I decided this week that Lennon has made enough progress that I should move onto task 2… but for some reason I was not as willing to be patient this time.
Probably about a year ago Lucille seemed very ready to potty train. She’d ask questions about it and seemed genuinely fascinated. I helped her use her little ducky potty a few times and she was so happy about doing something new that I didn’t even need to reward her with candy or cookies… but I also had a 7 month old son and I didn’t focus on potty training like I should have. Putting her in a diaper was easier when I was having endless feeding sessions with Lennon. So that’s what I did. And since I didn’t encourage potty training consistently, she lost all interest. I think my guilt surrounding this led me to think we needed to get her potty trained the quickest way possible, to catch her up to where she should be. So I read people’s advice regarding 3 day potty training… and started loosely following it. (I say loosely because no way was I waking her up in the middle of the night to go pee. Or letting her run around commando since we have a lot of carpeting, we chose to use underpants.)
Day 1 started off so well. Poopy in the potty first thing in the morning. The next 2 days were followed by a lot of success and even more accidents. Every 15 to 20 minutes I made her try again. She would get so excited when she “did it!!” But she hated constantly trying. And Lennon hated it. I was ignoring him because I had to spend every second with Lucille. Seriously, our whole day revolved around the potty. Now, some people are probably reading this thinking how could she give up after 2 days? She was 1 day away! Well, I wasn’t. I wasn’t following the whole 3 day process so I fully expected my variation to take longer. We had a good week of this routine left, I’m certain. I didn’t give up on the methods all together, either. But I am relaxing how often she has to try. I’m letting her wear cloth diapers instead of underwear sometimes. For the sake of my sanity. For the sake of my neglected son. Mostly because by the end of the 2nd day, Lucille acted terrified that I was going to put her on the potty again. She was sick of it. It broke my heart. I don’t want to do it this way.
I’m sure someone will read this and think “well, she’s soft. She’s letting her kids walk all over her.” And that’s accurate. I am soft. And that’s why I want to let my kids do things at their pace. Because when people pressure me, I feel hurt, I feel that I’m not good enough. And I don’t want my kids to feel that way. So in this house, we’re going to continue to be sleep deprived and wonder where that urine smell is coming from a little while longer…. and probably I’m going to go back to Name of the Day posts a bit longer because I can’t gather my thoughts enough to write about parenting until I get a better night’s sleep. But a bullet point list of facts on names, I can handle that!
Oh and one last piece of advice. Don’t compare your family to others. When I feel impatient with a lack of progress that my family is making, regarding the tasks mentioned above or regarding handfuls of other tasks, its almost always because I’m comparing us to someone else. And that’s just crazy. Because we’re all different. I know kids younger than Lucille fully potty trained. Does that mean I’m doing something wrong? Or worse, is something wrong with her? No! I know baby’s 1/10th of Lennon’s age who sleep through the night. Does that mean I’m going to be breastfeeding him to sleep at 15? No! If you feel the need to rush for your own personal reasons, I certainly respect that. If it’s because others are commenting on your family’s need to change their ways, or you are pressuring yourself because Facebook friends have kids further ahead than your own, I advice you to step back and refocus. It doesn’t matter. Be happy in the journey, breathe and take it slow, one day at a time.