Finally a daycare pickup that I’ve waited on for years….carrying each kid out kicking and screaming bloody murder, dragging the flailing monster into the car and forcing the car seat buckles on while they throw their tantrum. TIMES THREE.
They are a lot stronger now that I can’t haul all three at once, especially when they don’t want to obey. Reagan definitely attempted to bite through my hoodie on her way out and Harper ran around the parking lot…similar to last year…
Apparently school book fairs are not for the weak of heart. Running away with the balloon centerpieces AND random, unpurchased books is more of the real life toddler experience, all while trying to escape their mother and hide in other school rooms.
At least I enjoyed a moment of toddler torment by eating one of their beloved lollipop treats while they all shrieked in rage from the backseat. Butterscotch, if you wanted to know.
It’s been a busy November, with lots of play dates, family visits, activities and all on top of pretty cold temperatures for these south-central Alaskans. I always appreciate family visits and love that I married into a much bigger family network than I have. Craig has a big family for the girls to enjoy and grown up around during visits and through thousands of FaceTime calls. We especially love holiday visits, since it is much easier for us adults to enjoy everything with a few extra sets of hands; it’s also great knowing they are making memories and getting to know many members in the family, especially since mine is so small and much farther away! With so many things to write about, in lieu of writing a ton on our mundane, day-to-day festivities; here are the main highlights as we push from early winter to turkey time, to Christmas!
From the moment Grandma Sue and Papa Lon stepped off the airplane from Juneau, many demands occurred from the three tiny blondes to cook homemade donuts with Grandma. Keep in mind when we tried this activity in February (for Valentine’s Day) the girls refused to eat the final product but really enjoyed the uncooked dough, spreading flour and making the biggest mess possible. This time they continued to make a big, floury mess but finally ate the donuts (holes) and came back for seconds!
Reagan picked out a sprinkle covered donut Christmas ornament for Grandma to take home with her and put up on the tree. Clearly the homemade donuts are making quite the impact as they grow older; you’d agree if you tried them!!
Grandma and I volunteered at the preschool Thanksgiving luncheon on Wednesday. The three-year-old class was first up in the nicely decorated gym. Once assembled at their designated tables, everyone paired with an older kid buddy, who held their plate and assisted on food selection. The girls refused to buddy up since we were there and insisted on waiting in line with us. When questioned on food choices, all three wanted corn, a roll, carrots and pickles. No one wanted mashed potatoes (not surprising), turkey or stuffing. With a bit of parent coaxing everyone downed a turkey chunk and Harper and Reagan devoured a handful of olives. After the main course was pumpkin pie, with Harper eating only the whip cream, Emerie inhaling all the filling and not touching the crust, and Reagan eating it all!
Our goofballs continue to randomly make surrounding adults chuckle. For example, Reagan turned around one night to a lip like this and convinced us it was blood, with a story about falling and hurting her lip. Care to guess what it really was? Nail polish!
Early riser Emerie was hanging out with Grandma at the crack of dawn the other morning, repeating three times she wanted to watch Merida. Finally told Grandma to go away, since she wasn’t “listening.” Everyone now uses the word “never” and will respond I’m never doing that! or I’m never talking to you AGAIN! We don’t use that terminology very often; I’m guessing another preschool kid taught them the fun new word.
Olaf Bread for the Win
Another fun, edible craft idea from the family cook meant customized, breaded Olaf’s for Thanksgiving lunch, with each kiddo donning a cooking hat and apron and decorating their own version of the snowman. This activity was quite the hit in the morning, with specific colored sprinkles, dyed orange noses, craisins for buttons and don’t forget the eyeballs! Even more surprising, the girls consumed these beauties with lunch, eating every sweet treat off before biting into the fresh dough and bread stick arms.
Cookie decorating skills were put to the test several times over the holiday break. The girls decorated turkey cookies with mini paintbrushes and fall themed edible paint. As usually, Reagan took her time to cover ever white edge on the whole thing while Harper and Emerie more so enjoyed spreading the paint with their brushes and begging to eat them. Later in the weekend the first batch of gingerbread for the season was decorated- or more realistically I should say the girls ate sprinkles and continually asked to eat more cookies.
Putting Up the Tree
With the darkness and frigid cold weather, the Christmas tree up early is a must. This year the girls were a bit more helpful, but overall they did the same fight-over-the-tree-bag crying as last year. Everyone helped hand a few branches to Craig or I, but otherwise weren’t thrilled until the ornaments came out. Emerie decided stretching out all the wrapping ribbon looked really fun until we stopped her! Everyone enjoyed hanging their ornaments on the lower half of the tree. This year’s ornament is Frozen themed; last year was Tangled. Maybe next year it’ll be something other than a princess! And don’t let that adorable hugging photo convince you, that occurred after full cookie related bribery, a failed nap and a lot of fighting. And after putting a couple wrapped presents under the tree, they are now asking if it’s Christmas yet…a month out!
Thanksgiving dinner was quite the feast of deliciousness: turkey, stuffing, sweet and mashed potatoes, pecan and pumpkin pie. Mmm, mmm, mmmmm… If my sense of smell was back, I’m sure it smelled amazing! We discovered through the afternoon snacking that one can of olives was insufficient for Harper and Reagan, that Harper now likes celery, and everyone really likes mini cucumbers and cranberry sauce.
Outdoor Photo Shoot
Megan scheduled a 20 minute photo session outside and the kiddos rocked it! Is it hard to get 5 toddlers to look and smile at once!? Yes. Is it impossible to get?! No! Does it help when they are super cold? Yes actually. And even in the cold they did fantastic and enjoyed a cookie and candy cane on the drive back home. I can’t wait to see the results.
Auntie ‘Manda came up for the weekend to surprise everyone and the girls were so excited. Amanda is now Reagan’s new best friend and was glued to her side the entire weekend, which was really cute. The jump park became much more fun play at her with in tow and they greatly enjoyed snuggling with her on the couch and warming up with some movies. We are already receiving requests for her to visit and play again!!
At bedtime after a busy Thanksgiving, I asked each kiddo what they were thankful for and as anticipated, received varied answers. Harper was thankful for dip (all kinds apparently) and the color black. Reagan was thankful for presents, which are sitting under the Christmas tree, and Emerie was thankful for dinner.
Harper’s favorite holiday thing was eating, specifically the cookie she decorated and celery. Emerie’s favorite things was eating chicken (turkey) and watching a movie. Reagan says nothing is my favorite today. After a bit of pushing, she claimed watching Merida (Brave) in the living room earlier in the day was her favorite. Oh well!
Overall, what a fun week it was! Each holiday season will be a bit more fun and I’m really looking forward to Christmas.
It’s official- we are down to only ONE baby gate in our house, that disconnects downstairs from upstairs! The loft/home office is now freely open to wandering toddlers, who occasionally graze on some dry cat food, hoping the parents won’t notice, and the gate on the girls’ bedroom is now packed away in the garage. We weren’t using it for more than a pet buffer and night in the last few months and figured it was time to embrace the freedom! I wonder how long until we will be a gate-less house, with kids wandering freely and not burning it to the ground out of adult eyesight.
Now that winter officially started, with about 18″ of snow over one twenty-four hour period followed by a dip to below zero temperatures outside, we are back to the normal cold, darkness, and try-our-best-to-entertain indoors until next spring. Daycare drop off and pickup for the next three months occurs under the cover of darkness and now the moon is visible some nights and always warrants a discussion.
Harper: Mom, drive faster! Catch the moon!
Reagan: Daddy has a fast car. Daddy could catch the moon.
Harper: Yeah, Daddy could catch the moon.
Such sass from the backseat! Other days similar sass occurs out of the blue, during a chore or a conversation. For example, the other night Emerie peeked around the bathroom door while Harper and Reagan were brushing their teeth, with a loud holler of you will never bring your family honor! and a door slam for dramatic effect. Guys, I can’t make this stuff up! Bonus points if you can guess that movie.
While we attempt to not watch too much television and come up with a variety of mind (and time) engaging activities- now that the girls actually enjoy watching shows and movies- it always proves interesting to watch anything with a group of toddlers.
For example, we watched Sleeping Beauty for the thousandth time the other night. The opening scene with Aurora walking and singing in the woods is accompanied with approximately a hundred, varied questions. Mom, where is she going? Why is she singing? Are the birds talking to her? How old is she? Where are her shoes? The scene then zooms out from the princess to the prince to bring up more toddler musings: Is that the prince? What’s his name? What’s his horse’s name? Why? Where is he going? Is he a boy? Do I need to continue or do you get the picture!
Everyone loves when Maleficent comes on the screen, but also hides their eyes or cowers under any nearby blanket. More comments arise such as she’s not a nice lady. Why isn’t she nice? She needs a spanking from daddy, really hard. She lives in a castle by herself? Why? And the plot continues.
Bedtimes continues to plague us, as it does for all toddler parents. Does anybody else have tiny minions that will do anything to get out of settling into bed each night?
Mom, I’m tired. Mom, I’m thirsty. Mom, I have to pee. Mom, I have a sharp nail. Mom, my arm is itching me. Mom, my butt hurts. Mom, I can’t pull my blanket up! My toes are cold! I don’t like blue stars; I want red ones.
Other nights they fight over who sings a song, claim sister is waking them up by singing, or because one is serenading the other with happy birthday, which causes a screaming argument. Why? Well, it isn’t their birthday! And on other rare occasions, I get the joy of singing a song from Frozen at least a dozen times in a row, until they drift off to sleep.
We’ve essentially given up on bedtime book reading, which is unfortunate since witnessing them recite the stories from memory was incredibly cute and a good way to calm down for sleep. Some nights they will sit for a few moments on the couch and let us get through a short book, but in general someone is always goofing off, talking back, or fighting to prevent actual reading from taking place.
The past six weeks, before the joy of winter even hit, were more taxing on us parents the normal, everyday taxation we are used to, and I’m not just blaming covid for that! Post covid and quarantine, after the daily routine normalized, resulted in two ear infections, a triple stomach flu and Craig catching it too, and a pretty nasty follow-up cold, worse for me than the girls.
It definitely comes as no surprise, as I assumed half the winter months would be submersed in some kind of sickness. The girls did excellent at throwing up in the designated “throw up bowl” by the time we passed through the bug, and we probably did ten loads of laundry, all the beds, pajamas, blankets and so on before getting back to normal. The girls now ask why the puke bowl isn’t in their bedroom and like to tell people they “puked last night.”
The sicknesses resulted in a couple weeks with a kiddo at home for a day or two, on rotation, while Craig and I both attempted to get our meetings and work done. The princess laptop comes out on those days, since we just own one, and the girls are thrilled to “work” beside the parents as needed. On a busy morning, Emerie would comment that my “office was talking,” as emails and Teams calls came through the speakers.
Reagan’s last ear infection put us near the threshold of considering ear tubes for her this winter and a follow up appointment in December to discuss with ENT. Emerie’s latest eye doctor appointment unfortunately showed more regression from the progress we made over the summer and fall on her eye straightening, and will result in another procedure next month as well.
December appears to be quite a busy month, not to mention the holidays in addition to illnesses, procedures, work and everyday life. Guess we will too busy to be cold…right?
Well folks, after twenty months living in a global pandemic, it finally caught up to our household through the girls’ preschool class.
Reagan and Emerie had low grade fevers as an indicator early on, something we’ve dealt with more often than not over the last three months; fevers that seem to indicate ear infections or allergies. Unfortunately for this one, it turns out both girls tested positive on their rapid Covid-19 tests at the pediatrician’s office. Harper’s test came back negative, which aligns to the usual order of kiddos getting any type of sickness.
This is the second time a positive case was announced in the girls’ classroom since school started in August, without any specifics times or details, as to keep the other kids anonymous (silly if you ask me!). We assume this is where it was transmitted and we had a very short window to get in the right headspace of spending ten days stuck at home with three rambunctious toddlers, who may be sick but clearly felt fine overall. Over the next few days, they definitely felt better than their parents as the infection slowly crept into our sinuses. Catching all sicknesses is part of being a parent…right? Or is it just part of being a mom? I can’t remember.
While it is fantastic news that the girls aren’t feeling all the effects of this bug, it also means it’s really hard to keep them busy and entertained throughout the day and keep the fighting and whining to a minimum. The first day out of the gate was consumed with all the things, coloring, magnet boards, stickers, some Frozen, Cocomelon and Abominable movie viewing, tons of snacks, magna-tile construction, and layering the house with the inch of snow outside on the deck. Did I also mention eight thousand outfit changes? From pajamas to Frozen princess dresses to shorts to hoodies to regular dresses to dance leotards. So. Many. Outfit. Changes.
And here’s how the quarantine period really went by, since it is not all sunshine and smooth sailing and one of my greatest fears of impending doom over the past thirty months…in case you were curious if you can survive house arrest with your children.
Quarantine Day One
Feeling strong. Feeling ambitious! We can do this! We have lots of things to entertain the tiny minions, a full fridge of food, great internet… I prepped and cooked a nice dinner; the girls played all day.
Twelve hours later…OMG, we can’t do this. I need some Netflix and SILENCE.
Online Target and toy store orders begin, with entertainment going okay so far…other than the one hand slammed in the door, blood, waterworks, you know…the usual. Craig picked up a fun new ball rolling set and everyone played (mostly) nicely for a little while on it. A friend dropped off dinner and a couple kid activities on our doorstep; much appreciate as we started down a long path of being home.
The toddler cabin fever sets in. Is that a real thing, you ask?! YES, IT IS. It’s like starting a week of full moon attitudes and you can’t escape it. The kids become crazy hyper from being cooped up at home when they aren’t really used to it, at least not at this level. By the end of the day, I found Emerie and Reagan emptying all the toilet paper rolls downstairs and Emerie standing on the back of the toilet. Later that night after bath time, I caught Emerie sucking down the kid toothpaste, straight out of the tube, resulting in a death match to pry it out from her extremely strong, but tiny, fingers. Help us.
I will note a nice thirty minutes decorating craft pumpkins and taping them up on the new living room wall happened. Reagan thrived at this activity while Harper and Emerie browsed by and helped in between other distractions.
Creative entertainment means breaking out the top shelf doll strollers that cause instantaneous energy. I began feeling really crummy by now (as opposed to just slightly) with a fever and sore throat; but am feeling very lucky not to have the fatigue other people report having- Craig might be over the hump of his sickness or he’s toughing it out well, at least we hope so! And the girls did not get the memo they are actually sick, you would never know without the mild fevers and positive tests. By the end of the day, I completed a Target pickup order of Dayquil and Robitussin with no bra on…whose feeling empowered now…?!
I will not admit how much Frozen I and Frozen II has played in this house in the last few days…let it goooo…
Craig felt inspired to make homemade cinnamon rolls with the girls, so clearly he’s feeling at least a bit better. The girls helped spread the dough, melted butter, and sugar and of course lather themselves in some of it too. Eating the finished product was a bit too much for them, so Craig and I enjoyed cinnamon rolls for breakfast for a couple of days. Everyone napped in the car that afternoon after seeming lethargic and tired all day (just enough to be noticeable), much like their parents! After a shower and hair brushing, Harper told me she liked my hair…clearly we need to get out more…
Reagan begins her major coloring kick. Whoever created mess-free coloring markers; you deserve a medal. Harper and Emerie both have marker stained faces from running out of sight with the Crayola marker set and you can tell! Reagan loves her sparkly, Frozen themed mess-free coloring and sits for a few minutes each hour and colors another one, mostly in the lines, to proudly display on the fridge.
Today we are back to work (at home). We were very lucky to have a state holiday (Alaska Day) and a four day weekend (for me) while we are quarantined. We managed six months of juggling kids and work earlier this year, but it’s a different dynamic when your littles are grumpy from fevers, you are confined to your house and the parents have what feels like a bad cold. Fortunately we were both able to get a few work hours in here and there over the weekend to stay caught up.
By day six bike riding is allowed in the house, movie times involve blankets and laundry baskets, the garage is a new play room, railroad track cities span the entire living room- desperate times call for desperate measures! Reagan threw a toy and hit Emerie square in the nose, horizontally slicing from nostril to nostril and drawing a lot of blood and tears from her sister. After that fiasco we opted for a mandatory driving nap…which no one actually slept on. This was the worst day of quarantine so far!
By the end of day six, there are two options: either our fevers are going to break or our sanity is!!
Two of the three slept in until 8:45 today; clearly quite the record. Emerie awoke about 7:15 and laid on the floor by my desk with her owl and blanket while I had a nice hour of hot coffee, emails and silence. We finally managed to take a walk around the neighborhood and get some fresh air, which was much overdue!
Harper found a twirly pen at some point that morning and colored the entirety of both legs before we noticed. She is also quoting full phrases from Frozen at random. For example, I turned around to her standing on the coffee table, with a tutu and crown headband on and arms out, yelling “if you don’t want me to run into fire, then don’t run into fire!”
The girls were wildly hyper in the evening, which we believe stems from the protein drinks at dinner, since they don’t seem to want to eat actual food this week. At least today was a little better than the dreadful day six.
Another good sleep-in morning, with Emerie going for 12 hours of sleep and Harper and Reagan waking up after eight in the morning, a definite win for us.
Overall uneventful day, thank goodness! Emerie isn’t feeling better yet but Reagan is clearly on the mend and exploding with energy. She and Harper continue to run circles around each other while Emerie cuddled on the couch and avoided. An hour driving nap rewarded the parents with a little quiet and the post lunch walk a nice outing in the sun, although Emerie wasn’t really feeling it. Two more days!!
After the car nap Emerie and Reagan cuddled and played nicely together for nearly an hour while Harper “helped” me fold a couple loads of laundry at the kitchen table, I sucked down a bunch of hot tea for my cough, and Craig made dinner that neither of us could taste. It was a nice hour reprieve before the wildness repeated for the day, with no one wanting dinner and Harper and Reagan wildly wrestling and running around the house until bedtime.
It appears we rounded a bit of a corner in play time- when one kiddo finds self entertainment for a few minutes (kinetic sand, coloring, playing in the toy kitchen, etc.), the other two, no matter which two, actually play together for a bit. It is nice to see what ideas they create, whether it’s a blanket fort, playing nap time with their animals (and turning off ALL my lights and closing shades), or chasing each other up and down the stairs a hundred times. As the picture highlights, I also caught them red handed a few times making massive water messes in the downstairs bathroom…but having fantastic fun until they were caught!
Everyone wanted “Elsa braids” that morning and luckily don’t yet recognize the difference between a normal braid and Elsa’s. I will have to learn that skill in the near future though, since it’s unlikely Elsa, Anna, Sven and Kristof are going anywhere, any time soon (sorry Craig).
Miraculously, we made it to day ten and the girls are completely fever free! We took it upon ourselves to really leave the house; not out in public mind you, and ventured out to the valley for some good ‘ole outside fun. The girls rode with their cousins on the dirt bike, four wheelers and kid size John Deer tractor. You could easily tell they were thrilled to get out of the house, enjoy a smoothie on the ride out and run around a new spot. Even their driving (steering) skills are improving! It was a beautiful fall day and unusually warm for this time of October; Jaren, Emerie and I also picked a bunch of wild, high bush (I think) cranberries and Emerie collected about half a ziploc bag, all by herself! All in all, a nice afternoon now that everyone is feeling better and getting closer to back to normal.
Over the past year and a half we focused on not sharing the current world crisis with the girls, especially since they are so young, but can comprehend a lot more than one might think. They turned two the same day our city shut down for the first time and since then are used to seeing people wearing masks and social distancing. We made it through the first six months of pandemic without changing any of our daily routines (other than me working at home instead of the office), since the girls already spent workdays with the nanny at home and hand washing after going anywhere public is something you always do when caring for premature babies. We didn’t fully feel the impact until we started out-of-home unexpectedly daycare last fall, where we weren’t allowed to enter the facility and felt very cut off from the girls during the day. You all know that story already.
The good news is the social aspect of COVID-19 hasn’t affected the girls, to their knowledge at least, as we continue having play dates with a number of folks in our little bubble. Spending a lot of time outside as they’ve grown bigger helps ease the cutoff-from-the-rest-of-society feeling, including small hikes, trail walks, playgrounds and walks around the neighborhood. It pains me to see friends with elementary aged kids that understand the world has changed and not for the better. I don’t want my kids to grow up in fear of people breathing around them, not being masked, having an occasional cough or cold and especially the sociological damage that results from it. Kid shouldn’t have to take on a lot of this responsibility and grow up fearful- they should be having fun, learning new things and maturing in a safe environment- and I intend to hold my family to that as best I can. It makes me so thankful all this is happening prior to school age, where we are the main influence on their lives and they aren’t stressing over missing school, seeing their friends or being stuck at home.
I live in a madhouse run by a tiny army I made myself.
Throughout our quarantine the girls never questioned missing school and accepted the simple explanation of a cough and not feeling well. We received the occasional question about going or missing a teacher, but nothing more than that. Even better, they weren’t overly curious why we stayed home all day and weren’t out and about as much or going to the park, and only taking a car ride here and there. They especially disliked going to Target meant order pickup and not venturing inside; that’s about the biggest complaint so far. In another year I feel this would be a lot different! Throughout the week Harper kept telling me she has the coughs and yawns, which is more true for her sisters than her, but wouldn’t you say it is a fitting description for being sick? I definitely have that!
This week the girls started “calling” Grandma Sue on a play phone to tattle that a mean sister. The FaceTime calls with family and friends helped them stay connected and calmed the questions about seeing Oaki and Kaden, Papa and Grandma, or Tyler when they come up, but the fake calls are pretty humorous too. The cell phone tattling remains pretty random and doesn’t seem to follow a pattern when it’s “grandma worthy”, but it’s definitely hilarious to listen to such expressive thoughts!
A few friends have checked in over the course of the week, dropped off goodies and asked how we are feeling and how the virus presented to us. I find it really interesting that Craig and I had very different symptoms, with his cough showing up from day one and then improving, and my cough showing up about day five, gaining some momentum, and then improving. I presented with a fever and major sore throat, which progressed into a stuffy nose and sinus headache without the sore throat, and then stuffy nose with a cough. Emerie and Reagan are mildly stuffy off and on, maintained a 100 degree temperature prior to medicine for a handful of days, and coughed mostly at nighttime and a little throughout the day. Harper maintained no fever, stuffy nose or cough throughout the entire event!
So what has ten days in quarantine taught me about myself? Well first of all, it definitely reminded me that I can step up even more, even when it feels like you already do everyday with three kiddos, to get through a challenging time. It also reminded me to take things one day at a time, one hour at a time if needed. On a bad day (like day six!), getting through an hour at a time is less of a mind stress than constantly thinking how many more days you have to get through and all the stressful questions that come with those thoughts. Getting through one napless afternoon without focusing on the impending lack of nap in future days…really helps. It keeps the overwhelming anxiety a little more at bay, at least for a little while.
I fully admit if ten quarantine days occurred a year ago, I’m not sure how we would have survived it. The fact that the girls now play independently at least a little bit (in between the whining and fighting) is a major game changer in 24/7 house confinement. Reagan is fantastic at coloring and sitting for periods of time and focusing on it, Harper enjoys playing dress up and creating fancy outfits and riding her bike around, Emerie will construct a railroad track and play by herself for a little while. Everyone enjoyed trashing my house with kinetic sand a couple times and fort building and balance bike riding in the garage to burn energy. Television, while not the ideal answer but who are we kidding, is now watched and commented on with a longer attention span than last year. Current household favorites are Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, Abominable, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Curious George. And lastly, a year ago we couldn’t easily go on a walk around the neighborhood without both parents; now they are “better” at staying close, stopping at the stop signs (with reminders) and completing a loop back home by foot or on wheels.
All in all, guys, we made it through!! The girls went back to preschool yesterday and everyone seems back to normal other than myself, with a mild, lingering cough and tastelessness holding on for a little longer.
When people ask someone where they typically spend most of their time at home, one usually responds with the garage (which would be a Douglas boys response!), the kitchen cooking, or maybe the family room spending time with family…but theoretically the answer isn’t usually “the bathroom” (well I hope not anyway!). We can, in fact, say this is where we spent a great deal of our mornings, afternoons and evenings over the past year. Why, you may ask? Two words.
This blog is a very long time coming and I can happily report that this household only uses one nightly pull-up (for one!) and NONE during the day!! Huge milestone? Absolutely? Huge money saver? YES. Not buying multiple diaper boxes and tons of wipes on every Costco run is very much appreciated by my wallet.
It’s been a number of months now since the original claim that we are a potty trained household, which occurred sometime over the winter. The girls greatly excelled at their new skill by November/December of last winter, with the potty training saga beginning for real in September when they went off to their first daycare experience.
So how did we get here? It’s definitely been a process, one that I expected to be so much worse than it actually was. I agonized and dreaded the thought of teaching all three at once and spending all day long doing nothing but potty and repeat, potty and repeat; but once we found the groove, it moved along quite well. Large credit goes to my three littles who caught on very quickly!
I have a number of fellow toddler moms with kiddos that seem to fear the idea of potty training or clearly dislike behind pushed to do it. My potty training mindset was similar at this time last year, more of a horrific and dreaded nightmare when musing about it, much of the time before the girls went to off to daycare in the fall. We knew a new and difficult period was upon us, as often happens while raising young kiddos, and planned to push the pain out a few more months until we believed everyone would be more ready. In reality, it was more so we as parents weren’t quite ready to tackle the consistent potty training period and needed more time to mentally strategize and prepare.
To go back a bit farther, we gently eased into the idea at around 18 months old by buying three matching, lady bug potty seats. The first few days the girls carried them around the living room and sat on them, without any diapers coming off, just to get them used to the “new” thing and take the pressure off (no pun intended?!). This moved into a post-bath potty chair time- once the girls were dried off, one by one, we introduced them to the idea of peeing on the potty chair before getting dressed in their bedroom. This processed occurred each night for a number of months and slowly all three would go pee in the seats. At the very beginning everyone received a treat for sitting for a period of time on said potty, with this eventually stretching to only when they went pee. The girls found it quite exciting to sit on them in their bedroom and talk and giggle. It didn’t take too long before they could actually go, even just a little drop, letting us know they were ready to move forward to bigger potty training steps.
The original reward for this monumental act of control meant an M&M was handed to the achiever. This treat was found to leave messy, melted chocolate on our freshly bathed babes and was quickly replaced with jelly beans. Side note, using jelly beans also allows the toddler to choose colors and learn both at the same time while giving them an opportunity to make their own choice on something. This is quite the hit in our household, even a year later. Not only do they love them, but they excitedly focus on what color to pick each and every time. There are still constant demands of Mommy, I need two “lelli beans” for pooping! Emerie seems the most concerned, to date, on receiving the reward for her efforts; the other two occasionally remember now and ask for them.
I’ll also note by the time we started the post-bath potty time, all three girls were showing great signs of interest in the concept, with Reagan leading the charge. Had Reagan been the only toddler in our house at the time, she would have been potty trained by her second birthday! She was very ready and able to trudge forward on this new skill and bring her sisters along for the ride.
Most of last summer was this minimal process after bathing- we did not actively practice potty training throughout the day. The girls started telling us when they had dirty diapers and wanted a change, which shifted into diaper changes based on when they noticed something was amuck “down there!”
The girls were rock stars right off the bat when it came to number one, with Reagan leading the pack and able to hold it, go about her day and remember when she needed to go, and nap in big girl undies early on! She did that last step all on her own and Harper was right behind her on nap holding. It took another couple of months before Emerie was dry during nap time; the daycare ended up noting that she didn’t wear diapers at nap when we were still putting them on when at home. I learned from that experience that each kiddo more-or-less showed us when they were ready for the next step and could hold it through nap time, and eventually overnight.
Number two was a little more (or a lot more) effort, especially when it comes to three. They have moments of all collaborating and going at the same time in their undies, and then insisted on tagging along together for the bathroom experience, which can take forever. Who knew how tight a half-bath could feel when you have one adult and three children together! It often seems if one had an accident, for whatever reason the others follow suit, even when we know they recently went. I’m not sure if that is a multiples thing or just kids being kids thing, but they still do it even now.
By this past spring, the much used diaper changing stations for the past two years were converted to just bins of wipes and big-girl underwear. Since we live in a split level home, it’s highly useful to have clean underwear within hands’ reach no matter where you are, making it easier to swap out dirty for clean when spending all that time in the bathroom with three littles. The main floor of our house does not have a bathroom, so the three ladybug potty chairs reside against the wall in the dining room. Even now, with all three fully trained with minimal accidents, everyone still uses them throughout the week. This is often because they don’t want to trek downstairs to go, they want you to go with them and you are doing something at the moment, or it’s a #2 emergency and it’s the closest option. As we round out this winter, I hope to take them away in lieu of using actual facilities going forward. One very important word of advice when emptying said portable potties. Do NOT, under any circumstance, lean over the toilet as you empty the contents in. Trust me on this…
Over the past year or so the girls put their new skills into their creative play. All three went through a phase of constantly “play” scolding their dolls, claiming they pooped or peed in their pants, stripping off their clothes, and using play doll diapers and real wipes. The phrase you not getting a jelly bean for peeing and a finger wiggle was likely uttered AT LEAST million times. The poor baby dolls ended up in constant time out for accidents, something we do NOT promote and I’m not sure why they initiated that but it was a little funny to witness.
We have the method down for getting out-and-about. Demands are met for everyone to use the bathroom prior to loading up in the car, no matter if it’s a short trip to Target or a long drive to adventure. We had a few “lesson learned” experiences on park or play dates and soon after purchased potty chairs for each vehicle. This ultimately removed the big stress of trekking everyone into a public bathroom, venturing into a gross porta-potty or leaving a park to find somewhere to go and has saved us dozens of clothing changes. Prior to the portable potty chair, we had some…errr…interesting ways to handle a kiddo that HAD to go right then. Overall car seat accidents are rare; this is likely coupled with the thought that most major potty training occurred during the pandemic, meaning we weren’t spending time in indoor public places and not out and about nearly as often.
So what have I learned about the potty training process in triplicate? Well I’ve never potty trained a kid before this, I’m pretty sure Craig has which helped; here are the things I’ve noticed and learned:
Don’t push it. Take the pressure off and let them show you when they are ready to start.
While my three littles are the same age and gender, they are not all the same and advance at different rates for different skills.
Rewards are often and important, make them something that isn’t messy or melts everywhere.
High praise gets every one pumped up and then they encourage each other.
Make a huge deal when a successful #2 in the potty happens and make sure the siblings witness the excitement!
Get extra step stools so one can wash hands while the next one is on the toilet. As they start going more separately, we now use the extra steps for teeth brushing.
Find a way to lock the main bathroom door open while going through the training process. The girls, even now, enjoy locking the door or slamming it on sisters (and parents) and while less private, they don’t need the privacy while they are learning the skill!
In addition, you will find yourself uttering phrases you never thought possible from your own mouth! For example, I have demanded them to “not bite the toilet seat,” to “stop licking the toilet seat,” to “stop putting popcorn in the toilet,” to stop fighting over the toilet seat and step stool, and even to give sister back her underwear! Ah yes, such fun memories to share with them as teenagers.
What types of potty chairs?
I would not have this answered a year ago, but now I can easily say the built in kid potty chairs from your local home improvement stores are amazing. They are relatively expensive, but they are nice to have and only require a step stool for the kids to access the facility. We started out with three of the same portable (ladybug style) potty chair, one for each kiddo, and completely stand behind both for ease of use. The girls all excelled at using them together. During full on potty training mode, we purchased several foldable toilet seats with a built in step stool and handles to climb up on. This seat was great while they learned more balance and became acclimated with using the “big kid potty,” but eventually they tried to remove them from the room and we swapped out.
What if my kid is afraid of loud public toilets?
This is a major issue that we still deal with, especially with Emerie. Our best advise so far is the potty chair in the car when you really need it, since kiddos pick up quickly where places have “loud potties” (like Target and the jump park!). In addition, keep a small stack of sticky notes in your purse or kid bag. When using a family bathroom (or any really) stick one note onto the toilet sensor and it won’t automatically flush until you force it to. Amazing tip to keeping the littles from running out screaming!
So where are we now?
We are now entering the phase that tells me we should convert out of cribs soon, though I am sooo not ready. Here and there we get calls in the middle of the night to Mommy I go pee! and most of the time they go right back to sleep. It won’t be long before they can get up solo and then climb back into bed…we shall see. And Emerie is starting to wake up dry more mornings than in the past; we believe we are close to no more pulls ups!
Even at almost three and a half, we are still living on the post potty training high and are still enjoying the non-winter aspect of last minute “pee-ventures” that I know we will have later this year with full snow gear already on.
To any of you reading this who are in the midst of triplet potty training or thinking about starting- get some wine, lots of snacks and put piles of clean underwear everywhere across the house…and you’ll be okay. It’ll all be worth it once you get through it! I’m glad to have that stage over and done with and look forward to spending more time outside the bathroom.