Monday, February 22, 2010

7 tips for reducing stress...and some potty-training woes

Alright, after a blogless week, it's time for a confession. For a few weeks, I have been an emotional wreck. Yes, I'm pregnant. Yes, I'm sleep deprived. Yes, I expect way too much of myself and definitely don't live up to my own expectations. But I can normally hold it together. A few weeks ago, however, I sobbed on the phone to my mom, telling her what a horrible mom I am. My sister thought I was mad at her, until she finally asked me what was wrong, and I broke down. Today, my good friend came over for a "Do The Potty Dance" house party I hosted and told me that she'd been worried about me, another friend was worried about me, and even my friends' MOM was worried about me. I guess I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I put on a happy face, but apparently to those who know me best, my fake happy face apparently isn't so happy!

Now before you jump to too many conclusions, let me say this...I'm feeling much better! Those of you who have been in my shoes will laugh when I tell you the source of my sorrow, and will say...DUH! when I tell you the new solution.

Here it is: I have a 3-year old little boy "P" who will turn 4 in May. He is still not potty-trained, and there my friends, you have the source of my frustration. He's a brilliant, sweet, loving little boy. And he is Mr. this-is-the-one-thing-in-my-life-I-have-control-over-so-don't-you-dare-force-me-to-pee-in-the potty. We started working on potty training when we was probably 2 1/2. He'd been speaking in full sentences for well over a year, and was my oldest, so of course I thought he was ready. EVERYONE around me was doing it, so I felt a lot of pressure to get him on the pot. And he did great for a while. He pooped before he ever pee'd, so I thought we had it in the bag! Until we didn't.

He got worse and worse, until I was washing 5 pairs of pants every day! My husband and I were constantly frustrated, yet nothing worked. And this wasn't just affecting potty-training. It put a strain on our relationship, caused my sweet little boy to turn into a super defiant 3-going-on-16-year-old, and caused me to feel like a failure as a mother.

Before I continue, you have to know that I feel silly even writing about this, and am praying that those of you who don't know me won't judge me for it! EVERYONE has tips and suggestions for potty training, and TRUST ME...we have tried ALL of them. ALL except one...the one that I haven't been willing to try...until now. And here's what it is...we're not doing ANYTHING.

A few weeks ago, my husband found "P" sitting on the floor in his room peeing on the carpet. That was the last straw. We put him back in diapers, and as silly as this sounds, it has been GREAT. When he came to me that first day to tell me that he pooped in his diaper, I wanted to jump for joy. I know he KNOWS when he needs to go, but he's yet to make that mental decision, and we've never allowed it to be HIS decision. So fine...poop in your diaper, little one. It is way easier to wipe a messy bum than it is to ask if you need to go potty a million times a day. So, he's in diapers, and we're all happier. I'm pretty sure he is constantly shocked when I don't react to the mess. But I can't do it anymore. So my son may be the only child still in diapers when he goes to Kindergarten, but at least he'll know my love for him has nothing to do with where he chooses to eliminate. And maybe I'll win an award for the most children still in diapers with the birth of my third. Just think...maybe he'll even hold off until we're ready for # 4...that would be GREAT!

So what's the point? Why am I posting this on FitMePink instead of the family blog? Well...I'm not sure, really, but mostly because potty training has been a HUGE source of stress in my life. And that's what this blog is supposed to be about...eliminating stress! Everyone says that potty training is easy when THEY'RE ready, but I somehow equated my own success as a parent with my child's success on the pot. So I pushed, and I yelled, and I got mad at my husband for also pushing and yelling, I cried, I did lots of laundry, and finally realized a few things about stress:
  1. If something in your life is causing bucket-loads of stress, figure out how to ELIMINATE the thing. Putting my child back in diapers was EXACTLY what I needed.
  2. A little praise goes a long way. I want to be a big source of encouragement for my children. If all my son hears all day is how naughty he is, then he's GOING to be naughty. If instead, I choose to praise him, to say to others how great he is, and to remind myself of how lucky I am to be the mother of this brilliant little boy, then he WILL be what I truly believe he is. And focusing on the GOOD someone else is doing takes the focus off of ME feeling sorry for MYSELF.
  3. Focus on the important stuff. As hard as it is for me to believe at THIS instant, "P" will be potty-trained. I can either sit back and watch it happen, or I can fight and push and hate every moment until it happens. There are far more important things for me to teach my children, and much more fun things to talk about. Like running, and jumping, and playing, and letting them be little! Stop STRESSING the stuff you can't change!
  4. Reach out to others. When something big or little is causing stress, you can either isolate yourself, and cause everyone who knows and loves you to think something is terribly wrong, or you can reach out and let them help you. Finally talking about my worries and fears to those I love helped me realize that I'm doing okay, and I will survive!
  5. Massage. I haven't had a professional one in quite a while, but someday I'm seriously going to get one every week. For now, my husband will suffice! Massage is more than just being pampered. It decreases the level of cortical which creates the "fight or flight" response in the body. It increases serotonin, the chemical that helps with sleep, anxiety and depression and increases dopamine, which provides the body with pleasurable sensations, smoothing stress away before it can build up. As much as I want to sleep during a professional massage, I don't want to sleep, because it is the BEST hour of my day!
  6. Do something you EXERCISE. I just had to throw it in there. In the past month, I've worked out longer and harder than I have in quite a while. (But I've also eaten worse...I'm a terrible emotional eater!) Working out is one of my true loves in life. I've also found refuge in reading, cooking, singing, cleaning (yes--it's therapeutic), and kid-free nights out with my husband. While we're in the turmoil of parenting young children, we NEED and CRAVE nights without them to reconnect. I adore my husband...especially one on one! We're actually going for a QUICK get-away trip to California this week...I can't wait!
  7. Stop trying to be perfect. This has probably been the hardest for me. In my mind, I have a picture of the "perfect" mom...the one I will NEVER be. I'm trying, and I'm doing my best, but I cannot be perfect. Time to banish that self-inflicted rule!

I won't ask for tips on potty training, because I've seriously tried them all. And I just can't mentally try anything else. Can anyone relate? And what are your proven stress reducers? Hit me up in the comments!


Shirley Hale said...

I personally can't relate, but my sister in law can! Her son had the biggest problem with pooping and peeing everywhere and one of the funniest stories of the family is when my SIL made some chocolate pudding and had it on the table. Her older son came in and got a bowl and was eating it and then complained that it tasted like poop. She of course didn't believe him and made him eat it! Then when he was really complaining, she checked it and there WAS poop! Her younger son had pooped and put it in there! She has a whole bunch of other stories too that just crack me up.

I'm so glad you figured out to decrease your stress! That is most important for mommies.

Grandma Hand said...

Oh my gosh Robyn!!! You brought back a lot of memories about the potty training and your mom would be outside and if she did something she took off her clothes and went aroung naked because it was easier on her and convenience was the most important thing to her. Keep up what you are doing because it will soon be a memory. Love you lots!!!!

Marci & Marcus said...

Robyn, you ARE the perfect mom because you are willing to admit that you aren't!!! Just like I said yesterday, I don't like to admit that I have "monster mom" days, but I do. And I think that letting go of how you want things to be and do things how they work for "P" is quite an achomplishment!! I don't know if I could do it!! But it looks to be working better for everyone, that Parker is sure teaching you a lot of lessons! Kids are great like that!!

Jer + Lu said...

I love reading your blog because I can SO relate!! And I love that you're so blatantly honest about everything. I have 2 boys that stressed me out big time with potty training too. My first wasn't trained til 4 1/2, my second, about 4. And, of course, it was when I finally gave up that they gave in! So I think you're on to something ;)
You've got great stress-relieving tips. My faves are exercise-- run, run, run! -- and nights out, either with hubs or the girls.
Best of luck to you!!

Kimberly said...

Those of us who know "P" just have to laugh because he is so sweet, so smart, so kind, and yet so independent! He definitely won't be the one that does what everyone else is doing, when he is a teenager, because he will want to walk to the beat of his own drum. AND, that's a good thing! I think it's pretty awesome that you were able to put aside your worries about what others might think and just let him take a "break." Good job, Mom!

Aly said...

Oh, Robyn! I feel so bad that I am not in contact with you enough to even know when you are going through a bad time. I think you have got it down as to what you can do to relieve stress! Date night, exercising, etc... they are all great. One thing that has helped me lately is having goals and structure to each day--having a plan and how to execute. I was feeling very out of balance and that was stressing me out, so I wrote down all that I need to get done each day and when I needed to do it. It has helped!

As for potty training I won't give you any unwanted advice, because I don't believe in any of the tricks. I firmly believe that going potty in the toilet is as natural as learning to crawl, walk, and talk (which by the way Sofie is still not doing, the talking part). When they are ready they will go. We don't buy the little miniature toilets or pull-ups or any of that other commercialised junk. Annie showed interest when she was 2 and was quickly trained, Max on the other hand was almost 4. We don't give candy or other bribes, just a big loud cheer from the rest of the family when they have gone like a big kid (on their own time).

You are doing just fine! You are a wonderful and amazing mother and example to your children. Your vibrant personality shines bright to all those around you. Part of that wonderful personality is that you keep it real and are always willing to show the real you, weaknesses and all!

Love YOU!

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne Cropper said...

Potty training sounds like such a joy....can't wait till I get to try. Haha, yeah right. I was talking to my mom the other day and she mentioned how hard I was to potty train. Apparently she came to the same conclusion. She just put me back in diapers, and let me decide when I wanted to go. As far as I know I'm still potty trained so it must have worked.

Diane said...

Oh Robyn!! I'm so glad you've made this decision! I'm also glad that you now hopefully realize that you and Mr. "P" don't need therapy! Now just enjoy your trip!

Sara said...

Robyn, hang in there. We actually had to hire a therapist to help us potty train our son because he was afraid to sit on a toilet. I sooo feel your pain. Here's hoping peer pressure is a help.