Well, morning came again, and my eyes were incredibly heavy. Elias decided that the waking between seven and eight routine wasn’t working for him anymore, so he moved it up to five. Ugh. Not only that, but it wasn’t exactly early when we went to bed last night, but the kids were in bed by eight-thirty. My tactic for getting Elias to sleep through the night in the first place was ignoring him. Eventually, he stayed asleep long enough for me to call it “sleeping through the night”. So this morning I tried the old way and kept drifting off to sleep in the interim times when he decided to suck his thumb. And then just as I would have the lovely feeling of sleep, he would cry. Eventually I knew I would have to get up and feed him, or I wouldn’t get any more sleep. So the last three hours I slept this morning were done with a baby at my breast. It doesn’t actually make for the best type of sleep.
On another subject entirely, I got my issue of Today’s Parent magazine yesterday and there were two articles I paid more attention to than others; one on living environmentally friendly and the other on potty training. The first obviously encouraged readers to use as little water and energy as possible, to buy products that won’t produce garbage, to use non-chemical cleaners and lawn fertilizers. The second encouraged readers (in a nut shell) to not bother trying to potty train your child until two. One part of the article actually mentioned a “parenting expert” who doesn’t recommend starting until the child is three. There was a small blurb on diaper free babies (see diaperfreebaby.org), but the rest of the article focused on how important it is to wait until a child is “ready”.
So my argument is, why not start early? So far it hasn’t harmed my daughter, and she’s closer to being fully trained than most kids at two. I think of my mehod as gentle potty training, starting early and spreading the training out over a long period of time, also not giving rewards (other than verbal praise) or punishment. I started putting Jenny on the toilet when she was around a year; using a toilet insert rather than a potty chair. We had a few months where we didn’t do much, but I tried to get into a routine of putting her on the toilet when she got up in the morning and before she went to bed at night. In the beginning, not much happened; occasionally she peed, but nothing more. She was still in diapers all this time, until around April when I started putting her in underwear on occasion. At some point when Mike was still playing hockey every Sunday night (before the end of March), she pooped for the first time on the toilet. I would have loved to finish before she turned two, as I was potty trained by eighteen months and it certainly didn’t scar me, but I decided I didn’t want to push it – Jenny is a very independent little girl. The only real defiance I’ve gotten from her has started in the last few months; the closer she got to two, the worse it was. My theory is that at home, she doesn’t like her play interrupted to go to the bathroom. We have certainly had some accidents, but with a little diligence on the part of whichever parent (or grandparent or aunt) is with her, she doesn’t really have very many accidents. She knows what to do when put on the toilet and when we are away from home, often tells us when she needs to go. She also has started to go a little in her pants and then say potty and go more when taken to the bathroom. Obviously she’s learning what it feels like when she starts to have an accident. And the big argument usually given by the “experts” on why to not train early is that it will be bad for their self-esteem. So far, so good; I don’t notice anything emotionally wrong with my daughter just because we started training early.
So back to the reason I mentioned the environmental article. If they’re so keen on reducing garbage, and one can assume that most people who leave their kids in diapers until they’re three (or older) are using disposables, don’t they realize that their theories on training aren’t lining up with their ideals for the environment? Even if people were using cloth diapers until the age of three (which I can’t imagine they’d want to do), there are still environmental tolls because of what the diapers are usually washed in.
It’s not like I’m an environmental nut, or even an activist of any sort, but really, if you’re going to have articles like that in the same issue, think about it first. It’s an obvious double standard. Environmentalists and self-esteem mongers usually both fit the bill of liberals, but here they are, directly contradicting each other. It’s ridiculous if you ask me.
I know. No one asked. That’s okay, I like to give my opinion freely. In fact, I might just write a letter. I say that every month, and I still haven’t done it. But maybe this time I will.