Wrapping up day 3 of potty training with the little one. He’s narrating an argument between his toy car and bird in the bath – which is simply fascinating – and I’m drinking some much needed coffee and updating the blog. Soon, folks, it will be bedtime.
Per usual, I’m reviewing the day, scanning for progress and brainstorming for ways to improve tomorrow. As I review, an odd realization washes over me. Despite being more exhausted than I’ve been in many many moons, potty training for 3 days has been an almost beautiful experience. A beautiful experience that has left me in tears at moments, chatting with near strangers on the internet at night to troubleshoot and praying for naps that span a minimum of 4 hours. But a beautiful experience, none the less.
What, exactly, about spending days on end staring at my naked child, swooping in mid-pee to relocate said child to the potty and cleaning up a world of bodily functions is beautiful? It’s a legit question.
As a SAHM with a house to run and 12 hours to kill in any given day, I’m often scouring the internet for ways to get my two year old to play independently. By no stretch of the imagination do I ignore my child but the dishes need to be done, laundry needs to be attended to, bills need to be paid, emails from my boss need to be answered, floors need to be swept and food needs to be cooked. And, honestly, sometimes the phone rings and mama needs some adult interaction for a moment. The point being, while he’s certainly a well doted on young boy, I’m often encouraging him to play solo or multitasking. On top of that, for both our sanity, we generally leave the house for at least one activity a day. Barring illness, I can’t remember the last time we spent 3 days in the house without venturing to story time or a play date. The last 72 hours have been eye opening for me.
The method I’ve chosen to use involves basically staring at your child and catching them mid pee while offering regular prompts to try to use the potty. Essentially, in order to learn their cues, catch accidents as they happen and help them figure their bodies out, you’re supposed to completely abandon life in order to be constantly looking at your kid. It’s exhausting. It’s mind numbing at times. It’s frustrating. It’s many many things that I expected it would be.
What I didn’t expect was that it would also make for a host of truly beautiful bonding moments between him and I. Thanks to the pressing need to abandon my phone and housework and pay attention to my child exclusively, I have found myself jumping on the bed with my naked two year old, having staring contests that dissolve into peals of laughter, making up stories about our fish and painting with abandon. I’ve watched him interact with his toys (an experience I usually miss out on because I’m tending to housework or enjoying the rare few minutes of no one yelling my name) and was blown away by the beginnings of imaginative play I saw. As he narrated interactions between his trains, I sat back and watched while marveling at his spunk, personality and creativity. I found myself in awe of who he’s becoming and the fact that I get to witness it.
DO NOT MISINTERPRET : I am counting the minutes until we return to the land of those who wear clothes and leave the house on a regular basis. I also am not under any delusion that I can regularly abandon all other tasks to cater to my two year old. Nor do I actually think I should – as a general practice. But… I am incredibly grateful for the chance to be forced into being present and getting to fall in love with my kid all over again this week.
Of course, to pass the time, we crafted. Here’s what we’ve done.
Number Rocket Counting Craft
Easy as can be and fun, this paper and stickers counting craft was simply intended to kill some time without whipping out the paint. Essentially, I numbered the squares and he stuck the corresponding amount of stickers to the squares. Once that was completed, I taped them to the wall (with the fire at the bottom). He loved the completed rocket. I learned that he truly has no number recognition ability yet and wasted his nap falling into the abyss of Google. All in all, a lovely and simple counting craff.
- Construction paper in a variety of colors
- Dot stickers
- A marker
- To prep: cut 9 squares and number. Cut a slightly larger triangle to form the top and serve as number 10. Cut out the blast off explosion at the bottom.
- Give your little one some dot stickers and ask him to identify the number on the square and put the appropriate number of stickers on. Mateo did fabulously at putting the right number of stickers on. Identifying the number still needs work.
- Tape the wall in ascending order.
Painting with Shaving Cream
Less of a work of art and more of a sensory experience, this activity’s main purpose was to entertain my little one while giving him the chance to get real dirty (which he loves). I honestly expected a huge mess and was pleasantly surprised by how contained this was. Mateo had never encountered shaving cream before and is rarely allowed to stick his hands in a bucket of foam and let loose so he could hardly contain his excitement. Best of all? It literally couldn’t be easier. Simply fill a bucket with shaving cream (the kind that foams), pour a little paint on top in a fun shape and let your kid go to town. Once the paint has been swirled around in the shaving cream, lay a piece of card stock paper on top of the foam, press slightly and remove. Scrape the foam off and let dry. The result? A lovely abstract painting. I’ll be honest, the joy of this craft is in the process, rather than the end result.
- 3 cups of foam shaving cream
- A bucket
- A piece of white card stock paper
- Fill the bucket with shaving cream (I used a roasting pan for lack of a large enough bucket). Create a cute shape on top of the foam with paint.
- Set in front of your little one and demonstrate how they can use their hands and a paint brush to mix the paint and the foam to make fun swirls.
- Sit back and watch the fun ensue. Mateo literally spent 10 minutes simply dipping his finger in the shaving foam, pulling it out and staring at it with complete fascination. After that, he promptly let loose.
- Once your little one is done, place a piece of card stock paper on top of the foam and press gently. Remove and scrape the shaving cream from the paper. Let dry.
Hungry Caterpillar Name Craft
Funny story: I promised we would make this craft yesterday. “Tomorrow we will make a caterpillar.” The result of this promise? Hysteria from his crib at midnight and him sobbing “I want to make a caterpillar.” Adorable unless you’re the one spending hours getting him back to sleep.
Beyond that, this craft was a huge hit. He loved the clasps used to make the pieces of the body mobile and couldn’t get enough of the finished product. Fairly simple to make, this one gets my vote for sure!
- Paper plates – 5 small ones (depending on the length of your child’s name) and 1 larger plate. Cut the inside circles out.
- Paint (red and green)
- Brads (the clasps used to make the caterpillar mobile)
- Construction paper for the eyes and antennae
- A hole puncher
- A sharpie
- To prep: cut the inside circles from all the plates. Cut out the eyes and antennae from construction paper. Set aside 5 brads.
- Give your little one the paper plate circles to paint. The head should be red and the body circles should be green.
- Let dry.
- Once dry, ask your little guy to glue the eyes and antennae on.
- Then show them how the brads work. This was mind blowing to Mateo. He was super impressed. Use a hole puncher to create holes in each of the plates and then use the brads to connect the body parts.
- Use the sharpie to label each body part with a letter of their name.
- Hang and enjoy.
And, for your enjoyment, here’s what the end of potty training day 3 looked like here. Ain’t for sissies.