Tuesday, August 28, 2018

My top toilet-training tips revealed!

This picture is making me all sentimental and gooey inside. I took this photo for my BabyLove diaper review just a few months ago, when we started toilet training in earnest. It was Piero's third summer and we really hoped he'd be potty-trained before his fourth birthday. Sure enough, before we even finished the pack of diapers—I didn't realize it would be his very last!—Piero was using the toilet and he's strutting around now like a big boy. "I peed in the toy-wet, mama!"

And now I see this photo, a photo of his last days as a baby, and it makes me so emotional!!! As in naiyak ako, mamas. Kainez. I was surprised at my reaction. I have been so ready for the kid stage and so proud Piero went through potty training like a champ, but now that it's here, I guess I'm also wistful for the baby days.

But not wistful enough to want another baby! Nope. I am done! I am finished! I never have to do potty training again! Here's a short post on our tips on how we toilet-trained our three boys (because, yes, I can finally claim to be an expert!):

1. Watch for child's readiness.
I know babies can be potty-trained, and by babies, I mean 2 months old to less than a year old. But doctors say that is not a good idea at all. You can protest all you want but I'm going with the medical experts. Pediatric urologist Steve J. Hodges, MD, advocates for late potty training. His recommended age is 3 years old. Because any earlier than that is harmful. He writes in parenting website, Babble, "It’s typically the kids who trained earliest and most easily who develop the most serious problems. I see about 100 kids a week at my clinic, and about half are dysfunctional voiders; most of them trained before 3." Read his eye-opening article here: The Dangers of Potty Training Too Early.

How do you know a child is ready? When she can say she's ready, when she can run to the toilet and sit on it herself, and when she can pull down and pull up her underwear herself. So what does that mean? A child is ready for potty training when she can talk, walk, and have enough motor skills to not fall into the toilet bowl and manage the business of underwear on her own. Depending on your child, that could be anywhere from 2 to 3 years old.

Our kids were toilet-trained at these ages: Vito at 4 years and 2 months old, Iñigo at exactly 3 years old, and Piero at exactly 4 years old. We waited for their readiness, and because they were raring to do it, too, we were done in about 3 days, with hardly any mess and dismay.

2. Be ready yourself!
A few years ago, I was talking to a taxi driver while we were stuck in traffic. He was complaining about his kid, who had a kid herself. "Limang taong gulang na anak niya, hindi pa rin nagbabanyo mag-isa. Paano, tinatamad yung anak kong turuan yung anak niya!" So there, mga mommies. Kapag handa na si baby, kailangang handa na rin kayo!

Yes, while there are parents who are very eager to get their kids out of diapers, there are also parents on the other end of the spectrum. Many times parents are loathe to potty-train because it will be messy. They just don't want to deal with the mess and the frustration. As a former preschool teacher, I can attest to the many times a parent has asked, "Do you toilet train the kids as part of the curriculum?" O.M.G. talaga. Toilet training is a parent's job, guys.

I have a list of what to prepare when you're in the toilet-training stage to help you deal better with the mess and accidents. Click here!

3. Buy fun underwear.
In our experience, letting the kids see you in your underwear motivates them to want to wear their own. It helps them feel grown-up. If you have a boy, let him see daddy in his briefs or boxers. If you have a girl, let her see you wearing panties. Not all the time. Just when you're dressing up and when they ask about the clothes you're putting on. 

Then the next time you go to the mall, ask them to check out the kiddie undergarments section. Let them have a choice. I personally prefer plain white briefs for my kids but they picked out colorful briefs emblazoned with superheroes so that's what we got them. Whatever makes them enthusiastic about graduating to underwear is welcome!

4. Try training pants.
Now that you've made your child excited to wear big-boy briefs or big-girl panties, you can help train them with the pull-down/pull-up movement with training pants. Training pants are diapers that have an elastic waistband. This makes it easier for your child to pull down his diaper when he needs to go the toilet. It also helps him feel secure because if accidents do happen, the mess will be contained in the training pants and can be discarded. It's easier for both the child and the parent (or yaya).

In our case, we only used training pants with Piero, our last child. That's how I know it really helps ease the anxiety and frustration of everyone involved in this messy business. I mean, we were able to toilet train Vito and Iñigo without training pants but with Piero, everyone was more relaxed. We used BabyLove Premium Gold Pants. Piero calls them "dia-pants" and these training pants definitely made the whole potty-training episode a happy affair. Plus, he loved his dia-pants so much, he was almost sorry when he realized he didn't need them anymore! Try the BabyLove Premium Gold Pants, mamas. Topaz Mommy approved!

5. Reward successful attempts.
It's important to be wildly happy about every successful trip to the toilet, mamas. Like, make it a HUGE deal. "Oh my goodness, you peed in the toilet! I'm so happy! Are you happy? Did that make you feel like a big boy? I bet! I can't wait for you to do that again! Good job!" Yes, that wildly happy.

Another thing they respond positively to is rewards. Whether it's a sticker on a chart or a small toy, you two decide. With Vito, he had to be motivated by Lego minifigs. With Iñigo, he was just happy with the praise. I mean, we had toys ready for him, too, but he was happier with the hugs and kisses. With Piero, he asked for a big toy—a Pacific Rim Jaeger action figure that we had to order all the way from China. So he was determined to learn to use the toilet quickly.

And of course, never punish a child for accidents. Don't even express disappointment. Always be encouraging. I know some parents get angry and say things like, "You're such a baby! You're so dirty!" And they spank the child for every time he or she doesn't get to the toilet on time. The child then learns to control his or her peeing and pooping out of fear. I've read research indicating that punishing a child during toilet training may result to two things: when the child grows up, he or she becomes sexually frigid or sexually deviant. The now-adult associate their sexual organs with filth, anger, and disappointing the important people in their life. So they either cannot feel sexual pleasure or they will only want sex that not normal. So please please please make potty training a positive experience!!!

Aaaaand there you go, mamas! My top toilet-training tips for that exciting, frustrating and messy time in you and your toddler's life!

Now, if you need diapers to contain the mess, help train your kid, or because your child's not ready yet for undies, there's a Shopee BabyLove Fair happening now till August 29, 2018. The promo says diapers are up to 50% discounted! Plus, you get a chance to get a bag of diapers for only P99. Those are big savings! Shop here!!!

*This post is brought to you by BabyLove.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The irony that all parents must live through: A love that protects also lets go

I've always known since I got pregnant with my first child, Vito, that he isn't mine. I'm his forever and ever but he belongs to someone else and I'm only here to take care of him until he's ready to be with that someone else. With my next sons, Iñigo and then Piero, I knew that same truth.

I'll teach my boys how to feed themselves, then cook. I'll teach them all they'll know and send them to school for the things I don't know. I'll teach them to do chores and to manage a home. I'll teach them how to care for themselves and to protect themselves from sickness and accidents. I'll teach them to do things on their own and become really good at being independent. I'll teach them everything they need to live a free and productive life... But I'll never benefit from everything I'll teach them. That's for someone else's benefit. Not for me. If I teach them all these amazing things and then keep them home till they're 60, then I wasn't a good parent at all. A good parent's penultimate goal is to let go of her child.

So we care for them, make them healthy and strong, love them, build them up, educate them, protect them from the evil and dangerous world, and then one day that's way too soon, we release them into that very world. If we did our job well, they'll not need us anymore. And that's what I dream of: my grown-up sons blazing paths, making their way in the vast universe. I want them out there. I don't want them home with me, safe but nameless.

Every day is a tug of war: Protect and let go. Protect then let go. Then step back. Stay behind. Trust my parenting and trust them... And watch them run off alone! Such a crazy irony we parents must face every single day. We have to shield them from the world and then we have to let them out into the world.

I guess that's why the best thing that happened to my relationship with God is motherhood. I mean, I've always been a Christian but I don't think I ever truly put my faith in God until He put a baby in my arms. Three babies, too. I have seriously never been more terrified in my life, having to be responsible for these little people and making sure they become giants on earth and in heaven. So I have to trust God to take care of them when I can't. I can let go because I can only protect them and prepare them so much as an imperfect human mama. For divine guidance and protection for my boys, God's there. His presence allows me to let go with grace and no fear.

So—just to lighten things up because I'm so serious!—here's a little story of my youngest boy, Piero. He's 4 years old. I love this stage, 4 years old. His brothers were the sweetest and most adoring and adorable when they were 4. Piero's the same but he's also the silliest, naughtiest, and gets into trouble-iest! Yes, I made up that word. My kids love making up words and I find myself using their words instead of proper words!

Anyway, Piero, being the unstoppable kid that he is, never listened to me when I said, "We have a new bunny, Blue. She's a prey animal so she's not like dogs and cats that like to be cuddled and played with. Rabbits get scared easily by big humans like us so Blue might kick, bite and scratch you. So stay away from her!"

So here's the thing: My first two kids always listened to me. This third kid, hardly ever. How do I deal with him? Do I bend him to my will or do I equip him with knowledge so that even when he insists on his way, he'll know how not to get hurt? Well, you know what I did. I taught this little 4-year-old boy how to behave around a skittish little rabbit with sharp teeth, sharp claws, and powerful legs. There were painful lessons along the way, lessons that quickly made him be more careful so that he avoids getting scratched and bitten. And you know what, mamas? Guess who Bunny Blue loves most in our family? Piero! Those two get along so well!

Piero will lie down on the floor with Blue, and will go into dusty corners and under cobwebby shelves just to be with our bunny. The mama in me is inwardly screaming, "It's so dirty there!" But that same mama lets it go because there's a friendship that needs to be respected.

Besides, I've done what I can to protect his immune system with healthy food, vitamins, and his favorite milk Nido 3+. Piero calls it "super milk" and it is because it has Iron, Zinc, Vitamin C, and other nutrients that boosts his immune system, and Lactobacillus Protectus to protect his respiratory system. So even though it's the rainy season and he's in school (two factors that make germs spread faster!), I can be confident to let him go and have fun with Blue, his brothers, and his friends because I've done my part in protecting him.

How about you, mamas? How do you deal with the letting go of our kids? Do you have a healthy attitude towards it or does it make you anxious and afraid? Please share in the comments! I’d love to hear what my mommy friends think because we all have to go through this #ProtectAndLetGo business!

*This post is brought to you by Nido 3+.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Losing myself

So today I went to the mall to buy a prepaid SIM card for me, and also get new glasses for me, and shop for me. It was an errand FOR ME. But I get there and I saw this jar of M&Ms chocolate spread and of course I bought it because I got so excited to see my kids try it. And I also got milk tea because my kids love milk tea (never mind that my backpack was suddenly 2 kilos). And then I got new shirts for my husband because wala lang. And then I checked out bedsheets because my sons said they love hotel sheets.

And then I saw I had a few minutes left before I had to go home! So I rushed to Smart and to the first optical shop I saw (Ideal Vision) and I was still able to do what I needed to do and I thought, whew, at least I was able to do what I needed to do for me!

Then as I was riding the taxi back home, laden with packages, I realized I always think about wanting some time for myself but when I have it, I'm thinking of them. When I'm working on my computer, I also open tabs looking at hotels we can staycation at. I look at their photos on my phone when I'm stuck in traffic. I think about my husband when love songs play on the radio. They're always on my mind even though I really don't want to think about them sometimes. And I realized I don't know how to live for just myself anymore and that's a lot scary because the kids will leave one day and I really don't want to become a widow... 

But you know those times you absolutely loathe your husband and kids because they drive you insane and you imagine what life would be like if you'd chosen to stay single? Do you see yourself traveling the world and wearing killer outfits and pursuing your hobby like, I dunno, rowing maybe or collecting fine art, and you're definitely slimmer and with no flabby tummy stretched by multiple pregnancies? I know you imagine that, too. I think all wives and mommies do. 

Well, if I had stayed single, I think I'd be happy anyway, happily living for myself. But this life for others, it feels awful sometimes but it's also really sneakily wonderful underneath all this exhaustion and running around and losing oneself. 

I promised I'd never lose myself when I become a wife, when I become a mother. But I see now I'm not losing me. I'm becoming me. And this me is not just for me. And that's exactly what I'm supposed to be.