Friday, November 9

Toddler Potty Training Charts and Book Reviews

Potty training - Yipee! (or kill me...which ever you perfer)

The blessed event can be horrible or easy or anywhere in between. It all depends on our child's personality and our approach. For example, if we get all bound and determined with a strong-willed child, we're probably setting ourselves up for a battle.

Toddler Potty Training 2 Week Chart:
Quick Print:

Now, I've trained three kids, and of course I've watched all my friends train their kids. I've tried the naked method, the routine method, and the sit-on-the-damn-potty-all-day-until-you-tinkle method, all the while watching my friends battle with tantrums, painstaking progress, and carrying around a portable potty every single place they traveled ("Mind if I dump this pee real quick? We just came from the store!"). In this journey, I've discovered a couple of things: first, all the kids ended up using the potty and adapting to appropriate, current social standards. No one died of embarrassment (well, okay, they did - but only theoretically), no one ended up in therapy over the trauma, and no one (as of yet) has grown up and gone to 3rd grade parties sporting pull-ups. All good news. Second, I've learned that you've got a lot of factors involved in potty training. No one method works for all kids (despite claims of our dear fore bearers) and conventional wisdom changes generation to generation. We modern day parents don't like to upset the little boo-boos, and some of the more forceful or strict methods out there seem rather barbaric.

In my research, I've pored over a couple of books. Toilet Training in Less Than a Dayby Azrin and Fox, and Stress-Free Potty Training: A Commonsense Guide to Finding the Right Approach for Your Childby Au and Stavinoha. Interesting stuff. They both have good points, but my personal recommendation is Stress-Free Potty Training: A Commonsense Guide to Finding the Right Approach for Your Child. Toilet Training in Less Than a Day is more for the take-detailed-notes-clear-your-schedule-and-prepare-to-be-absolutely-consistent-and-strict kind of parent. If you are an intense reader, want step-by-step instructions, and can handle a method that might take you out of your comfort zone, have at it. This book just gives a one-size-fits-all method with some out-dated reprimanding, tons of repetition, and pretty intense consequences. (This coming from someone who rides around on a broomstick - and if I'm uncomfortable with it, you know it's over-the-top.) My observations of current mommies lend me to believe there might be a teeny bit of rejection from the more liberal cootchy-coo types. I include myself in this, as I'm not going to make my kid "practice" going to the potty ten times after he has an accident. Seems overkill.

Stress-Free Potty Training, on the other hand, gives focus to different personalities, recommends praise instead of treats as a reward (you all know how I feel about candy as rewards - gah!), and it goes over the universal strategies as applied to your own child's personality. The only caveat is, you have to read it. (Sigh.) I know we all want a quick answer, but in this case, investing some time and research before you get started can save you a ton of headaches and pee pee to clean up.

Overall, I have a few recommendations:

1. Research ahead of time. Read articles, ask your friends (just for feedback, not advice to take no matter what), or get some books. Read samples of the books before you buy and see which one fits your personality. Get down the lingo, absorb the advice, and find a balance on what approach will work best for you and your child. For example, I would never inconvenience myself with carrying around a damn portable potty all day, nor did I get one for my own home. Cleaning that thing just seems too gross for me. However, I didn't mind clearing the calendar and staying at home for days on end to train my kids. Just me. Everyone is different.

2. Don't use food as rewards. In my experience working with kids and behavior, treats are a temporary motivator and don't allow your kids to experience the reward of a job well done for the sake of a job well done. There's also the big picture of teaching our kids to behave in certain ways only for treats, which leads to a lazy "what's in it for me?" attitude when they're twelve, but we'll leave that aside, as it's assuming you reward your kids often with treats for good behavior, which you don't, do you? (Don't prove me wrong lest I scream.)

3. Make them responsible for their own toileting and cleaning up the messes. This is major step from Toilet Training in Less Than a Day that I really liked. You can do this in a loving, matter-of-fact way that doesn't promote shame for accidents. Rather, it teaches kids the direct and real consequence of having accidents in your undies or flooding the floor. Someone has to clean it up, right? Well, if you are teaching kids to be responsible for their own body and its actions, that is just a natural consequence. It's not a big deal . . . it's just something that needs to be done. When they take part in that, while it may be fun at first, it gets to be a pain in the butt real quick, and it just might be an appropriate motivator for our darlings to get on the ball and embrace the ridiculous notion of relieving ourselves on the porcelain monster.

4. Don't be a wish-wash. It's one thing to get into it and realize it's one, big, fat mistake and you're obviously pushing your child too soon and need to stop the training. It's entirely another if you just get sick of the consistency it takes or you get all mushy that your child is a little resistant and tearful. I mean, really, turn the tables; if someone suddenly told your adult-self that toilets weren't acceptable anymore and you had to start using a diaper, you'd freak a little, right? You've been using a toilet for (we won't count how many) years and to change the routine would upset you. It's the same for your kids. You're changing the rules of their little world and it's upsetting. Just go back to advice #1 on my list and research ahead of time to save yourself the agony and confusion. If you've read up on the readiness factors and you feel good that the timing is right, be confident in your decision and forward ho. Don't go back and forth with diapers then no diapers because you'll confuse the tar out of your child and that's just not fair.

5. Try to be patient. This process is time consuming and will doubtless piss you off sometimes. Such is life. Don't take it out on your kid, because they are looking to you for guidance on this process. On the other hand, be forgiving of yourself if you get frustrated and blow up. We are human and being a mommy is tiring! Just learn from your mistakes and try to do better. I'm a spiritual gal, and I'm telling you, if you pray for patience, you're going to get a ton of opportunities to practice it so that you'll learn. :) Not a bad thing.

It's not lost on me that I just wrote a very long post and didn't give you any step-by-steps, but that's the point! You need to research the different methods and figure out what is best for you both. I'd be a stinky friend if I said, "You have to do it this works!" Because that's a honkin' lie. Your child is unique, and you have your own way of doing things as well. Figure out a balance that will give you and your child the best chance of success, the most quickly, with the least amount of tears. No small feat, but I know you can do it! :) When this is all over, we'll toast to your genius and send happy vibes to all the other parents out there who are scared out of their wits. You can then confidently tell them, "Relax, honey. It's all good!"

Happy peeing my friends!

Free Printable Toddler Potty Training 2 Week Chart:
Quick Print:

Free Printable Toddler Potty Training 1 Week Chart:
Quick Print:

If you are going to use a potty chair, this one is a favorite Baby Bjorn Potty Chair [many colors to choose]:

Thursday, October 11

Toddler Feelings Chart

One of the biggest problems I see as kids age is the ability to communicate feelings. This translates into bad behavior. The child stays with the same patterns of communication, which usually means arguing, crying, or tantrums. Not a pretty thing as toddlers age into bigger kids. If you think it's embarrassing to deal with tantrums now, just wait until your eight year old throws enough crying fits at school that you get called into a meeting to put a "behavior plan" in place. Pretty darn awful.

Click here for a Free Printable Toddler Feelings Chart.

Address this now!! Get kids identifying and labeling their feelings. Talk about what went wrong and how you can change it. Of course you have to do this in toddler-speak, but the little dudes and dudettes are a lot smarter than you think. They just need the vocabulary and guidance to organize all these feelings and learn how to deal with them appropriately. Use our emotion chart to start. If you need, pick one emotion a day and introduce them to the cooresponding face. Practice acting out that emotion (or have a favorite stuffed animal act it out instead!) and review it the next day, adding another emotion. It won't be long before your child has a pretty cool grasp of different emotions and can start to identify and talk to you about them as they occur in daily life. This puts you and your child well on the way to healthy, productive, and positive communication patterns!

Monday, September 24

Toddler Basic Practice Pre-Handwriting Turtle Maze Charts

Get those little fingers preparing to write numbers and letters with this maze activity. It's great for fine motor skills and working those noggins to think through a problem. (Sigh)...I love a good old fashioned worksheet. Picking up an actual crayon or pencil and working on this is very different than clicking a mouse or arrows on a keyboard to get through the maze. Paper and crayon, people. It's a beautiful thing!

Click here for Free Printable Toddler Pre-Handwriting Turtle Maze Charts

Wednesday, September 12

Free Toddler Number Trace Charts for 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Writing fun! Even if you just count the marbles, this is a great activity to get the little genius started with math.

Click here for Free Printable Toddler Number Trace Charts for 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5

Here's to your future president!!

Tuesday, August 7

Mommy Guilt Relief Chart

So we feel crapola guilty for one reason or another. Every day it's something! The kid is crying nonstop, so we snap and yell at them to stop. Or we are just a little less loving because - let's face it - we feel less loving when they cry and scream like monkeys.

Here are a few of the top reasons we feel guilty and quick answers on how to zap it asap. We all want answers now, and this will get you going on the right track. I just finished a new book on guilt and it has more in-depth answers (and commiseration), but this chart is a good, quick start.

Take a deep breath, grab some calming tea, and remember this is a long haul. Do the best you can each day and forgive yourself when you slip up.

Hugs, my dear!

Click here for Free Printable Mommy Guilt Relief Chart

Thursday, July 12

Free Toddler Goal Charts

Toddlers often love having a sense of purpose and helping. Add that to their need for guidance, and you get goal-setting! We've created some fantastic charts to help you.

Click here for Free Printable Toddler Goal Charts

Say you'd like them to stop hoarding so many toys and learn to share. You can start by picking a toy that isn't so important to them and make a goal of sharing. Use simple terms and talk to them about what you're going to do. Write it down and have them help by putting a smiley face or sticker by the goal - this gets them participating and involved in the process. Once the goal is met, have them check it off or put a stamp by it. Then pick another toy that is a bit more important, and repeat the process as needed.
You can use this for setting a good bedtime routine, potty training, helping clean up toys...anything. These charts are a great way to introduce a new skill and get the family focused on creating a positive environment. Just remember to stay structured and consistent.

Happy goal setting!!

Tuesday, June 19

Free Toddler Sleep Tracking Charts

As parents, we are forever needing to recall our child's sleep pattern for one reason or another. Whether it's to determine why their behavior is sour, if they are getting sick, teething, needing extra nap time...the reasons are endless.

Click here for Free Printable Toddler Sleeping Charts

Use this sleeping chart to track your child's sleep patterns. It allows for recording morning, afternoon, and night. Just mark the hours slept, and if you'd like, use the empty box next to each block of day to "rate" that block's sleep. Then you can average it on the right side of the chart. For example, you might equate "1" to mean "woke up one time" or "cried one time". Two can mean, "woke up/cried two times," etc. This way you can average how rough or disturbed your child's sleep was on any particular day.
Poor sleep leads to health and behavior problems. Toddlers need anywhere from 12-14 hours of sleep (this includes up to two naps a day). Make sure they are getting it! Charting can help you realize where you need to tighten up your routine. A strict sleep schedule can make all the difference in healthy sleep habits. Kids love routines and are more likely to cooperate when you have the same sleep schedule at the same time every single day.

Happy sleeping!

Free Toddler Hygiene Charts

Oh dear. Grubby little hands, filthy toes, and teeth growing fuzz...yikes! The best way to get kids on board with the whole cleanliness-thing is to make it a game. These charts put fun into hygiene and give toddlers a regimented task...which they love! Just print, hang it up, and have them mark off or put a sticker in each box when they finish the task. As long as you are consistent, it will quickly become a habit and something they look forward to.

Soap and smiles, everyone!

Click here for Free Printable Toddler Hygiene Charts

Thursday, June 7

Brother and Sister Sibling Behavior Charts

Here are some cute behavior charts when it comes to getting along with siblings. Just write in what behavior you want to see such as: use nice words, use inside voice, control anger (ie, by going to room when upset with sibling), help brother/sister with project, read to brother/sister, etc. Do NOT write things like, "no hitting," "no yelling," etc. Those are negatives and doesn't tell your child what you want to see instead. Give them a goal of the behavior you want to see, not what you don't.

Sibs can be totally annoying, but we all have to realize that the family unit is a team. No, child #1 didn't ask to have a pesky brother or sister, but that's life! And the more they fight it, the more miserable they'll be. Sometimes one sib just wants attention from the other. So if you give both children a behavior chart with very specific, positive things they can do to improve the relationship, it guides them on how to act. And when one child gets upset with the other, remember to tell and show them what to do in each and every situation.

Good luck!

Click here for Free Printable Sibling Behavior Charts

Wednesday, May 30

Amazon Mom

I'm seriously not one for pushing products. However, I am a cheap-o, and if I find a good deal, I'm on it. I get especially excited about good deals on anything that I use daily and any process that makes life easier. We are mothers with eight million things to do. We do not need the stress of shopping! Here's a cool link to a deal on diapers, wipes, and more called Amazon Mom. If you find it makes your life easier (since you won't have to drag your poor strep-ti-fied child shopping because you ran out of diapers) go for it, girl! Here's to time management and saving money...woohoo!

Friday, May 25

Teach Your Toddler Shapes like Circles, Diamonds, Squares, Triangles and more...

So cute! Check out a fun way to teach your toddler shapes. I like this because it gets you interacting with your child and doing something non-electronic. While there are many "cool" interactive programs on your computer, ipad, etc., I will always prefer one-on-one, person-to-person interaction. It is precious time with your little one and keeps you connected.

Just print the shapes, trace, and color.

Click here for Free Printable Toddler Learning Shapes Charts

Friday, May 18

Teaching Your Toddler to Write the Letters A to Z

For a cute, free activity on teaching your toddler the alphabet and how to write the letters of the alphabet, go to We have new printable pages to trace the letters - nice and big, too, for those cute little hands to get around a ginormous crayon!

Have fun!

Click here for Free Printable Toddler Learning to Write Trace the Alphabet A-Z Charts

Tuesday, May 1

WebMD: 7 Embarrassing Pregnancy Symptoms

Attention all ye pregnant women!  Okay, so this is a little off topic, but I was recently quoted in a WebMD article called, "7 Embarrassing Pregnancy Symptoms".  I've written a book on pregnancy (Taboo Secrets of Pregnancy: A Guide to Life with a Belly) and was asked to give my "expert" opinion on things like gas, belching, and sprouting ape hair.  First of all, it defies me how one becomes an expert on such things, and second, that's a pretty darn disgusting thing to be an expert at.  But whatever.  I'm an easy going gal and don't have a problem blabbing about indecent things.  Guess that makes me an expert.  
What I ended up being quoted on is quite hilarious, although my husband was absolutely horrified.  He likes to brag on me, but he can't exactly send this to friends and family.  (LOVE it!!)
If you aren't too faint of heart, you may find the article a bit humorous whether you have been pregnant or will become pregnant.  Happy reading!

Our top 40 favorite books for reading to your toddler

We went through the 300+ plus books that are sitting around the house that my husband and I read to our toddlers over the past 10 years. The 40 listed below made the regular daily reading rotation. Each one gives me a warm feeling simply by looking at the cover and remembering the quiet times, simply reading together.

# 1 - Goodnight Moon Big Book

# 2 - Counting Kisses

# 3 - McDuff and the Baby

# 4 - Olivia

# 5 - Milk And Cookies
Click to see all 40 Favorite Toddler Books