This type of book would never work out for me, however, because my target audience would be people like me, and people like me don't read parenting books. I personally despise or get bored with almost all parenting books. There are a couple that I appreciate (Baby Wise, I'm looking at you), but mostly I only read reviews of parenting books, just enough to get the gist. I'm really dedicated, as you can tell.
But even though I don't enjoy reading parenting books, I do love writing and I am a parent and so I'm going to write some stuff about that today. If that's not your jam, we have more in common than you think and you can be excused to read about something more interesting, like a "Where Are They Now?" article. I find those delightful.
My amateurish approach to parenting could probably be best described as Process of Elimination. Figuring out what works and what doesn't. Stop the bad, continue the good, rinse and repeat. Here are some things that are working lately. (Notice use of the word "lately", as in I fully do not expect these things to work forever because they probably won't.)
1. M&M's for potty training.
Potty training Gwen has been a gift from heaven. June took monnnnnnnnnnthssssssssssss to potty train. And many failed attempts prior to the months of potty training. She was 4 years and 9 months old when she really started to grasp it, and even then I became one of "those" parents I had previously made fun of because I packed her potty and took it with us on trips. I had to time all outings based on when she had last used the restroom.
People gave me tons of advice. "Have you tried a sticker chart?" "Give her m&ms every time she goes." "Buy her a really awesome toy, put it on top of the fridge and tell her she can have it after she goes without accidents for a week." We stickered, we rewarded, we bought the magic toy. That Cowgirl Jessie doll lived on our fridge for nine whole months. June would wave to it as she walked by the kitchen. "Hi, Jessie! Have a good day!" She was unmoved.
I hate to be a jerk and compare, but I'm trying to point out a blessing here. Potty training Gwen was better than any Christmas of my childhood. Even the one where I received the "That Thing You Do" soundtrack. It was a miserable day or two. And then she got it. Every once in awhile she slips up. And we handle it. And I don't give her an m&m every time she goes. I give her a hundred m&ms. Because I'm so happy.
June's failures were really mine. Because she just wasn't ready. And they have to be ready. Lots of people had told me this, but they would always back it up with "By the time she is 3, she will be ready." June was honestly not ready until she was almost 5. I wish I had just accepted that and not tortured everyone.
2. Job Charts vs. Plain Old Pressure
At the start of the school year, you can hear moms across the country mapping out the perfect job chart for their kids. This job chart will be the one that works, they think. Well, our job chart has already kind of failed, but we've also found a good replacement.
This is what I came up with for each of the girls. Morning and evening routines on a laminated sheet of paper that they could check off before school and before bed and then wipe clean for the next day. It kind of worked.
But what has worked better has been using Alexa.
Such kitchen organization you have never seen. Lest you can't believe your eyes--yes, that is a beautiful corner of our counter dedicated to an Airwick plug-in, Echo dot, dish scraper and a random peach. Don't act like you don't have this corner in your house because I know you do. Every morning, we tell Alexa to set a timer. First one is 15 minutes for the girls to eat their breakfast. 10 minutes to go potty. And so on and so forth. Is this terrible? Maybe. But it works really well. Except for the time the timer went off and June hadn't finished her muffin so she stuffed the remaining half in her mouth and couldn't swallow it and gagged it back up. But she made it to the trash! Win.
3. Reading Lessons
Part of the morning routine is a quick reading lesson. We read bedtime stories each night, but June and I (and Gwen often sits in to observe) spend a few minutes each morning working on her reading skills. I love this book:
And it sits on the end table next to the couch where we read together each morning. You may notice that the title references "100 easy lessons" and goes on to mention "20 minutes a day." Well, that's just not how we roll. We have been doing these reading lessons about 4-5 days a week since February. We do about 5-6 minutes a day, because that's our threshold. June has learned a lot. I have learned more. It turns out that getting frustrated at your child does not help them read. So we stopped trying for 20 minutes a day. We definitely don't do a full lesson a day. We do a few lines a day. We start with a prayer. This is for me. And we're enjoying it a lot more.
I had to mention it because this week we finished Lesson 50! And June read several words by herself. Win!
Okay, that's about as much parenting talk as I can handle. I'll have to stay up extra late tonight watching something frivolous in order to get that out of my system.
And some miscellany:
Trying curlers on the girls.
Nope, not so much. They definitely have my hair, poor things.
Did pigtails on the girls this week. Afterward, June exclaimed, "We're fancy pigs, Gwen!"
Back in swim lessons after way too long away. Loving it.
Still the best. And he potty trained himself last week.
June's solution to the sun being in her eyes but still wanting to look at the camera.
Halloween ice cream at Friendly's. A ghost and a bat. This is right before I escorted a screaming Gwen out, and I adopted my new mom-phrase everyone around here hates: "Ice cream is a privilege!"
We were able to have the Wilkes over one day while their parents went to the temple. We've been trading off with them, and it is such a huge blessing. Both for the kids and for the parents. A little sanity has been added back into my life because I can go to the temple with my hubs!