Acceptance and toilet training

We’re in the middle of toilet training following the Oh Crap approach. It will go easier if I embrace the fact that there will be accidents instead of worrying about things like A- resisting diapers. My job is to help A- learn her cues and to keep toileting pleasant instead of turning it into a power struggle.

She’s starting to resist diapers, which is a good thing actually. If we move the potty to her room at bedtime or get another one, then she has the opportunity to take care of her own needs if our bedtime routine takes a while. I can do the double-sheeting trick to save myself a midnight bed-making, and we have backups anyway. Even if she pees, it’s just laundry and a little effort. No big deal. It will happen many times before we get the hang of this. Once it’s okay to get deliveries at home again, I’ll order a second mattress protector for the other room too, so we can rotate as needed.

I prompt her to potty a bit too much, I think, so I’m going to dial it down in terms of frequency and attention. She initiates well enough, but if I tell her it’s potty time, it’s a toss up whether she’ll go for it or refuse. I’ll still pay attention to see if I catch her signs, but I don’t have to direct her. Maybe I can say things like, “Potty time in five minutes.” or “It looks like you need to pee. Pee goes in the potty.” She knows where it is and what it’s for, so I need to trust her and let her learn.

For the past couple of days, she hasn’t been interested in going out. This is pretty convenient for toilet training. I probably don’t need to worry about under-stimulating her. There are options for almost all our other errands.

I would like to get to music class sometime, but that’s probably more for me than for her at this point. If learning more songs is what I enjoy about the class, I have two textbooks and I can teach myself using the piano or ukulele.

I want us to get used to spending a couple of hours outside even in cool weather. Maybe I can put off thinking about that until toilet training is well-established, so there’s no pressure to get out the door. I also liked how she walked a lot in the science centre and at the playground, but we’ll get back there eventually. When I want to make those more appealing, maybe I can put up pictures and talk about them. If that doesn’t do the trick and we’re still mostly homebodies, maybe I’ll frame it as something I want to do.

She doesn’t like wearing clothes at home. I wear layers because I feel cold. I should trust that she can figure out whether she feels cold or not and what to do about it. She knows how to ask for shirts, pants, and jackets. Sometimes she gets a bit fussy at night and then settles down once we’re snuggling or when she’s wearing pajamas. She knows how to ask for a snuggle, though, so that’s okay too.

I guess this is what toilet training will look like for us, at least for the next little while. I’m becoming more comfortable with following her lead. She’s got this.

What’s getting in my way when it comes to being more present as a parent?

I think of being more present as:

  • experiencing time as just enough (satisfaction), pleasantly fast (flow), or pleasantly slow (attention), as opposed to passing the time until something else happens
  • not wasting energy on frustration
  • communicating acceptance and flexibility
  • being able to observe and respond instead of glossing over things

What thoughts are getting in my way?

  • Am I doing A- a disservice by setting few limits? For example, would she benefit more from a regular sleep schedule compared to letting her mostly follow her own rhythm? I’ve read that toddlers can feel lost if they feel like they have too much power, and that the distinction between authoritative and permissive parenting is whether we hold kids to certain standards of conduct. I can deal with A- being upset if I need to insist on something (a hospital visit, time for my self-care, waiting for the next meal time instead of grazing). If it’s not necessary, though, I try not to insist. There’s plenty of stuff outside her control as it is. We’re probably all right. A red flag I can watch out for is if I find myself reacting to her reactions and regretting it.
  • Am I under-stimulating her? Am I forgetting to provide enough to support all aspects of her development? In this world, over-stimulation is probably more of a danger than under-stimulation is. If she ever got bored, which she shows no signs of at the moment, then she can learn to take the initiative. I make an effort to have more varied meals, and I rotate things out if she hasn’t played with them in a while. I worry about overlooking important skill components, but if I involve her in everyday life, we’ll come across gaps and I can help her with those. Reading about early childhood education helps a lot, too.
  • Am I letting things fall through the cracks? I’ve tried to be careful about making commitments and setting expectations. Consulting is on a best-efforts basis. Some weeks, I can work for a few hours. Some weeks, I prioritize other things. I’m getting better at not feeling guilty about ever-growing lists of ideas, half-forgotten thoughts, neglected email conversations, and being out of touch. If I had more discretionary time, I’d probably still have the same priorities, anyway.
  • What do I need to do in order to make the most of my time? What needs to be done first? I keep a list on my phone, so I don’t need to think about this too much through the day. I can review and prioritize tasks at start of my discretionary time.
  • Are there any questions I want to reflect on while doing other things? Is it worth doing so even if I can’t write things down, or should I wait until I can write or draw? One option might be to turn my attention to the chore that I’m doing, using that as practice in calming the monkey mind or noticing opportunities for improvement. Another option is to embrace that monkey mind and make a list of questions to think about, maybe jotting quick notes afterwards. Time for an experiment.
  • What are the unfinished things I need to hold in my head until I can wrap them up? I often get interrupted, and I don’t give myself enough time to leave notes for myself. I wonder what developmentally appropriate expectations are for waiting. Maybe I can gradually get A- used to waiting a few minutes, then longer and longer. A paper notebook might be better for capturing some thoughts than my phone would be, since writing is more visible and I don’t lose time to navigation. I’ve also been working on smaller chunks so that I have to maintain less in my head and I can finish things faster.
  • How can I improve our processes? How can I involve A- more, reduce costs, increase benefits, or explore alternatives? Where are the gaps and rough spots? What are the strengths that I can build on? It’s useful to think these thoughts about my current activity, since I have to pay attention. If I’m thinking about a different activity, then it can get in the way of being more present. Maybe I can work on transitions so I have time to write quick notes before moving on.

Hmm. I can let go of those worries, concentrate on paying attention to the current activity, and work on transitions and waiting. That should help me declutter my mind and get even better at spending time with A-. Onward!

Monthly review: October 2017

It took us a while to recover from jet lag and disrupted routines after September’s trip, but eventually things settled down and I was able to write again: first my weekly reviews, and then Emacs News. Switching my journaling from hand-drawn (digital) index cards to a spreadsheet might help me keep it going with my phone even when discretionary computer time is scarce. Emacs News was a little lower priority, but I can probably swing staying up late once a week. I did some consulting once I got back, too: just small tasks with disproportionate impact. Getting the hang of time again…

Halloween was fun. Our construction-related costumes were a good excuse to sew reflective ribbon, hot-glue cardboard, and make potato prints. The stickers and crayons we experimented with handing out this year in addition to chocolate went over very well, and it was great giving special loot bags for people we recognized or for costumes we liked a lot.

A- is becoming more capable of exploring things on her own: flipping through index cards, filling and dragging bags of canned goods, “washing” dishes in the sink, drawing and painting, rocking back and forth at the playground, and going up the stairs and down the slide all by herself. I still focus on her so that I can label what she’s doing and respond to her requests, but it’s amazing to see her taking the initiative.

A- often asks me to read books to her. She can point out objects in the background or turn to a specified page, and she fills in significant words when I pause. She fills in pauses in songs, too, and often chimes in with the words or gestures that she knows. Yay!

A year ago, we weren’t sure if there might be developmental delays that we’d need to learn how to deal with. The Healthy Babies Healthy Children program helped us keep a close eye on her development and learn how to provide an enriched environment. Since A- is doing fine now, we wrapped up with HBHC so that they can focus on other families. It was so nice to learn about parenting with the help of a public health nurse, a home visitor, and all the other city programs we’ve been through.

November will probably be about adjusting to cooler weather, working on toilet training, and following A-‘s interests.

Blog posts

Time

September’s data was messed up because I haven’t bothered fixing my time records from our trip, so these are just the numbers from October.

Category This month % h/wk
A- – Childcare 39.6 68.7
Sleep 32.8 56.9
Personal 10.6 18.4
Unpaid work 9.2 15.9
Discretionary – Family 2.8 4.9
Business – Earn 1.7 2.9
Discretionary – Productive 1.4 2.3
Discretionary – Social 0.8 1.4
Discretionary – Play 0.7 1.2
Business – Build 0.3 0.5
Business – Connect 0.0 0.0

2017-11-13 Emacs news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.