Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Color me happy

One of the keys to raising multiples is organization. And one of the keys to my organization is color-coding. At first the system was meant to help different caregivers remember which pacifier or sleepsack or sippy cup (or whatever) belonged to whom. But, as the kids have grown, having an assigned color has made it easy for each of them to readily identify his or her own backpack, toothbrush, washcloth, MunchieMug, and so much more. The kids enjoy having a sense of ownership over something (a feeling that's hard to come by when you're a quadruplet!), and I love how color-coding eliminates the need to argue over whose stuff is whose: If it's [insert color], it's gotta belong to [insert kid]!

One of the downsides to the kids getting older, though, is that some things just don't come in multiple colors anymore. I was recently lamenting this fact on Facebook when a fellow quad mom gave me a great tip: Just use different colors of electrical tape to label identical items—genius!

As a direct result of that conversation, I'm now the proud owner of four rolls of plastic tape, perfect for color-coding mock Crocs (the kids all wear different shoe sizes):

And Radio Flyer tricycles (adjusted for each rider's height):

Now I don't have to sort out which pink shoes belong to which girl, or which red trike belongs to which boy. The kids just grab their colors and go. What a time saver!

Something I know I won't have to label with my fancy new tape, though, are the kids' preschool folders. This year I tipped off their new teacher to our color-coding system before school started, and she gave each kid a take-home folder in "their" color (or as close to it as possible). The kids are tickled pink—way to score bonus points, Miss M!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bus-y bodies

Today I put four 3-year-olds on the school bus for the first time. Everyone was excited to wait for the bus:

 But not everyone was thrilled to actually be on the bus:

Nevertheless, I was delighted to wave goodbye to the bus:

And, a few hours of restorative silence later, felt just as happy to see everyone's smiling faces as they got off the bus:

As Isaac said tonight when we prayed before dinner: "Thank you, Jesus, for the school bus!"

Monday, August 20, 2012

No-pressure potty training

Hear ye, hear ye: I have discovered the secret to stress-free potty-training!

I know what you may be thinking, but no: This method does not require you to set aside a magic number of days in which to train your child. Nor does it involve forcing liquids or making your kid go bottomless. And as for elaborate sticker charts or reward systems? Absolutely not necessary.

No, to potty train without stress, I've discovered that you need just two things: A healthy kid and time.

Of course, it took me until after my third time around the potty-training block to realize this. Before that:

  • Lucy easily mastered going #1 in the potty within 3 days just before their 2nd birthday in December 2010, but she refused to go #2 in the potty—waiting every day to poop in her pull-up at nap time—until their 3rd birthday (she even announced a few weeks ahead of time that this was when she would start doing it, the little stinker). 
  • Jude, who got off to a great start in March 2011 (a couple of months after the kids turned 2), also knew exactly what he was doing but was irresponsible enough (with #1 and #2) for so long that we kept him in pull-ups until just after their 3rd birthday. 
  • Dahlia was not ready when we tried to train her at the same time as Lucy, but when we made another attempt with her in May 2011 (when the kids were almost 2.5 years old), she proved that she was more than ready by mastering #1 and #2 in the potty within 3 days.

Based on these experiences, I'd decided to not even think about training Isaac for the foreseeable future—with his communication delays and sensory issues, I honestly couldn't imagine the day when he would be ready to train. People had assured me that he would see his siblings using the potty and want to do the same, but it just wasn't happening.

I did realize, however, that I had one advantage: I knew that Isaac liked to hide in the hallway when he needed to poop. So a couple of months ago I got brave and—contrary to conventional wisdom, which says that kids learn to go #1 in the potty before they learn to go #2 in the potty—I started putting him on the potty whenever I'd catch him hiding. He didn't like it at first, but I casually persisted. And my vigilance worked: Once he had his first success with pooping in the potty, he never looked back. I couldn't believe it had been that easy!

Finally! Four potties crowding the bathroom floor.

Scared to push my luck, I pushed all thoughts of pee-training him to the back of my mind. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that he was keeping his pull-up dry for hours at a time. So I decided to take things to the next level and started putting him on the potty every time I found him dry. At first he had no idea what I expected him to do, but when he finally had a success, it was like a light bulb went off in his head! Over the weekend, he even demonstrated that he can stay dry all day! And although he hasn't been completely accident-free since then, I now know that he knows exactly what he's doing when it comes to going potty. At age 3.5 ... not too shabby!

So there you have it, folks. The secret is simple: Wait until your kid shows undeniable physical signs of being ready, and then put him on the potty, calmly and consistently, until he realizes what he's supposed to do. No stress, no mess! Now that's my kind of potty training.


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