Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Secret Made-up Life of Our Babysitter

We’ve had the same babysitter for a year now. I’ll call her “Kara.” We found Kara online at a reputable babysitter-finding website. She was a college student studying speech-language pathology and in her final year of undergrad. BTW, we’ve found speech path students/workers make effing awesome babysitters, having used 3 at this point. We both found Kara to be intelligent, warm, friendly, and wonderful with Curly. We put her on our schedule twice a month, and it’s been like that ever since. At first, we put Curly to bed and she would just come and hang out, do her homework and watch movies. As time passed, we decided it would be good for Curly to learn to go to bed for someone else, so we’d keep him up a little later and hand the routine to her. At first he had major separation anxiety, but it’s gotten much less over time…sometimes to the point where he doesn’t care if we leave. Kara has said he’s one of the easiest kids to put to bed, so yay.

We’ve always known Kara to be close to her family. She still lives with them, and she was a little late in getting to our house once because her mother “insisted she finish dinner first.” That kind of made us wonder…just how strict are her parents? And how “close” do they want to keep her? She went to school 15 minutes away. Then she graduated and we found out for her first real job, she works alongside her mother. Nutella and I began to get concerned. Why wouldn’t her parents send their fledgling out of the nest? She still lives with them, even though she has a full-time job and is a college graduate. Ok, ok, not strange in this day and age, we know that….terrible economy, too. But our imaginations were getting overactive.

When she babysat, did they trust where she was going? Did they count the money she made when she got home to make sure she was where she said she was? She is ALWAYS available when we need her…is this because she’s not allowed to have a life? The one time she couldn’t babysit, it was Spring Break, but she wasn’t on vacation with her friends, she was with her family. It kind of made Nutella and I cringe…didn’t she ever get away?

This past Saturday, Kara babysat, and about 20 minutes later, I got a text on my phone asking if it would be ok if her boyfriend came over and she understands if it’s not ok. Nutella and I were disappointed. We’re not ok with having the boyfriend over, especially never having met him. We wrote back sorry, it wasn’t ok that evening and decided to talk to her about it when we got home. Then our brains went wild. Was she allowed to date? Did she have to hide him from her parents? Could she not see him normally? How could we arrange for Romeo and Juliet to see each other, but not IN our house? We were as much concerned for her as we were not wanting to deal with this issue in the first place.

We got home and sat down with her. First we asked, do you get to see him often? Are your parents really strict? And to that she laughed and said no…no…it wasn’t like that. She figured we would say no, and in our situation, she would probably say no, too…she just thought she’d ask since he was at home bored. When she left, Nutella and I both shook our heads at each other like, what are we doing creating this horrible family life for her? lol. She’s probably happily close with her parents and everything is fine. We obviously need to stop creating a false fantasy life for our babysitter.

The Chart

Pictured above are Curly’s calendars which are part “potty chart” and part calendar of events. For the latter, we wanted him to be able to visually identify when certain things were happening, like our trip to the beach, the babysitter coming over, people’s birthdays (that’s grandpa’s face on July 15), and school events (today they’re having “Olympics” at school, hence the torch and rings). It’s nice that we can count the days together and he doesn’t ask when we’re doing something every day until it actually happens (ok, it lessens that behavior at any rate!).

For potty-training, we use a sticker/reward system. Every full sticker (star/Elmo/number) means Curly had a dry day. Every half sticker means he had one accident, most often during his nap, but that’s getting better. Every blank day means two accidents. He needs 6 full sticker days to get a present (this allows him one ‘accident’ day without getting him terribly upset). His first present was an electronic Leap.frog laptop to get him going. Every one since has been a Crocs jibbetz (Thomas or Sesame Street…I bought a bunch cheap on e.bay and he sticks them on a little purse or bracelet). We started putting him in underwear full time during the day at the end of May, so basically this is how he’s been doing since that happened. We are now averaging 5-6 dry days each week which is lovely. We’re not concerned with dry nights and would rather he sleep his usual 11-12 hours than worry about him staying dry. He does have a dry night every once in a while, but normally his night-time pull-up is a bit wet.

Other tips that have worked for us with potty-training, since a number of people in blogland are dealing with it…

  • When starting out, we would put Curly on his little potty first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. We’d keep him there for a few minutes, regardless of if he did anything or not. Doing anything resulted in an enormous amount of praise and a sticker.
  • We own at least 3 or 4 potty books. We’ve read them to him very often. They sometimes still make the rounds. Big Boys Use the Potty has been a favorite. We also have two videos.
  • Pooping in the potty means he gets 2 mini M&M’s. We started out with 2 chocolate chips, which was fine, but then acquired a tube of mini M&M’s and realized he LOVED the fact that they are different colors. So now he gets to pick his two colors of M&M’s, another big motivator.
  • Buying cute, colorful underwear and letting him pick out which ones he wants to wear is helpful. We especially love the 7-pack from Carter’s, as well as Gymboree.
  • We have one bathroom at home and it’s upstairs, so his baby b.jorn potty is downstairs full-time. He uses the upstairs toilet with a baby b.jorn potty topper every morning and night. Out and about we love the Potette Plus. More recently we’ve found that if the toilet is in someone’s home with a full ‘ringer’, he can simply sit closer to the front and not need a potty topper at all. Next step is more pottying in the upstairs toilet, which is much easier clean-up!
  • 95% of the time he pees sitting down. On occasion, he has gone standing up outside, usually while leaning onto a tree. He has gone standing up on a stool at home, leaning against the toilet lid, but needs help since his angle isn’t always good. He leans because…well…how does a 3 year old even go about holding his little penis (especially with a pot belly)? lol
  • Wiping…ah. We need to work on that with him. He does it after #1, but not yet for #2. When we do it, my preferred method is to have him touch his toes/”stand like a crab”, although if we’re out and the floor is dirty, he can lean against a wall, it’s just a little harder to do it that way. We use flushable Kandoo wipes.

It took a full year from Curly sitting on the potty regularly to him being day time potty trained. It helped that his daycare takes them on a 2-hour schedule and he sees some of his friends using the potty. Peer pressure can be a good thing! Good luck to everyone embarking on this journey!

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