The one mothering skill I cannot teach you

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As you may know, I’ve been hosting a live class the past two weeks called, 3 Secrets to Creating Order in your Home while Homeschooling. It’s an hour long class where I share my heartfelt advice about how to get your kids to be a part of managing your home, how to incorporate rich actives into your days that will build relationships and memories and how to parent well in the process. That class followed a short Facebook live in which I discussed the 3 Myths that might be keeping you from Enjoying Homeschooling. And both free classes introduced my new course, Love your Homeschool, Simple Strategies for Quieting the Chaos so you can Enjoy Learning with your Children.

So, obviously, I have a fair amount of advice and encouragement to give, based on my 21 years of mothering and 15+ years of homeschooling. I LOVE to inspire and equip moms so they can feel confident in their role of home-maker and teacher. I want them to find JOY in the imperfect and enjoy the journey.

But I will be honest with you, I am completely unable to help with ONE CRUCIAL element of parenting young children. I failed abysmally at it with 4 kids and pretty much gave up with #5.

You might wonder, What is it? And how can I consider trusting a homeschooling mentor if they have such a horrible track record?? How was she allowed to continue homeschooling? Shouldn’t the authorities have come to the door and told her that her kids were truant? Should HSLDA have even let her join?? All are valid questions.

Okay, here it is… I can’t give you any help with… POTTY TRAINING.

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I had 5 chances to figure it out and I never did. Family songs and sayings were even written during the dark years of this potty chaos. I cannot account for why I failed. We read all the cute storybooks about going on the potty. We sat on the potty and read stories, we watched tv siting on the plastic potty. We tried the naked thing where you stay home for a week with no diapers on in hopes that the child won’t like peeing on himself. We even went to a hypnotist one time and came home with a cassette tape with calmly spoken imagery like, “Close the gates.” We did the “Dry Days” chart on the fridge, marking off good days until they had 10 in a row and had earned a special toy they had wanted for awhile. I set boundaries like, “If you choose to poop in your undies when you are perfectly capable of going on the potty at 4 years old, YOU will have to wash those undies out yourself..” And every. one. of. my. kids. calmly washed the poop out of their undies and still didn’t use the potty. Every once in a while, a chuck of dried poop would fall out of someone’s undies. One day when my boys were playing in the hall, one of them stepped in poop and it smeared all over the bottom of his bare foot. You would think that kind of grossness would create change. But no.

I used to say that my house was the only one where you might accidentally step in poop INSIDE!

I’d like to say that I never lost my temper over this disgusting situation, but I did give a few furious cold showers to kids who were old enough to take care of business but chose to make messes anyway. Needless to say, by the time my youngest was at potty training age, I had given up. I decided she would eventually figure it out, that my kids must be genetically predisposed to soil their pants until kindergarten and that I was never going to find success. So my youngest wore pull ups until she was 5. And, since she was clearly old enough to take them on and off herself, we would find wet pull-ups under beds, behind the couch, in the car…. It wasn’t a much better deal than the potty training thing.

My kids were never mean to one another, but they did have a lot of laughs making up nicknames like “Smudge McDougal” and songs about our ongoing dilemma,

“Nasty Little Baby, what we gonna do with you. Every time you pee or poo you make me come and change you. Nasty little baby, what we gonna do with you?”

There were more hilarious verses, but I’ll spare you. The truth is, that nasty baby was so loved, the musicians named their band, Babies in the Sink, after her.

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So not everything in our home was pretty schoolrooms, art projects, cozy reading time, and nature outings. My house was not clean all the time either. So, if you follow me, listen to my free classes or even join my new course, I will have LOTS of good advice for you, lots of empathy for how difficult the job of teaching and parenting is, but there will definitely not be a lesson about “How to successfully potty train your children in 5 easy steps.” Sorry to let you down.

My kids are 13-21 now. All of them use the potty. And if we step in poop in our house now, it’s because I’ve allowed a bunny to live in our laundry room.

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If you’d still like to learn a few things from this imperfect mama, you can find RESOURCES HERE and sign up for my new course, Love your Homeschool, HERE. The founding membership is open until June 11th.