Whew... My head has been spinning since November, and I'm not really sure where to begin.

Out of the blue, I was offered the amazing opportunity to head up the creation of the Elementary program at the Montessori Institute Of San Diego's model school.  A dream come true, for sure, but one that has required me to spin a few more plates than the ones I already had going.  I'm working part-time right now, mostly from home while Zach naps, but I start work full-time in September as the head guide in our brand-new Elementary classroom!

Throughout the day, I shift my focus from caring for a toddler to ordering materials; from planning meals to creating a PowerPoint presentation.  I rarely have a moment to myself, but I do miss this little blog of mine and hope to write more often...

With the year-end craziness, I took a step back from our toileting efforts.  I had Zach mostly in disposable diapers (gasp!) throughout December because we had relatives visiting and then went on a short road trip.  I would sit him on the potty when I had an opportunity, but it wasn't often or consistent.

I was really afraid that all his progress would be for naught, so in January I resolved to make Zach's toileting independence a priority - regardless of my hectic schedule!  I started taking him to the potty again on a regular schedule (upon waking, before and after naps, before leaving the house and upon returning, and before bedtime).  For the first few days he seemed uninterested, and then a new awareness set in!

He now repeats the sign for "bathroom" when I make it, feels between his legs when he's peeing, and then stands up to look at what he accomplished!  His favorite moment is when I pour the contents of the potty into the toilet and flush - he watches every moment with rapt attention.

He is mostly in padded underwear now, even during naps and short car trips (he wears a PUL cover when we're in the car, to prevent wet spots).  Some days are better than others, but in the mornings he almost always stays dry from the time he wakes up, through his morning nap, and into noon, as long as I take him to the bathroom at regular intervals.  The padded underwear have also been great for his mobility; around the same time I stopped putting him in cloth diapers he started walking with increased stability.  It's pretty cool... :)

I am beginning to appreciate the importance of the choices I made during his first 12 months of life, and I am so grateful to understand Montessori and be able to apply it.  I see the effects of the Montessori approach in Zach's ability to play independently and creatively, repeat activities with focus, solve problems and work through challenges, and express his desires.  I think he feels respected by how we speak and act towards him, and he feels safe by the consistency and limits we offer him.

It certainly hasn't been easy!  Many times I think: "It would be so much easier if I fed him from pouches/used disposable diapers until he turned 3/rocked or nursed him to sleep/put him in front of a TV, etc."  And then there are the times when I just give up, like when we're at a restaurant and he LOUDLY refuses to eat anything except french fries and white bread, despite my repeated offerings of healthy food.

What I've learned is that sometimes you have to lower your standards to make it through a particular day (or week, or even month).  When this happens, and the band-aid starts becoming a crutch, I force myself to ask two questions: 1) Am I doing this for the baby's benefit or for mine? And, 2) If I continue doing this long-term, will it have developmental implications in the future?

As I told a dear friend who recently had a baby: The first three months, anything goes.  Do what you need to do to survive.  But after those first three brutal months, start asking yourself those two questions.  Making positive changes can be hard at first, but like any healthy habit, after several days of making a conscious effort the new behavior takes hold and it becomes part of your daily life!

Happy belated 2013!  :)


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