Zen and the Art of Potty Training

SunsetMama, take a deep breath and count to 3.

1… [Exaggerated Breath] 2... [Exaggerated Breath] 3… [Exaggerated Breath]

This is the sort of thing my 2 year old says to me, and she’s ALWAYS onto something.  Maybe she suspects that I’m not going to like what she’s about to do.  Maybe she can tell I’ve already had a LONG day.  Maybe she knows I’ve heard one too many toddler demands already.

Being a parent to a toddler, it’s not always easy to keep your cool.  I know, on those longest of days, I can hear the tension start to come into my voice.  I can feel my body starting to let out a big sigh.  I can almost see my blood pressure starting to rise.  Toddlers pick up on these unconscious signals SO easily.  And, hard as it is, especially while potty training, they need us to be calm and supportive.  I know – easier said than done when there’s pee on the floor.

I never meditated before starting those recommended pre-natal yoga classes.  The classes I took were *heavy* on the meditation – we’re talking 31 minutes at a time, often with hands in pretty uncomfortable positions.  A strange kind of torture at first.  But it grew on me.  Admittedly, I’m not very "good” at it.  My mind wanders.  I have trouble letting go.  I’m always *doing* something.  But I try.  And I can accept whatever I CAN accomplish in that short time.  Breathe in, breathe out, experience that simplest reflection of being alive, and enjoy BEING ALONE.

Until I started, I didn’t know just how beneficial meditation could be to a new mother.  These days, I only manage to set aside a few minutes a week to take this time to myself.  But even that helps.  I first started to notice its effects when dealing with helping my baby learn to sleep.  As I’ve started to practice this more, I CAN take a few deep breaths and tap into at least some of that delicious calm produced by being “one with myself”, even with a testing toddler right in front of me. This is invaluable to help me get through those toughest moments of parenthood, as least a little bit more easily than I would have otherwise.

Even if you have another way of decompressing, at the end of a long day of potty training, take a moment to count to 3 and take a deep breath.  Take a moment to see any sort of progress you can – no matter how small.  Take a moment to revel in what a complicated task your child is learning – learning about their body, its sensations, and social process of where pee and poop go.  Remember that some days will be better than others.  Then, take another deep breath.  You can do this!

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