In love with a car seat

My 15-month-old daughter has been in need of a car seat upgrade for a few months now, and a few weeks ago, she received a brand-new rear-to-front-facing heavy-duty cool-as-all-heck car seat. I had my doubts about paying so much. But after hearing several frugal friends sing its praises, I ordered one.

The Britax Marathon. Cue angels singing. I’m serious. Lots and lots of angels.

This may be the nicest thing I’ve ever owned. If you’ve talked with me in the last few weeks, I may have already listed the features for you:

  • The box it arrived in used no tape. I just pulled it apart and voila, fully put together car seat!
  • No slipping the shoulder straps in and out of tiny slits to adjust the height. Instead, the whole mechanism moves up and down with the squeeze of handy little release.
  • Velcro tabs on either side of the seat to hold the waist straps in place while taking her in and out of the seat. Glorious!
  • Rubbery thing that helps keep the chest straps from getting twisted and helps them lay flat.
  • A pad behind the buckle to keep the buckle where it belongs, not twisted down in the recesses under my child’s bottom.
  • Nifty clamps to keep the seatbelt super-tight and secure as it passes under the car seat. I’ve never seen a car seat wiggle that little.
  • And lots of other safety features, of course.

My 3-year-old also received a new car seat: the Graco Nautilus 3-in-1.

While still very nice, its box was plastered with tape, a pain to open, and a pain to put-together. But it’s not the Nautilus’ fault. I opened the Britax first….


Toddler Revelations – Leaving the House On-Time

I’m a punctual person. Or rather, I’m afraid of being late. This usually means I’m early to most places, which I don’t mind. Like when I arrived at my hairdresser’s 25 minutes early on Saturday in case there was football game traffic. (I sat in the car for 15 minutes so that I would appear to be only 10 minutes early once I casually strolled into the waiting area.) And it was worth it. I don’t like to be late.

So on the first day of pre-school last week, as I scrambled to take my shower late (Madeleine slept in that morning past 7 a.m.!) and feed Benji and then her and get out the camera and brush my teeth, I got a brief taste of how horrible school mornings could be if I were always running behind–i.e., if I don’t get up before the kiddos and get my shower in.

This also led me to another revelation:

“If you look at the clock and think, we need to get in the car now so we can leave in 2 minutes, you’re already late. Sorry.”

Because watching a toddler climb into his car seat “by myself!” and strapping in an infant and then going back around to strap in the toddler and handing back sunglasses and verifying that the backpack and diaper bag and pacifier are all where they’re supposed to be takes longer than 2 minutes.

Toddler Revelations – Potty Time Freedom

In the last three months, Benjamin has announced himself as a full-fledged two-year-old with words like, “No!” and whining and crying spectaculars. I knew this would happen but still marvel at what has happened to our little boy’s easy-going personality. His outbursts show up almost exclusively when he is extremely tired or when we’re asking him to do something he doesn’t want to do (which usually involves stopping doing what he loves to do–playing with trains or cars.)

For example, he has never resisted going potty before about 2 months ago. Potty trained during the day since 18 months, he has enjoyed potty breaks–the books, the toys, the release. But suddenly, if we told it was time to go potty before lunch or dinner, he melted down.

So what could we do?

We tried a few things like giving a choice between obeying and going to the potty or getting a time-out; reminding him that we do this every day before lunch and dinner; encouraging him to take the opportunity just to try; putting up with the tears until he was on the potty and then, of course, never wanted to get off.

These things worked some times. I really believed in establishing habits and that by taking him to the potty even if he didn’t absolutely have to go, we were teaching him to create a rhythm and not just run to the potty at the last minute or after his undies were already a little wet.

But then last week, I realized I had found the solution and had even been using it intermittently for a few days when he had already gone potty an hour or so before a meal. So this is what we started to do.

At any previously scheduled potty break, we said and did the following:

1) “Benjamin, we will be eating lunch in 3 minutes, so if you need to go potty, now would be a good time to go. You don’t have to go potty, but if you need to, you can.”

2) Waited patiently while Benjamin, at first, immediately said, “No, no, no,” until he realized we’re giving him the option to not go to the potty at all. (joy of joys!)

3) Watched as Benjamin either walked straight to the table for his meal or listened as he said, “I need to go potty,” and marched himself there.

No more melt-downs surrounding the potty. Hurrah!

This wouldn’t have worked 6 or even 3 months ago. I don’t think he was ready. He was still sometimes waiting too long to tell us he needed to go. This happened infrequently but still, we didn’t trust him to consistently¬†pay attention to his body’s signals. In other words, we were afraid (of all the messes). For the past two months though,¬†he has been able to pull down his own pants and undies and climb onto the seat by himself.

So when he started resisting, that was his very indirect way of telling us he was ready to make these decisions on his own. And I’m so glad we listened!