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My lowest parenting moment (and how it can help you)

I remember looking over at my husband in total desperation crying out, "What are we going to do!?", and he had nothing.

Heavily pregnant with our second son, I was already struggling when I caught a stomach virus and spent all night power chucking everything that hit my stomach and more. I landed in hospital on IV fluids before being discharged on order of bedrest. It was the first "sick day" I'd been allowed since becoming a parent.

But by then my husband had caught the virus so he was up and down all night, keeping me awake. Then, early the next morning when our boy awoke crying, it was me who got up to find that he had vomited too. I stood at the end of our bed tearfully demanding that hubby, who was groggy and feeling sorry for himself, wake up and listen.

"Our boy is sick and you are sick and I'm supposed to be resting. What are we going to do!?"

No answer. I felt more desperate, empty, exhausted and alone than I ever have in my life. We managed to get through the day but I did not get the ordered bedrest. Far from it. And I was left feeling angry at my husband for failing to suck it up and cover for his pregnant wife and angry at myself for allowing things to play out the way they did.

What does this have to do with toilet training?

Beco Potty and Step

Toilet training is one of those more intensive periods of parenting. It requires more time and attention than others. If you're just one tummy bug away from total desperation, toilet training could go very pear-shaped very fast.

We talk a lot about preparing our kids for toilet training. Let's make sure we're prepared too. Because, I can tell you first-hand, mummy-martyrdom is good for nobody!

Things have changed a lot since our lowest moment. I doubt our marriage would have survived if it hadn't. Here's what we've done and you can do too...

We use support

We have people we know we can call for help now so that the desperate, "what are we going to do!?" moment doesn't repeat itself. And we never turn down offers of help ever - even when we don't need it. In fact, I don't remember the last time I had to mow the lawn because my FIL keeps offering!

We date

we date

We schedule date nights regularly. Even when it feels like a hassle and we don't feel we need it, we go anyway. We never regret it and it really does help recharge our batteries as well as our relationship.

I rest when I'm sick

No questions. If I need to rest, I rest, and hubby takes up the slack. It's a given.

Most importantly, I allow my husband to be a fully engaged father

My husband's a good man. But he didn't understand how hard I was pushing myself and the only way he was ever going to get it was by doing it. So I stepped back and allowed him to step up.

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I stopped doing all the wake-ups
My husband has an impressive ability to sleep through a screaming baby right next to his head but I didn't care. When our second son was born, if baby woke and didn't need a feed, I nudged hubby awake so he could do the settling.
I stopped cooking every single night
I just stopped. He would sometimes come home from work to find there was nothing underway and that he needed to make it happen. Now he even calls if he's working late to check whether I've got it sorted or if he should get quick meal ingredients on the way home. He doesn't presume I'm going to do it all.
I stopped doing all the cleaning
I stopped doing it all and left it to hubby to see he hadn't inherited a magical cleaning fairy with his firstborn. Now we're back to sharing the household duties more equally, much as we did before we had kids.
I stopped treating him like a babysitter
When I have something to do sans kids I don't ask for permission - I tell him. And I don't leave him with lists, instructions, preprepared food, packed bags or preselected clothes. He doesn't need me to do that...well, not anymore anyway.
I stopped being the default
When the kids are sick, when there's a teacher's only day, when there's an appointment during work hours - I am not the default carer. When a parent volunteer is required I don't hesitate to volunteer my husband as readily as I would volunteer myself. When the kids are dropped at school and kindy, it's equally him doing it as it is me.

I truly believe these things have saved us and allowed me to be a better mother. It's like the aeroplane oxygen mask - you put your own on first, then your child's. You're not doing anyone any favours by running yourself into the ground.

If you're contemplating toilet training get your supports in line now. Think about how you'll manage it as a team with your partner, ECE or other carers. Think about how that will change if you or your child gets sick or another challenge comes along. Sort it in advance and you'll do great.

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