Nanny Tales: Potty Training

In my time as a nanny, I have had the pleasure (cough) of potty training four children.  I would never describe myself as an “expert in potty training.”  Mainly because it is a weird thing to brag about.  But I do have some hysterical stories from my attempts to help toddlers through this major milestone. 


When I started working for Sam’s family, he was about to turn three years old.  He had fully mastered peeing in the potty, but pooping was not going to happen.  Sam’s older brother Adam had been potty trained for several years.  The boys’ parents had used pennies as a way to encourage Adam to use the toilet, and were doing the same with Sam.  A common theme throughout all my potty training experiences is bribery.  More importantly, the right kind of bribery.  Now while Adam had been cool with getting a penny every time he used the potty, Sam didn’t really see the value in money.

I made the strategic decision to switch from pennies to M&Ms.  Sam would get one M&M if he peed in the potty, and two if he pooped.  After one day, Sam stomped into the kitchen and demanded “I WANT MY M&MS!’.  I calmly explained, he would have to go poop on the potty.  Sam turned on his heels, stomped into the bathroom, and let out a deafening trumpet of success.  He came stomping back out of the bathroom and declared “THERE”, and pointed to his masterpiece.  He received 2 M&Ms.


Sam’s little sister Lizzy had a different kind of adventure toward potty training.  Suddenly Lizzy would be missing for long stretches of time, and inevitably I’d find her in her mom’s closet pooping in her diaper.  It felt like it was time to start potty training.  We got out all the books, all the potty chairs, and the giant bag of M&Ms.  But as much as we talk about it, and sat on the potty, Lizzy would somehow disappear to go poop in Mom’s closet.  One day I even tried not putting a diaper on her, and watching her like a hawk so she couldn’t escape.  But somehow, she escaped from my site, and YES I had to clean poop off of the closet floor. 

As luck would have it, we were seeing her pediatrician that week.  I asked the doctor what the deal was.  Lizzy showed all the signs of being ready, but wouldn’t do the deed!  The pediatrician simply told me, Lizzy wasn’t ready.  Even though she was exhibiting the signs, Lizzy was still too scared.  I decided to leave all the potty-training things out, but I completely backed off.  We didn’t talk about it.  We didn’t practice it.  We just left everything alone.  Then one day, I was getting Lizzy ready for a bath.  I was focused on getting the water going when Lizzy gasped!  I turned and there she was sitting on her potty.  Her eyes were as big as saucers as we both listened to the pee go in the potty.  I screamed with excitement and showered Lizzy with kisses.  Adam and Sam ran in and we all had a big celebration around a little toilet filled with pee. 


I started taking care of Peter when he was eight weeks old.  I had learned by then to take my time with potty training.  When he is ready, he is ready.  Peter started showing the signs of being ready to potty train.  I’d come to get him at nap time, and would be greeted by a bare butt and a wet diaper dramatically flung across the room.  I lost Peter in the park for a few minutes and found him hidden behind a bush to pee.  It was obviously getting close to time.  I advised Peter’s mom to just buy a little potty to have for when Peter was ready.  That night when Peter’s mom showed him the potty, she simply explained that when he needs to poop and pee this is where he sits.  Peter shrugged and said “okay”, and proceeded to sit on the potty and pee and poop.  What.  The.  Heck?  It is never that easy.  NEVER!!  His mom and I hypothesized that at Peter’s Mother’s Day Out, there was a little girl in his class potty training.  We think he must have seen her and gotten used to the idea of using a potty before we even brought it up!  Maybe the universe decided to give me a break on the third toddler.  They knew I’d be potty training a lot of kids and thought “Make this one super easy to potty train.  Give her a break.  But then make him wet the bed for like four more years.  Don’t let her get cocky.”


Peter’s little sister Josie was my most recent potty trainee.  When you get to the fourth one, there just aren’t that many surprises.  Oh, you’re hiding behind the couch to go poop.  Oh, when I put you on the potty you hold it in because you’re afraid for it to come out.  Oh, there is a soaked diaper wedged in the back of your drawer.  The routine becomes the routine, and you just wait until they are ready to take the plunge.  She did ask if she could sit on my lap while she went to the bathroom.  That was a new one.  The one thing we had working for us was Josie’s love of accessories.  The idea of having her own princess underwear was a big selling point for potty training.  Then the understanding that if she peed, she would be peeing on one of her favorite characters!  Heck no, give me that potty chair!

Potty training is a literal dirty job, but I’m happy to do it.  If I could give any advice to parents, I’d say that potty training is like the weight loss secret of the kid world.  No you can’t do it in a weekend.  No there is no quick fix or easy way to do it.  It takes time, it takes patience, and if you keep at it you will reach your goal!

A Trip to Mesa Rosa

I put out a post on Facebook asking for parents’ favorite place to take their kids for dinner.  This particular TexMex restaurant popped up several times.  I grabbed the six-year-old and the four-year-old and gave Mesa Rosa a try! 

I am a big weirdo because I love taking the kids out to dinner!  But I have very specific qualifications for restaurants I go to with the kids.  It must be a noisy restaurant.  Nobody wants to be that person with the loud, obnoxious kid in a restaurant.  But in noisy restaurants, if your toddler decides to hate the world, you only feel vaguely like you want to crawl under the table and hide. 

Having an outdoor section is also a big plus.  Sitting outside with kids, even when there isn’t a world ending pandemic, can help save a life!  Outside there are more things for kids to look at and enjoy.  They can be super noisy and you won’t be disturbing an entire restaurant.  I don’t think you need a playground to have a kid friendly restaurant, but I really appreciate how many Austin area restaurants do.  It’s nice to have a restaurant experience, that isn’t fast food related, where you can sit and enjoy your meal while the kids play on the playground.

It can’t be a breakable restaurant.  There are some great kid friendly restaurants that have good food, and a great atmosphere for kids.  But any place that brings us glass cups for our drinking water, is just asking for trouble.  We need plastic cups, cups with lids, and if you have some plastic plates wrapped in bubble wrap, we can probably get through a meal without breaking anything! 

I took the kids during the week to Mesa Rosa.  We went right around five, so it was pretty dead in the restaurant.  The inside is your standard TexMex style.  Fun pictures and bright colors cover the walls.  We heard there was great playground so we asked to sit on the patio.  The patio is fabulous!  This is the type of patio that Covid conscious people wish all restaurants had.  It is a huge patio with tons of room!  It opens up into a truly awesome playground.  It can be tough to see your kids from certain areas of the patio.  But there is still enough space for them to easily run back and forth from your table to play.

The playground itself is pretty awesome.  Lots of room for the kids to run.  They even have a water cooler to the side, with little paper, cone cups for kids.  Do the kids just end up pulling out all the cups to play with them?  Yes, they do.  But it is still a nice gesture from the restaurant.  The kids were on the playground the whole time.  When the food came, they’d run back to get a small bite, and chug some water.  Then it was back to the playground.  You’ll definitely be able to enjoy your meal and a few drinks without having to worry if the kids are having a good time. 

If I’m being honest the food is only so-so.  It is your average TexMex cuisine.  The kids ordered burgers and fries and only ate a few bites because the portions are HUGE!  You can certainly find better TexMex food in this area.  But overall, it’s an enjoyable outing with your kids.  You can sit back and enjoy some chips and queso, let your kids run around on the playground, and then wonder how they got a giant bruise on their head in under five minutes.

The Great Snack War!

The great Snack War has been waging in American kitchens for years!  Kids and adults need snacks throughout the day.  But while we all know we need the healthy snacks, the bad snacks are just……so good!  How do we help not only ourselves to be better eaters, but our kids too?  I have several strategies below to help you win your next Snack Battle!

Don’t Buy It

There is a reason why people are very disappointed when they raid my pantry for snacks.  I have not bought cookies or chips in years.  Why?  Because they last about five minutes once they enter my house.  Self-control is difficult for most adults.  It is next to impossible for kids!  If you don’t want your child to eat the unhealthy snacks, do not buy them. 

Look Out For “Healthy”

The food industry is really good at making bright colorful packaging, slapping some buzz words like “real fruit juice”, and convincing you it is healthy.  But we all know the truth.  Veggies Straw are just skinny potato chips.  Fruit Snacks are just gummy bears shaped like fruit.  It can be hard to market healthy food, because actual healthy food is boring to advertise.  A banana is just a banana.  I suppose they could put some more fun stickers on bananas!  Brand bananas for boys called “The Ultimate Banana” and for girls like “Princess Banana”.  But at the end of the day, there is only so many ways to make healthy food look “cool”.

Snacks For Home

Snacks at home are a lot easier to plan.  You have good storage and are able to prep snacks for the week!  Fruits and vegetables should always be your number one choice for snacks.  Always have a fruit bowl filled with easily accessible apples, bananas, etc.  If your kids don’t like certain fruits, don’t give up!  There are a lot of fruits out there to try.  Great vegetables to have on hand are pickles, carrots or celery.  Dips like hummus or guacamole are filling and perfect to have with your vegetables.  Great items to have stocked in the refrigerator are things like yogurt and string cheese.  Healthy pantry snacks for kids, who need something to crunch, are items like nuts, trail mix, or plantain chips.

Snacks For School

Snacks for school can be a little bit trickier.  It can be tough to plan ahead and schools often restrict certain snacks kids are allowed.  Here in Texas the heat can also play a big factor in what snacks are best for kids to take to school.  While yogurt and cheese are great snacks, school lunch-box ice packs only do so well for a long school day.  Fruits and vegetables should once again be your top choice.  Dried fruits and vegetables are a great option if your kids don’t keep their lunch boxes indoors during a school day.  If nuts are allowed in your school, trail mix is your new best friend!  If not try some popcorn for your kids who need that crunch! 

Controlling The Snacking

While in a perfect world, you’d have a house full of healthy snacks and your child would skip merrily home from school and say “dear mother, might I please have an apple before supper?”  But life happens and we all just do the best we can to keep our household happy and running.  There are other ways to keep the unhealthy snacking at bay.  Having snacks be a part of your normal routine is a good way to start.  If children have expectations of one morning snack and one afternoon snack, the angry demands for more snacks goes down.  Also keep in mind, kids get ravenous when they go through growth spurts.  This is when begging for snacks is at an all-time high!  Best way to see if your kid is going through a growth spurt, offer your kids a healthy snack, if they take it, vacuum it down and immediately ask for more, then it’s a growth spurt.

Another good trick to control snacking is a snack box.  Make a nice box for each one of your children.  Every day fill the box with the number of snacks your children are allowed to eat.  Tell them they can eat these snacks whenever they want.  But once the box is empty, that is all the snacks they get for day.  It helps give some control to the kids.  They pick what snacks are in the box and when they can eat them.  Also take the blame off of you when they eat everything in their box! 

The Snack War is one we all battle.  Best we can do is try and give our kids the tools to fight that battle as well.     

Always Be Prepared

School is back and with a new year, comes new injuries.  While I’ve always had my Mary Poppin’s bag filled with extra clothes, baby wipes, and snacks, I decided to tap into my inner boy scout and learn “what are the best things to have in your own first aid kit.” 

Kids are very determined to hurt themselves.  Having the right items stocked in your house, helps you prepare for even the craziest of accidents.  Once I looked at the recommendations for first aid kits, I immediately became overwhelmed and turned off my computer.  Warning!  It doesn’t take much to go from buying bandages on the Red Cross website, to building a bomb shelter.

We all know what our medicine cabinets really look like.  A scattering of random Band-Aids litters the bottom of the drawer, random medicines loosely stacked on top, and a perfectly put together travel kit someone gave you as a gift (but you’ve never used).  A good habit to get into is regularly going down the pharmacy aisle in the grocery store to check what needs to be restocked in your own home.

A dedicated first aid kit for your sitters and nannies is good to have on hand .  As much fun as it sounds, digging through someone else’s medicine cabinet looking for Band-Aids is always uncomfortable.  Below are some good items to have readily available for anyone in your home.

Butterfly Band-Aids:  Everyone has a story about busting open some part of their body that should remain closed.  These little dudes can take care of most cuts. 

Dermoplast Spray:  This antiseptic spray is also a pain reliever! A double whammy for keeping wounds clean!

Benadryl:  No one found out they were allergic to something in an easy way.  While it would be nice to be able to keep EpiPens in your first aid kit, they require a prescription. 

The Red Cross has an amazing website where you can shop for first aids items and premade kits.  Items like a breathing barrier or an aluminum finger splint aren’t things you will probably need, but they can’t hurt to have on hand (pun not intended).

The Red Cross recommends keeping a first aid kit in your car as well as your home.  I decided to head on over to Target to make myself a small, travel first aid kit.  It was a bit overwhelming walking through the pharmacy trying to decide what I would need, and if I was missing anything vital.  I decided to look back at my years of taking care of kids, and try and remember all the things I wish I had.

Tweezers:  “I’VE GOT A SPLINTER!!!”  Dear Lord have mercy on me when a kid gets a splinter.  We all know getting a splinter in the kid world is basically the equivalent to getting your arm chopped off.  Having a pair of tweezers on hand would have saved a couple of afternoons at the playground.

Gauze:  I have seen quite a few knocks to the head in my day.  If you’ve ever seen any wound to the face you know, it bleeds a LOT.  A small cut on the lip or a nose bleed, and suddenly you’re in the hallway of The Shining.  Wipes and Kleenex just don’t do the trick when it comes to stopping blood.  Gauze are the best solution to stop the blood and get back to fun.

Tylenol, Benadryl, Dramamine:  Seeing your kid sick is the worst.  Seeing your kid sick and being unable to help because you’re not home is miserable!  Keeping a few of these medications on hand for an emergency can help you make it home. I bought kids’ chewable of each medicine.  Putting liquid medicines in a car is not an experiment I’d like to try in the oppressive Texas heat.

There is a lot of information out there on how to be best prepare for an emergency.  It can get overwhelming very quickly. I found it very helpful to think about what I experienced as a child, and as a childcare worker.  It is always better to have these items and not need them, than need them and not have them.  I certainly never needed a snow shovel in Texas, but ask me about this past February.

Having a first aid kit and updating it regularly is a good habit for everyone to get into.  Go check out the Red Cross website and see what they have to offer!

The Splash Shack

The summer of 2021 is coming to a close.  If you are looking for a last bit of summer fun before school starts, I recommend The Splash Shack!  An indoor water park in Cedar Park, the Splash Shack is specifically made for children 10 and under.  I am not a big fan of water parks.  Between the heat, the lines, and the warm bath water, it has never been my favorite place to take kids.  But this water park is indoors, always heated to 82 degrees, and limits the number of people allowed inside.  This was something I couldn’t pass up trying!

Pricing is dictated by height (at 5’2′ I was slightly concerned), and the park is perfectly made for little kids.  The Splash Shack is made of multiple water slides, and that’s about it.  The simplicity of the place is actually what makes it enjoyable.  Kids climb up the slides, go down the slides, rinse and repeat.  There is also a giant water bucket that hangs over the play area.  It fills with water and makes an absolutely epic splash! 


Prepare to get wet:  There is a lovely sitting area, where you can relax and keep an eye on your kids, but I see no way you could go to this water park and stay dry.  The building is pretty small and large splashes are inevitable.  Some productive parents came in their yoga pants and were working or reading.  One giant bucket splash later, the work was put away. 

No outside food or drink:  We could have stayed at the water park for longer, but they don’t allow outside food or drink.  There is a lovely snack bar with your standard chips and drinks.  The day we went, they were also offering pizza for sale.  But all-in-all, it would have been nicer if we could have packed a lunch.  We still got a solid two and half hours of play time.  But we definitely could’ve stayed longer!

Take breaks:  I appreciate that most pools these days clear the pool every hour for safety.  It gives you a chance to take kids to the bathroom, reapply sunscreen, etc.  Since you are inside, this is easily forgotten.  And with little kids and lots of space to pee, you can see why adding in your own break time would be a good idea!

So should you make the trip to The Splash Shack?

Baby-3 (Proceed with caution)

This water park is quite small which is nice.  There are changing tables in every bathroom.  There is space for babies to crawl and splash in the water.  However, children are not allowed to sit in your lap to go down water slides.  If you’ve got a braver toddler, this shouldn’t be a problem.  But the more cautious ones are going to have to get some courage.

3-6 (Go now!)

It is a great outing for this age group.  They climb up and slide down, climb up and slide down, over and over again until they need a snack!  The size of the place makes it perfect to keep an eye on everyone.  Lifeguards are set up all over the tiny area, making sure the kids are safe and taking turns.  

6-10 (Go now!)

While this park is great for little kids, it’s not like the big kids are going to be bored and think this place is for babies.  The same enjoyment the little kids have, the big kids will have too.  A lot of the slides are side by side and perfect for kids who want to race each other!