Family, Toddler Stage

Most Helpful Parenting Reads This Year

It has been a while since I have done an article on books I have been reading. So here is my latest list on books that have helped me with parenting my two year old (Little Fox).

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Toilet Training in Less Than a Day

Toilet Training in Less Than a Day by Nathan Azrin and Richard M. Foxx. This book was recommended by Baba as the one she used to train her children. So I got the book, read through it twice, and embarked on potty-training Little Fox. I would say it took us about four days to be mostly successful, but that was more do to my lack of discipline in following the book instructions. (Who knew that sitting and doing nothing while waiting for a child to go, could be so exhausting). Next time the Badger Dad and I are going to trade off during training Little Badger (Little Fox will go to Baba’s house for the duration of the main training.

The book, Toilet Training in Less Than a Day, is helpful because it gives step by step instructions and examples. Also, there are adaptions described for children dealing with handicaps, so this book really can be used by anyone. What helped us the most was the description of what to do any time there was an accident.

One adaptation we made was to get a potty seat that goes on the regular toilet, so there is no chance of spillage/having to clean out a container from a potty on the floor. I don’t know if this made the training any more difficult, but it definitely makes it more sanitary (in our opinion) which was a priority for our household.

So we were able to complete Little Fox’s potty training with the help of Toilet Training in Less Than a Day. I am so grateful for this recommendation from Baba.

The Montessori Toddler & The Child in the Church

My husband has been laughing about how excited I am about Montessori books at the moment. When I first heard about Montessori, I was put off by the slogans “Follow the child” and “Let the child be the guide.” I thought this meant that the child was going to be in charge and running the household. However, after hearing Maria Montessori was Catholic, I decided to take a deeper look into her writings and the Montessori Method. Since then I discovered those slogans are about activities and development, rather than about family order and rules.

One thing I am particularly glad I have done is read what Maria Montessori actually wrote. There are a lot of books and toys and websites labelled Montessori. But if anything in it sounds contrary to Catholic teaching, it isn’t following from what Maria Montessori meant or intended. And with all book recommendations I give, I say I don’t agree with everything in the books. But there is a lot of helpful information in them.

The Child in the Church

From Maria Montessori herself, I recommend reading The Child in the Church. While she lived in Italy, and her experiences are in the Latin rite, it is quite simple to translate the ideas and activities to a Byzantine context. (For example, replacing flashcards of Roman vestments and colours with Byzantine ones).

This book is a heavy read and I am not actually finished it yet. And this is because I am taking lots of time to soak in all the ideas. Also, I am making lists of what ideas/activities I want to incorporate in our family life and how we will Byzantinize them.

The Montessori Toddler

The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies has a lot of gold in it, if you can get past the introduction. In it there are “shelf-work” (aka play activities) for toddlers listed by the area of life that the child is working on learning skills in. There are activities in the areas of home life, hand-eye coordination, music/movement/gross motor skills, arts and crafts, and language. And there is a really helpful section of the book which talks about setting up your home so it is toddler-friendly. It includes suggestions for when you have multiple children sharing the same room.

And that is not all this book includes! There are also specific suggestions on how to set up toys and activities. And a guide to the Montessori princible of observation – how to watch your child and be more aware of what skills they might be trying to work on and how to notice what they might be struggling with. Some sections address discipline and setting limits, as well as helpful tips on how to put Montessori principles into practice in real-life scenarios (such as getting dressed, eating, and sleeping).

Near the end of the book the focus shifts to the struggle of being an adult caring for a toddler. This section may be particularly helpful for other adults, who like me, do not naturally feel like sitting and reading the same picture books 20 times in a row.

1-2-3 Magic

This is another discipline book (which we use in addition to the Simplicity Parenting method mentioned in this article)

It is effective with our two year old who absolutely hates time ins when upset. This probably comes down to her temperament. (There is also a book on child temperament in the article linked above this paragraph). 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas W. Phelan, PHD is very simple to practice. I find it especially helpful for dealing with discipline situations outside the home. (But I am also able to stay calm when Little Fox is having a tantrum in the grocery store. I just pick her up and continue shopping).

The basic premise of the book is if you count to three all the time and your child will not listen, you are doing it wrong. Phelan explains how to properly and effectively use the method. There are some funny illustrations/comics to go along with his explanations too.

The Byzantine Life

Thank you for checking out this week’s article. If you haven’t already, you can read our Mom’s Starter Booklist article. Or our article on busy bags here. 

Don’t forget to follow us on social media. On our Pinterest we have boards full of baby and toddler activities! New posts are always shared to Facebook, and my husband runs our Twitter (@TheByzLife) and Instagram accounts (username: thebyzantinelife)! And if you want to support our work at, consider joining us on Patreon. For as little as $5 a month you can get exclusive access to special posts, photos, and updates from our family!


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