Melissa Joan Hart Wants a Big Brood; Talks Potty Training

02/27/2009 at 01:00 PM ET
Courtesy MJHW for use on CBB

Actress Melissa Joan Hart always “knew that I wanted to have children” after growing up as the oldest of eight kids; the experience, she says, left her with her own dreams of a large family. “Having a big family has always been very important to me,” she explains. “I would hate for my kids to not be able to experience that. Mark and I would like to have more eventually.”

While she loves being a mom to sons Mason, 3, and Braydon Brady,’ 11 months, she admits to feeling “overwhelmed” after Mason was born. “My mom told me to listen to myself. She said, ‘You have really good instincts.’ I think I cried. She kept telling me to just trust myself,” shares Melissa. “Actually my doctor said the same thing to me recently.”

“I think as parents we have this instinct, and if we just listen to it, we will know the right thing to do.”

Melissa is thankful for Mark, who she calls the “perfect dad … I didn’t know there were dads like that out there. He carries 60 percent of the workload when he is not on the road with the band.” Mark’s routine includes being “up in the morning with Mason, and I’m up all night with Brady. He makes breakfast in the morning — he’s the cook; I don’t cook. He gives Mason his baths, and he even takes care of the dogs.” However, Melissa says at first “my husband was a softy” but they then “agreed that we had to be on the same team.”

The couple’s next parenting challenge is potty training Mason, something Melissa considers “one of your child’s first lessons in independence.” She knows that “it is a huge topic of concern among parents. As a parent you are always hungry for advice, but especially when it comes to potty training. That’s the one time nobody tries to pretend they’re the expert, and parents will try just about anything.” The 32-year-old has learned that “with potty training, there isn’t really a right or wrong way to teach your child, it’s just whatever works for him.”

Melissa, who bought Mason a potty after his first birthday, had originally planned to have him sit on it while watching TV. While this method worked initially, “he lost interest,” she admits. “One day when he was around two, I was cleaning the bathroom and pulled it out. He was like, ‘Potty, potty, potty.'” Since Mason “was so excited,” Melissa “figured it was time” to start trying again.

“He went on it the first time! I thought, ‘My kid is brilliant, and this is the easiest thing ever’ …  But that didn’t last. I approach each week with a new outlook because I have learned that what worked for him yesterday may not work for him today. Every day is a challenge — one day I think we have it handled, and then the next day there is a road bump.”

Click below to read about Melissa’s thoughts on postpartum weightloss.

Knowing that “dieting is such a big thing in Hollywood,” Melissa was happy that her first pregnancy took the pressure to be thin off her mind. “At first it took a while to get rid of the food guilt, but then I was like, ‘Let me at it!'” The actress “was eating and eating, and I gained a little too much weight when I was pregnant with Mason. I went back to my old comfort foods, pasta and bagels. I didn’t have morning sickness, but I wasn’t feeling well.”

After giving birth, “I wasn’t in any hurry to lose the pregnancy weight. I did lose it, but only once I put my mind to it.” Melissa credits ‘really good genes’ for helping her get back into shape.  She also  “found that after having Mason, as soon as I stopped breastfeeding it was easier to drop the extra pounds.”

“When you’re trying to feed your kids healthy food, you take better care of yourself. After I had Brady, I began eating healthier right away. I was also chasing around a very active 2-year-old, which meant constant calorie burning.”

Click here for an recent update from Melissa to CBB readers, with new photos of Mason and Brady!

Source: Parents

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Showing 42 comments

Aurora mia on

That is such good advice…I am so dreading potty training and I hear with boys it’s so much harder! I have a ways to go, but great advice 🙂

Jared Snyard on

My nephew hated the potty so he went straight for the toilet instead. And now he is so proud of himself.! He likes that he
doesn’t have to wear diapers anymore.

mmh on

Oh my goodness she could not be more right about potty training being different every week! My son is 33 months and at 18 months, he decided he wanted to try this potty thing (an older kid at daycare was doing it). Well, it’s over a year later and ONLY THIS WEEK is he wearing underwear consistently!! You really have to wait until they’re ready. My best friend told me that, but only now do I understand that sometimes they have to take the lead (after months, of course, of us talking up his cool underwear and being a “big boy”!!!)

Y on

He is still not potty trained? My daughter is 2 months younger than Mason, and she has been potty trained for almost a year now…I would be so grossed out if I still had to change her diapers!

ecl on

Ugh..I hate people who like to show off how advanced their children are. Hey Y – good for you, but no need to hate on others who have kids who take longer

Cait on

Y – girls, typically, potty train faster than boys. In my experience working in daycare, the girls were typically potty trained around 2-3 years and the boys were around 3-4. It really can be a long and arduous process and I feel for the parents who struggle with it because some kids just DO NOT want to potty train. I’ve had some kids who put on underwear and never looked back and I’ve had some kids that we were still struggling to get them trained so that they could go into preschool. Every child is different and if you get one of the stubborn ones, you could be potty training for two or three years.

Y on

I am not “showing off” how advanced my daughter is..I just think some parents expect their children to magically potty train overnight by themselves, and it doesn’t work like that. The parent has to work together with the child and that takes time and effort, I worked with my daughter for about a month, and she was trained. Some parents are just not willing to put that time and effort in.I personally think 3 is too old to be in diapers. JMO.

D on

Ecl, I agree with you. ALL kids are different and potty training boys are different then girls.

My cousin called me the other day to tell me that her daughter was way more advanced when she was my son’s age. Nice, huh. Guess she must be friends with Y.

Brianne on

Every child is different. Bravo for Melissa to be candid and honest enough to address a huge concern we all have as parents – potty training! Just because some train earlier than others means nothing (Y) – it’s as if someones child is smarter than another because one walked at 10 months and the other at 15. When they are 5, none of it will matter. Everyone has their own pace. My daughter has the vocabulary of a 2 1/2 year old, but she’s 13 months and just starting to walk. She’ll get there. It doesn’t make her any less advanced than other kids. That’s just really closed-minded to think that way, in MY opinion🙂

Laura on

“Some parents are just not willing to put that time and effort in.”

Well you have NO idea how much work Melissa (and other parents) put into their efforts to potty train their child. Maybe they spend tons of time and the kid is still resistant. As others have said kids get potty trained at different paces and ages. And 3 is definitely not too old to be wearing diapers because there are many children in the same position. Children are very stubborn and independent and will learn when they want to no matter how much parents push them.

Ana on

My daughter is going to be 2 in april and I’m not sure how to start training her, I’m not in a hurry; i agree that every kid is different and have their own pace so, I’m going to start planning the training. I could use your advice

MZ on

I haven’t potty trained a child yet, but I did study a lot of child psych and 3 is not an unreasonable age to potty train a child, esp. a boy. My mom’s friend was starting to potty train her 4 1/2 year old, and that I thought was a little on the late end, but every kid is different.

And as Melissa was pointing out, it really depends on when the kid is ready. I don’t think it has thaaat much to do with how “hard” a parent is willing to work. If the kid isn’t ready, potty training is not going to go so well. Even when both my siblings were ready, my sister trained in about a week and my brother took several months. My parents didn’t work harder with my sister than with my brother; they just had different developmental speeds.

mari on

my son was interested in his potty at 18 months but it waned very quickly. he developed a severe constipation problem so all potty training efforts had to stop. luckily, at 3, he is now 90% trained. (he still wets at night) he also still alternates between the potty chair and big toilet.

i do agree….shame on all the parents who insist on celebrating themselves for having potty trained children out of the womb. they do not understand how those statements make other parents feel.

i too, had another mother telling me she was going to have her daughter potty trained by 18 months. well her daughter is almost three and not even interested. it all depends on the child.

best of luck to all the mothers out there embarking on the potty training adventure.

sil on

“Some parents are just not willing to put that time and effort in.”

I have to agree with Y, i think exactly like her, but of course is just my opinion.

Brandi on

I think it’s pretty normal for boys to train later. My oldest son and my niece are five weeks apart and she was trained a full 8 months before he was. He was day trained at 3 1/2 and night trained by 4. It looks like my second boy is headed that way also.

It’s really about them being ready. You have to pick your battles and for me this is not one of them. I did sort of force it with my first son around 2 1/2 and it wasn’t worth it at all, just stressful for both of us. When they are ready they will show you the signs.

Shannon on

I tried for seemed like ever to potty train my son. Nothing was consistant. Then he started Pre-K 3 (he was 3 1/2) and within 2 days he was wearing big boy underwear all day, everyday. I was always told not to force them into it because it would scare them away and delay the whole process. I put alot of time and effort into my son so for “Y” to make the assumption that any child over the age of 2 who is still in diapers dosen’t have the parent(s) commitment to them is wrong. I am fully commited to my child and I am going on a hunch that so are other parents on this page.

Sarah on

Y, I think it’s a little bit of a leap to say that Melissa isn’t trying or putting in any effort because her three year old isn’t fully trained. I might agree with you if Mason were five, but he’s still pretty young. Plus, as many others have said boys are harder to train and all kids develop at different ages. That does not mean that their parents are failing somehow.

MZ on

oh ana, as far as advice goes, i had a friend give me this tip: switch to cloth diapers shortly before starting the process. she said that disposable diapers these days can hold so much and are so comfortable that kids can have dirty diapers for quite awhile and not feel it. i guess the idea is that with cloth they would feel the diapers were dirty and that would provide an incentive to potty train…?

i have no idea if this works; i have a 3 week old. when he’s a couple months old i plan on switching to cloth diapers because they’re cheaper and better for the environment, but nothing to do with potty training. i’d be curious to hear if the type of diapers do have an effect on when a child potty trains.

Daniella on

I agree that every child is different & will go at a different pace than others. As long as the parent puts forth the effort to train the child, I am fine with it. I can tell from Melissa’s statements that she & her husband are putting forth an effort. However, I have also worked at a daycare for the past two years & I can attest to the fact that a number of parents simply do not spend enough time trying to train the children or simply think that the child will be able to partially train themselves. Many times it seems like they want us, the daycare workers, to potty train their children.

My daycare, however, does not admit children past the age of three who are not potty trained unless they have a physical or cognitive disability. This policy was implemented last year due to the fact that many of the older children took their diapers off a few times (enough said) and most of our staff members were sick of changing diapers that were more similar to an adult’s than a child’s.

I tip my hat off to my own mother. I don’t know how she managed it, but she had all of my brothers & I trained by twenty months. And when you ask her about it, she simply states that she could not afford to have two children in diapers at the same time, so she was going to make sure that we were potty trained before the next one came if it was going to kill her. She’ll without doubt be my savior & advisor when I have my first child.

mmh on

Also, Mason became a big brother recently, and, from what I understand from friends who’ve been there, that can defeinitely disrupt potty-training!!!!

Fevvers on

Y I am trying really really hard to strangle my desire to be rude. What gives? Why this need to compare kids all the time and highlight “preceived” superiority in milestones? Personally I don’t care when a child potty trains, a vast majority of this has to do with genetics. There are children on the very end of every spectrum. So what if they toilet train at 4 1/2? If I were you I’d worry more about being at the wrong end of the spectrum for consideration, sensitivity and compassion – which is something as an adult you DO have control over.

Sanja on

While I do agree that every child is different, I also feel that much of it depends on how consistent and persistent parents are.

In my country children have to be potty trained by the time they leave their ‘baby’ group in kindergarten, which starts the Autumn after their 3rd birthday (so it can be at three and a half, almost four or three and two months) and 99% of the kids don’t have any problems (occasional accidents happen of course). So I really believe that potty training should start after the second birthday and by the time the child is three they should have mastered it (even if it take them a year to do it). I was potty trained by the time I was two and 4 months, while my brother was two and 8 months 8we both started at two years old).

Ruthella on

Much like Daniella’s mum (above comment) I took the view that I couldn’t afford to continue buying nappies, and potty trained my three (two boys and one girl) at 24 months. It took a couple of weeks vigilance and quite a few accidents but we got there🙂

Personally, my boys were easier, just because as Summer babies, it was a lot easier to have them undressed in the warm weather around their second birthdays! They were fully dry thru the day by 25/26 months and hopefully my daughter will be too (she’s almost there!)

I will say that they probably weren’t ‘ready’; they weren’t showing any of the signs but having spent a small fortune on nappies, I was determined! And in the fortunate position of being home with them all day to persevere, which definitely helped🙂

I understand that lots of people prefer to wait for the kids to be ready though, and that’s fine too, of course. I’m just too impatient!

NatashaC on

Well in Melissa’s case she had a brand new baby in the house when Mason turned two and on top of that, her husband was touring with his band. I can see why she had some trouble finding time to do it!

angie on

I have to agree with Y, I think 3 is too old to be in diapers, my son was trained at 2.

Besides, is better for the environment (and the economy) if we can leave the diapers earlier.

If you want your child to be trained, just leave him/her in undrewear, it will be a mess, but they are going to feel wet and uncomfortable and the rest is history.

The main reason a child takes too many years in being trained are the high-tech diapers nowadays, that don´t allow the child to feel that akward sensation of being wet.

J. on

OMG – I knew as soon as I read this article that she’d be skewered about her son just starting on the potty at 3. I just knew it! If there is a picture of a kid at 3 with a soother, same thing. Or the coat, or the hair, etc. etc. Talk about judgmental!! Who cares?!! In the end the kid won’t be in diapers when he’s in high school so does it really matter?

Rose on

Y: I agree with you completely. Well said.

lax on

I think Y and Rose are the same person! Y is obviously backing herself up by agreeing with herself under another name!

Mason and Brady are both such cute kids!

Rose on

“I think Y and Rose are the same person!”

There are about 5 or 6 people who have agreed with Y. I guess you think Y is just going around making up multiple names and e-mail addresses all to agree with herself. Does that mean that all of the people who disagree with Y are all on person as well. Is this entire debate taking place between 2 people who are spending all day going back and forth pretending to be different people? LMAO. Your comment is not only rude, but ridiculous lax – but if it makes you feel better to pretend like both Y and my opinions are not valid by pretending like we are the same person, then go ahead.

MZ on

I believe Melissa reads this blog (I know a few of the celebs do and I think she’s one who has said she does). Just remember how she might feel when you post comments judging her for Mason not being potty-trained yet.

Mia on

Everyone does things at a different pace, if you’re ready, you’re ready-if you’re not you’re not. Boys and Girls are different for many many reasons. And naturally, it is easier to potty train girls than boys. Girls…we just sit down and let it go, but Boys have to learn distance and how to aim.

Rose on

“I believe Melissa reads this blog (I know a few of the celebs do and I think she’s one who has said she does). Just remember how she might feel when you post comments judging her for Mason not being potty-trained yet.”

While I think it’s important to not be just straight-up rude or mean when discussing a celebrity – I don’t think we all have to pretend to agree either. Melissa is choosing to put herself, her life, her children, and her parenting out there in a very public way by doing interviews about her children, putting up myspace stuff about them, and doing interviews with this site about her kids – so she is choosing to open herself up to criticism. If a person is going to put their personal life out there for everyone to see like that, then I don’t think they have a right to complain or be upset when some people don’t agree with them or certain aspects of how they live their lives. That’s just par for the course when you lay your personal life out on the table like that.

eternalcanadian on

wow, who cares how old the kid is when it is potty-trained. it will happeen whether at 1 year old or 5 years old. i happen to live in a part of canada where people are like nutso about environmental stuff so all my friends’ babies plus my 3 godchildren wore cloth nappies. both girls and boys were potty trained by the time they were 2 1/2. there wasn’t any difference between the genders when it came to poop, but definitely when it came to pee as the boys wanted to imitate their fathers by standing up and they would miss the potty by a mile, lol.

sally on

Just want to chime in because my boy was trained at 19 months. He was naked around the house and outside a lot and became very aware of his pee & poop. People thought i was crazy but he’s been out of diapers since he was 20 months. One messy week (meaning 1 pee a day as a mistake) and he was done). This is not to judge people. It is just information. People think it’s impossible and tantamount to child abuse to train early but it was the easiest thing in the world. we did not give treats or stickers or bribes and we didn’t even hoot and yell and shout good job. we just said, you did it, you peed in the potty or pooped in the potty or whatever. he never put up any resistance to it because it was just what you do… i think when they get older there is a lot more about control and knowing what you want them to do so they have power over this one thing and they use it. like not eating. People used to all be trained by 2 so it isn’t physically impossible you just have to spend a bunch of time at home together with no pants on.

Anna on

I do agree with Y a little. In the past parents also didn’t wait until the children were ready to potty train and children were trained a lot earlier. But nowadays people tend to follow their children in what the child wants to do and it delays the potty training.

The earlier potty trained the better, no more diapers to change, no more diapers in the landfill.

Also if you look at developing countries, where many people have no money for diapers. Children are often trained around 1 year old.

Nicole on

Good for Melissa, she sounds like am amazing mom.

Every child is different and reaches their milestones at different times, the key is patience and love!

Ruthella on

Just to add; regarding ‘aim and distance’ I made my boys sit down to per until they were about 3.5, however much they wanted to ‘be like Daddy’ (and they did want to, of course!)

I found my girl harder cos she’s a madam and more, hmmm…forthright in her opinions than her brothers! I guess they’re all different🙂

hannah on

on my son’s 2nd b’day i decided the cold turkey approach was for me and ditched the nappies and put my son in underwear. I reasoned that if he did a pee or a poop he would get wet/gross and would be motivated to use the toilet. 18 months later and the kid is still in underwear but he is NOT toilet-trained (3 1/2)… we are talking maybe 2 accidents a day, every day. Now i don’t know what super-moms like Y are doing that i’m not…. but i would say that after 18 months I could hardly be accused of not putting in time and effort.

What is the problem then? Frankly, i don’t think my son is the most fastidious of human beings… wet or poopy underpants do not faze him. He would happily play in poopy pants for hours at a time (though he does draw the line at sitting in his car seat in pooopy pants) – indeed he has told me about 100 times that nappies are better than the toilet because you don’t have to stop a game to use a nappy. Fingers crossed he won’t be sharing this unique philosophy with his first-grade teacher!

Stephany on

Hm…I can’t say I agree with Y (and I do think she came across a little self-righteous) but I can’t say I disagree with her. Yes, some parents are lazy (I work in a daycare, I know this for a fact) but she seemed to be referring to Melissa which I think is extremely unfair. It is obvious she was working with her son, not to mention a new baby joining the family which is bound to cause her son to revert back to “babyhood”. Unless you are her very best friend and know for a fact she didn’t put forth effort, then your comment is wrong.

All kids develop at their own rates. That’s common sense.

tara on

i just want to say that i am in the same place as Melissa is!!! i think our sons are very close born a few days apart……it is a hard job…and i do put in my time and work at it but if he is not going to do it he is not!!!!!!!! yes all kids are different boys are harder my older son was 3 1/2 when he decide have no more diaper/pullups…he got up in the morning and that was that.. with my 3 yr old now some days is great others not so much but each day we work at it!!!!!!

MiB on

I used to work with toddlers in daycare, and feel that I have some things to add to the discussion. People have already brought up maturity (being ready) and percistency/consistency. But I would like to add, that in my experience girls are earlier than boys, children who wear cloth diapers are earlier than those who wear disposables and some children just don’t have time to be bothered with potty training since they are either to busy playing or so absorbed in their play, that they simply don’t care or notice that they are wet.

Another thing, my boss, who had at that time almost 40 years experience of working with children, said that children today are potty trained later than they were 10 years ago (by now almost 20 years ago) and she thought, that it was because the nappies have become better, dryer and thinner, and that the children don’t notice them as much as they used to.

Susie Pearson on

The problem is that people today wait too late to potty train their children, and they expect it to happen overnight, or they expect their child to figure it out themselves (simply moving a child from diapers to undies and assuming that’s enough is wrong — you’ve spent years training them to pee/poo in a diaer, you have to unlearn that). It takes time and patience, the earlier you start, the easier it will be. Read up on infant pottying, we have pottied our kids from birth (4 kids), all of them were pottying themselves well before they turned 18 months of age. Waiting until a child is two years of age or older is simply too long — they don’t call it ‘the terrible twos’ for nothing. I would encourage Melissa to read up on it, perhaps she could apply it to her youngest son. Best of luck to her.

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