Potty Training… I dreaded it. No, not being trained, I’m perfectly content to use the toilet for myself thank-you-very-much. But training a toddler?! Remembering to put a little one on the potty at regular intervals throughout the day… using public restrooms (blah!!)… cleaning up inevitable accidents… figuring how to undress and reclothe a squirmy little person standing up instead of lying down… and let’s not even get started on figuring out how to wipe that little bottom!! People say they hate diapers. Not I. Diapers are easy. The kid goes when they gotta go, you change ’em when you get a chance. It all gets thrown away… or washed, which is a little less fun, but still more convenient than squatting in a public bathroom for twenty minutes balancing a 2 year old on the precipice of a septic disaster.
But it has to be done. No one wants to sit in their own filth. Even though they might think they do right now, they’ll thank you later. And really, once you get used to flushing everything you realize what a pain (and expense!) diapers were, and wonder why you didn’t try potty training sooner.
Everyone’s got a method. There’s the potty-train-in-a-day side (or maybe like 1 person out there who has done it and believes it can be done), and on the other side of the spectrum there’s the just-sit-them-on-the-potty-once-in-a-while-to-get-used-to-the-idea-and-one-day-they’ll-get-it side. There are books and blogs and way more advice than you know what to do with.
I don’t have a method. But I now have one experience, so I’ll share that with you, along with a couple of tips and tools that have helped. I know next time around is going to be a whole different rodeo – a boy vs a girl, and perhaps most importantly, a completely different individual. Kids don’t come with manuals, and they don’t follow them either!
Potty Trainers, unite. Encourage one another. Your little one will one day empty their bladders and bowels in the correct vessel, of their own accord, and you won’t even know about it.
But for now, perhaps today, you’ll be keeping a diary about every time that doesn’t happen…
It has begun! This morning I announced to Miss E (26 months) that she is all done with diapers and now gets to wear big girl underwear. That’s right, no more diapers. I think it would be really confusing to her if sometimes it’s ok for her to pee in her pants and other times she’s supposed to go in the potty. Nope. We’re all in. (I will use pull-ups for naps and night time… I’m not that ready to go all in! Ha. But we’ll call them “special underwear” or something… not diapers.)
Overview: I put her on the potty about every half hour throughout the day, and yet she hasn’t gone in it once.
Emotions/Thoughts: Am I doing this right? Am I rushing her? What if she’s not ready? Statistically, what percentage of the day can she sit on her potty without at least accidentally peeing a little?! What have I gotten myself into? Everyone learns how to pee on toilet eventually… right?!
Frustrations: See “Overview” and fill in the blanks 🙂
Successes: She didn’t fight me to sit on the potty. Even as I snuggled her right before bed, she agreed to sit on the potty one more time. She likes her pretty underwear, and can repeat back that she’s supposed to keep it dry and pee on the potty.
Yes, I literally wrote the above entry on Day 1. I planned to continue to document the process until I realized that Day 2 and 3 and 4 were going to read like a copy-and-paste of day Day 1. Still sitting her on the potty at regular intervals throughout the day, still nothing! I’d heard that if they sit there long enough their bound to go. Well, one of our “successes” was that she didn’t mind sitting on her little pot, so we’d look at books. FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF…. AFTER DRINKING A WHOLE CUP OF JUICE. And still nothing. Until she was in the living room. Seriously?!
Day 5… Day 6… Day 7…
It felt like every day was a repeat. And with the frustrations it pretty much was. However, every day there were also new successes to be found. Telling me she had gone right after (ah, she noticed!). A wet trail leading to the bathroom (she knows where she’s supposed to go!). A continued willingness to sit on the potty (one less battle to fight).
Looking for the successes kept me going that first week.
And then it happened. I could tell she was about to go and I ran her (albeit squirming and kicking) to the bathroom and sat her down. She went a little. Saw it was in the potty, and realized it had come from her and not the potty itself. First breakthrough.
Of course I hoped one time was all it would take, but it wasn’t. More accidents. More uneventful squats on the pot. But then she went again. And slowly but surely, she would go on the toilet more often than in her underwear. And then she caught on fast. With Miss E, in about 2 weeks she was regularly going on the potty throughout the day, and just wearing pull-ups for naps and nighttime. But that was some full time potty training. We basically stayed home that entire first week and I had her on the toilet regularly all through the day. Not everyone has that “luxury,” I know. But I felt like that was important for consistency, and also not going back to diapers. It took a couple days for her to realize when her underwear were wet (she hadn’t minded a wet diaper much), but then once she did she didn’t like it. It really helped that she wanted to keep her pretty underwear “clean and dry” (that was the mantra). (If you have kids that could care less, I’m so sorry. That has got to be an exceedingly frustrating obstacle to overcome. But they will! Hang in there..)
Clean, dry “big girl” underwear. (Positive enforcement and lots of praise. It seems that most toddlers love to please! I tried to avoid any sort of shaming tactics, tempting as it was. Do any of us really respond well to be told we’re not doing something as well as we could be, should be, or someone else is?!)
Flushing (We kept the rewards small. We started with the privilege of flushing. Stickers and chocolate chips were in my bag of tricks too.)
Tools of the Trade
Here are a couple of things that have aided our potty training experience:
Porta’Potty: I traded in my diaper bag for a potty bag. Hya, it looks like an innocent library tote, doesn’t it? But inside it holds the key to our early training days. A tiny, easy-to-clean, portable pot. When were at the coffee shop, or grocery store, or even at Nana’s we’d just go to the bathroom and pull out her familiar, toddler-sized latrine. When I forgot to put her on the toilet before getting in the car and she informed me three minutes into our drive that she had to tinkle, we pulled off to the side of the road and pulled out the potty.
Built-in Potty Seat: After wrestling with a pink, padded, Dora the Explorer potty seat that I kept on the bathroom floor beside the toilet (eww), we made the switch to a built-in adult/child toilet seat. (I’m not trying to hate on this popular pottying solution.. but I found it cumbersome and hard to clean! So many crevices… blegh.)
We bought ours on Amazon (check it out HERE), and let me tell you… the $37 has been totally worth it!! It’s easy to use and easy to clean. Little bottoms will be sitting on it for years to come.
Oh, and one super awesome feature that I have to mention… the child seat stays attached to the lid magnetically, so adults can proceed to toilet themselves unhindered, and yet it’s easy enough to put the child seat down for the little ones!
Good Reads: I’m sure you’ve seen an issue or two of Reader’s Digest on the back of a toilet, but have you seen a basket of fun reads like this? We keep some bathroom books handy for those times when patience is needed to doo the deed. (Get it?! Doo??)
One more thing… As much as I love the built-in toilet seat, for now we are keeping a little potty in the bathroom next to the toilet. It’s working out well for Miss E to learn to go on her own without me needing to be there to lift her onto the toilet, and it’s also nice for her to sit there with feet grounded when it’s time for #2.
So that’s it. No methods or promises, just a few ideas and some tips on what’s been working for us. Hang in there, potty trainers. Your little one will get it one of these days. There won’t always be diapers and accidents and little bottoms needing to be wiped. Who knows, maybe we’ll miss that someday…