Before I turn into a blubbering, sleepless, mess I figured I’d pass on my sage advice about potty training since I’m sure you don’t have any other place to find it on the world wide web.
This is not a ‘how to potty train your child in X amount of days’ post. This is not a how to do anything post. This is simply a post containing notes about an activity that few prefer to discuss, unless of course you have young children and, like me, have totally lost sight of the fact that talking about bowel movements at a taco shop is inappropriate.
To a degree, I feel when anyone gives advice it is partially self-serving; a way for the advice giver to bask in whatever the accomplishment is that they are giving advice on. This is not my conscious intention. I feel as though I need to pen this down before I have the next baby. It’s on my mental checklist along with ‘fix the fireplace’ and ‘buy more frozen rice’. Thank you for allowing me to do what I need to do to be approximately 6% ready to experience childbirth again. Carrying on…
We got a potty for Sprout for her first birthday. She had recently begun the phase that is unravelling all the toilet paper rolls à la the kid on the cover of the Love You Forever book. It seemed appropriate to gift her with her own roll and tiny throne. Back when I was nannying I had read a book about how you could potty train very young children, even as young as six months old. I was intrigued. Of course this story included some conspiracy type theories about how the diaper companies had plotted to convince us parents and caregivers that diapers were necessary even for very mature kids (heck, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve considered wearing them during the end of this pregnancy just so I wouldn’t have to get up to go). The sizing of diapers had only gone up over the years-the book pointed out. Knowing that diapers take basically infinity years to decompose, I was convinced that I would help the kid I was nannying and my some-day kids get out of diapers sooner by starting sooner.
After her birthday, Sprout used the potty infrequently for three days straight. Then she refused to use it after that. I put it away hoping that absence would make the heart grow fonder.
When she was a year and a half I was both pregnant and feeling like she was ready. I am not easily convinced that something I want cannot be accomplished and I truly believed Sprout could do it. We got the potty back out and began doing diaper free time every morning for a few hours. There were many accidents, but only part of our living room rug suffered. I kept a sheepskin on the sofa whenever she was sitting on it pants free. During this phase I often had to lure Sprout to the potty with books (mainly Potty and Daniel Goes to the Potty). Eventually I had to up the ante with YouTube videos, so I started this playlist with some favorites. I would bring water in and even kept a few lemonade juice boxes in the bathroom cabinet so she would have a better shot at success. We would basically just hang out in the bathroom until something happened and slowly it started working and I phased out the props.
During diaper free time, I would get her to go to the bathroom every half hour or so. I never gave her a reward (you know, aside from the juice and screen time) and mostly just piled on the praise. In the “French Parenting Book” it says something about asking your child if they are proud of themselves rather than announcing that you are proud of them. Every time Sprout used the potty successfully I would clap and cheer and ask if she was proud of herself. She always said “No“, I think, just to spite me.
In my mind I broke down potty training into 5 phases:
- Using the potty while naked at home
- Using the potty with undies and eventually clothes on at home
- Using public restrooms
- Going without being prompted
- Staying dry during nap and night
We’ve tabled #5 until a later time, but over the course of six or so months, Sprout learned to use the potty and I got really good at cleaning up pee using only one paper towel. Some days I just wasn’t in the mood to worry about dealing with an accident, so I’d put her in a diaper. The quickest success always came when I suffered through some extra work though (warning: a poop accident in underwear is 10X worse than in a diaper. Some clothing may have to be sacrificed). A friend also told me that the thinner the undies, the better. I keep this wet bag and extra undies in my diaper bag. For a few months, I even toted the tiny toilet around. After Sprout saw her three-year-old girl-idol, my friend Stephanie’s daughter Maddie, use the potty, I felt like it really sealed the deal since she wanted to be as grownup-cool as her friend.
Some of the most embarrassing accidents happened at the library and one at gymnastics class when I had to be called from the other side of the gymnasium while my child peed helplessly on a tumbling mat. It’s worth noting that, in these scenarios, everyone was very understanding. I learned that all you have to do is ask for cleaning supplies and carry on. I have also not been opposed to allowing her to pee behind bushes when I didn’t think she’d make it to our next stop. Scott doesn’t approve of this, however, especially when I do it. To each their own? I like how Erin of Reading My Tea Leaves says “Wash hands, move right along”. It’s really not that big of a deal when you think that even the messiest of potty accidents can be left in the past after some good scrubbing with plain old soap and water. I also keep cleaning wipes in nearly every room of the house.
Even if she doesn’t admit it, I know Sprout is proud of herself. She asks to use the potty at restaurants and at home, even when swimming and happily comes running out of the bathroom (often with a potty of pee) exclaiming about her successes.
And that’s all I’ve got for now. How about you? Have you had to throw out any clothing? What are your tricks?