I type this post from the OTHER SIDE. The OTHER SIDE of what seemed like a deep ocean of….well, pee, tears, frustration, and…other stuff. We began our potty training journey on April Fool’s Day (perhaps the first mistake on our part), and I’ll admit, for me, it was almost as hard as the newborn stage.
I’ll start by saying I didn’t do a lot of reading or research before we began. (Perhaps the second mistake on our part.) I tried to read an actual potty training BOOK, but 30 pages in, it was STILL talking about making it a “fun and pleasurable” experience for your child, and I was over it. (I do believe that’s important, just not 30 pages important.) So I settled for advice from several friends that have gone before me and the “Three Day Method” PDF, which is super short and totally to the point. (That woman doesn’t hold the punches!) I’ll admit, even though I believe she has an anointing to potty train in 3 Days, I just can’t imagine how that’s true. But I did love the PDF because it taught me everything I needed to know about potty training, which is encouragement, commitment, and, repetition. (And there’s amazing FAQ’s that essentially cover every possible scenario!) I’ll skip past all the details and just recommend that you read it!
Since we seemed to have come out alive on the other side, I’ll share some personal thoughts on our experience if you are about to be All Aboard the Potty Train:
1) There is NEVER a good time to potty train. There’s ALWAYS going to be something more fun, more important, or inconvenient happening. (In our case, we started the week before we were flying to Mississippi for Easter weekend.) If it’s time to do it, you just have to rip the Band-Aid off, say NO to some things, and commit to staying home a few days. Which leads me to tip #2….
2) Stay home several days. Make this investment. And when I mean stay home, I mean STAY HOME. No walking to the park, no “runs” to the grocery store. I was even shy to let Greyson in the backyard. The Three Day Method stresses this, and the point is to be as close to the potty as humanly possible to catch the little tee-tee head in the middle of their accident and let them “finish” on the potty. By Day 3 I was LOSING MY MIND, but staying home the first few days and being ALL ABOUT THE POTTY TRAIN really got us off to a good start. It sealed the idea in Greyson’s head.
3) Make it a positive experience. For everyone! Kick your training off with a “Potty Party” and a new Potty Book. Lay out all the new “Big Girl/Big Boy” underwear, and let your little tot choose their first pair. Give them a crown and call them “King/Queen of the Potty”. You can let your imagination run wild with this, and tailor it to your kid’s specific likes. It doesn’t have to be fancy! For us, this was a chocolate cupcake, a Potty Superhero book, and Blaze undies. Also be prepared with fun things to do inside…pull out the train tracks, get some puzzles, play hide and seek, rent a few movies! You’ll want lots of activities to keep your little bandit busy inside for a few days! There are tons of fun songs and videos to keep your Potty Party fun and going strong! (We love the Daniel Tiger Potty song!)
4) Go cold turkey on diapers. I obeyed this rule as instructed by the 3 Day Method AND my pediatrician. We made a big ceremony of Greyson throwing his diapers away and telling him he didn’t wear diapers anymore. His doctor claimed that Pull-Ups are super confusing, and I agree. When we did seem to have a set-back, I connected the dots, and they were putting him in a Pull-Up at Mother’s Day Out. I totally understand this was for their convenience (and sanity, with 12 other potty-training toddlers), but this is when and where he started having accidents. It’s a safety net and they know it! (Edit: this does not apply to night-time potty training, which I feel like is a totally different situation.)
5) Prep EVERYTHING and use the Buddy System. This was another tip that I found to be totally valuable, true, and worthwhile. Since you’re going to be inside for several days, plan all your meals, do all the laundry, pull up all the rugs, load up on paper towels and cleaning spray; have everything at the tip of your fingers. The point is to have eyes on your little cherub ALL DAY long, because you never know when it’s time to make a dash! When I did shift my focus, there was always an accident! Fortunately, my hubby was home all weekend and was our personal chef and errand runner. I can imagine that all this would be 10x harder with multiple children, so I recommend booking your spouse or a family member or friend to take care of any “residual children” while you reign over the Potty Party. ; ) I know this sounds like a lot of prep work, but I PROMISE, it’s totally worth it!
6) Load up on a prize box. Listen, I’m FULL BELIEVER in toddler bribery. I’ll admit, I was a little nervous that this would really “spoil” my child (who are we kidding, he’s already spoiled). And even though he still makes a brief campaign for a “prize” after he goes #2, the potty really became the norm, and he doesn’t expect something every time he goes. This also amps up the excitement of potty training, and keeps new toys/activities in the mix to fill up a lot of time spent in the house! Just like everything else, social media is RAISING THE BAR on what the Potty Prize Box looks like. But this can be full of simple things! Think Dollar Tree and Target Dollar aisle here, mamas.
7) Chart the results. This is something I came up with last minute. After a few successes and failures, everything was running together and I felt like I was losing track of our progress. So I threw together a quick chart that I coined the “Dry-Mometer”. I’d put a sticker on the chart for every hour that passed that Greyson stayed dry! (Another great activity to pass the time!) After 3 days, it really was neat to visually see our progress!
8) Be patient. I really felt like potty training was the hardest thing behind sleep training. It’s mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. We were in and out of the bathroom every 2 seconds it seemed. I’m assuming this is common for all children, but Greyson had a hard time really “emptying out”, so we’d get off the potty and he’d have an accident the second we’d walk out the door. Expect it and just be patient. I know this is easier said than done. If you can, try to schedule a time that your hubby or family member or friend can step in for just an hour or two and give you a break. (My hubby realized I was losing it on Day 2.5 and forced me out…I gladly obliged and headed to Beauty and the Beast by myself.)
9) Slowly re-immerse back into civilization, knowing there will be accidents. This was quite possibly the hardest part. I was SO ready to get back into our routine of going places like the gym, church, or just a simple outing. But I was so afraid of being away from a potty. My biggest tip is on this is JUST DO IT. (After of course, you’ve spent a few solid days at home to get that initial training in their heads.) Start small, so you feel the taste of success and build your confidence. When you do go somewhere, eye all the closest potties. (I carried the little toddler potty in the back of my SUV, and that saved us a few times.) But the best thing that I can tell you is…take a deep breath…now exhale…and and resign to the fact that your child is gonna pee and poop in his pants in public OR in the care of someone else, like a nursery worker. I felt SO HORRIBLE if Greyson had a bad accident, like perhaps there was error in my potty training skills. But listen-THEY’RE TODDLERS…and it’s nothing these people haven’t seen or dealt with before. Now, repeat after me: “My child’s failed attempts at potty training is not a failure on me as a parent.” So pack some extra undies, shorts, and trash bags, and start living life again. ; )
10) Accept that this will take time and KNOW that you WILL conquer this! One of the things that drove me NUTS was other moms telling me: “Honey, he’s not gonna be 16 and wearing diapers.” Although I appreciated their encouragement, and understood what they meant, it felt like they were invalidating the hardship of this season, albeit, a short one. Find a friend who will let you vent about your child’s bodily functions. (Heck, mine were even praying for me daily.) And in the meantime, I DO want to encourage you that this IS a season. A HARD one. DO NOT COMPARE your child to anyone else’s. Remember, they’ve been in diapers their entire lives, so they’ve got to develop the will and control to keep their undies clean.
People kept telling me that when it clicks, it’ll be done. My son was a big ole fail in the #2 department, but when it clicked, we went from auto-shipping character underwear every 48 hours to zero accidents within days.
Three months later, and we have this under our belts. It may take you longer, it may take you less time. But be assured, Mama, God has gifted you with all the ability and patience you need! You WILL get this…