Potty training, one of the worst parts of parenting. I started really young with my first, now I have no idea why but it made sense at the time. She was 15 months, I was pregnant with my second so I was highly emotional and irrational. It took a long time I will admit. By 18 months she had pretty much cognitively got it and we were doing good. Then came along her new baby sister and that through it all off again. I would say by 2 we were confidently potty trained.
With my second, I learned my lesson and waited. There were also many different factors this time. She was in daycare so not with my all day like the first time around. That also helped as she saw other kids using the toilet all the time. We started around 18 months and then gave up out of painful reminders of the first time around haha. At 2 years old, we started again. Made a plan with the daycare so we were all being consistent and then went for it. It took 3 freaking days, not 3 freaking months. I could not believe it. Knock on wood, we are weeks or maybe even over a month in, and we are accident-free!
Since I have been involved in 2 very different potty training methods, I have learned somethings the hard way that I thought could possibly be helpful to others on the fun journey of cleaning up pee all over their house.
This is the biggest advice. I have seen lots of methods that involve putting your kids on the potty every 30 mins or hour, but this really isn’t teaching anyone anything. What we are trying to teach them is to feel they have to go, and learn what to do. If they are simply being put on the potty at intervals, if they go it’s not teaching them they had to go.
Babies are born with ‘cue’s’, meaning they do things before, during and after they need to go. Both my daughters shiver before they have to pee. As they are in diapers for a 1-2 years, their body starts to stop these ‘cues’ To figure out if your child still has any, it takes a lot of watching and focus. I literally had to follow my daughter around for 3 days and not take my eyes off her, I must have not been as dependent on my cell phone back then or something because I’m sure I would fail at that now.
There are SO many reward systems out there; candy, sticker charts etc etc. I am not saying they are bad or not to do them, just that to be careful about how dependent they become on them. I have seen kids get really exciting about it the first weeks because of the rewards and then lose interest. We tried a reward system of high fives and praise and it seemed to work great. With my second, the first 3 days we did offer chocolate so I’m absolutely not crushing this system, just to be careful with it.
The first days or week, make sure you are writing down a chart of Success’s vs. Accidents. As long as you are seeing SOME improvement (like 1 less accident is an accomplishment) This is extremely helpful when you feel like your child is not getting it and you are considering wine at 10 a.m. If you are seeing the opposite, maybe it is not the right time.
I was newly pregnant when I started with my first; I was exhausted, emotional and had less patience than ever. This did not set up an environment for success. Especially when we sat on the potty for 10 minutes and then she stood up and peed on the floor beside the toilet. I will admit, I did not handle many moments well! It is equally important that you prepare YOURSELF emotionally and mentally for potty training as it is that your child seems ready!
There is a lot of sacrifice and time spent on this task for a minimum of a couple of days. I went into potty training with my second the first time around and was not mentally ready to take it on and we all failed pretty quickly. Trust me, this is key to the success of getting out of diapers.
It is Okay to Give up
If this is becoming something extremely negative for you or your child, giving up is not the worst thing you can do. I had to give up the first time around because neither of us were mentally ready for it and
that was the best decision for us both. Don’t be too hard on yourself; if it’s not the right time now, it could be in a month. In the grand scheme of things, one month makes NO difference. The goal is to attempt to get through the potty-training ordeal with still liking each other and so if taking a break will have the result, then go to the store and buy some diapers and relax. Chances are the next time you will be successful and quicker.
Prepare your house
I literally took out a carpet out of our house in our family room for the first weeks. Potty training comes with messes, its inevitable. Get your house ready for it. I recommend a box of entertaining toys for inside the bathroom to keep them occupied. If your child is scared or doesn’t want to sit on the potty, they won’t sit there long enough to actually go.
Which Potty to use?
There are seriously 50 different types of potty to pick from. Keep this in mind: If it is not going directly into your toilet, then YOU are transferring and cleaning it. This was the biggest difference in both my kids. My first sat on a little cute pink potty with a toilet paper holder (like what? seriously? what was I thinking, as if I used that) but every time she went, it was my job to transfer and clean…. aka a nightmare.
Then it took MUCH longer to get her onto a normal potty. We even had a travel potty that came along with us for a while that she would only go on; it is the most disgusted memory of her childhood I can
assure you off that.
With my second, she actually refused to use a separate potty and wanted just the little seat that went on top of our toilet. This has been much more ideal and she will sit on a regular toilet if I hold her because she is used to it being this way. But seriously if your kid will go because there is Dora or Thomas on it, then do it. Whatever keeps the sanity people.
Don’t go back and Forth
If you are going to do it, Do it. Don’t go back and forth, don’t take their diapers off for 1 day and back in the next. It is so confusing for them, and from what I have learned, extends the time in between not potty-trained and potty trained. So what do you do when you are going for a long car ride? or someone else’s house? I would say gauge that based on your child. With my oldest when we got rid of diapers, we 100% not looking back, didn’t even buy diapers. We spent time with friends who had children and understood, and had potty-training friendly bathrooms for the first bit. We avoided long trips as much as we could at the start, and if we did we would pull over several times and try to go (hence the travelling potty) With my second, once I really felt that she ‘got it’ I wasn’t as concerned about it confusing her and would put a diaper if the situation warranted it. So my advice would be watch your child if you are going back and forth. For my one daughter she was so beyond confused when I did and my other she didn’t notice and still managed to wait until we got to a potty.
This is up to you. I followed a program that recommended taking away diapers including night-time. I could not commit to this, I like my sleep and this entails your nighttime closely resembling the newborn days, not something I jump on board to do quickly. We waited and now we have one in diapers and one out of diapers at night-time. When it was finally time to bite the bullet and night-time train my oldest, it was a lot of work and interrupted my beautiful sleep and it was terrible, not to sugar coat it or anything. At first we did not find success in waking her up around 10-11pm and taking her to pee while she slept, instead she turned into the hulk and bit me. It took a few months for us all to recover and then we tried again. Now we try the recommended; limit liquids before bed (at which point she becomes so parched she can’t even stand), we do most nights pick her up in her sleep and take her to the potty and most times she pee’s and goes right back to bed….. or wakes up her younger sister and then they are both crying in half-sleep/half-anger trances and I sit on the floor of their room and cry and wonder what my thought process was to do this to myself, and my husband goes to sleep and tell’s me I’m crazy. So, I’m just going to leave this one up to what works for you, I will never judge you for valuing sleep and having a 4/5-year-old in diapers at night because that was my least favourite part of this whole gig, and I have to do it again and I’m dreading it.
Please don’t take this article as if I know everything or am preaching about potty training, as I write this my daughter just had an accident so I truly don’t have this all figured out. I just wanted to share some things I have learned along the way, and hope they help at least one person! All us moms are trying to get to the same goal: to stop wiping people s butt’s, give them a bit of independence and in reality a bit of a break for us. Whatever way you do it, at whatever age your child is, in the end who really cares as long as they don’t go to university in diapers right?