Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Come ride the potty train...

aside from the absurd mouse tail, could these pull-ups be cuter?
I finally bit the bullet and started potty training Leighton last week.  And despite the fact that it had been years since my last potty training experience, the "I think I'm going to completely loose my mind here" moments were still very clear in my memory (think 12 pairs of wet panties by 10:00am).  Which is why it has taken me so long to start with Leighton.  And of course it was perfect timing to start on the hottest week of the year, as well as Ellie's first week of kindergarten (which has required me to make 4-5 trips to school each day).  Add a bit more chaos to the mix I guess.

I am no expert on potty training.  I haven't written any potty books or produced any potty videos, but I have discovered several truths that have helped me make it though this final round of it.  So for all my friends with soon to be trained toddlers of their own, I hope this helps.

Truth #1 You have to do what works for your child and for you. 
Every mom has their fool proof method...pull ups, definitely no pull ups, panties, training pants, diapers, cloth diapers, and completely bunsie (our term for naked around here), pump the liquids, restrict the liquids, give candy rewards, use sticker charts, sit on the pot every 15 minutes, sit on the pot all day, never leave the house, bring your port-a-potty with you wherever you go...and on and on. Everyone will give you their two cents.  But the truth is, every child is different and you have to do what works for your child and for you.  

Truth #2 At first, you are not potty training your child.  You are potty training yourself.  
It takes a good while before they actually tell you they need to go.  For weeks its you telling them, "Its time to go".  Not "Do you have to go potty?" or "Do you want to go potty?"  Because 99% off the time they will answer these questions with a big fat NO!  But its not up to them yet, its up to you  (I'm realizing this idea goes way beyond potty training and is a major parenting theme here...)

Truth #3 You have to be consistent.
The biggest part of this "self potty training" for me is consistency (like taking her to the potty every 30 minutes) which means I can't get distracted and let too much time go by, or run long errands without taking her to the bathroom.  It has to be on the forefront of my mind all day (thank God for naps when I can escape potty on the brain!).  And I can't let the fact that she doesn't feel like going and may make a fuss keep me from being consistent.   Sometimes its going to be a battle.  I've had to strong arm a "stiff as a board" child into a sitting position on the potty many a time.

Truth #4 You can potty train with diapers.
For me,  the accidents have a tendency to put me over the edge (especially on carpet and furniture).  So I've been using diapers for the last week.  I know if I'm lazy with her and let her go potty in her diaper, it will just take me that much longer to train her.  And she doesn't seem to have a preference for diapers, pullups, or panties at this point.  She will pee in them all if I let her.  Since pullups are more expensive and I've got a truckload of leftover diapers, we are using those for now.  After several days of being dry all day (or when my diaper supply starts to run low), I'll just put her in a diaper when we are out or for sleeping, and brave the panties at home.

Truth #5 Liquids are scary but necessary.
Leighton is the queen of the sipee so she is drinking 6+ cups of water/juice/milk a day. This allows her to pee every time she sits on the potty.  We don't have long sessions of waiting on the potty because she constantly has a full bladder.  Giving your child tons of liquids may seem like its going to make more work for you (and it may at first), but I think they need to have lots of opportunities to go before they can understand what's going on.

 Truth # 6 Number two is a whole different game.
Please note I am just talking about peeing here.  Number two is a different ball game.  She still is pooping in her diaper (or the floor!) if I let her out of my sight. The only thing I can do is watch her like a hawk and as soon as I see her starting to grunt it out, run her to the potty.  Number two does have warning signals.  It's the least it can do.

Truth #7  Potty training really is easier when they are "ready"
So far this time around, we've had a lot of success.  Leighton is staying dry all day (after 1 week) and waking up from bed and naps dry too.  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that she was physically and mentally ready for it (she is 2 1/2  years old).  I feel like I tried too early with Brooklyn (thus the 12 pairs of wet panties) and had to give it another go a few months later (with more success).  There is a physiological element to being able to hold your bladder as well as a behavioral maturity factor that make a big difference.  I'm sure this is proven in science somewhere.

And lastly, it's okay if you take the slow road at this.  Its okay to quit and plan to start at it again later.  Its okay if all your friends' kids are potty experts before yours.  Its okay if it takes 10,000 pullups to do the job.  Its okay if you set the potty chair in the middle of the living room in front of the TV.  Its okay if your child pees in the cart every time you go to Target.  Its okay.  You will get there, and so will they.


  1. Love this! Thanks for confirming that I don't need to start potty training yet! (: -Hannah

  2. What a hilarious hoot from a wise experienced owl! I remember having y'all for dinner when Liam was newborn and having to cut our night short because Brooklyn went through all of her reserve potty training panties! Looks like your "learnt a thing er two" from then to now and I'm glad you passed the wisdom on to me as I face my second run at potty training. Eeesh. Think peer pressure like "Leighton is younger and she..." would work, too?

  3. Awesome Erin!!! So true! Do what works for you and your kid. Kevin finally decided he wanted to do number two on the potty in the last week of March. It wasn't worth the fight (and constant constipation). It will happen eventually. :)