Say it 4 times as fast as you can. 🙂
Seriously though, potty training is a topic I’ve avoided (if you’ve noticed) precisely because I’ve been avoiding potty training. In fact I started searching for a potty training school and would have gladly paid any price to enroll Sam in it if it meant I wouldn’t have to do it. But alas, such a school doesn’t exist.
I was happy to wait for her to tell me she wanted to do it. I’ve heard it happen to some people and frankly I wasn’t brave enough to handle (or clean up!) the consequences of not having Pampers in the house. I made a feeble attempt a few months back, but one stinky accident made me reconsider. Thank goodness we rent, and thank goodness we moved!
THEN. Three weeks ago, Sam got a bad diaper rash she would cry just being in her diapers. I was forced to remove them and the instant potty training began. Now the books say that’s the first thing you shouldn’t do – decide instantaneously. As a result, I was stressed but plowed through anyway. I didn’t have a choice and it seemed like the best time since she’d be out of school for 7 days straight. Now we are potty trained (Whew!) and as the days go by, I breathe a little easier.
I will spare you with the tips and how to’s because:
1) There are already so many resources about potty training on the internet and that alone will drive you nuts. Babycenter.com has several pages on it if you want to start reading through them;
2) As a parent you will have to go through it anyway sooner or later with your child and will go nuts in your own time; and
3) I am no expert (but can you tell I’ve gone nuts?). I can only speak for training one girl and have no experience with boys.
What I will tell you is what helped us through this experience.
1) The resource I used was a PDF file I got from my friend Gwen. It’s called Potty Training Made Easy, Simple and Fast by Johanne Cesar. I’m happy to pay the good deed forward and email you a copy, just let me know.
2) It is one of the most difficult things I’ve had to teach Sam, because I’m constantly competing with all her activities and distractions, which she’d rather do. Taking her away to weewee or poopsie is always a challenge, even when she needs to go. It’s gotten better over time now that she knows the sensation, but she will tell me a minute before she really needs to go. At that point I say a prayer, drop everything (even Jamie who is sometimes asleep in my arms) and make a mad dash to the restroom.
3) It is also INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING. First of all, because accidents keep happening during and after the “3-day training“, and second of all, because here you are, bringing them to the potty every 30 minutes or so, or sounding like a broken record and asking every 30 minutes, and yet an accident will happen anyway. Of course it doesn’t help that she will constantly say NO when I ask her if she needs to go. Mostly, I think the frustration comes from not being able to take it out on the culprit and you have to say, “It’s okay, we know better next time,” in spite of how you really feel. Then you have to clean up the mess. Our apartment is fully carpeted too, so you can imagine my cleaning stress (Step 1 pat dry, step 2 scrub Lysol wipes on it and step 3 use carpet cleaner) on top of washing the clothes and cleaning the toddler. Thankfully, Sam never had an accident with #2, which was my biggest worry. That’s why when she first pooped in the potty, in my delight, I rewarded her with a new Cabbage Patch doll (as compared to the little stickers she would get for peeing).
A word on accidents though — as my friend Nicole says, they’re a necessary evil. Sam has developed this panicked look and cries out “Ohhh ohh! Mommy! Mommy!” when an accident happens and she looks incredibly guilty. I think that has helped her to know and to tell me that she needs to go. You just have to prepare yourself for it, especially when it happens in public.
4) I find the 3-day claim misleading. I’d say, you’re able to test and establish your theories in 3 days, thereby significantly decreasing the chances of accidents happening once you strip them of their diapers. But potty training is an on-going process which I feel will take months before you can actually “relax your guard”. For instance in our case, I was able to determine that I didn’t have to ask Sam to go to the potty every 30 minutes because after she went once, she could go 2-3 hours without having to go again. If she drank a significant amount of liquid, then she’d have to go in an hours’ time. Her poop time wasn’t consistently a certain time of day like the document said it might be, but I again was able to pinpoint what foods would make her go and how frequently. Which brings me to my last point;
5) Never potty-train alone. The reason I say this is because for you to actually catch them when they need to go without pestering them every 30 minutes, it’s best to shadow them 24/7. Literally, I did not let Sam out of my sight for 7 days. Even when I needed to go to the bathroom, I made sure she came with me (on the assumption that if we drank at the same time, she would need to go when I did). For that I was grateful my mother-in-law was here to help, since she basically took care of everything else at home. I would only get Jamie to feed her, and then I’d pass her back and resume watching Sam like a hawk.
It’s exhausting — I kid you not. We are still not completely accident-free, but the intervals between each instance is increasing. She is also currently waking up dry in her diapers, so we’ve removed the diaper for naptime and will soon do the same for bedtime. They say that’s a clear sign they’re on their way to being completely trained. I still can’t keep Sam out of the house for more than 3 hours though because sometimes she still refuses to pee or poop in public restrooms (Well I don’t blame her).
Oh. I can’t even begin to think of doing this again with Jamie next year… ahhh, stress!
If you have any thoughts you’d like to share on potty-training, I’d love to hear them!