You know what?
Little else frustrates me more nowadays than changing diapers.
My daughter likes to tell me when I’m elbows deep in making dinner that, “I pooped, mama.” Oh geez kid, really? Now? Onions sauteing on the stove, hands coated in flour, something boiling over, timer ticking down. “Ok, let’s go…”
I decided I was DONE WITH DIAPERS. At a cost of around $50 a month, getting rid of that “diaper bill” would be awesome… but was I ready for this?
Ready… not in a “I’m losing my baby” way. Not in a “this is the last diaper I will change *sniff sniff*” way. I’ve never been that type of mom, reminiscing of the past of the gross and inconvenient parts of baby life. I breastfed until I was just sick of it, just shy of 18 months, at that point it was more of a relief than saying “goodbye” to that stage. We did the crib until that smart little bugger learned to climb out. Those things we’re easy to leave behind. No regrets.
Potty training has become and love/hate event in our house. I love that we’ll soon be out of poopy diapers and wet bottoms… but I loathe the idea of accidents in public, or just plain stubbornness of my kid. Who wants to sit in a crappy wet diapers all day? ABBEY DOES! Who doesn’t care about leaving behind that last step of babyhood? ABBEY DOESN’T! I honestly think she’d be content wearing diapers and having me change her way into adulthood, like some sort of excrement slave. Ok, maybe not HONESTLY, but come on!
I’ve looked online the past year, preparing for the time when she actively took an interest in the potty besides as a play toy filled with water to splash around in. I prayed for the moment when she would come to me and let me know “I’m peeing!” instead of “I peed!” that second of reflection in her eyes that she actually knew what was going on down there instead of just being wet or dirty. I pinned loads of “potty training tips”, blogs, articles, interviews with pediatricians and the like… I thought “Oh man, I’m super prepared, I’ve got this!”
I was so wrong.
Those blogs and articles don’t tell you the horrible dark side of potty training. The wet spots on the floor, toddler standing in it, as pee trickles down their legs. “I peed.” No, duh….
Last Christmas, Santa bought Abbey a potty seat insert for our toilet. I thought at least putting her on it would trigger something. Nothing. No interest. Not even a flinch or blink. The potty seat hung on the wall, lonely, cold, forgotten for almost a year. It wasn’t until recently, when she would barge in on me and ask “You peeing?”, that she only began to take a notice in the potty. I jumped at my chance.
I would pump her full of juice like the blogs say, and sit her on top of the potty seat. Then we would wait…. nothing. Sometimes she would go on accident, sometimes I would catch her mid going, and throw her on the seat to let her finish on the potty… but all these methods required me to be 100% present, asking her contantly, “Do you need to use the potty?” and always the answer was “no!”. I knew my daughter and I knew there had to be a better way.
That’s kind of what I realized as I tried new and different approaches, every kid is different, so every method, though similar, would probably be different too. This is how we went at it, and we’re still at it, but what I am doing is working for us, so I thought I would help you shed light on what to do when it’s time for you too…
STEP 1: DETERMINE IF THEY ARE READY.
How do you know? Well it’s kind of like meeting “the one”, you just know. For us it was Abbey being VERY interested in all things potty related. Wanting to watch me go. Wanting to sit on the potty. Telling me as she was going in her diaper. Me asking her and her telling me she was going or had to go. Once I realized the signs that she was ready the next step was easy…
STEP 2: SETTING UP A POTTY “SPACE”.
We have 2 potties. One is a potty seat that nestles inside the rim of our toilet seat. It’s Abbey’s. She knows this. It hangs on the wall on a little hook at Abbey level and she knows how to take it off the wall and set it on the seat, she even has a little step stool (Thank you Target Dollar bin!) that she can put there and climb off and on the potty. She knows it’s her space and she likes that.
Our other potty is an Abby Cadabby potty chair, more of a “traditional” training tool. It has a little insert that you can dump out, and the actual seat “clicks” into the rim of a potty seat (not practical for us because it’s difficult to remove and that bathroom is used by other non-tiny booty family members). It even has a lever that makes a flushing sound when pressed. She loves it. She feels like that’s her potty only and she likes to sit on it. Sometimes we bring it into the room we’re in and she will watch Doc McStuffins while sitting on her potty.
Sometimes she thinks it’s a toy. I’ve found watermelon pieces in it. I’ve found toys in it. I’ve had to explain it’s for poop and not food or toys. We’re still working on that concept when the potty is anywhere but the bathroom. It’s a process.
STEP 3: REWARD SYSTEM
If you have a child, you know that rewards work. Whether it’s a high five, a movie, a treat, snack, candy, ice cream, phone call to grandma, whatever. I didn’t want to make a huge deal out of every time she went. We didn’t need trumpets blowing and a 21 gun salute… just enough to make her excited and proud that she went… enough to keep her coming back for more. We set up a chart with a sticker system. Every time she went, she would get a sticker, 5 stickers was a treat of her choice… fruit snacks, a piece of candy (a great way to use up old Halloween fun sized candies). After 25 stickers she would get a present of her choice… a toy, a doll, a trip to Chuck E. Cheese or the Zoo.
Whatever floats your kids boat. Seeing that chart, being able to count how many more until the next prize was HUGE for her. “2 more stickers til a candy?! I love candies!” 5 gummi bears, a mini Hershey bar, a candy cane… whatever she wanted! And she started telling me, “Mommy I need to peepee!” and we’d run to the potty and sit and she would actually go! No prompting from me! No yelling, or hair pulling, or headaches. Just pure joy from her, a hug from mommy, a “good job!” from daddy and a sticker for the chart. Dollar stores and bins are GREAT places to look for stickers.
As they start to make progress, lessen the reward chart, maybe small stickers for peepee and big stickers for poop… 5 big stickers for a treat, 10 small stickers… something like that until slowly phasing out the treats altogether. Nothing like a 7 year old who needs a candy bar after he poops! HA!
STEP 4: NO MORE DIAPERS
Around the time Abbey got interested in going potty “like a big girl”, we stopped calling her diapers “diapers” and started calling them “panties”. We bought the Huggies Slip-On diapers which are kind of like a cross between Pull-Ups and diapers…. she can pull them up and down but they hold wetness like a normal diaper.
We bought her panties with Hello Kitty and Princesses on them. She wanted to wear them and I would put them on over her diapers. I made this a routine so she would get used to wearing them. When we started potty training, before I had a plan, I would put her just in panties with no diapers and tell her to tell me if she needed to go. It didn’t work. She would be standing in a puddle saying “I peed!” and I was cleaning up pee from the carpet 2 or 3 times a day. I don’t recommend forgoing all the tips above and moving to step 4 on the first day. It was stupid of me to think she would figure it out, she’s 2. So we got some training pants, they have a thicker area that’s more absorbent, but not diaper like at all. Once your child has mastered the diaper or pull-up/slip-on and has gone lengths of time dry, prompting you every time they have to go, try it. Change the diaper after nap and let them run around in a training pant… and wait. If it doesn’t work stay on step 1-3 a little longer. We got down to at least 3 times a day in the potty by day 3. Day 4 was much better, still a few accidents but she was getting much better at telling me before she went.
Potty training isn’t a science, that’s best to remember. It’s frustrating, and annoying, and it’s a milestone for your kid. They are just as frustrated and annoyed as you are. Remember that! Your child is growing and learning and you need to guide them and make them feel safe and excited about it. I’m not gonna lie, this whole thing has been such a pain, but I’ve loved every minute of it, even mopping up pee from my clean floor.
Tell me what works for you! How did you get through potty training? How long did it take? How old were your kids when you started? What are your tips and tricks? Let me know in the comments below!