We tried potty training 2.5 TIMES! The first time, my daughter was a little over 1.5 years old and I was the ever ambitious mom who just knew she was ready to potty train. It’s totally laughable now but go with me here. My thoughts? Well, she’s walking, she’s talking, she’s drinking from a sippy cup (no baby bottles here thank you very much!), and she is clearly showing signs that she’s interested! Did you see how she reached for that toilet paper the other day? And Nani (her grandmother), bless her heart, had just bought the “cutest little potty” for her grand baby! All signs were leading to this moment!! Potty Training TIIIIIIIIME!!
Boy! Was I in for a rude awakening when not only was she disinterested she HATED it and cried every time I would even put her on the thing!! Before I knew it we were back to diapers for another 8 months before I would even try again. The lesson here is obvious. It was just too early. She wasn’t ready. She loved her cushy diaper with all the warmth a good #1 or #2 would initially bring. And there was no interest or even comprehension for that matter that it would soon be her duty to do her “doody” in a toilet… for the rest of her life. Sheesh Mom! She was only 1!!
Fast forward to a sweet, curious, bright-eyed 2-year old with a growing vocabulary and an appetite to match. I could tell she was getting more and more curious about this thing that mommy sits on and she loved washing her hands after a diaper change. So, I set out to try again… this time for keeps! Day 1 we sat. We just sat. Now, mind you, this was the same “potty” that traumatized us just months before so we were easing into this thing. We “sat” on the potty for a few days. Each time she sat I was ready with a big cheer and a Skittle® as her reward (years later my youngest son only took money… smart kid). I would ask periodically if she had to go try and she would nod or say “Yes Mommy”. And we’d run to the potty only to have nothing come out but a promise of praise from mom and yet another Skittle®. I was beginning to think I was getting played by this clever 2-year old when finally a week and a bag of Skittles later, we had a #1!!! And not just any #1, it was a bladder full! As I write this, I realize how excited I am and that only a parent will know the full on elation of a potty full of your baby’s urine. But hey! You’re in it now, so just read on.
We were now in full potty training mode. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel! Pull-ups® to undies here we come!! Only, my joys were short lived. About a month in she started to have more accidents. She’d realize it too! “Nea,” I would say, “why didn’t you tell mommy you had to go potty?” Isn’t that like us to put in on the child? She would shrug her little shoulders and beg me for a new, expensive Pull-up® and I’d change her little outfit wondering what’s wrong with my baby?
A couple of weeks of this and I was just about at the end of my rope when I ask my mom if she had some advice for me. She asked me some questions, “Well, how often does she go? When does she go?” And I ramble, “Well, she goes when I wake her up and then they take her at her school. But she doesn’t tell me she needs to go when she’s at home; and by then it’s too late! And sometimes I take her but shouldn’t she just know by now?” And in a calm sort of nonchalant way she gave me an odd yet simple solution. “Sounds like YOU need to be potty trained.”
Now, at first I was floored! “What do you mean I need to be potty trained? Now you’re giving me riddles?” But she simply explained toddlers don’t know “when” to go. For the longest they just go. That thought process of remembering that it’s time to go hasn’t quite developed yet. So who’s job is it? Mine. All mine. And it was my job to remember to help her remember to remember that she had to use the potty. And to think I thought I was in the clear. Oh well! So I set my alarm on my phone. At first it was every 30 minutes. We were going to the potty (break out the family-size bag of Skittles®). Once I saw that we weren’t having any accidents between then, 2 weeks later I set my alarm for every hour. Until about a month and a half goes by and she’s now reminding me it’s time to go potty. The Skittle® rewards got less and less too. Because now she didn’t need a reward for something that had become her own responsibility. Accidents were fewer and far between and I began to feel like we were really getting the hang of this potty training thing. Yes, I said WE. The truth is, that in the beginning I never thought about how I truly helped in the potty training equation. I figured if I taught her a few times she would get it. Those accidents were simply ME not remembering to take her to the potty, not her. The truth is, I needed to be ready to potty train her and be realistic about the time it took to get her fully potty trained.
I’ve had this talk many times with the mommies and daddies I meet at our events who are potty training their little ones and share this same story with them. They look at me with the same shock I gave my mother but once I explain it, a moment of reflection and then a wash of relief floods their face. “There’s nothing wrong with him/her,” I usually say, “ The question is are YOU ready for the commitment to potty train them.”
As I write this, of the 3 children I have in my house 2 of them are hormonal teenagers; which in hind’s sight make the “terrible two’s” look like a cake walk. But the training hasn’t ended- just the end goal. Sometimes it’s a reminder about being responsible about homework. Sometimes it’s telling them for the 10th time where their dirty clothes should be. Sometimes it’s a swift reminder about being respectful to others all while knowing that one day, they will take it upon themselves as their responsibility. In the meantime, I’ll just stay committed, stay consistent, and stay patient.
So tell me, what did you learn about potty training? Got a good story? Share it with me below!