How we got off the Struggle Bus to Potty Town and landed some pee in the potty.
Peer pressure and fancy big girl undies with some strategic bribery was the magic cocktail, however it was more than that too. I’ll start from day one of potty training to get you to here where we’re finally having some successes.
When I was still taking Mommy & Me Class, a lot of the moms brought up the concept of “diaper free before age 3”. Self explanatory. Sounds legit, I said – and feeling pressure from my teacher and the other moms we began the process SUPER early around the 14 month mark. So, well before her second birthday we had a full potty ready to go. I should remind you #TheHandful did not walk until she was 16 or 17 months old, but peer pressure works on moms too and I wanted to get it going. As you can imagine there was zero success.
I have a friend who has a child a little older than #TheHandful who wrote a blog post about taking a break from potty training with her little one and I was like ok I think that sounds right for us. After a few months of no results we abandoned the whole thing too.
During that time my mom friends were all actively engaged in various forms of potty training. One involved WAKING your kid during the night to schedule a pee time and then put them back to sleep. Anything that involves me putting my kid back down to sleep is a hard NO for me. Pass. But these conversations were gnawing at me making me feel like I was lazy for not trying anymore. So to feel less lazy, I did the laziest thing I could and put out the little Bjorn potties in each bathroom. Potties are available and accessible and I’ll say nothing just let her explore.
To get through the days she was living in diapers and on the occasions she was diaper free she was happy to hold her pee as long as possible until she was given a diaper. So on the one or two random experiment days when I had her be diaper free for the day, she just waited til her naps when she was given her only diaper and would pee then. Just keep failing, just keep failing was all I could feel about myself. I don’t know what it is about looking at other moms but other moms always seem to have it going on. Why does it seem like everyone is potty trained when I know logically there are kids still in diapers. Perception is not reality when it comes to gauging what’s going on with any one given milestone.
Operation Visible Potty was in effect when we initially toured our preschool. The director of the school met with #TheHandful and described her as strong-willed. She noted that strong-willed children cannot be coerced into potty training, but that they have to arrive at the decision themselves. She told me to back way off (which truth be told I was doing NOTHING at that point anyway in complete confusion) and let #TheHandful call the shots entirely. Good enough for me, I already don’t know what I’m doing and tell me more about how my child is strong-willed, is that code for future genius?
Then, in September, right before #TheHandful turned 2.5 she started preschool. She’s one of the younger ones in her class that has two or three potty trained girls in it. Let me tell you something, when two cool girls from your class are showing off their big girl underwear and taking trips to the potty all of the sudden your Doc McStuffins pull ups feel super lame. I know this because that’s literally what she told me: “I don’t want to wear a diaper like a baby, I want to wear big girl undies like my friends”. Quick trip to the Target and ten pairs of Elsa Anna undies later we had some excitement about the potty going on!! This is the most potty-action we’ve had in months!!!
Here we are, big girl undies obtained, picking out her outfit for the next day and I start freaking out. I didn’t train her, she has not peed once on our potty and I’m gonna send her off to her poor teachers and be like “She’s not wearing a diaper, good luck bye!”
Because that’s exactly what happened. I legit packed her up a spare outfit, walked her into the classroom and said “No diaper today, bye”. And the two teachers look up in surprise and beg: “Has she gone yet in the potty?” so then I pull my Cool Mom Shades on to hide before answering “Errr, nope!” with some false confidence. And then I ran. Bye Mickey-Felicia.
Because I’m the best partner ever, I didn’t even tell Baby Daddy about this decision to send her diaper-less until AFTER I dropped her off. If he even breathed a word of caution or negative about the plan I might have abandoned it – rather ask forgiveness than permission! And he did exactly that when I told him, he was all OMG is that even allowed you’re evil! Maybe, but I had a gut instinct to just let #TheHandful do her thing, she had requested the undies after all. And if there’s anything we all know it’s that when I have a gut instinct it absolutely results in some type of blog post.
Three hours later it’s time for pick up and I’m floored to see she’s in her original outfit and completely dry. Our teacher informs me that she had no accidents but she held it all day. As much as I expected that, I still felt it was a small victory because she demonstrated she didn’t need me parroting next to her “REMEMBER YOU’RE NOT WEARING A DIAPER” every thirty seconds. We get home and she pees in her pull ups, but I go right back to the undies after her nap.
Day two, same thing. Day three she pees at school! Because she pees at school I buy her a Barbie doll (because FEMINISM) and let her take her nap in her undies not a diaper. No accident. That night we promise her more rewards or treats for future potty deposits.
Day four, holds all day. Day five, accident at school. She took a few trips to the bathroom but timed it off or something and post potty trip had an accident in the classroom. No biggie.
Day six and day seven she pees in our home potty. Now only diapers at night.
Day eight we go to Gymnastics without a diaper. She is able to hold herself on the bar and do tumbling with no accidents. We come home and she goes to the potty.
So here we are decently comfortable taking trips without diapers with occasional accidents. I’d say we’re on the way to success but the biggest factor was letting #TheHandful lead. Our school director was 100% right when she said back way off of this one and let her do it. Letting her do it has been considerably more pleasant than the alternative and has been the only way we have seen results.
What potty-training techniques have worked for you? Were all your kids the same? Drop me a note, I could use all the advice you have!!