This was originally a guest post over at Love, Life, Laugh, Motherhood. I am about to embark on my second potty training excursion and thought I’d repost it here in honor of the dreaded feat. Did I mention, I hate potty training?
Today I wanted to share with you my very biggest fear going into Motherhood and how I managed to jump that hurdle. Potty Training. Yikes. Still makes me a little nervous just saying the words! It’s been over a year since I first started potty training my first child and I would say we’ve finally arrived. He can now completely take himself #1 without me even having to even know that he “has to go.” It’s amazing. #2 is another story…
It did not start amazing however.
When I was pregnant with him, I spent plenty of time fearing for labor. I wanted a natural birth but, knowing I’m kind of a wimp, it scared me a lot. I obsessed over what labor would be like and tried to prepare my mind for it, spending nights lying awake with my stomach in knots. Until the day that my sister-in-law started lamenting about some potty training difficulties she was currently having with one of their children. She said, “I would go through labor 100 times if I never had to potty train.”
I’m still not sure if she meant that or if it was only spoken in frustration but it gave my panicky, hormonal mind a new fear to latch onto. Unfortunately, it was a fear that festered for 2 years instead of ending in a few months with the delivery of a healthy baby boy.
Starting Potty Training
I had NO IDEA what to expect from potty training. I didn’t even know how to start! Enter Google…and Pinterest, and family advice, and people I didn’t even know advice. Casey showed signs of readiness, curiosity about the toilet, discomfort with dirty diapers, ability to communicate (mostly through sign language), ability to “hold it” when needed. I, however, had NO signs of readiness. I was perfectly content to change a few diapers a day. Not to mention, I was rapidly getting hugely pregnant with our second son. I was terrified. And I put it off.
I put it off up until I delivered our second child and my husband told me it was time to stop procrastinating. Yay for potty training with a newborn in the home! Not my idea. I even had a friend tell me I was either Superwoman or Crazy. I think Crazy.
Was it easy? No. Not even kind of.
We tried the weekend version. You are supposedly done in 3 days, no Pull-Up’s allowed. He picked up on it super fast and was in underwear by day 2 and fully clothed by day three. He loved getting stickers and high fives and juice. Of course, he had plenty of accidents in the beginning but even liked helping clean those up. By day three, no accidents! We did it!
Until we didn’t.
About a week later, pee, everywhere, all the time. Carrying an extra pair (or two or three) of clothes around with us didn’t cut it. Plus, my diaper bag was full of newborn stuff – I can’t go carrying around an entire dresser full of underwear and pants! We tried SO MANY different ways to get him to pee in the toilet again. He wouldn’t. We started pretty gently, talking to him and reminding him. After this went on for 3 weeks, we had tried some less amazing tactics – taking toys, and putting him in the corner, and yelling. The harsher we got, the worse he became. We looked online in every forum we could find. We did NOT want to go back to diapers but we were getting close to a breaking point. I had to wash laundry every day just so he had clean underwear to pee in! Frustrating.
Finally, I saw the strangest advice but it was something we hadn’t tried. I wish I would have saved the comment’s webpage so I could give credit to whoever said it because this was the one thing that worked. She wrote (not a direct quote but close), “You need to change your attitude and tone of voice from hoping they will go potty in the toilet to expecting them to. It is unacceptable for them to pee anywhere else. Your tone of voice needs to tell them that they are not allowed. It’s not about your words but how you present them.”
It wasn’t magic but it finally got him under control again. He’d have an accident every-once-in-awhile but only when he was too distracted or busy to realize he needed to go. It was often hard to prepare my mind to “expect” him to go potty in the toilet but when I did, he always complied.
I haven’t potty trained the second kid yet, and the idea still fills me with dread and even a little fear, but now I know regression is normal, yelling doesn’t work, it’s hard and yucky but doesn’t last forever, but mostly, children will rise to your expectations of them.
Everyone potty trains differently, at different ages and rates. If your 5 year old still wears diapers, I don’t judge. It’s hard and it’s scary and that was with a cooperative kid who really wanted to be potty trained!
My advice? Patience. And never forget that you love them more than you are frustrated with them.
Wish me luck with this second one!! (I’ve been procrastinating again and I have a newborn – again. Did I learn nothing??)