As you might have noticed via my social media grumbling and perhaps some personal SOS texts, we are potty training. And YES. I mean WE. Because it’s taken effort from my ENTIRE VILLAGE. Because I’m so wrapped up in it, I feel like I’m teaching myself how to use the bathroom all over again. As a BOY, if you will.
Listen. This post is NOT NOT NOT a resource full of advise. But I regret not recording all the things that I did that were/were not successful during Greyson’s babyhood so I could at least have some reference for #2. So this is a mere report. For your pleasure, and for my pain. Because seriously, I have PTSD from potty training.
Potty training is not for the faint of heart y’all. I really feel that along with newborn sleep deprivation, potty training should be added to the list of Navy Seal training activities.
Greyson reached the official 2.5 year mark in March. He is communicating really well in regards to being hungry and CERTAINLY the things he does or does not want. Bless. He also was telling me when he peed or pooped in his diaper. So I felt like it was time to rip the band aid off and do this thing. The only words of advise I have is that IT’S NEVER A GOOD TIME. EVER. There’s always going to be something more fun to do or an event coming up that seems completely impossible to face with a ticking time bomb of a toddler who might go at any moment. It’s really just a matter of saying NO to everything for a few days and staying home.
We started potty training on April Fools Day, so hey, maybe the joke’s on us. (Coincidentally, Jeremie and I met on April Fool’s Day in 2005. As we were sitting there with G on the potty, we thought, “If you would have told us that in 12 years, we’d be gathered in the bathroom with our toddler waiting to potty, we’d CACKLE”. And continue dancing to the Usher song.)
Anyway, we kicked off the morning with a "Potty Party!" and let G eat a cupcake for breakfast, had him throw a few diapers in the trash can, and pulled out all the new exciting underwear for him to choose from. It was like CLUB POTTY up in here. We made it really exciting. (Plus, we'd been talking to him about it all week.)
I had a KILLER treat basket. I thought, seriously, if THIS won’t make him potty train, I don’t know what will.
I used the “3 Day Potty Training” PDF guide by Lora Jensen. I will say I loved this guide, because I had no idea what I was doing. It’s short, to the point, simple to follow, and has a tremendous amount of FAQ’s that are real life situations. BUT. Supposedly this woman is anointed with the gift of potty training children in 3 days, but I’m just NOT believing it. No ma’am. I DO agree that a few consecutive/intensive days at home is really necessary to make it “click”, but there’s NO WAY that she pulls a bunny out of that hat in 3 days. Like brushes her hands off on Day 4 and sends them to school without holding her breath. My super practical and honest pediatrician told me it wasn’t a 3 day thing, and she was right. (She did encourage the several days at home though.)
I had read the PDF throughout the week and did everything. ALL THE THINGS. Said all the things, did all the positive reinforcement, and told him ONE HUNDRED BILLION TIMES to “Tell me if you have to potty!” (Lora is all about them learning their body signals and telling you, which is something I totally agree with and loved.) Her method is based on catching the child in the act of potty-ing, and even if they have an accident, rushing them to the potty and letting them “finish” on the potty. And just like her PDF said, we had some wins and we had some losses. Serious losses. Like there was pee everywhere. At one point I considered putting on J's tool belt with a Bleach spray bottle and some paper towels in it. But Jensen does affirm that accidents are good and that’s how they learn. Greyson’s main problem was that he wouldn’t fully release all his pee, mainly because I’d scare him to death by grabbing him and rushing him to the potty, so he’d freeze up. So we’d go back and forth to the potty a million times before he was empty. (For the record, he is still struggling with this, but it’s getting better.) The prize bucket certainly helped seal the deal, but he did get a little entitled, because if he squeezed out a DROP, he’d ask for a prize. ; )
I was good and positive and chipper and encouraging and forgiving until about Day 2.5. Then y’all. I was OVER IT. Over being in his grill, over being in the house, over being obsessed with someone else’s bodily functions. I had totally prepared for playing together inside a lot, but I’d reached my limit of toddler fun and creativity. We pushed through Day 3 with continued progress and Day 4 was Mother’s Day Out (Tuesday). And I decided to brave it. Seriously I felt like Katniss on the Hunger Games saluting his teachers….
I seriously had to pray over letting this go that first day. I don’t know why I had so much anxiety over him having accidents at school, because Lord knows his teacher have seen it all, and thank goodness, they were very cooperative to any method that I desired. I guess because we had put so much work in over the weekend that I didn’t want anything to mess up our progress. For the record, I put him in underwear for school and put a pull-up OVER it (a tip from my pediatrician) so he could still FEEL being wet, but it would contain the mess.
And the results were: Pee and poop in his pants at school. Sweet. On Thursday, he totally HELD IT ALL DAY LONG. I was encouraged to know he could hold it that long, but still was frustrated he didn’t realize he could potty at school. So I kept us bound to the house the rest of the week. That weekend, we finally got out and he pulled the same stunt of holding it ALL day. You can read all about that incredible day here. I know that some of you may think holding it is AWESOME, but to me, that just communicated that he was scared to potty anywhere but home. (And that freaked me out.)
I was at a loss by the end of the weekend. I didn’t feel like he was totally catching on and he had really stopped telling us when he had to go. And wouldn’t go when he clearly had to. After he had an accident during church and then a complete meltdown with the small group babysitter, I lost it. I walked into small group and burst into tears. Mainly I was tired. Potty training seriously drains you mentally. And emotionally I guess. I am also a LOVER of routine and getting out of the house, and I just felt like my entire routine and freedom was taken away. I know that sounds very menial and selfish, and in some ways, yes, it is. But, seriously, this is my full time job, so when there’s a change in procedure, I have to really shift my perspective. I don’t care who you are, EVERYBODY has a routine. And if something changes, it changes you.
So I really had to tell myself to give it a week. It was like taking the newborn mentality back on: “This will probably look totally different in a week.” I also had a lot of people praying for me, and for you that did-THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I’m honored and humbled that you spent your God given moments and breath over my sanity and my son’s bodily functions.
I also thought about WHAT I was doing that was outside of the 3 Day Method. And while the pull-up-over-undies trick is helpful, that was the ONLY thing I was doing different. Greyson was even calling the pull-up a diaper; he clearly knew the difference. So I decided to go back to basics. G went “commando” if you will, with undies ONLY, no safety net. And I know each child is different, but I think this changed things for us.
And one week later, things DO look different. Don’t get me wrong, Greyson still has accidents. Just yesterday, he got too distracted outside and left a little gift for me in his undies. BUT, something HAS clicked. I’ll spare details, but school time has gotten better. We even flew to Mississippi and spent the whole Easter weekend at my in-laws with NO ACCIDENTS. I was sure that the change in routine would put us back at square one. It was SO good for me to have a change in environment and be assured that Greyson had caught on.
Many of you have asked what I did at night. I will say G was already waking up dry a lot of mornings (unless I really let him linger in his crib), so I was brave enough to let him sleep without a pull-up. And this has been hit or miss. I’m finding that as long as I get him up about 30 minutes after I see him moving, he’s still dry. (I get up before him for my quiet time.) I will say that I DO very much miss letting him sleep late or linger in the bed…he was totally content when he woke up to play with his little stuffed animals and talk to himself. That would give me a few extra minutes and even a shower! BUT-I’m so nervous to put him back in a pull-up, because that seemed to really get him off track. So I’m okay sacrificing that time right now. (I’ve thought about getting him up immediately when I do to let him potty and then put him back to bed-but I don’t know if this would work and I haven’t tried it yet.) I know some of you have 2 kiddos, so this is SUPER hard to give up. I honestly don’t know what to tell you. A pull-up might not affect them as much and I hear that most parents still do use pull-ups at night!
The only other tip that I "added" to the potty training curriculum was the "DRY-MOMETER". I literally came up with this the morning of, because I wanted to keep track of when Greyson was having accidents OR if he successfully made it to the potty OR if he even asked me to potty. Everything starts to run together throughout the day, so I LOVED having this to visually track our progress. And it reminded me there WAS PROGRESS. .
The PDF guide says to "prepare your household", and YES, I can't stress this enough. Plan what you'll eat, have the laundry done, and get yourself ready before the cherub gets up. Your ONLY job should be to keep your kiddo within arms reach at all times to watch for signals and run them to the potty. Jeremie was here throughout the weekend and totally helped with the potty stuff, but he also was our personal chef. He cooked ALL the meals and did most kitchen stuff so I could focus on G. Couldn't have done it without him! And again, if you've got 2 kiddos, I can't imagine how hard this would be. The only thing I can think of is to have a friend or family member be in charge of #2! Or have hubby do that and just order pizza all weekend! ; )
So! That's our story for the first 4 weeks. It's BEYOND me that I haven't had to buy diapers, reload caddys, or replace Diaper Champ bags in the last 4 weeks. Once we really get this under our belts, it really will be so nice!
I hope to do a Part 2 update in a few weeks to share progress. I have heard of regression, so I'm trying to mentally prepare for that. If you are about to start potty training, I'm gonna be honest IT'S HARD Y'ALL. It really tests your patience. I have to really check myself, because a lot of my frustration is from selfishness, because it DOES change your routine. But, just like all things in raising children, this IS a season. They WILL NOT be in diapers until they're 16. And when you're on the other side of it, you'll be all the more patient and wise, and have all types of great encouragement for the mamas behind you!
We have crossed the finish line yet, so I'd LOVE to hear YOUR potty training experience and any jewels of wisdom!