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Reflections on Potty Training…while in the midst of it.
My son is our first child and I am clearly not an expert. I admittedly go for the “wing it” mentality when it comes to child-rearing. I have asked friends, my mother, and mother-in-law for their perspective on certain issues but I have been fairly limited in my seeking information via google or published resources.
He has just turned 2. A friend of mine posted her interest in toilet training her daughter and suddenly realized that it made perfect sense. Our kiddo just turned 2 and was a fairly independent child who would likely benefit from toilet training. That epiphany led me to realize I had no idea how best to approach this and a book would be ideal to get a grounding.
We purchased the book, “Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right” by Jamie Glowacki like many before us in the clueless world of all things potty training. I will speak truthfully that I didn’t read it to the end but I am a quick reader and got through about 40% of it and decided to start. It was a solid basis for us to work from. I had a couple of vacation days planned during this time of COVID-19 and thought this would be the optimal time. Not exactly a ton of pre-planning went into this. Atypical for us but the current world is atypical. Right?!
In retrospect, I really question (and my husband has mentioned it a few times) whether it makes sense to try and take on the burden of potty training when I am still working full time, my husband part-time and with NO REPRIEVE from a life of talking about “is it time to go to the bathroom” because our son is with us 24/7 right now.
Before potty training, we were commenting on the blissfulness that was our life. Being able to be together and just enjoy the time (even with work) that didn’t include any driving time or missed moments while our son was at school/daycare. That changed dramatically right about ten minutes into Day 1 of potty training.
Day 1: OH this is what a helicopter parent is like! No pants, no diaper, and no social distancing. I was literally next to my son every minute. I made him go with me to do everything together. He is an independent kid as mentioned before. He has been enrolled at a great Montessori school near us and has built up a lot of confidence to do things on his own without constant monitoring. Our house is a safe environment and while we are always close by, he is able to do things without us hovering (thankfully). That all changed and it made us both edgy. My husband jumped in and our rotation of “who is cleaning up accident # 7884737272” was the only thing that saved us. 13 accidents happened within the first two hours given the copious liquid I was providing so he would have “practice time.” We had a couple of successes but many many more misses.
Day 2: Everyone is exhausted from Day 1. Day 2 looks a lot like Day 1 and we were questioning our sanity, our resolve, and our reason why. I kept recalling the point in “Oh crap” about how our kid deserves to be respected enough to not be sitting in his own excrement. I also tried to remember that for 2 YEARS he has known nothing but diapers and not fully grasping why his parents and the dog don’t use them. I don’t think he really appreciated the new method but he stuck with it and so did we.
Day 3 and 4: Introduced some clothing that we would know immediately if there was an accident. We didn’t use underwear – just pants or shorts and kept a close eye. We were able to relax a slight amount but still kept close and rotated together to make sure we were putting him on the potty when needed. We had an attachment to the main toilet that he had to climb onto to access. We decided to go the route of buying a little toilet like he had in the classroom at school to make it easier which arrived by Day 6. Still had accidents.
Day 5: Nightmare. No interest in going and starting to hate going. Our school had a distance learning platform and parent concierge program and I booked an appt for the next day during naptime. His teacher was super helpful in being an ear and providing advice and reading for us on best practices. My sister said she knew her friends always talked about potty training being a nightmare. I legit said “is it?!” “yes Martina, everyone hates it.” I guess I missed the memo or just didn’t pay attention. I knew it would be a challenge but this made me question a lot of things and crave the days of yore. Diapers at 18 aren’t THAT big of a deal, right?! I attended a webinar about toilet training. I was spending an inordinate amount of time when I wasn’t working, cooking, sleeping or watching for accidents, researching this subject. You cling to the fact that you have spent DAYS doing this and to scrap it and have to restart later on down the road feels IMPOSSIBLE.
Day 6: My husband and I got into a disagreement because of the toilet training and I could tell we were struggling. Thankfully the parent concierge meeting happened. GAME CHANGER. We just needed a few key tips and tricks in addition to what we were already doing such as a firm explanation around accidents. We also don’t provide any rewards for going and try and make it just part of the process; “we are going to the bathroom and then we can eat our snack and watch Finding Nemo” which has worked well.
- I made a little schedule for our day with key times for prompting our son about the bathroom vs inquiring
- Prepared a place for him to sit outside the bathroom to get dressed post-bathroom
- Using the new toilet with more success (avoiding any barriers to access)
- Having a few clothing choices for him to select from that he won’t want to “ruin”
- Making him change himself if he has an accident
We are still using the diaper for naps and night time. In the “oh crap” book she does recommend pairing these together but it’s not a requirement. Ultimately, I am not comfortable with adding that in as our son has become extra fatigued from the change and it’s already been problematic with our sleep schedule. He has been getting up earlier and crankier than usual which should adjust.
Day 7 & 8: These days were a BREEEEEZE. We were KILLING it with the schedule. We had four accidents in two days. It was a magical land. We thought we were invincible. Then Day 9 struck.
Day 9: Monday brought the wrath of a sh*tstorm that no one could fathom. My husband had to manage the majority of this as I was working; I am not really sure how he did it, to be honest. Our logical toddler (is that even a thing) transitioned into a mini monster. Super cranky and accidents every time we tried to help him go to the bathroom. We both went to bed exhausted and wondering if we had taken on too much.
Day 10: The morning was a bit rough but things have seemed to calm down a bit. No accidents and a renewed understanding of the plan.
We shall see what the rest of the process will bring…it’s pretty incredible how all-consuming this process can be. It seems so obviously easy because it’s just a learning process but then I think about all of the big learning events in my own life and know that’s just unrealistic.
I was also quite nervous about potty training a boy. I never realized I had some reservations about that. It makes sense given I never would have had this experience before necessarily. After reading the book with the explicit direction about teaching them to go while sitting down and realizing he has zero clues about what he has to do, it’s a lot more natural than you think to guide your kid to figure it out.