Potty training sucks. If anyone tells you it was easy or wonderful, they are either lying or have selective amnesia. Since I am still doing loads of clean-up laundry and packing a potty seat everywhere I go, I thought this would be a good time to write about the real deal of potty training.
I have now successfully (almost, fingers crossed, please, please) potty trained two boys and one girl and the process has been different every time. With my first-born, Pierson, I read every book, wrote actual plans and did a solid 3 day boot camp. It worked well with his personality and was very efficient, but I also remember scrubbing almost every corner of my hard wood floors with vinegar during those 3 days. I also remember considering a glass of Chardonnay by 2pm each day…..so easy, it was NOT.
Camden was fully potty trained around 2 1/2 years. Like a classic middle child, he has a flexible approach to life and was frankly the easiest to potty train. Partly because I didn’t get wrapped up in the process and partly because I had a newborn and a Kindergartner to tend to as well.
And then there’s Mia. Last Saturday, Mia announced that she was “all done with diapees” after a sweet babysitter spotted her stripping off her pjs in bed on the monitor. You know, these are the things the baby does while the parents are on a rare and much-needed date night!
Needless to say, we started potty training on Sunday and over a week later, we’re pretty much there. But don’t be surprised if you see me sprinting to a bathroom at the football fields or elbowing shoppers out of the way at Target sometime soon. And don’t you dare judge me….these things happen people.
So after 3 kids, 8 years, 7 potty seats, 1 horrible Elmo DVD, 3 kids books, 17 parenting books, 2 diaper genies and 13,500 diapers (that’s a solid estimate people) here is my potty training advice for you. Please take it with a grain of salt and use what works for you.
POTTY TRAINING PREP
Buy a few books and read them together
We like The New Potty Little Critter book and it’s just $3.46 on Amazon. We also own Potty Time by Caroline Jayne Church and all of the kids have laughed while reading, Potty Time with Elmo. It’s a fun and interactive book with lovely sound effects. You can grab it at Barnes and Nobles for $9.98.
Take them shopping for underwear
I took Mia on a shopping run to Target and let her choose princess underwear, Smarties and butterfly stickers. We washed her new underwear, put them in her drawers and discussed potty training for weeks before we actually began the process.
Skip the Elmo DVD
If there’s anything more annoying than Elmo’s little shrill voice, it’s that red monster yelling “Elmo go poooootty!” Seriously, save your money for a latte and a good beach book. That DVD is modern-day torture.
Know your child and assess their readiness
Mia was pretty clear about being done with her diapers. But Cam showed signs in less obvious ways. He was always interested in following his brother into the bathroom and like many little boys, was happy to “water the plants” outside. But it took him time to halt chasing aliens with rocket-ships to run to the bathroom. Once he was able to recognize the need to go to the bathroom, he was ready to roll.
THE REAL DEAL
I try to focus hard on potty training for days 1 & 2. Then we venture into normal life after that. But you should do what works best for your family and your life.
Stay close to home and go pantless
Your kids, not you, weirdo! Let your little hangout in a T-shirt and underwear but don’t complicate the process with shorts, shoes or socks…you know they’ll want to take them ALL off each and every trip to the potty!
As a mom of 3 kids, it’s difficult for me to stay at home all day. So I chose two days when Cam & P were both in school and Sar was able to take the lead on after-school practices. We played with chalk on the back patio, splashed in the water table in the driveway and wore super-hero capes around the house. She ate popsicles and drank a steady steam of fluids. I also intentionally kept her off the rugs because this mom does not have time to clean tee-tee out of carpets!
Mia loves to steal (she calls it sharing) but lets be real, she loves to steal my La Croix. So this was the perfect time to actually share my favorite drink with her while using the potty. I poured my Cerise Limon bubbles into her tea cup and we sipped and giggled and did cheers while she went potty.
When P was little, we had contests to see who could finish our water the fastest. My competitive little guy loved the challenge and it encouraged his quick release of fluids. Whether you have tea parties or water races, just make sure you encourage your little to drink as much as possible to make bathroom visits frequent and successful.
Sing Songs and Make Silly Faces
Mia took right to going #1 but had a bit of fear about going #2. So to keep her on the potty, we sang The Wheels on the Bus and of course, Let it Go from Frozen. I would have recorded my renditions of the songs for your listening pleasure, but the boys assured me that my voice would surely break the phone!
I also put on super-hero costumes and bribed her with lollipops and that helped to sealed the deal on the fear of poo! And full disclosure, it took her almost 4 days to get comfortable going poop, so we had to be patient and positive and assure her through this stage. P.S. You know you’re jealous of my Flash costume!
Add a little fiber
I was honestly surprised when Mia showed a genuine fear of the duce, so my husband suggested that I add a little bit of flax seed to her morning smoothie. It helped to make the process much easier for us all and prevented her from holding it in…. gross, but true people. I mean, if you’re having trouble yourself, add a little sprinkle. It’s life changing, I promise.
Be prepared for messes and take time to care for yourself
I placed a pile of clean underwear in the bathroom, had a stack of rag towels on the kitchen counter and kept a bottle of vinegar & water close by. I also made sure to go for a loooong run on days 1 & 2, just to help my own sanity and to increase my patience with sweet Mia. This is something that I didn’t do with my boys, but now as the mom of 3, I’ve really learned that I have to be happy in order to treat my kids with kindness and patience. And it’s something that I’m still working on for sure!
GETTING OUT AND ABOUT
Portable Potty Seat
My friend, Heather, told me about this awesome portable potty seat for tiny hinnies like Mia’s and it’s been awesome. You can order the Gimars Foldable Potty Seat from Amazon for just $13.99. It’s cute, easy to use and folds up into a carrying-case that’s just 7”L x 6”W x 2”H.
Buy a piddle pad for the car…it’s worth every penny
I just ordered Summer Infant’s Piddle Pad for $11.99 from Amazon. It’s a thin pad that fits right under your toddlers booty and has a slot for the bottom car seat buckle. This is like your safety net for accidents that may happen in the car.
A lot of people recommend using pull-ups when you go out in public. I don’t recommend doing this after you’ve been potty training for a week because it can lead to regression. Again, this is my personal opinion, so no pressure if your philosophy is different. But we don’t live an at-home life, so my littles are constantly on the go and the piddle pad gives me the sanity to know that if an accident occurs between the park and story-time, I’m just washing a small pad and not an entire car seat. No one deserves that type of punishment!
Be prepared and keep a positive attitude
Being prepared includes packing a full change of clothes for your little, and at least a t-shirt for YOU. The hubs and I have both been the victims of rogue diapers and potty training accidents and you will love yourself for packing a clean tee!
I would also include a pull-up, just in case you need to get home without any more drama. While I don’t recommend starting in a pull-up, I do advocate for easing the stress after a long-day or a big mess. Accidents WILL happen with some child at some point. Anyone who tells you otherwise either has amnesia or is a real ass and you don’t want their fake advice anyway!
Sometimes a “No big deal! We’ll try again tomorrow” can fix even the biggest accident. I like to blast Shake It Off by Taylor Swift whenever we’re having a rough day and it helps to re-set all of our moods. Even if P rolls his eyes while dancing. And if that doesn’t work, cake-pops for the babes and an iced latte for mama always goes a long way for our crew!
So now I just need to decide what to do with the final diaper genie. Should I light it on fire? Blow it up? Dance with all of my old diaper money?
Best of luck on your potty training journey and if you see Mia and I sprinting through Nashville anytime soon, don’t be surprised! Good luck and stay sane mamas!