My Potty Training Tale (with lessons learned)

      I started my potty training journey by asking my mother how she potty trained me.  She said things like: “Oh, you were easy!”, “That was a long time ago, I don’t remember”, “You didn’t really have accidents”.  As loving and helpful as my mother normally is, I had to look other places for help.  I read books, forums, blogs, asked other mothers with kids my son’s age, but all seem to either be complete horror stories or hearts and rainbows.  I knew that it really wasn’t going to be either extreme and you should know that it would be either.  I had to dig deep into my mommy gut and use that thing every one talks about: Mother’s Intuition.  Here is my tale of potty training for you.

       I started my potty training journey on Amazon prime day as most people do, right?  I saw a cute little potty chair and it was a good deal so I ended up getting it even though my son wouldn’t be ready for at least another year.  Here is the one that I bought. We kept it in the bathroom for a long time so my son would get used to it.  When my son turned 2 at the end of April, I decided that once a week I would ask him if he wanted to use the potty.  My kid is pretty strong willed so if he doesn’t want to do something, its a fight and struggle so I wanted to at least start on his terms.  After about 2 months of asking weekly, I finally got a “Yeah”.  O boy, here we go!  He made a little baby pee on the potty and the hubs and I made a huge fuss over it.  My husband even got it on video.  I sound like he hit the $10,000 wedge on Plinko!  So after he was asleep that night, my husband and I started to talk about how we wanted to do this.  We decided to ask again the next day to make sure it wasn’t a fluke or a 1 time thing.  If he said he wanted to again, we would start and never look back.  As you can guess, he said yes the next day so we started.

Now I am going to tell you things that others might not.  Everyone knows that you need to have patience,  that you don’t scold your child when they have an accident, that accidents will happen, and stuff like that.  These are real things that happened along our journey that you probably won’t think about but need to be prepared for. 

      Here are 6 things  learned:

1. Don’t use the phrase “GO PeePee?”  Why you ask?  Let me explain

My husband and I didn’t do anything else those first 2 days but stare at this crazy, never tired, always on the move child.  We had lots of accidents which we expected. After the first day or so, we noticed that when we said “go peepee” while he was on the potty that he would.  He had been conditioned to pee when we said that. (I guess Pavlov was on to something)  So, after getting pretty confident he knew when he had to go, instead of taking him to the potty every so often we started to ask him.  Almost as soon as we would finish, he would go, no matter where he was.  In retrospect, he was just doing what we asked him.  We said go peepee and he did.  After we caught on to this, we changed the way we said it.  We still kept the peepee, but we made sure to say, “Do you need to go to the potty to make peepee”  That seemed to be a game changer.  He would say yes and run to the bathroom.  No more accidents because of stupid parents!  YAY!

    2.  Tight pants are a problem

After the initial 5-6 days of being naked, we started to put pants back on.  I didn’t really think anything of it, but the type of pants seemed to matter.  If they were a little small on him we found that he was more prone to forget and pee himself if we weren’t 100% paying attention (and let’s face it, I also have an 8 month old so I really never have 100% on either one).  This one took a little longer to figure out.  It was only after the 3rd accident in like 3 hours that I looked at the pants and realized that they were all 18 months.  My son had recently moved up to 2T pants.  Ding Ding…Light bulb!  There are a few methods out there that say once are you confident that nakedness is going well, move to pants only…no undies.  I believe them now.  The tighter clothes make the feel as though they have a diaper back on and can go without being on the potty.  Lesson learned.  I know those cute little toddler undies are calling your name, but please resist for a little while.

     3.  My Potty chart brought on a regression

I was warned that a regression would happen by everyone and everything.  Never once did I think that it would be brought on by me trying to make potty training more fun for him.  Trying to win “Mom of the Year” I made him a really cute little potty chart that we hung outside the bathroom.  We could put stickers on it when he would do something.  This was really more for me than for him.  It was a visual of tracking accidents.  Now, if what he did was perfect, aka peeing on the potty or pooping on the potty, he got a small treat.  I’m talking like 1 or 2 m&ms or a lollipop if there was poop.  I had no idea that this fun gesture would be so destructive.  My son has always worked on the premise of tit for tat for something new and scary, so I thought that the potty chart would work like a charm. In other aspects of life, he will do almost anything for outside time so we use that to our advantage (clean up your toys so we can go outside).  I didn’t realize that it wouldn’t work the same for potty training.  He literally didn’t pee in the potty for almost 36 hours after the chart was up.  This was after about 2 whole days of loose pants with no pee accidents. I was so frustrated that when my husband came home from work, I literally cried.  I told him I was done and that he was going to college in diapers. (I mean what is really awesome about me is I never over-react!) As I divulged the soggy details of my day,  my husband quietly listened.  After calming me down, we started to think about what could have gone wrong.  I was thinking back and realized that most of the day he would go sit on the potty get right up and want a sticker. Thus endeth the potty chart.  Now he still gets a lollipop for going poop on the potty, but that is the only reward we kept.  It works really well and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.  Now, don’t let this tale of woe stop you if you know that you kid will be trained in 2 days if you use a potty chart.  I just want to make sure you know the bad of what so many people think is awesome. 

     4.  Throw your perfectionist self out the window

I am normally the kind of person that when I set out to do something, I need to do it right.  I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist, but I’m close.  I tend to project that on my kids. (healthy I know)  When it came time to potty train, I really tried to real that part of myself back.  I knew that I couldn’t expect perfection from a 2 year old on something so totally foreign to him.  So when my son would make it to the bathroom sit down but forget to take his pants down…I still praised him.   I mean, you would rather have 80% of a candy bar then no candy bar at all, right?  He got most of the steps.  Really, he got the most important ones: knowing when and where to go.  His pooping IN the potty was also something that he and I struggled with.  He would go into the bathroom and just let it drop.  Again, he knew he had to go and where to go.  As messy and smelly as it was, I knew that this was HUGE progress.  I had read lots of horror stories of kids holding it for days on end so they didn’t have to poop without a diaper on.  I was very thankful that we weren’t in that situation.  It was all about how I looked at it.  He didn’t fail because he wasn’t pooping on the potty, he was winning because he was over coming his fear of pooping without a diaper on.  This was a huge step that we as adults take for granted.  It took a good few weeks, but he finally started to poop IN the potty and the lollipops were out in full force! Who knew that I would get trained along with my son.

     5.  It can be soggy – bring a raincoat! 

I feel like this one really only applies to boys as girls don’t have to aim.  I had no idea what a squirt gun by son really possessed.  He would sit on the potty and could make it in our bathtub a good 5 feet away.  The old trick that I heard a hundred times was to use a Cheerio or a Fruit Loop so that they would try and hit that.  What those people underestimated was children’s love for that little circular cereal.  My son and daughter both tried to pull the Cheerio out of the potty both before and after it had been peed on.  Yummy!  So I had to think of something else since every time my son peed, everything in the bathroom was fair game, including my daughter!  I could have taught him to stand up and pee but I figured that might lead to just as many aiming problems until he had a little more control of things.  So we taught him to push his little peepee down while making peepee.  It took some time and it doesn’t work all the time, but my bathroom is now not always the site of a great flood.  

     6.  Naptime diapers were confusing

This one was really hard to pin point and was very frustrating.  We would only put diapers on my son for sleeping, which meant nap and bedtime.  Now, you should know, that my son wakes up from naps in literally the worst mood ever…every single day!  He cries, moans, needs to be cuddled – the whole 9 yards.  If I tried to take the diaper off, it was like a scene from the Exorcist.  This meant he ended up staying in his diaper for a good 20-30 min after waking up from his nap.  This lead him to pee in his diaper which is obviously not the point of potty training and being confused for a couple of hours after nap time.  By about dinner time, we would get back on track for the rest of the night.  It took about a week to realize that was going on.  For some reason overnight diapers didn’t confuse him.  Maybe because we would get out of them almost immediately upon waking or he wakes up in a little better mood…who knows!  No one will ever understand a toddler’s reasoning for things.  Once I stopped nap time diapers, the accidents between nap and dinner stopped.  Only about half the time does he stay dry during nap which leads to a lot of washing of sheets, but it is better than washing everything else in the house due to the confusion of a toddler.  My only suggestion here if you don’t want to wash sheets all week long is to try and get them out of the diaper as soon as they wake up and have them go to the potty.  That is, as long as you don’t have WWIII trying to take the diaper off!

I really hope that these things help you along your potty training journey.  So along with a lot of patience, lots of loose pants, a raincoat, and the ability to be opened minded, you will be able to potty train your kiddo.  I promise you they will not go to college in diapers. You got this, mama!



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