I really didn’t have anything against diapers. Two years in, they’d been pretty good to me and I wasn’t necessarily itching to say goodbye to my convenient friends.
But something in my gut told me my little baby (sniff) was ready to take on this new Big Girl Milestone.
I’ve assisted many parents in the Potty Training Task during my nannying years, but I’ve never been the one to come up with the strategy or game plan. What would work for my tenacious toddler?
I got to work doing my research and polling my mommy tribe. Lots of moms recommended a book called “Oh Crap! Potty Training” by Jamie Glowacki. This thrilled my Type- A personality. A book?! A step-by-step instruction manual? Yes, please!
So I got out my highlighter and parked it poolside (Funny how my sunbathing reading material has changed!) to study up on the How-To’s.
Is this how it has to be done? Is this book the Holy Bible of Potty Training? Hardly. Children have learned to use the toilet for thousands of years without books or strategies, but this is how I roll.
I read. I make a plan. I execute.
So, for better or worse, for humor and solidarity, here are some highlights of my Potty Training Adventures with Lil’ AC…
No matter what book or strategy you follow, one thing is pretty universal: Day 1 of potty training is like boot camp. Which means you don’t leave the house and your SOLE JOB is to watch your kid like Simone Biles zeros-in on that balance beam.
This is pretty much the opposite of my normal parenting style, so I had to do some intentional preparation to make sure I didn’t go cray cray within the first hour.
For both Day 1 and Day 2, I woke up before the birds and combined my workout and devotion time. I got a pot of coffee brewing and made sure I had Lil AC’s breakfast ready before she opened her baby blues. This put me in a state of mind where I was calm and attentive and ready to DO THIS.
I also knew that when nap time rolled around, this would free me up to focus on other things like laundry, dishes, basic clean-up and maybe catch up on some Olympics. (That mental break was hella-needed.)
Make It Fun
It’s crazy how fast kids become independent. It isn’t long before you can pop out of the room once in a while and maybe (MAYBE) catch a bathroom break to yourself. Spending every second with my daughter was actually quite the luxury.
We had a blast with our dance parties. We read allllll the books and colored and drew a thousand hearts. We played “ni-night”, snuggled a lot, and caught up on the world of Sesame Street. It was definitely a sweet time to pay attention to all the subtle quirks my toddler has developed. Perhaps my favorite moment was our second day during our picnic lunch on the deck. She took her first bite, rubbed her belly and exclaimed, “Mmmm- this is DELICIOUS!” Where did she learn that word?! Pure awesomeness.
Let’s Get Real
As special and fun as this time is, it’s still W.O.R.K. You and your toddler are learning something totally new and it’s scary- for both of you.
If your kiddo is anything like my delightful girl, she knows what she wants and knows what she doesn’t want. Trying this new and uncomfortable thing was definitely something Lil’ AC did NOT want.
About 3-4 accidents and 3 hours into Day 1, Lil’ AC was OVER IT. She was somewhere between totally terrified and completely rebellious and I had an internal freak-out as to how to handle it. I didn’t want her to be scared, but I also didn’t want to give in to her tantrum.
Her fit lasted a solid hour- maybe more, but I didn’t dare look at the clock. There were screams, cries, stomping- you name it, she gave it to me. And she gave it to me gooood.
I took the book’s advice and firmly, yet calmly kept her on the potty and hugged her while she sat there. Eventually she calmed down and had her first successful pee in the potty! This, and the dumping reward, was the catalyst we needed and we both breathed a sigh of relief.
Getting to that point, however, was HARD and you better believe I had second (and 3rd and 4th) thoughts.
On a final “keepin’ it real” note, this momma was BEAT by the end of the day. I almost cried happy tears when SC walked through the door. I poured myself a celebratory glass of wine but PASSED OUT on the couch before I could take one sip.
Potty training is NOT for the faint of heart.
Honestly, “Oh Crap! Potty Training” spells it out beautifully. I highly recommend this book and won’t go into every detail here in hopes that it helps you as much as it did me. We did, however, have a few things that I believe made our personal experience a huge success.
– Keep the potty CLOSE. Like, SUPER close. For the first few hours I thought 10-12 feet away was close. Nope. Not close enough. I quickly learned my lesson and started carrying it around to every room we went. I wouldn’t call myself a potty stalker per se, but let’s just say if she was ready, so was I.
– Get a “potty book”. Lil’ AC and I went to the book store a couple weeks back and I let her browse the shelves in the potty training section. She migrated to “Potty Time with Elmo”, complete with noises, and became OBSESSED. I knew this was our winner. We took it home and saved it for potty training. The only time she gets to read it is when she is sitting on her potty. It’s also provided her with some comfort, as when she started off a little nervous, she asked for Elmo. 🙂
– Dump it like it’s hot. Ok, so that might take your mind to strange places, but seriously, make this a BIG FREAKING DEAL. After her first time peeing on the potty, I let my big girl dump her pee into the big toilet. This was her reward and oh my goodness, did she ever LOVE IT. You should have seen her naked butt strutting around after that! She thought she was hot stuff. And she was! I can’t even put into words how amazing it was to witness my daughter feel so proud of herself.
Ah, poop. Everybody does it, right? My toddler is no different and we both were WAITING for when it would make its grand appearance. It was getting late into Day 1 and I could tell that Miss Wiggle Butt was getting uncomfortable. Holding it in was becoming less and less appealing (and possible).
All I wanted was for her to know what it felt like to poop on the POTTY, so we were outside on the deck, with the potty SO CLOSE it was touching her baby soft skin. She was playing and moving around a lot and I didn’t take my eyes off of her nether regions- I SWEAR.
But then. THEN she pulled this ninja squat move (not unusual body movement for her) where all of a sudden I COULDN’T SEE WHAT WAS HAPPENING. The book says not to pester her, so I silently tried to
sprint with gazelle-like speed move so I could see her behind.
But I was too late.
In those mere invisible seconds, she plopped her goods right there on the deck. A nice, big , steamy pile of poop. It could have been in a Jim Carrey movie.
I’m not really sure what happened after that. I think I blacked out for a few moments before I realized I had to clean it up. Lil’ AC, on the other hand, was feeling FREE AS A FLIPPING BIRD.
She finally pooped on the potty on Day 3, but only a nugget or two. (You’re welcome for the visuals today.) Needless to say, poop is a process, and one that requires a sense of humor. And excellent cleaning supplies.
In addition to the high-fives, squeals, and claps, we made sure to include our loved ones. We Face Timed with Grandma so she could tell her granddaughter how proud she was and we had several text messages and calls from friends and far-away family to let Lil’ AC hear what a BIG GIRL they knew she was. She loved every minute.
One of our favorite things to do each day after a successful potty was to make a video and send it to Daddy while he was at work. She was over the moon when Daddy sent a video back telling her how proud he was of her. She watched it 5 times before I had to suggest another activity!
It’s also crucial to give yourself props. You survived! You made progress! Did I mention you survived?! This calls for a celebration for you, too! Maybe wine, a massage, or just giving yourself permission to order take-out. Whatever it is, make sure you pat yourself on the back. You earned it!
In conclusion, I just want to say that we have had success in potty training, but it’s an on-going process. I’m not telling you how many days it took her to “get it” because every single kid is different and that is not what this post is about. I want to encourage you and come along side of you and tell you that you BOTH can do it!
We are choosing to tackle nap and night time training at a later time, but that choice is totally up to you. If you have any great tips or funny stories, I would LOVE to hear them. We are all in this together, friends! Thanks for tagging along on our adventure!