5 Lessons Learned While Potty Training My Pre-Schooler
We did it. We survived the so-called Boot Camp of potty training and lived to tell about it. I'm not going to lie, after that very first day I wasn't too sure we were going to make it.
I always knew I would begin potty training my pre-schooler when he began showing signs that he was ready. I waited and waited for those signs and on the eve of his third birthday I began to realize that it may be a long time before that happens.
That same week, however, I cut a check for the first two months of his pre-school tuition that would begin in early September. The same pre-school that mandates that all children be potty trained for the three year old class.
I could feel myself starting to break out into hives.
All I could think about was how deciding to potty train before he was ready would surely backfire. I assured myself that if it suddenly became too stressful that we would quit immediately and put off starting school. It certainly wasn't worth frustrating us both.
I knew two things: One, I was running out of weekends to start and two, I needed a plan.
I read this post and decided that I would try the Three Day Method. Allie did a wonderful job of explaining the method and so I decided against purchasing the pdf. I knew I wasn't too concerned with night training and so I wouldn't be tossing all of the diapers from our deck with a bellowing, "Halleluiah!"
Although my pre-schooler had been using the "grown up toilet" on and off for number one throughout the last several months, I decided, at the last minute, that investing in a small kid's potty might be easier when it comes to doing number two. I hopped online and quickly ordered this one this one
and threw in this this
for good measure. That boy loves him some stickers.
Tip: Incentivize, incentivize, incentivize. If your child operates and operates well on an Incentive System, use it to your advantage and incorporate it into potty training! My child loves stickers and each day works really hard completing his "chores" so to earn stickers for his chore chart. Things like feeding the dog, watering the garden and brushing his teeth become that much more exciting when stickers are involved.
At 1pm on Thursday we ditched our very first day time diaper and by Monday morning, I can say without a single doubt, that I am now the proud mama of a potty-trained pre-schooler.
Here's what I learned:
5. Shit Happens.
There is a good chance your kid will crap his pants at some point during his potty training adventure. I don't know why I was so surprised when, on the first day of potty training, my child crapped his pants. I guess in my head I thought, "Oh, once he starts going and realizes he's not in a diaper, he'll stop!"
I was so naive. If the underwear is salvageable, save it. If not, don't hesitate tossing it. When you get down to number one, you'll see why. Try not to yell. It's very easy to get frustrated, especially that first day, and when he finally craps his pants and you crumple to the floor around 4pm muttering to yourself how you're not cut out for this, take a deep breath, hug your child and move on. It gets better, I promise.
4. No matter how ready (or not ready) you are to potty train your child, success will be greater and stress will be lesser if you wait until your child is ready.
Even though my child didn't seem to mind when his diaper was wet or dirty, he had been using the "grown up" toilet to do number one for the last several months. Randomly we would ask him throughout the day, especially first thing in the morning and right before bath time if he wanted to use the potty. Excitedly he would answer "yes!" and so we took full advantage of that "readiness" for months. No pressure at all and it was only within the last several days that he began telling me when he had done number two in his diaper. He would grab a new diaper and wipes and run them over to me asking for a diaper change. That was the second sign I needed that whispered to me, "Go ahead, start. See what happens."
Too many of my friends have started too early and very quickly their potty training adventure became a torturous disaster that took weeks, sometimes even months. I don't know what I would have done had our weekend not gone the way it did. Actually, I do know. I would have up and quit.
3. Days will fly by when you're literally living from one timer ding to the next.
The first two days of potty training were a blur of timer dings. Our first day, the timer was set for every twenty to thirty minutes. If he hadn't expressed an interest in pottying before the timer went off, I walked him into the bathroom where he would sit and try every twenty to thirty minutes. More times than not, he went. It helped that I was flooding him with fluids that first day. When he wasn't on the potty, I was asking him every five minutes if he had to go.
It. was. exhausting.
The second day, I began to draw out the time, setting the timer for every forty-five to fifty minutes. If by the end of the timer he still hadn't potty'd, I would set the timer for an additional ten minutes. Believe me when I say this, those days flew by!
2. Nothing will make you act a fool until your child's first poop in the potty.
I'm not going to lie, I cried. I cried big, fat tears when my child went poop on the potty for the first time. After dancing around the house, scooping him up and whirling him around the kitchen, I cried.
I cried because I was so proud of him. I was so proud of me. For sticking with it and not getting dismayed too easily. It may sound crazy but potty training is officially the hardest thing I've had to do as a parent.
Breastfeeding? Vaccines? A child who doesn't sleep through the night? All cake compared to the Three Day Method.
1. Toddler brief are the cutest underwear in all the land.
You will never see a picture of my child on or near a toilet but a discreet picture of them in their underwear? Well I may just sneak one of those in because there is nothing cuter than tiny toddler underwear. Laundry just got a whole lot more fun since adding no less than forty pairs of brightly colored underoos into the mix.
Laugh now but during those first two days of potty training even forty pairs of underwear may not seem like enough. Sure you could let your kid run around naked all day but I chose to keep him in underwear. I started our adventure with fifteen pairs and by the end of the first day I was on Amazon Prime checking out with an additional thirty pair.
Trust me on this, you'll need them and while you're at it, grab yourself a bottle of wine or two before you begin. You'll need that, too.