Surviving Potty Training
Oh, potty training.
I’m not lying when I tell you that this was one of my most dreaded parts of parenting. Oliver started showing signs that he was ready this past fall, but I was definitely not ready for that kind of commitment, so I put it off. The draw of not changing (and paying for) two diapers anymore, though, was too tempting to pass up, and we attempted (and conquered) the dreaded potty training.
I really want to be clear up front that this is absolutely not a how-to. I simply want to share our experience, talk about some things that worked for us, and share a few things I recommend. This process is going to look so different for everyone. I really don’t believe that there is a one-shoe-fits-all answer for potty training!
How We Knew He Was Ready
So I mentioned Oliver was showing signs he was ready last fall. When he had to poop, he would run to a corner and hide behind the rocking chair. Usually this was accompanied by him closing the door, as well. He would come to us and show us that his diaper was dirty and want it to be changed, and he liked to sit on his potty (even though he wasn’t going on it at this time).
Like I also said- I wasn’t ready! We took a few trips in the fall, and I selfishly didn’t want to worry about having to stop all the time or him peeing in the carseat. I also didn’t really know how to juggle Zoey and making sure Oliver was going to the potty every so often- with two littles, it honestly just seemed really overwhelming. Once the new year started, though, I kind of just decided to go for it!
We didn’t really use a specific method. I had some friends tell me they had really great success with the 3 day bootcamp method, but I kind of went into this pressure free. Oliver’s only 2.5, so I figured we would try it, and if it didn’t work, there was no stress and we could try later. I needed it to be pressure free not only for Oliver, but for myself, as well. Patience is not a virtue I have, and I can also get frustrated easily. I didn’t want any of that coming off on Oliver, which it would have if I were really trying to get this done in 3 days.
We waited for a holiday weekend where Dan had off on a Friday. We made no plans that weekend, and I made sure we weren’t doing anything the following week. And we let him just run around naked.
We kept his kiddy potty in the living room, and we asked him, like, every 2 minutes if he had to go potty. I think he maybe went once or twice on the actual potty that day. Let’s just say, my carpet got reallllly clean with the amount of carpet cleaner we had to spray everywhere.
The next morning we woke up saying he had to go pee-pee, and I got really confident. “He so has this down.” (Insert eye roll here.) He did not have it down. We tried to set a timer every 15-20 minutes, but we asked him a lot more often than that! We had special books that we put by the potty. These would only be read if he sat on the potty. (Oliver loves books, so this was a good bribe for him). Every time he did go potty, we gave him a piece of candy. We are obviously not above bribing.
Well, Oliver is officially potty trained (outside of bed time and naps, but honestly, he does really well with these, too), so I guess it worked!
It took a few days for Oliver to recognize the feeling of having to pee. Once he did, though, he started telling us when he had to pee instead of us having to ask. I counted this as major progress! He picked this up quickly as he was never a fan of the timer thing. If he didn’t want to sit, he wasn’t sitting.
After about two weeks of going really well at the house (which was like, three weeks after we started), I ran my first (short) errand with him in underwear. He did so great! His preschool then told me he always asked to use the potty there so I didn’t need to bring him in pull ups anymore. And that is when I considered him fully potty trained.
Let me be real. There was a weekend in there where he really regressed. I don’t know why, but he just had accidents all weekend. Y’all, I was so frustrated. At this point, I had considered him fully potty trained, and I did not know what was going on. By Monday, though, he was back to always going on the potty, so who knows!
Suggestions and Tips
Potty training is going to vary so much based on your own kiddo and what works for him/her! But I did just want to share a few things that I think really helped out process!
1. Don’t let your child see you frustrated.
Please notice what I said here. I said don’t let your child SEE you frustrated- I didn’t say don’t get frustrated. Cause you absolutely will. The weekend that Oliver regressed? I wanted to scream so badly. I knew he could do it, and I did not understand why he just wouldn’t. I’d go into the laundry, get the carpet cleaning spray, and let out a quiet scream. Then I’d go back to Oliver and just gently remind him to tell mommy when he has to go potty.
I haven’t been silent about the fact that I struggle with patience and I get frustrated easily. I wrote a whole post about it. But I was so unwilling to hinder progress by shaming Oliver or making him feel bad about an accident, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well I did with maintaining my cool in front of him. Kids can pick up on anger and frustration so quickly! So while I definitely got upset a few times, I tried to never let him see it!
2. Plan to stay home.
I think this was so helpful for us! We purposefully started on a Friday that Dan had off. That way he could be home for 3 days to help me with Zoey while we were paying such close attention to Oliver. We also went nowhere. Oliver had preschool three mornings a week, but I told them about potty training and they were wonderful with asking him and helping me. Other than that, we were pretty much housebound for about 2-3 weeks.
My rationale was that I really didn’t want Oliver getting confused. I didn’t want him to be using a potty at home but then a diaper for an hour or two and then home again and then a diaper. I was really afraid the switching back and forth would hinder his progress. Obviously I have nothing to compare this to- I can’t say whether staying home actually made a difference or if he would have been fine. For me, though, I’m definitely glad we did this! It’s a lot to handle him and Zoey while we’re out, let alone worry about taking him to the potty with both by myself.
3. Stay committed.
This was another huge one for me. The first day, Dan and I both got frustrated and thought maybe he wasn’t ready. In hindsight, it’s silly to expect him to get it in one day, but after cleaning up pee a certain amount of times a day…your perspective gets a little whacked. The first day, we actually put Oliver back in a diaper around 4pm because we just couldn’t handle it anymore. I planned to put it off for a bit longer, but I woke up the next day knowing that if we were going to do it, we needed to just do it!
If you decide to start potty training, I highly recommend just going for it and staying committed to it! Obviously after a certain point, you might really see that your child just isn’t ready, and that’s ok! You know your child best and know what he or she can handle. I think for Oliver, starting potty training for a few days and then going back to diapers, and then potty training again, and then diapers, would have been really confusing and it would have taken him a lot longer to know what we wanted from him.
4. Keep a sense of humor.
Y’all, potty training is DISGUISTING. It’s so gross. And, like previously mentioned, frustrating. It’s so important to keep a sense of humor! We joked a bit about how our carpets were actually going to be cleaner because of how often we had to clean them. We tried to remember that this was going to be a very short season. It will definitely not be missed, but it didn’t last forever! We tried to make it fun- my mom got Oliver a movie and a book about potty training, we sang a song- we really wanted to make it fun for him!
5. Find what your child responds to.
This is going to look so different for every child. I briefly contemplated making a chart for Oliver. I know him, though, and I knew he wouldn’t really understand it. We kept it really simple and just went for candy whenever he went potty. We started by using chocolate chips. He got 1 for trying, 2 for peeing, and 3 for pooping. Somewhere along the way we switched to Peanut M&M’s, not sure why, and we stopped giving him candy for trying. He’d get so excited for his candy, and it kept him motivated to keep going.
Some kids really respond to charts, though! They love the stickers and understand earning enough to get something. We just didn’t want to overcomplicate it for him, though, and I needed to keep it simple. I will say, though, it’s a little hard to break the bribing. Oliver still gets the occasional candy when he goes potty…I don’t feel bad about it.
Bonus! What to do with your second little.
Ok, to be honest, this is the part I was dreading the most. I didn’t really know how to handle staying on top of Oliver with Zoey all over the place. Turns out, Zoey has an OBSESSION with Oliver’s potty. She loves it. I hope this is indicative of potty training going well for her eventually, but right now it’s annoying. That girl went in a jumper or bouncer A LOT during this process. I needed to not worry about her getting into something or trying to climb on the potty on top of Oliver. She cried a bit, but you gotta do what you gotta do. She lived, I lived, Oliver’s potty trained- all is well.
I promise you that I dreaded potty training more than anyone else. I put it off for so long. But it was a lot less scary than I anticipated, and I fully think it’s because I put no pressure on me or Oliver to get it done! I tried to let it happen as naturally as I could. He was ready, so this “method” really worked out for us! I’ve also heard great things about the three day bootcamp, though, so do whatever works for you and your fam!
If you haven’t potty trained yet- what’s the thing you’re dreading most? If you have- what system worked best for your little one?? I’d love to hear below!
Have a phenomenal day!