Potty Training: A Necessary Evil
I’ve been potty training for 16 years now (well, not me—but, you know—my kids) and have succeeded, during that time, in potty training four girls and three boys so far. I won’t tell you how much poop and pee I’ve cleaned up from walls, floors, beds, and potty chair rims.
Actually—I will. Lots.
Potty training is not something I get super excited about. It’s one of those necessary evils though—and the encouraging thing is, all average children, and most below average children WILL be potty trained by age 16. That’s important to remember while rinsing training pants in the toilet for the third time in a day.
So since we are talking about babies this month, and since #8 (a boy) just turned three last week, I decided to take pictures, record some details (just a few, mind you) and write up a blog post about it. If other women can have some fun online while potty training, why can’t I?
Potty Training Preliminaries
Before we get started with our adventure, let me just say that I’m not one of those ambitious early trainers. I had aspired to be one many years ago, but as it turned out, my children weren’t early trainers either, so it’s all good. I start training when they turn three years old. You don’t have to. I’m just saying that’s what I do.
Also, you should know I’ve experienced varied results with each child. I had one who potty trained—both day and night—in 24 hours. I think she is part human, part angel. On the opposite side of the spectrum I had one who potty trained—both day and night—in six YEARS. Yes, I’d let you weep for me, but it’s all over now. She is 10 years old and fully trained.
Another thing I’d like to point out is that those readiness signs you always hear about (or read about on the packages of Pull-Ups) didn’t work for me. That’s why I implemented the arbitrary “three years old” rule.
Here are the signs in case they will work for you:
- Your child stays dry for at least two hours during the day or is dry after a nap.
- Your child is antsy with soiled diapers and wants them changed. (My kids liked walking around in squooshy poopie pants.)
- Your child shows more interest in the bathroom. (My kids showed an interest in the bathroom all right. Brushing teeth in toilet water, unrolling toilet rolls, taking out all the make up from the make up drawer, and so forth. There was interest. Just not the right kind of interest.)
- Your child follows simple verbal directions. (Jeepers, I’m still working on this one for myself, for crying out loud.)
- Your child wants to wear big kid pants. (Mine could care less. Pants. No pants. Polka dot pants. It’s all the same to them. They had more important things to think about. Like building a Duplo Walmart.)
Day One: Potty Training Media and Treats
Kids like movies, candy, and snacks. Also delicious drinks. They are sort of like adults that way. I choose to capitalize on these hedonistic tendencies in my Wemmick children by making potty training day brimming full of all their favorites delights. I do this in hopes that it will translate into the potty chair also being brimming full of all the goodness coming out the other end.
Some people call this shameless bribing. I call it pragmatic genius.
So on day one Boy gets up thinking its just another average day, but he soon discovers he is in paradise. Mom is grinning from ear to ear saying, “GUESS WHAT?!!! Today you get to wear MR. OTTER PANTS and DRINK POP AND JUICE TILL YOUR GUT ACHES AND YOU HAVE TO PEE LIKE A RACE HORSE!”
Boy grins back. Sounds good, Mom. Where’s the pop? And by the way, who’s Mr. Otter?
Mom whips out a pair of thick underwear with the face of an otter embroidered on the inside front. Mr. Otter is strategically placed right where Boy’s “tail” is. (This is what my angel daughter called it the first time she saw her little brother. She said, “Oh Mommy! He’s got a TAIL!!” Hey, if the word is good enough for angels, it’s good enough for me.)
Mom puts the Mr. Otter pants on Boy. Boy looks around expectantly for the promised beverages. Mom delivers. Boy drinks. A lot. While he’s happily sucking it down, he notices an object in the middle of the kitchen. It appears to be a small blue toilet. Can that really be? A toilet in the kitchen?
Next, Mom takes OFF the Mr. Otter pants and has Boy sit down on the blue toilet in the middle of the kitchen. Next, she pulls up a chair with her laptop on it and begins playing a video of Bear in the Big Blue House: When You’ve Got to Go. This is totally awesome. Boy gets to sit and watch a video first thing in the morning—while drinking juice and eating fishy crackers with lots of salt.
The idea is to have him pee in the toilet for the first time. With a full bladder, he will eventually do that. I just keep him there until he does. He stays happy with music and dancing—all centered around the topic of potty training—along with salty snacks and delicious drinks.
It takes about 30 minutes, but he eventually pees. He looks surprised. How odd. I peed in this blue thing in the middle of the kitchen while watching a dancing bear. Am I dreaming? What’s more incredible is that Mom now presents him with a Popsicle. I don’t know what I did, but I’m lovin’ this day!
After a five minute “rest” walking around with his Mister Otter underwear, I sit him back on the potty. In a few short minutes he is agitated. Wiggling and squirming, he moans and complains about life in general, and about potties specifically. He has to go. BAD. But he’s nervous to let it go in that blue potty again. There’s something weird about it. Finally – ah…relief.
He gets a 10 minute break where he can walk around, and then it’s back to the pot. We wait. A few minutes later he’s moaning again. He wants to get up. He’s irritated. Pretty soon he scoots—potty and all—across the room to a corner with his back to everyone else. He pees in private. Is he not genius, or what?
Who IS Mister Otter?
I am NOT an affiliate with Otter Puddles—just a happy customer. These are cloth training pants that have an optional snap on insert with an optional otter embroidered on one side. We call him Mister Otter, and you DON’T want to “water the otter” if you catch my drift.
Unfortunately, Mister Otter gets pooped and peed on a few times before the child gets the hang of going on the potty, but that’s OK, because Mister Otter is always smiling no matter what. We LOVE Mister Otter.
While we are training, you will often hear Mom, Dad, or another older child asking the child-in-training, “Is Mister Otter dry???” If Mister Otter is dry – they are praised and sometimes get a gummy worm or other treat.
Day one of training is all about getting the child comfortable peeing on the potty. The child will have to go a lot if you continue to give them beverages. In between each sitting and going (sometimes the sitting takes a long while before the going happens), Boy walked around for a little bit longer. First 5-10 minutes. Then 10-15 minutes, etc. At nap time we put on a diaper and called it a morning.
After his nap and into the evening I simply put him on the pot approximately every 30 minutes to see if he had to go. Sometimes he did, sometimes not. At one point during the day he pooped in his pants. That is pretty normal. The pooping thing seems to take a little longer for them to get the hang of because it doesn’t happen as often as the peeing does.
Day Two: From Kitchen to Bathroom
That first night I happened to be out on a date with my 13-year-old daughter, so Daddy put Boy to bed. You know how that goes, right? Daddy just left Mister Otter on. Now, normally, this would mean that in the morning I would have Niagara Falls to contend with in the boy’s bedroom.
Miracle of miracles—he was practically DRY! Did I have another ANGEL? What were the odds?! After cautiously checking to see if Mister Otter was dry, I asked if he had to go tinkles. Duh, Mom. He did.
After breakfast he became irritable. “I’m tired Mommy. I’m SOOOOOO tired.” Do you know what that means? He has to poop. You learn these things after 19 years of parenting. So I put him on the pot and he pooped.
He pooped three more times that day in his pants, waking me up to the realization that he is, in fact, human and decidedly NOT an angel. This fact was confirmed the following two nights when I put him to bed with a diaper on, and it was full the next morning.
As of this writing, we are on day five of potty training, and we are making progress. Can you do this in one day? It’s possible. Can you do this when they are 18 months old? It’s possible. I’ve seen this kind of thing happen with my friends who have incredibly amazing children. My kids are all pretty average.