Potty Training 101

Parents of small children, potential parents, people who may inherit small children…lend me your ears!  I am about to blow your mind.  I have successfully potty trained two kids so that makes me an expert* in the field and I’m about to tell you my secrets.

First, let me tell you what I did wrong.  When Kamryn was barely 2 years old and I was pregnant with Rory, I felt this need to have my daughter potty trained.  I thought it would have been impossible to have two children in diapers.  I bought 3 potty seats/chairs, thinking I had to have these little chairs all over the house.  The main objective is to get your child to pee/poop in the toilet, right?  So why have them go in this little chair and then have to retrain them to go in an actual toilet?  Not to mention, cleaning shit out of a plastic bowl is a million times worse than changing a diaper.  You are almost guaranteed to get the dreaded “poop finger”.  It is what it sounds like.  Poop on your finger and it will most definitely get under your nail.

Apparently, I'm crazy - according to the date stamp on this picture, Kamryn was 19 mos when we first attempted potty training.

The second mistake went hand and hand with the first.  Kamryn never told me she wanted to do her business in the toilet.  She had been in the bathroom with me enough times to know what the porcelain throne was for, but it was my decision to start the potty training.  The first couple of times I put her on the toilet, we sat there for about an hour each time before anything happened.  It was sooooo boring.  We read books, watched videos on my laptop and I made up songs which I will share with you later.  Go ahead and see if your child is ready.  Put them on the toilet and if they don’t do anything for an hour – they aren’t ready.  If they scream that they don’t want to go – they aren’t ready.  If you are getting ready to smear feces on the wall out of frustration – neither of you are ready.  Stop trying and wait a few weeks or months.  Seriously.

Here she is 2 1/2 years old - Rory was born less than 3 weeks later - she wasn't potty trained.

The final mistake was bribing with M&M’s.  This sounded like a brilliant idea, but unless you want a tantrum every time you put your child on the toilet and they don’t “produce” anything, I suggest skipping this step.  So why not give a reward for trying?  Yeah, I tried that.  Suddenly, my child claimed she had to pee every 2 minutes.  Kids aren’t dumb.

Try this test.  Put a bucket on the floor or a potty training seat (this was the only time it was useful), get your child down to just underwear or preferably, nothing at all.  Place it in front of the TV, instruct your child to do their business in the bucket or potty and leave the room.  If they manage to do it without a problem, they are probably ready to start potty training.  If they end up peeing on the couch or wherever they were sitting.  You may want to hold off.  I like this test because it shows that the child recognizes the sensation of having to pee even if they are distracted by watching TV.  The reason I say to leave the room is to avoid the temptation of you saying “Do you have to go potty?” every 2 minutes.

Assuming your child passed the test, you can continue to leave their bottom half sans clothing for another day or two before putting the underwear on.  I did that with Kamryn and she did a pretty good job once we put her in underwear.  I didn’t really have that option with Rory so I took a different approach.

I downloaded an app on my phone called iPotty.  It was OK, but it kept shutting down my phone, which was more annoying than cleaning up pee.  Basically, I had Rory going pee every 30 min to start, then every 45 min for about 3 days.  DO NOT ASK YOUR CHILD IF THEY HAVE TO PEE!  They are going to tell you “No” and then piss their pants right in front of you.  I guarantee it.  Instead, say “Time to go potty!” and just take them.  Rory likes to race so all I would have to do is say “On your mark!  Get set!  Go!”  and we would race to the bathroom.  He thought it was awesome and I never had to argue with him about going pee.

Rock out with your ____ out! For as much as I swear, I despise that word - almost as much as the female "C" word.

After the 3rd day, I pretty much left him to his own devices.  I made sure he had on easy pants to get up and down and threw caution to the wind.  He did really well so the next day we went to the zoo.  I’m telling you, the anxiety you feel when venturing out into the public with a semi-potty trained kid is like none you will ever feel.  You are constantly scanning your surroundings in search of the restroom signs so you can jet into a bathroom should you see a pee holding crotch grab.  We made it through the entire time at the zoo with about 5 bathroom breaks, but no accidents!

That was a few weeks ago.  Have we had accidents?  Yep, but they aren’t daily or even every other day.  I say we are averaging about one a week.  We got rid of all the diapers last week and are using a Pull Up at night.  I’m happy to report that Rory’s Pull Up is dry every morning.  I debated on whether I should even put him in the Pull Ups at all, but I’m not very pleasant at night when I get woken up to change sheets.

The bottom line is this.  If you try to force your child to potty train early, you are wasting your time.  Don’t worry about all of those other parents that are claiming their children were potty trained while still in utero.  They are liars and probably lost years off their lives because of the frustration and anxiety that I spoke of previously.

*I am not an expert, but this really is common sense.

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The Most Terrifying Words I Have Ever Heard

Rory has been in the midst of potty training for about 3 weeks.  I think I can finally say we are officially potty trained.  I’m even getting rid of all the diapers since he hasn’t worn one in at least a week – maybe even 2.  At night I’m still putting him in a Pull Up, but it’s been dry in the morning and he has actually even woken up in the middle of the night to pee on two different occasions.  The reason why I’m going into such detail is because I want everyone to know he is really potty trained.

One thing that I have discovered since becoming a mom is that parents are terribly competitive when it comes to the accomplishments of their children.  The major milestones are always big scorers.  Things like walking, potty training, reading, riding a bike, getting a tooth and then losing a tooth – all big deals for kids and parents.

I don’t feel like I’m too competitive in announcing my child’s accomplishments.  It’s mostly I’m genuinely proud of them and want to share my excitement.  One thing that really bothers me is when a parent is boasting about their child’s accomplishments before they are indisputably doing them.  Let me explain.

When Kamryn was just shy of 1 year old, we met up with some friends.  Before the playdate, I was told by this friend that her child, who I’ll call Pof (Pants On Fire – as in liar, liar), who was a month younger than Kamryn, was walking.  I admit, I was a little surprised and immediately thought what is wrong with Kamryn?  She should be walking!  I was getting all worked up until we actually had our playdate.  Guess who wasn’t walking?!  POF!  What Pof was capable of doing was pushing around a toy, chair or stroller and walking behind it.  That is not walking.  If you took away the props, Pof was on her ass.

I am way off track here, but here is another example:  I recall another parent telling me that their child had been potty trained since 18 months, but now, at age 3, would only shit in a diaper.  Uh, guess what…your child isn’t potty trained.

Remember the scene in Big Daddy, starring Adam Sandler?  No?  Watch….

My only regret is that they didn’t include Adam saying “I know!” in the clip.  That is what makes it funny.  Moving on, once you get to the point of your child wiping their own ass…well, (wiping a tear from my eye) it’s a pretty big damn deal.

Today, when I was in the shower I heard all kinds of things going on in the kid’s bathroom.  We share a wall so I knew something was amiss.  The minute I turned the water off, Rory was trying to open the door to my bathroom.  I knew it wasn’t going to be good, but I tried to remain optimistic.  I took one look at my little boy with a shirt on and absolutely nothing on the bottom and I was scared, but only when he said “Mama, me go BIG POOP!” did I realize I had a major situation on my hands.  I wrapped the towel around me and ran to the other bathroom, leaving wet footprints on the carpet (one of my biggest pet peeves, besides the actual phrase, pet peeve).  There was no evidence of any feces.  He toddled behind me and I asked him if he wiped and he said “No me wipe my buuuuuttttt!”  OK…crisis averted.   See, until a child actually knows how to wipe their own ass, you don’t want them to even attempt it.  It’s a mess.

Until that exact moment, I thought I was going to be cleaning off excrement from the walls, toilet and any other object that Rory came into contact with in the moments following his “big poop”.  Nope.  Rory just hopped off the shitter and didn’t sit on anything until he presented me with his achievement of pooping on his own.

What had started off as terror, soon turned to elation!  The boy knew not to put his underwear back on, avoiding “bacon strips” in his pants and didn’t sit on the carpet and scoot his butt around like a dog.  AWESOME SAUCE!!!

My non-shit wiping kid.

I Can’t Make This Shit Up

There will be no pictures in today’s post and while I normally hate posting something without a picture, you will be thanking me by the time you get done reading…that is assuming you make it all the way through.

I don’t give Kamryn and Rory baths.  They both get showers because Kamryn’s hair is really long and it’s so much easier to get the shampoo and conditioner out if she is in the shower instead of a tub.  It takes two seconds to hose Rory off in the shower and I can be done before he even has a chance to complain about soap in his eyes.

It’s a little cold out (for San Diego weather) so I told the kids they could take a bath tonight instead of a shower.  They love baths, but for the reasons stated above, I rarely let them take one.  I filled up the tub and they were all excited to jump in, but not before making Rory pee.  He likes to pee in buckets and there are two buckets in the tub.

I got Kamryn’s hair washed and conditioned and had moved on to Rory while she was cleaning her body.  I told them they could play for a little bit before they had to get out.  I know this is wrong, but I left the bathroom while they were playing and got all of their clothes ready.  I could hear both of them splashing around and shrieking with laughter so I knew both were above water.

After listening to them for about 5 minutes, I made this comment to Ryan, “I can’t believe how much joy they get out of just taking a bath.”

I headed back to the bathroom to get the kids out of the tub and they had pulled the shower curtain shut.  This is has been a little joke between me and the kids.  They pull the curtain shut and I scare the crap out of them like in Psycho.  (That was a poor choice of words.)

I grabbed the curtain, pulled it open and was about to yell “BOO!” when I saw two wet and naked kids, holding hands and jumping around in the water, laughing hysterically.

Remember the scene in Caddyshack where someone drops a Baby Ruth in the pool?  There were a couple of fun sized Baby Ruths and numerous little nuggets floating around in the tub.  Rory shit in the tub and they were trying to get away from the floaters.

Besides being completely appalled and disgusted by the scene laid out in front of me, I was now faced with the challenge of fishing out the feces without gloves.  The kids were transferred to the other bathroom to be re-showered and I started the task of netting some turds.

Kamryn had never shat in the tub and I was 99.9% certain that I was out of the woods with Rory, but still hesitated to ever publicly boast that my kids had never shit in the tub for fear of jinxing myself.  HA!

Once I was done dumping all the poop and dry heaving, I went in to discuss the events with the children.  Kamryn kept insisting it was not her fault since Rory was the one that defecated in the tub, but couldn’t give me a reason as to why she didn’t 1) get out of the tub or 2) call for me to come back the minute she saw the first turd.  Rory just kept laughing and then tried to tell me “It was just a little bit of poop, Mama.”  Wrong answer, son.

Finally, between fits of laughter, Kamryn held up Rory’s right  hand and made him repeat the following: I promise not to poop in the tub again.