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.

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.

Because I’m the Mom

I have a memory from my early childhood of watching home movies at my grandparent’s house.  There was one movie of me getting a bath in the sink (I was probably about 6 months old).  I remember being completely horrified that my naked infant body was on film, for all to see.  My grandpa, seeing how upset I was, spliced that part of the film out of the reel, never to be seen again.  I was forever grateful for that, but also now know that there wasn’t anything for me to be so upset about.  I’ll guess that vast majority of people have some of those same pictures of themselves or their own children, just as I do of mine.

So, with my disclaimer in place, I give you, Rory.

We are kind of potty training.  I’m a firm believer in not forcing the potty training and waiting until they are completely ready so Rory is probably about 50% potty trained.  My little guy is what we call vertically challenged and can’t reach the toilet when he is standing.  Yes, he used to sit on the toilet, but once he realized that boys stand up to pee, he had to do it.  I normally have a little step stool in the bathroom that he can stand on, but it got moved so this was Rory’s solution.  He not only stands on the toilet, but he strikes poses – as seen in the photos above.  It’s hilarious and taking these pictures of him are actually benefiting me.  Each time he sees them, he runs off to go pee. 

So in few years when Rory hopefully learns humility, I can at least tell him that I censored the photos and that without the pictures, he may still be wearing diapers.