potty training

To prevent myself from talking your ear off if you ever ask me about potty training, here's this. The unabridged version.

We got Alta a baby Bjorn potty when she was 18 months. She sat on it pretty much never and it sat in her bathroom and collected dust. Every once and awhile we'd talk to her about trying the potty but, you know, she was little and we only cared she was in diapers when we were sick of changing them. And she never, ever asked us to change her diaper. She didn't care about being wet or anything.

We stopped talking about it before/after having Rinne and moving. She was 2-2.5 yrs. At 2.5, we tried. And by tried, I mean someone at the playground said the 3 day method was easy so we tried that. We pep talked her, Dave watched Rinnie for the day (kind of, I was still nursing) and she was naked in the house. I watched her non stop the whole morning. I gave her juice and we had a couple of successes which we celebrated. (#1 only of course) She took a nap in her diaper and we started again after she woke up. She peed everywhere and so many times that I couldn't do it. Dave couldn't do it. We quit. That was round 1. What we learned - she could actually pee on the potty. She didn't care if she peed on the floor. We (her parents) were not ready. We also hated the naked thing so much.

Close to Christmas, mid- December, we tried again. She did better. It went on about a week and she was still having lots of accidents so we quit again. Potty training is exhausting and since she wasn't ready, we didn't have the energy to keep pushing her. 

Then we took a potty training break while her friend, Sam, not coincidentally, attempted to potty train for a couple of months! My friend Caitlin has a lot of endurance and tried and tried. He was wearing underwear and doing great but would have accidents when we were over and he wasn't wearing underwear out of the house or at night. During this time, I waited. I couldn't do it again and Alta didn't care.

Right before her 3rd birthday, we were at playgroup and a little girl had brought an ice cream cone from her Lego Ice cream set. Alta was obsessed, even in tears about it. (Honestly it's her most played with toy next to her bunnies and she doesn't often ask for toys. Just treats.)

 I asked her if we got her the set if she would do potty training and she said yes so I bought the set. And we turned it into a game. Every time she peed on the potty she got to pick a piece for her ice cream cone. Every time she had an accident, I took one away. And every day we started over. At this point, we were still using the small potty seat. Day 1 went really well. And Day 2. Although, I don't think we had #2 success - (funny how quickly you forget...) so I bought bubbles and some other things to get her motivated. This totally backfired. She freaked out. She wanted the special bubbles so badly and she was so upset and having accidents. This was a turning point.

I was thinking we were supposed to give up again but my sis n law encouraged me. She said it sounded like Alta was doing really well and to keep going - maybe find a new way to motivate her. So I decided maybe it was time to take away the rewards and say, this is just what we do. We don't reward her for brushing her teeth or putting away her shoes and now we're done with the potty rewards. I gave her the entire ice cream set and bubbles and said she was doing so great! And I started reminding her every 1-2 hours to go potty. It was at this point that I ran to target one night and bought a new stool and a potty seat for the toilet. Emptying a tiny potty chair got realllllly old and Rinne was always all over at that thing. Alta didn't mind the transition. It took a lot of practice for her to get on that thing by herself. Maybe even a month?? I don't remember. 

At this time, Rinne was sleeping in our second bathroom so we put all the potty stuff in our bathroom - which was the worst for about 2 months. Constantly moving around that gross blue ring and moving the stool from the potty to the sink and back. Things really started to get better when Rinne moved out of the bathroom and we moved all of Alta's stuff. That was a key step.

Other key steps, being brave and letting her sleep without a diaper or pull-up for a nap to see if she'd stay dry. She did! Then she did for nighttime too! And once she stayed dry one time, we never put a pull up on again. You also get brave going out for 20 mins or 5 mins or whatever. Honestly, I couldn't stay home for 3 days or even 1 day. We had to go outside even if it was quick. And even if we had an accident at the playground. 

Other things:

+ Day 3 when I had the breakdown, I sat down and talked about it with Dave and we made a plan together. He wasn't super involved before this because you know, he's busy and has a ton of other stuff to worry about but it helped me sooo much to have him join in. 

+ About a month in, I was feeling like it was still exhausting. I had to help Alta everrry time she went to the bathroom and she'd spend 20 minutes washing her hands and pouring soap everywhere. Dave reminded me that it wasn't a huge deal and she'd get over it eventually. So I let go of that. Now she usually spends 5 minutes washing her hands or 5 seconds if she's trying to hurry and do something else. 

+ We have a strict go potty before: we leave the house, we go to bed or have a nap, and about every 2 hours. She will try to get out of it but I enforce it pretty strictly. Because in NY it's hard to find a bathroom! And things always take longer than you think.

+ I also make her try even if she says she doesn't have to go. I call it a squeeze try which I know is ridiculous. But how else do you explain that to a 3 yr old?? 

+ Pull-ups - we kind of used these. More because they are easier to change and make them feel like they are headed towards using the potty. They seemed kind of itchy and uncomfortable and we stopped using them as soon as we could. 

+ Undies - These are so cheap that you don't feel bad about throwing them away if they get poop in them. At first I washed them. But it made me feel angry sooo I started just throwing them away :) 

+ I do think at some point you have to go all in. Maybe not right away but as soon as you can. (Meaning no pull ups at night or out of the house) It gets confusing if they can sometimes pee their pants and sometimes not. We still have an accident or two or three a week. Sometimes she has too much water before bed but you strip the sheets in anger and move on! Also, a waterproof mattress cover, essential. And the few nights where she screamed and needed to come to our bed, I'd put a towel underneath her. 

+ We did the naked route a couple of times but the last time, she wore undies. It was a big step when she could wait long enough to get the undies off and go. The naked route was brutal. We were so sick of looking at her butt haha so hopefully with Rinne we can just do undies. 

+ #2 is still tricky. For a few months, I had to catch her hiding in her room and get her to go. The first couple of weeks I would pick her up and take her but she'd already pooped in her pants. The secret, don't pick them up! Make them run run run to go! You can even practice that with them. The running makes them hold off for a minute. 

+ The potty chart- we just started trying it. I never use it to motivate her to go. It's only after she goes that I give her a sticker reward. The past few days, she has run to the potty and shouted she was going to get a sticker! so we'll see if that keeps working. 

+ Always keep a plastic bag, underwear, and a change of pants in your bag. 

+ We get excited about using different pottys. The church potty! The chipotle potty! The gross gas station potty! (yuck.) Alta is terrified of those loud hand dryers so we often have to say hi to those and pray no one uses them. 

+And you'll have to monitor their liquid intake more - at least I do. 

+ Also, we said "bye bye diapers!" like this potty book and threw the rest in the "garbage" That book is really cute actually. 

+ I let her close the door to bathroom which gives her some power. Sometimes I have to break in a little later to find her playing with all the bath toys half naked but oh well. 

That was a lot. To summarize I would say, you'll know after a day or two if you should keep going. My mother in law says 2 weeks is the cut off and I like that guide too. Also, it is exhausting and it's not easier than diapers (in my opinion) but it is a necessary step they have to make and they feel so proud once they figure it out!  The end. 


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