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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Potty Training, Pt. 1.

My life revolves around bathrooms these days. When I'm not in there for my 34-weeks-pregnant self, I'm probably in there with the almost-22-month-old toddler. Now I am by no means an expert in potty training, but I found it really helpful to read blogs and message boards before we started the process, so here's how things are going for us so far. Plus I want to have a record of what we did because I always forget these kinds of things.

Note: This post is really long. I didn't even include cute pictures of Avery in it. If you want a quick recap, scroll to the bottom. :) 

A few months ago we bought a potty seat (one that sits on a big toilet) because Avery was obsessed with all things toilet-related. We really didn't do much with it but set her on it a few times a week just to see what she would do. I think she might have peed on it once. She showed many of the signs of readiness that all the "experts" say are required for successful potty training (stays dry for a few hours at a time, follows directions, communicates well, interested in the bathroom, etc.), but we were too lazy to weren't quite ready to put in the time and effort to really potty train.

Last week, however, we decided that we were done buying diapers, Avery was ready, and we were just gonna go for it. (Plus, how nice would it be to not have two kids in diapers at the same time and not have to buy swim diapers for the summer?!?) We bought some Pull Ups and underwear and were determined to start on Monday.

I tend to be a little obsessive about information when I start something new, so I read lots of opinions on message boards, blogs, and potty training websites beforehand. Holy cow, there are lots of varying potty training methods out there! And everybody who has potty trained a child has their opinion about which one actually works.  All I know is that every kid and every situation is different. I didn't really have a game plan, but we decided to just do it.

Monday was grocery shopping day, so I just put Avery in a Pull Up in the morning so I wouldn't have to mess with it while we were out. After her nap we tried wearing big girl panties, and I would take her to the toilet every hour or so. She went on the toilet once, but other than that, she really didn't show much interest at all in going on the toilet (great.), so it was a frustrating day. She had a few little leaks on the carpet, but I just tried to stay positive every time (so much easier said than done!) and remind her to tell me when she needed to go potty and that we don't pee in our big girl panties, but I was second-guessing our decision to start the potty training process when she peed all over her high chair before dinner. Sigh.

On Tuesdays she goes to Mother's Day Out, so I just sent her with Pull Ups and asked her teachers to try to take her to the bathroom every couple of hours to see if she would go. When I picked her up, her teachers said she wouldn't go on the potty and wet her Pull Ups more than she ever did in a diaper. They said I could just send her in panties on Thursday and see if that worked any better.

I was really frustrated by this point (and we were only on day two!), so we made a stop at Walmart on our way home, and I bought a kid-sized potty (thinking that might not be as intimidating as the big one) and let Avery pick out her own panties (She LOVED that her Pull Ups had princesses on them, so I was steering her toward the Disney Princess panties, but she wanted Tinkerbell instead, go figure!). Well, she liked sitting on her little potty, but she still wouldn't go on it. She did love her new panties though, so I set out to have a really good attitude on Wednesday and start over again, this time with rewards added in (one Finding Nemo fruit snack [aka "Nemo snacks"] for peeing on the potty, and two for poop).

But then Wednesday arrived. I made no plans and dedicated our entire day to the bathroom. When Avery woke up we went straight to the potty, and she started to pee on her little potty, but then she started crying, saying she wanted the big potty. So I set her on the big one (with the Sesame Street ring inset), and she only started peeing because she absolutely couldn't hold it anymore, but she was completely traumatized by the whole thing. I ended up hugging her the whole time she peed, wondering what in the world my life had come to that I was hugging my distraught toddler over the toilet while she was obviously terrified of peeing in it. She was totally fine after she was done, so she got lots of praise and a Nemo snack, and since Matt hadn't left for work yet, she got to go brag to Daddy that she peed in the potty. I thought it was a promising sign that maybe Wednesday would be our turnaround.

But it wasn't so much. I put Avery in panties and watched her every move for signs that she needed to pee. When she started crossing her legs and doing a little pee dance I'd take her to the bathroom and sit her on her little potty. She very obviously needed to go (since she was leaking on my carpets!), but she is a stubborn little booger! (I know, I know where she gets it.) After sitting in the bathroom for an hour while she refused to go (while we're reading books and singing while I'm sitting on the very uncomfortable ceramic tile), I just decided to screw the experts (figuratively speaking, of course), and I pulled her legs apart so she couldn't clench and hold it in anymore. She cried about it, but she PEED! In her little potty!

And then before nap the nightmare started again. She started to pee in her panties, so we raced to the bathroom but had the same traumatic process. We sat in the bathroom for another hour before I decided to move her potty to her room (where I could sit on something other than tile!), and there were LOTS of tears (from both of us) before she finally peed in the potty.

I was so ready to give up already, but I guess she wore herself out from fighting the potty because she slept for over three hours and was still asleep by the time Matt got home from work. And then a miracle happened because when she woke up, he went and got her out of bed, took her to the bathroom, and she peed on her little potty right away! We ate dinner without incident, and when we took Avery to my parents' so they could watch her while we were at Lifegroup, she went on her potty again right when we got there! No crying or forcing involved. :)

On Thursday she wanted to pee on "Daddy's potty" when she woke up, so she did with no problems. It was a Mother's Day Out day again, and I was so nervous about it but sent her in her panties anyway (with four extra panties and shorts, lol!). She told me she needed to go potty right when we got there, so I took her to the little potty after we dropped off her stuff. Well, it was shorter than a normal toilet, but the seat wasn't any smaller, so I wasn't surprised that she refused to go. They were having their Easter egg hunt that morning, so I stayed, both to take a few pictures and to clean up after her should she need it. She made it through the hunt though, so I left, hoping she wouldn't go through all of her clothes and that her teachers wouldn't have to clean up too much Avery pee.

When I picked her up that afternoon she was in different shorts, but when I asked which pair it was, I was shocked to hear that it was only her second! They tried to take her to the potty after the egg hunt, but she wouldn't go and ended up having an accident. After that though, she went on the school potty! Twice! And she told them both times that she needed to go. And they forgot to put a Pull Up on her at nap, but she woke up dry!

I was completely encouraged by her progress, but I was even more encouraged that afternoon when Avery told me she needed to poop in the potty and she did. And then that evening we went to Costco, where she peed in her first public restroom (thank you, Costco, for keeping your restrooms so clean!!), and it was a big potty with no kid-sized inset seat.

Friday was a great day with no accidents (we even went out to the library in the afternoon and church that night for the Good Friday service) and another poop on the potty.

I'm not naive enough to think that we're totally done with the potty training process. I know we'll have accidents and setbacks, but so far it's been surprisingly easy. You know, minus a hellish couple of days.

So here's the recap:
  • If the kid's ready and you have the time to be home for a couple of days, just do it.
  • Consider putting aside the Pull Ups (except maybe at bedtime) and just going cold turkey. Yes, it means you'll have to clean up some messes, but I'll gladly take a few days of potty training over a few months of it.
  • Positive reinforcement is crucial, whether it's just tons of praise or a Nemo snack (or M&Ms or jellybeans) or whatever. 
  • Don't always listen to the "experts." Know your kid and figure out what works. And that might not be your original game plan.


Anonymous said...

We've been lazy. =\ I don't want to be bothered when we're out and have to look for a bathroom (and a clean one is probably too much to ask for), get out of line, etc etc. She poops in the potty every single night though, so I never have to worry about her doing #2 when we're out. haha I should probably get on it. Just ordered Pull-Ups last week. Ready, set, go! I'm glad it seems to be going relatively well over there. I've heard worst.

Melissa said...

WOW! I honestly had no idea what potty training could entail. But YAY for Avery AND for Mommy for pulling through!