How I Finally Got My Kids Potty Trained!

I know they say all kids progress at different rates, but I never thought my two kids would be so different with their potty training.  I’m not sure if it was first child vs. second child, girl vs. boy, my parenting style being different with them, or just their different personalities.  I’ve had friends whose kids were opposite mine; mine being the girl was easier and the boy more difficult.  The same goes for the first child vs. second child situation; opposite of mine.

My daughter is my first born.  I decided to try and potty train her about a month before my son was born.  She was two and a half.  She also had to transition to a “big girl bed” as well, so I could have the crib for my son.  I was worried about so many changes for her, but she made it through them all like a champ!  I was very prepared for potty training, as I read almost every book at Borders on the subject.  I planned out everything, and it worked liked clockwork.  Here is what I did:

1.  Got her ready for “Potty Weekend!”  We talked about it, read child-aged books about it, and had a countdown.

2.  When Potty Weekend arrived, we stayed home all weekend.  I started by giving her “Baby Alive.”  We showed her how the doll worked, and she understood when you drink something it will make you need to pee.

3.  Every hour we had her put her doll on the potty to pee, and then she would try and pee too!  When she was successful, she would then pick out  a sticker from the basket for her potty chart we had up in the bathroom.  Every 10 stickers she earned, she could pick out a small prize.  She was so excited about this, and she tried so hard!  Her favorite thing to earn was a new pair of big girl underwear (she wanted nothing to do with pull-ups).

4.  She had a few accidents, but she was pretty much trained in about two weeks (with pee that is).  She wore diapers to bed for a while at night, but otherwise she did quite well.  Pictures below of my daughter around age two and a half.

I thought potty training was pretty easy, and I wondered why some of my friends were having such problems with their kids. Now I know! My son was the complete opposite.  He didn’t care much about earning stickers, he didn’t care about accidents, and he just fought it every step of the way.  We talked to our pediatrician about it constantly, and she said he will do it when he’s ready.  It seemed the more we pushed, the worse it got.  We finally did back off completely, and now (knock on wood) he has finally decided to do it on his own!!!  He turned 4 in March, and we are so happy he finally wants to go on the potty.  He was “pee potty trained” for a long while, but now he is doing everything on the potty.  Thankfully…….he finally potty trained himself!

Potty training can be easy, and it can be difficult.  I guess each child does have their own way of going about things.  My only advice to you is to be patient, try things that make your child excited about potty training, and make it a positive experience for them the best you can (even if you are completely frustrated).  They will get there sometime!

*  How are your experiences with potty training kids?  Any advice to offer others?

Kristin Wheeler

Milestones…and moving on

I stood staring at the teddy bear mobile hanging from the ceiling. It hung over our spare kitchen sink. Yes, spare. Our 111 year old house has a pantry on the second floor, complete with …you guessed it…a kitchen sink. The sink comes in handy. I soak white baseball pants in it. I clean up craft projects in it. And I bathe babies in it. It is the perfect size for that task. When I was pregnant with my first child I did what any respectable, first-time pregnant mommy did. I registered for baby ‘stuff’. I registered for sheets, onesies, a buggy…and a tub. Which we used. Once. From that point on, every tubby that my kids took, until they were big enough to bathe in the big tub, was in the sink. So when my ten year-old was just a baby, we hung this mobile over the sink to hold their attention. It was a crank kind and it played a rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. We used it for all four babies. Now that our youngest has used the big tub for over a year now, I thought it was probably time to take down the mobile. No one needed it anymore. At least none of the kids did.

When the older three kids reached their ‘milestones,’ I was always excited. I looked forward to what was next. Never rushed, mind you. Just excitement. With my forth, things are different. Maybe because I am pretty sure there will not be anymore. Each stage we finish means a stage I will never experience again. And it almost seems like Cait knows. She cruises through the milestones with an ease that bites my heart. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get her to hold on to being a baby. Every day she figures out another way to be a ‘big girl’. What is her rush??? Slow down. With each proclamation from her that ‘I am a big girl’ comes the end of an era in our house. She potty-trained fairly quickly, so we returned an entire case of diapers to BJ’s. The changing station that had been set up on the first floor (because we all know that new mommies shouldn’t climb the stairs) ten years ago was dismantled. Each time I walk into our first-floor bathroom it is another heartbreaker. I thought I would ease her into her big-girl bed. In true Cait style she informed me that the crib was no longer needed. And another heartbreak. She feeds herself. She dresses herself. She makes choices for herself.  She is more than ready to let go…and I am more determined to hang on.
I know I should be happy that she is ready to move on. My mommy friends are amazed at how at ease she is with separating from me. As we dropped one of my sons off at kindergarten the other day, she turned to me and said “It’s OK Mommy. Cait stay here at school now. You go home.” She is not yet three. I know I will appreciate this. Some day. That day is not now.
So I have a decision to make. What do I do with the mobile? Do I leave it up as a reminder of the milestones that have passed? Or do I take it down and move on? You know, it really isn’t in the way…yet.

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Potty Training; The Dirty (Diaper) Truth

My personal potty training method was honed early on with the oldest of my four children. It was a gorgeous day at the zoo. I had my newborn in the babybjorn, as my two year old hopped happily in and out of the stroller, to explore. My feeling of accomplishment at having gotten myself, and two tiny children dressed, fed, and out of the house, unraveled the moment my daughter announced “I have to go potty!” I can’t remember who the reckless individual was who had told me that at two years old I had to start potty training my daughter, but there I was, smack in the middle of the vast zoo, the nearest bathroom a ½ mile away. I already knew at this point that when a toddler tells you they have to go potty, you are moments away from being too late. I was never much of an athlete growing up, but if they had a category for sprinting mother with stroller and Bjorn, I would have won a medal on that day!

World's Greatest Mom Medal

I earned THIS baby!

I ignored the stares as I ran and shouted in my motherese, “Just hold on sweetie, we’re almost there. Hold it in. Hold it in!” Trying to look cool and collected is one of the first things to go when you become a mother, so I didn’t care what anyone thought of my maniacal dash, as long as we made it to the bathroom in time. The smell of the public bathroom hit me as we squeezed through the door. I hastily tried to put toilet paper over the crusty seat with one hand, while I helped my daughter pull down her pants with the other, newborn baby dangling perilously above the toilet in the meantime. As I hoisted her onto the seat one of the strips of protective paper slipped in, her bare bottom resting on the filthy seat, but we had no time. When you are potty training they stress that you are not to rush the child, or raise your voice, lest you traumatize them, and destroy all progress, possibly ruining potty training for life. They never mention how traumatized you will be as you are crammed in a dirty toilet stall, newborn hanging upside-down in the babybjorn like a trapeze artist, as you lean over to hold your toddler from falling into a germ ridden, gaping grown up toilet. The fact that the baby is now screaming, and the toddler touches the toilet seat with her hands while you hold her in place, heightens the drama. Then you wait, because, sometimes you just have to patiently wait for them to go. It was there in that smelly germ infested bathroom, that I made my decision. The potty training ended. As traumatized as I was by that episode, six months later, I decided to try again. All of my friends were potty training their children by two and a half, and there seemed an urgent need by society that I should be too. My method was sealed by that second try, when my now crawling baby made his way over to the tiny full plastic potty on the floor. The one that I was helping my daughter get up from. He grabbed the lip of the bowl and splashed it over the rim, all over himself. In my apoplectic fit that followed, I decided then and there, that I would rather change a dirty diaper any day, on my own terms, in a clean, calm & safe environment, than suffer through the tribulations of potty training. From that moment on I never had to deal with mad sprints, wet spots on my new couch, a miniature toilet in the back of my car, or the multitude of daily clothing changes that I watched other mother’s go through. Although each of my kids had different time frames, in the end they never seemed to be too far behind their peers. When they did get out of diapers, emotionally and physically ready, they made the switch instantly, trauma free for all of us.

What do you think is the right age for potty training?  Do you think there even is a “right” age, or do you think your child will let you know when he/she is ready?  I’d love to hear your stories, tips, tricks and questions in our comment section below!

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