When I started potty training my daughter over the holidays, I was ready to give up after the first 48 hours.
As a first-time mom, I had already made a mistake in this department when I misread my daughter’s signs at a mere 21 months and introduced the potty way too soon.
This time last year, my husband and I rushed out to the store eager to buy our baby a potty chair. She had taken to stripping off her clothes at home and we thought it was a good time to ditch the diapers. We were so excited and proud the first few times she did ‘pee pee’ or ‘poo poo’ on her adorable Doc McStuffins potty chair we scored at a deep discount as Toys “R” Us that doubles as a stepping stool. Once the novelty wore off, she quickly lost interest in the business of doing her business like a big girl.
Her and I both got extremely frustrated. There was some shouting and crying from both sides, and we eventually went back to diapers fulltime and put potty training on pause. I learned, if your child is not ready to potty train, it will not happen. Don’t rush it. Definitely, don’t force it. Take cues from them.
Now, at the ripe old age of two and a half—a good 10 months after our first go-round—I was pretty sure she could handle it. I went out and bought some adorable new “big girl panties.” This advice from my mom was to get my daughter something she’d be excited to put on. We also inherited a lot from my niece who had grown out of a large set of undies before they got around to potty training. I had plenty. If she messed a pair or two and I had to throw them out, it wouldn’t make a dent in the substantial stash.
I marked my calendar for a two-week stretch that I’d be on break between my studies and crossed my fingers that the timing would also be right for my daughter. My mom had all five of us kids potty trained around two years of age, so I was feeling like I was lagging behind. Also, my daughter must be fully potty trained before going off to preschool in the Fall.
I let my daughter play around with the potty and the panties for a week beforehand to get her comfortable with the idea before we went diaperless. When the day rolled around and I confidently announced, “No more diapers!” I think we were both mentally prepared to take on the task.
I didn’t leave home the first two days. That was part of the plan. Let her pick her panties, and let her wear them around the house all day. I know she must have been annoyed with mommy’s persistent, “Do you need to go potty?” every ten minutes, because I got tired of saying it. When she used the potty, I went wild with praise and excitement. My neighbors must have thought I was bonkers. We did have quite a few accidents, nonetheless. I called for help:
God, grant me:
Serenity to accept the challenge of potty training,
Courage to become intimately acquainted with my mop & washing machine,
And Wisdom to know when she needs to go.
I tried to keep in mind that she was just learning to control her bladder. Up to this point, she’d been able to go in little bursts in her diaper throughout the day. Praying kept my patience flowing.
After a lot of rinsing and washing of floors, clothing, and kiddo, we ventured out into the world on the third day. With a bag full of clothing changes and patience, we arrived at the supermarket. We did a lap around the store loading everything from our list into the cart. I asked my panty-wearing princess if she needed to go potty as we were finishing up and she said, “Yes.” I hurried to the front of the store, let a cashier know that I was leaving my cart near the unopened register beside her, and rushed to the restrooms.
Entering the foreign bathroom with the big white toilet must have been too much for my toddler. She was so nervous, perched on the edge of the seat, that nothing came out. I knew we needed to wrap up our shopping spree quickly. I grabbed the mouthwash and laundry detergent and was heading back towards the front when I got distracted by the discount bin. I wanted to see if I could grab any last-minute Christmas gifts for half off.
It was there that her bladder burst.
I assured her that everything would be all right as I wheeled the stroller back to the checkout line area, and informed the same cashier of our accident. She called for clean up and handed me a roll of paper towel, so I could wipe down the dripping cart. A quick clothing change at the car, and we were back to finally check out. The trip may have taken twice as long as usual, but I was proud of us for braving it. All-in-all, I thought we handled it fairly well. But I did learn that a clothing change isn’t enough. You also need to pack a pair of shoes, just in case the first pair get soggy.
We made a few more outings and had a few more accidents over the next week until my daughter learned to communicate better and feel comfortable with unfamiliar facilities. We also went through a three-day, no-poo crisis that ended in a celebration photo sent to Daddy at work. Don’t worry too much, it usually works itself out in the end.
By the time Christmas Eve came, she hadn’t had an accident in three days. She wore her pretty, red dress over to our in-laws for a feast and arrived home without incident. That is… until she realized Santa had visited her while we were away. She rushed into the living room to see her loot under the tree and whizzed herself like a puppy out of excitement. It was actually kind of cute. She did it again while twirling around in her new ballerina costume. We were all laughing (and cleaning).
In a perfect world, I would say that was the last time she wet herself. It was not. But the accidents have been very, very few. I think we’ve had maybe three in the last seven weeks. I didn’t understand why my girlfriends with little kids didn’t have more sympathy for me when I was in the throws of it those first few days. It seemed like the crappiest job ever – pun intended! The truth is, it all goes by quickly. In just a few short weeks I saw my toddler grasp the new concept and put it into practice. We got through it together and I’m so very proud of her. She already pulls her own garments down and back up by herself and even tried to empty her own potty a handful of times. I applauded the effort, cleaned up the mess, and reminded her that it was mommy and daddy’s job to do the transfer to the toilet. We always let her flush the big toilet, and that puts a smile on her face. Having a potty-trained two year old puts a smile on mine.