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Potty training

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I recently wrote a post lamenting how frustrating my potty training journey has been but I’m back to report that potty training has taken a turn for the better. I’m talking about a literal 180, though the process was still rough.

I came across a book, Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do it Right, written by Jamie Glowacki. Glowacki is known as “The Pied Piper of Poop,” but I personally think she’s the Patron Saint of Parental Sanity During Potty Training. Her advice felt like a guide from a non-judgy friend who just wants you to win and having that is a big part of your success. The book was suggested by one of my mommy friends who swore by it, and I am forever grateful to her as well (Hey Tiff!).

At first, following the book’s instructions for fast track potty training seemed daunting. I had a lot of starts and stops because I didn’t properly commit the necessary time due to the fact that I work a lot and my daughter is in daycare. However, as my daughter kept getting older (she’ll be three in August), I felt worse about not having her potty trained so I buckled down for my next window of opportunity when her daycare was closed for a week at the end of April. I cleared all work, which is extremely hard for a freelancer, but pushed through with getting the job done.

I can now report that my daughter is 95% potty trained. We still have a little ways to go because training for overnight is another beast that I will tackle in another few weeks, or maybe even months (as per the book I’ve been following), but I feel so relieved that she’s not going to be in high school pooping her pants. I know I probably sound extra but you really start to feel like that when you’re in the middle of potty training and it seems like your child isn’t getting it. Glowacki’s potty training bible literally lays everything out and she’s even aware of how you will feel when you’re going through it. Everything she wrote was dead on for me, so let’s talk about her method. 

Glowacki suggests you clear at least four days to get things started, and while every child learns at a different pace, it’s safe to say most kids will get the basics by day three if you stay committed. It’s hardcore though so, again, you have to be consistent and not give up. Your kid walks around the house with no pants or diapers on so you have to watch them. The point of this method is that they will make the connection to what it feels like to have to use the bathroom and where to place their waste faster than if you do the slower method, which would be to allow them to still wear diapers and put them on the potty every 15-20 minutes.

The other part of this that you want to look out for a pee-pee dance, which you’ll be able to spot easier when they’re naked. Yes, you have to watch your child all day. Seriously, you literally have to watch them all day. I promise you that the moment you take two seconds to answer an email on the phone will be the moment they pee on the floor and you miss the opportunity to get them to the potty in time. I speak from experience. So, figure out what activities you’re going to do with them all day that don’t involve anyone watching TV (screens are distracting and a distracted child might not recognize the feeling of having to go in time). It’s even better if you have two adults committed to the task, that way one can take a break.

Back to the pee-pee dance. At first, you will just have to catch them mid-pee and place them on the potty so keep the potty nearby everywhere you are in the house. For example, I live in a duplex so there’s one potty downstairs, one upstairs, as well as one of those toilet seat rings, and we make sure that one of those things is with us wherever we are in the house. Yes, this also means that you will be cleaning up pee often (not so much poop because it’s a lot more obvious when that’s coming and it’s literally another story as it has its own chapter in the book). Eventually, you will figure out when the pee is coming based on the thing your child does. After a while, I noticed that my daughter has a classic pee-pee dance. She goes silent like she’s in deep thought, crosses her legs and sways her hips back and forth. Every child’s pee-pee dance is going to be different. It could be as obvious as an actual dance or as subtle as crossing their toes (seriously), but the signal will be there. After a while, they will start to connect the dots and so will you.

Day one is intense because, again, you have to continuously watch your child. It’s draining but also fun to get in some quality time. It was weird that she was commando from the waist down at first, but she didn’t seem to mind. When day two comes around, you will still have to watch your child (but will hopefully have a better grasp of what their bathroom signal is) and you might get more resistance from them, which I did, but you have to push through and keep lots of wine handy for the end of the day (no joke).

You also have to figure out ways to keep your child interested in the potty. For me, it was by not pushing the issue. If I noticed her pee pee dance, I’d say, “It looks like you have to pee. You’re a big girl now and the potty is available.” After I said that I’d leave it alone. Sometimes she’d sit on the potty on her own, and sometimes she’d push back even more. When she pushed back I still didn’t force the issue. Here’s the thing, if children don’t have an audience for their tantrums then there is no one to perform for. There is no battle of wills if they feel like they’re not pushing any of your buttons. Resistance stopped being so much of an issue once I stopped arguing with her. Mind you, I gave Glowacki the side eye when she mentioned this because she clearly doesn’t know my strong-willed child but she was actually right. It also shed light on the fact that I too am the type of person who will push back if I feel like people are trying to force me into something but if they don’t push the issue then maybe I’ll give them what they want on my own so I guess…yeah, you see where I’m going with this. Karma. Sorry, mom. I digress.

By day three something clicked and my daughter stopped resisting and began telling me she had to pee or poop before actually going. I’d shuffle her off to the potty and voila! I thought it was a fluke the first time it happened, but then it happened again and continued happening all day. Then it happened when she was back in daycare. With the exception of an accident or two, she has been doing well for the past few weeks. Then we did our first full day out as a family, the day before Mother’s Day, which made us nervous, but she did really well with telling us she had to go. It was a combination of her telling us, but also us prompting her and having her pee before we left an establishment so I can safely say that we are on the right track.

If you’re like me, and potty training felt like yet another overwhelming task that had no end in sight, just know you will get through it. Everyone’s methods are different but consistency and support (from non-judgy, non-toxic people) are key. You got this! 

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