Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My girl wants to potty all the time*

Warning -- toddler pee and poop talk ahead. Read at your own discretion because I won't be discrete.

I was probably more stressed about potty training than Em. I'd read the books. I'd bought the potty ring, the potty seats, the sticker charts, the rewards, the training pants. I was prepared as prepared could be.

Em was showing more signs of readiness. And per her pediatrician, we were waiting for Em to be ready rather than a certain age. She wasn't telling us before she'd go in her diaper, but she'd frequently ask to be changed. She'd roleplay with her dolls and tell me that they had to use the potty, and then cheer, "They did it!" after she'd sat them on it for a few seconds. She couldn't undress/dress herself, but otherwise, all signs were pointing to a potty training program launch.

I read the 3-Day Potty Training method, which sounded a bit tortuous, requiring one to stay at home with your kid for three entire days, but I liked the sound of the "just get it done" approach.

I also read the 1-Day Potty Training method, which appeared to be a fun-filled program, with its party and presents, but it still relied on diapers and pull-ups for naps and bedtime. The shorter training period was appealing, but I didn't want to confuse Em with "It's OK to pee in your pants NOW, but not NOW" so I opted to try the longer, 3-Day method that relied on a diaper-free approach.

Day 1 was the roughest. We put her in her "big girl undies," and she was a bit confused that we weren't using her changing table anymore. The morning was filled with accidents. She'd start to pee, and I'd swoop her up and run her to the bathroom. Em would freak out about being wet, and I was becoming best friends with our Swiffer Wet Jet. At one point she ran across our condo mid-accident, and slipped in her own pee. It was mass chaos, folks. By lunch at noon, though, something seemed to click. She'd tell me that she needed to pee, and then she'd actually GO on the potty. It was a potty training miracle. She also enjoyed the incentive of washing her hands (she loves the running water and playing with the soap), a sticker on her potty training chart, followed by a Trader Joe's gummy bear.

I was nervous about how she'd handle her 2-hour nap. I hated the idea of ruining her expensive crib mattress. (We converted her crib to a toddler bed a few months ago, with much success, I'm happy to report.) I bought puppy pads, which are designed to protect the ground when potty training puppies, at the nearby pet store. I put a puppy pad on the mattress, covered it with one of her crib sheets. Then placed another pad on top of that, covered with another sheet. Then I covered that with her Ultimate Crib Sheet, which is waterproof.  That way if there was a sleep accident, it'd be easy just to remove the top layer, change her pjs and all of us go back to sleep. It was less about the hassle of changing the sheets, though, and more about protecting the mattress.

As it turned out, her 2-hour nap on Day 1 was totally dry. That night she had one accident, but it took just a few minutes to get that taken care of.

Day 2 was much better. One accident, I think, and maybe one at night.

Day 3 went smoothly, although the one accident she had was when she pooped in her pants during the day. That night, though, she woke up in the middle of the night and asked to use the potty. (And then did.) Very exciting!

There were a few days where pooping in the potty was a bit of a hurdle. We overcame that, though, by being silly and reminding her that poop goes in the potty. She'd say, "Poop goes....on Mommy!" And we'd all laugh and say, "Nooo....." And "Poop goes....on the ground!" "Noooo...." "Poop goes....IN THE POTTY!" And we'd all cheer. Silly, but it worked.

That Friday morning was our first outing, to her Gymboree class. Every few minutes I'd remind her to tell me if she needed to use the potty, and to my surprise, she did. She had no issues with using the big toilet without her potty ring. (I perched her on the edge and held her hands to steady her.)

Our three days of training occurred mid-August, and she's still doing great. I can't remember the last time she had a nighttime accident, and she almost always tells us when she needs to go. (There were a couple accidents at Grandma's last week, but I chalk that up to all the madness with this relocation. I'm surprised there haven't been more potty setbacks with the move, honestly.)

In preparation for her transition to a preschool here in Portland, we've spent the last few days working on her getting to and through the potty independently. That is, she's undressing herself, stepping up on the step-stool, easing herself onto the potty ring, wiping, flushing and washing her hands with no assistance from me. She's enjoying the independence and the subsequent high-fiving when she's done it "all by myself!"

This post serves not only as an opportunity to share our experience with all of you, but also as a reminder to myself when it comes time to do this again with an eventual kid. Even just a couple months later it's easy to romanticize the process. "Awww, Em was easy to train!" No, there were hurdles and bodily fluids and frantic texts to Brent. I just had to remind myself that it's all part of growing up and raising that little human we brought into this world.

*Alternate post titles: Potty in the U.S.A.; You Gotta Fight For Your Right to Pottttttty; Get the Potty Started; Gonna Potty Like It's 1999; It's My Potty & I'll Cry If I Want To


  1. It took us an entire year (until she was almost 4) to potty train Anna, but with Claire, she pretty much did it on her own.

    I don't know what that does to help you, but yeah. I feel your pain.

  2. We too did the 3-day method and day 1 was HARD! I remember thinking that I was going to just ditch it for now and try again later. It's been over a year now and we haven't had any sort of accident in months! Woo hoo!

    Congrats to you (for your patience) and Em for rockin' the potty!

    Now what are you doing with all that extra diaper & wipe $$? :)

  3. Thanks for sharing this! We've started the process, but we're not nearly as organized or focused as you were. We keep saying we'd like for Rowan to be PT'd by the time he's 3 in December, but we haven't really committed to it 100%. I'm definitely going to look into the 3-day method, then try to find three days in which to try it! (That's probably the hardest part -- the scheduling!)

  4. Thanks for sharing! When I bring this up to Hubby, I'm going to use your pseudonym instead of your real name so he won't suspect a thing ;)!

  5. I don't have kids yet but this made me laugh...I get to look forward to singing about poop in the potty. Glad it went well!

  6. I just happened to stumble across your blog, and I love it! I also have a daughter, she just turned 2 in September, so I enjoy reading your stories of Em's adventures! Thanks for sharing your potty training experiences with us, I will be bookmarking your blog for future reference!

  7. Thanks for sharing. My 3-year-old son has NO desire to go in the potty. I swear, he is going to be wearing a diaper to his prom. But reading that post gave me hope that we will get to this point soon.

  8. Yay for Em! I gotta get Rex trained. He thinks it is great to flush a toilet but he is just not interested in using it. Then there is Wyatt who, at 16 months old, is already telling me when he poops or pees in his diaper! I suppose I will get them trained about the same time...

  9. Yay, I have been waiting for this! Emerson hasn't yet gone on the potty, but she talks about it, sits on it dressed, once pulled down her diaper and sat on it and cheered and is very curious. However when we got the Potty Power DVD and started discussing it she seemed to regress (wanting blankie and paci, feared the potty). She seems to have gotten back to normal so we're going to try again and see how it goes.

    Emailed this post to my husband!

  10. Wow nice blog !
    I´m spanish :)
    Can you visit my blog?

  11. You'd think I'd be completely uninterested in potty training as I have no kids, but I find this interesting. Three days! That seems amazing. Bravo to you and Em!

  12. I don't even remember potty training our kids... and it wasn't that long ago. I must be a bad dad.

  13. Awesome! Way to go, Em!
    And I remember potty training -- I remember feeling super stressed out (and always needing to know where the bathrooms were wherever we went!).

    And whenever potty talk comes up, I always have to mention the following: I diapered (my own) kids for 8 YEARS AND 10 DAYS STRAIGHT....with no break. Yep, that's right. All three kiddos overlapped (my son took the longest to train). I think I deserve a badge, don't you? ;)