We are all three POTTY TRAINED!!
Yeah, it's really something. Here's the long and short of how we went about it.
First of all, we got the potty chair for Christmas last year. Sometime late summer, Gracie started telling us that she went potty or that she wanted her diaper changed or she would come with us when we went to the restroom and she would watch us and say things like, "Mommy potty?" So we started noticing an interest in certain bodily functions.
I had planned on potty training over the three day weekend in November for Veteran's Day. Unfortunatly my husband had an untimely surgery. (Seriously, didn't he know I was trying to potty train a toddler?!? Just kidding.) So we bought one more package of diapers and went on about our lives.
Then the first week of December I noticed the diapers running a little low, so I requested to take Friday, December 14th off to make a nice long three-day weekend to potty train. (Yes, you read that correctly. I am a total fool and took a vacation day to potty train my child.) I had been reading the "Potty Train Your Child In Just One Day" book. While I did not follow the book to a "T", I did use some of her ideas - particularly teaching the baby doll in the first part of the first day. (I bought the Once Upon A Potty doll on Amazon because it was the cheapest at the time. It got the job done but it is definietly a cheaply made doll.)
The night before I wrapped the doll up and put the present in the bathroom. When Gracie woke up I very excitedly told her that I thought she had a present in the bathroom and I took her in there. She opened up the bag and saw the baby and the potty. (She named the doll Potty Gracie, but I decided that might get confusing later so we called it Potty Baby. My daughter is very original.) We spent all morning playing with the baby and teaching it how to potty in the "big girl" potty. When the baby pottied in the potty we would try to give her a treat but since she couldn't eat it, Gracie got it. This was setting up for the afternoon.
After her nap there was another present in the bathroom - panties. We immediately opened them and put them on. The book suggests using some kind of action figure or princess or somethng that they can relate to. Since really the only children's figure that Gracie knows is Elmo I picked out butterflies and flowers. I often said things like "let's not get those butterflies wet, ok?". She ran around in a t-shirt and underwear all day (a suggestion in the book). We had on her favorite shirt - her Corky shirt. We ate super salty snacks all day (potato chips, crackers, cheese, etc.) and drank lots of juice, milk, water, and even tried some juice mixed with club soda and strawberry milk. I constantly asked her if she needed to potty. I would race her to the bathroom and we would sit on the potty for (literally) hours at a time reading books, playing games, singing songs, finding pictures in her look-and-find book....
I think I cleaned up 12 messes the first day.
She had gone in the potty one time on Friday. At the end of the day I thought I was crazy and foolish and felt like I'd just run a marathon and lost. Jacob and I even discussed that night if we should stop now and give it some more time and try again later.
Then Saturday it was like something clicked and for whatever reason she only had 2 accidents. Then Sunday the ONLY accidents she had were at the church nursery where it's like 8 kids to 2 adults. (And while the adults are awesome and wonderful people who are good to my daughter even though she can be a terror sometimes, they probably didn't watch her quite as closely as I would have as far as potty training goes...something to keep in mind.)
Then Monday she was off to school. One accident.
Throughout the rest of the week she kept it pretty clean. She would have one accident occasionally and had a number of days with zero accidents. I considered her completely trained by Thursday, one week after we started. She had gone a couple of days with zero accidents and when she came home again Thursday with the same pants she started in, I declared her potty trained in my head.
The only minor set back we've had was when she went to stay with my parents over Christmas. My dad was watching her for a couple of days by himself and there was one day with 3 accidents. I was a little upset, but I know those things will happen. I was just upset that it happened with someone else; I felt very guilty.
Here are a few things I suggest if you are going to potty training in the future:
- Go pantsless for the day. The little one, that is.
- Model (as in, teach them by DOING not just by telling)
- Join in ("Mommy needs to go potty. I'll race you to the bathroom!") This also means that you should drink lots throughout the day.
- Have them help as much as possible ("You pull up the front of your panties and I'll get the back," or "Mommy is going to pull her pants down. Can you pull your pants down?")
- Go through the steps with the doll (run to the bathroom, pull panties down, sit on the potty, check out the potty, celebrate, wipe, dump and flush)
- If your kiddo is scared of flushing (or if they aren't) use the phrase "Feed the fishies" when flushing the toilet. We fed the fishies a lot and Gracie loved it.
- Give something they will LOVE for their reward. This could be anything from frosted animal crackers (Gracie) to little dollar store toys for each time they go, crackers, grapes, or for some kids high-fives. I am all about the bribery, but I don't always think you have to spend big bucks on the bribery.
- For bedtimes and naps, if you are nervous for awhile put a diaper on over their panties them. What I heard and read was that they FEEL the panties against their skin and not the diaper. If you put the diaper on over the top then you will have peace of mind, but they feel the panties, not the diaper.
- Don't use pull-ups. I've heard mixed reviews on this one, and to each their own, but the thing that got me was this - can YOU even figure out if it's ok for them to go in their pull-ups or not? I mean, it's not ok is it?...but it's alright so...should they go? I don't know... See? How confusing would that be for a 2-year old? I've also read from moms with multiple kids who have tried it multiple ways that going cold turkey is by far the easiest and fastest.
- Give it time. Don't get frustrated if they aren't 100% within 24 hours. About the above book (which is apparently quite controversial, even with some of our own family members who told us it would never work) I took the approach of, hey, if it takes her 2 or 3 days or even a week to be fully potty trained, I'll consider it a success. It's loads better than the 6 or 8 months or even a year that some kids take. I didn't take the "24 hours or bust" approach. I promised myself that I would at least give it the 3-day weekend. That was a good idea because I was ready to call it quits the first day, but we just plugged away for 2 more days and THAT was the successful time.
- Give an extra reward for poo. She got peepee pretty quickly but she had accidents with #2 for longer. I think a little something extra special would have been more incentive.
- Spent more time on the potty the first day. Even though we spent about half of the day sitting on the potty, I wish I had made her sit there more. The first day she had no idea what the feeling of going potty was until she'd made it in the potty a time or two. A couple of successes on the potty the first day would have been good. We only had one. It was doable, but I think there would have been some leaps and bounds if she had just had a couple of other successes that day.
- Buy fun things for bathroom time. I didn't have special soap to wash hands with, no bubbles (an excellent time-passing suggestion I had heard), sticker books, etc. All we used were books.
- Don't have them spend time with ANYONE else for a few days. Skip church. Skip working out. Take a day off so they don't have to go to day care. No one is going to do as good of a teaching job as mommy or daddy. Unfortunately this isn't exactly feasible with me...but I do wish I had been able to do it.