I haven’t changed a diaper since September. How awesome is that? Of course right back in the thick of it, but it’s very nice to know I’m only going to be managing the diaper needs of one little tushie instead of two.
I didn’t even attempt to potty train back in Chicago because we had carpet throughout our entire apartment, the carpet was brand new when we moved in, and the replacement cost was something like $2000 (they don’t replace portions, only the entire thing at once). So I knew we would wait until we had moved out of there to give it a try. My mom really wanted him out of diapers for the 6 weeks that he would be living with my parents while I went back to school, so I decided to give the 3 Day Potty Training method a try for the just-over-72-hours that I would be in Washington before leaving T1 and TH behind and moving down to Utah for the last half of the summer. I want to stress that I didn’t think this was necessarily the greatest idea (to potty train and then leave right away for a long period of time) but my mom was doing us a huge favor and I felt like this was a small way to say thank you to her. It felt like it wasn’t going to hurt anything to at least try.
I bought the PDF from the website I linked above, and would definitely recommend it to others. I like several aspects of her approach, including a belief that it’s best to go cold-turkey (so we night trained and day-trained at the same time!) and that children should be the one to initiate going to the toilet. This means that you don’t set them on the toilet ever 15 minutes (as I think is common for other approaches) but you put them in underwear and follow them around all day using phrases like “Let mama know when you need to go use the potty, okay?” This means lots of accidents in the beginning, but also means they learn to listen to their own signals and understand what it means to have the urge to go, hold it, and release once they are on the toilet. I tried really hard to use just that phrase, over and over and over. It was so nice to do this at my parent’s house in the summer, because we were able to be outside in nothing but a shirt and underwear for long periods of time, so when he had an accident I didn’t have to clean the carpet. I had a treat box for him to choose a prize for bowel movements, because those were definitely the most difficult part of potty training. I think inviting him to be with me while I did my own business helped to normalize it so he understood that this is something that everyone does.
By the end of day 3, I had spent all day every day with him for 72 hours (and cleaning up his bed at night) and I felt pretty confident that he understood what it meant to need to use the bathroom. I counted myself as having been successful at using the 3-day potty training method, got in my car and drove away the next morning. This is where things broke down, he refused to work with anyone else, and he went into pull-ups full-time for the duration of my schooling, our move to California, and our time in Poland.
Once we started settling into the house and looking for preschools I knew I wanted to do the 3 Day method again. We don’t have any carpet in our current house, and actually had hardly any furniture/decor so it felt like a great time because he couldn’t do much damage. The previous time I stayed with him every single second that he was awake, but I admit I was much more lax this round. I kept getting caught up in unpacking and decorating the house but T1 was a total rock star. By the end of day 2 I hardly had to ask him where he wanted to go, and he only wet the bed a handful of times over the next few weeks. He hasn’t done so for months now. In the beginning we offered him a few prizes for going #2, but we phased those out really quickly and within a few weeks I stopped saying he was “newly potty trained”* and felt I could go out and about without keeping an extra change of clothes in the car. He actually has really impressive bladder control (he doesn’t like using public restrooms) and has held it for 6-8 hours at a time. His most impressive moment was when we went to the pediatrician’s office and he was dancing around with the need to relieve himself. He refused to use the bathroom there, endured three different shots (screaming and crying after they were over), and still didn’t wet himself! I don’t know that I could manage that.
As far as materials, there are two things I recommend. The first is the Prince Lionheart weePOD Toilet Trainer, and it’s definitely his potty seat of choice. I bought a few books, but he has spent the most time with the Elmo’s Potty Time dvd. Rewards for #2 were random odds and ends I grabbed around the house or at the dollar store, as well as a few different kinds of candies. I dumped it all into a box and let him choose what he most wanted.
Every few weeks he has an accident at school or at home, mostly because he’s a busy little boy who puts off going pee as long as possible. I consider this to be normal and figure it will phase out over time. Now we just need to get him to go by himself every single time (he likes to have mom and dad “help”), cement in his mind that washing hands every time after you pee is essential (oh I know, this one will take years), and getting him to the point where he can wipe himself without “itchy bum” resulting because he didn’t get everything. That’s all part of parenting and I’m proud to have a 2 1/2 year old boy who did such a great job when it came to potty training. I’m hoping that cloth-diapering means T2 will potty train even earlier!
*That is one thing to keep in mind, that you are still going to run into issues. As I mentioned above, T1 has an aversion to using public restroom, and sometimes won’t even go inside of them with me while I go. We’ve peed outside in the bushes several times. He’s come home from preschool in his spare clothes with a bag of wet ones needing to be washed because he was busy playing and either forgot to go at all, or couldn’t get his pants down fast enough (avoid really skinny jeans for this reason!) and got his undies/pants wet. I initially resisted teaching him to pee standing up because I was worried he would do so “any time and any place”, and it creates more mess for me to clean up, but that has helped alleviate some of his public restroom anxiety as well. I’ve never taken a potty seat with me and carted it in somewhere or had him pee in a seat near the car.