Monday, October 7, 2013

The 12 Steps to Potty Training--Or Are There 13?

One of my main goals this summer was to potty-train Berkley. I know, not on the top ten list of how to have a "not bummer summer," but hey, it had to get done some time, right? And although I was pretty sure summertime wasn't the ideal time to do it since it would be hard to keep my eye on this busy little two-year-old, I felt highly motivated to have her trained by the time school started again and I was teaching preschool.

Now before I go any further, there's probably something you should know about me. Okay, there are two things you should know about me. First--I absolutely hate potty training. I mean HATE. When I first find out I am going to have a baby, after the initial excitement has had a moment to light up my soul, inevitably the very next minute I feel a surge of gloom that one day I'm going to have to potty train this child! Ridiculous, I know. I'm embarrassed to even type the words on this entry, but that's just how much I hate the discouraging, exhausting, messy, patience-testing, grueling, yet necessary chore of potty training.

Second--I'm not sure if it's because of the fact or in spite of the fact I hate it so much, but in either case, I am completely anal about how I go about potty training my children (the poor souls), meaning that I put everything else in my life on hold and go for it with all my gusto. All four of my older children were potty-trained by the time they were two, except for Regyn, who was so advanced in her speaking that I decided she could master it at 18 months, and she did! Yes, 18 months. It was two weeks of complete insanity. We spent nearly every waking hour on the toilet. She was so young she just did not understand what in the world I wanted her to do while on the toilet, but I was so determined that if she could relax and pee just once, she was smart enough to do it again and again, that I finally set up a small television in our bathroom and put in her favorite video, "Babe" (you know, that show about the pig who thinks he is a dog?). Turns out I was right! She got watching that pig chase those sheep and relaxed and went potty and wa la! She was potty trained less than a week later! Now, does that sound like total insanity or what?

But, here I was with child number five and I am glad to admit I was feeling a bit more mello. Berkley had already broke my streak of being potty-trained by the age of two because she was two and a couple of months, and we hadn't even started. Whew! It actually felt good to have that pressure off my shoulders. I mean, some streaks are meant to be broken, right? Even if they are your own streaks and you are the only one who cares about them in the first place. Anyway, knowing Berkley's strong personality and her determination to do things her own way, I was pretty certain I knew how this potty training thing was going to go, and it wasn't going to go my way. So I kept putting it off with one excuse after another.

Finally, I ran out of excuses. School was only three weeks away, and my deadline was fast approaching. Realizing this child was probably not going to be fully potty-trained by the time I hoped, I decided to slowly start anyway. So I put her in panties one day.

Now, here is what I have learned about potty training. It takes about 12 steps and the first ones are v e r y slow.

Step 1-Put underwear on the child (This may seem too small to deem a step, but some children are very much against underwear and would prefer to wear diapers until the end of time. So this is definitely a step).

Step 2-The child keeps underwear on for at least half the day. (Again, a small step, but a step. After the child has peed his/her pants 5-6 times before it's even 10:00 a.m. you will realize that keeping underwear on the child until noon is a big accomplishment).

Step 3-The child keeps underwear on for the whole day. (Notice I haven't even mentioned staying dry for any amount of time yet. I'm only noting the accomplishments of the caregiver for not giving up yet! If you can handle changing wet and poopy underwear all day without reverting back to a diaper, you have mastered step 3! Now go get some ice cream--you deserve it!)

Step 4- The child sits on the potty. (Again, may seem like a small step, but some children are scared of that big white thing and they fight like crazy to not have to sit there. Berkley would be one example. That girl arched her back and fought like a tiger. It took two of us to get her to sit there the first time. It was a very big step and no easy accomplishment, let me tell you.)

Step 5-The child stays dry for at least an hour. (Yes, progress! The child is beginning to hold it for a small amount of time. You have to take your child potty every hour, but still, there is hope).

Step 6-The child stays dry for three hours now. You are still taking your child potty every couple of hours, but he/she will stay dry in between.

Step 7-The child begins telling you when he/she needs to go potty! (Major progress!! Yes! This potty training thing isn't so bad after all. I mean, you can leave the house now, Mom. Whoopee!).

Step 8- The child starts wetting his/her pants again for no reason at all (Not so fast, Mom. I swear, just when you think you are getting somewhere, the child always regresses).

Step 9-The child actually starts pooping in the potty now, too! (Happy dance day! I mean seriously, what is better than your child pooping in the potty?)

Step 10-The child starts staying dry during nap time. (Yea! No diapers during naps. The end is nearing. You can feel it)

Step 11-The child can pull down his/her own pants and climb on the regular potty without help (Still needs help wiping, of course, but this is pretty great, wouldn't you say?)

Step 12-The child starts staying dry at night. (This is when you really wonder if it's possible your potty training days might be over and there will be no need for diapers any more. Sometimes it means you are pregnant again:)

So, that's it--the 12 Steps to Successful Potty Training. Oh wait, how could I forget? The final step. . .

Step 13-The child can finally go to the bathroom independently and stay dry all night. (Yes! You did it! You fully potty-trained a child! You deserve an award or a vacation or at least a very long nap.)

Now, if you are lucky, you might skip over a step or two, or maybe master a couple of them in one day. I wasn't so lucky. At least not at first. Berkley really hated the potty. And she didn't want to wear panties. And she did nothing but pee and poop her pants all day long at first, just as I had predicted. There was a part of me that wanted to be lazy and simply put it off (which is totally not my personality, or at least it didn't used to be), but thankfully, a different part of me told me to be patient and persevere. So I did.

We definitely had a few mishaps. . . like the time we were at my in-laws and Berkley came upstairs with her poop on a pancake turner from the Pottery Barn play kitchen they have in their playroom downstairs (we ended up scrubbing poop out of the carpet and off some toys after that one). Thankfully, the years have taught me to laugh more. Had that been Hallee, I would have stomped my feet and cried. But we all had a good laugh, and then I even had the thought to snap a picture before we cleaned her up.

This is a common sight during potty-training--me cleaning a bum. Good thing I love this little girl so much!
I walked in on toilet paper everywhere, poop everywhere and other disasters as well (that I only wish I would have had a camera near for) throughout the process. It was far from easy and far from anything I would ever call "fun," but I can happily report we are on step #11of the Potty Training Steps, and it feels pretty good. In the end, Berkley was far sweeter and more teachable than I ever thought she would be. All I know is that no matter how many books are written on the subject, my opinion is, it's never easy. It takes patience, courage, hard work, stamina, perseverance, a little insanity and a lot of humor. Oh, and let's not forget love.

Cause I definitely love this little girl!


Unknown said...

Thanks for the tips. We are preparing to start potty training our son and your 12 Steps to Potty Training was very helpful.

Kelly Brown