I am aware that not all of you reading this are at the potty training stage, but for our family is has been “that time again”. I have developed my own system, or maybe more accurately described as a tradition, based on what just seems to work for us.
Rule #1: Completely different approaches for boys than for girls.
Different biology, different neurology, different potty training methods. (As well as different lots of other stuff. You already know I am a sexist.)
My daughters trained at 24 months and 17 months (!). All of my boys trained after 3 years old. That wasn’t because of me, that was them. I know that every daughter out there is different, but my girls – and many of my friends’ daughters -wanted to train. They figured it out, were super motivated and then just did it. “I can be a big girl” seemed to be all it took, and then some help from mom on getting the panties or pull ups down fast enough. I know of more than one little girl that made the decision, announced to her mother “enough diapers” and that was that. In the case of my second daughter she watched her 3 1/2 year old brother trained and declared “I can do that.” Then she went on to prove it.
Boys are a different story. “Why should I do all of that work when Ima can change me, take care of me… I get to lie down, it’s relaxing, I don’t have to stop playing to go; now why would I give that up? Ima even talks to me when she is changing me. It’s a sweet deal.”
None of my sons were in a rush to train. With my twins I was all charged up to try at three… and had to give up for a few more months.
#2 – There is NO peeing standing up. We always sit down. All of us.
I like potty training. I don’t mind cleaning up pee from the pants, and the floor and occasionally a chair. But urine all over the bathroom? No thank you. They all learn sitting, and it encourages them to maintain the practice later in life. 7 males in my house; you can imagine my bathroom cleaning efforts as it is. No target practice, thank you. Always sitting. I know some moms have used the target practice idea as a motivator, but I think one loses more than one gains.
#3 – Propaganda, propaganda, propaganda.
… Well, I am a PR consultant. I spend easily a month prepping for the big event. While still in diapers, we talk about the exciting time when we will go on vacation (see #4) and say bye bye to diapers. We create lots of “buzz.”
This is followed by an obnoxious repetition of horrid children’s videos singing bouncy tunes about potties, toilet paper, underwear and the joys of being dry. The songs are so catchy and are repeated so often that the older siblings are plagued with singing them around the house without even realizing it… thereby increasing the propaganda level for the young potty trainee.
Then our little trainee gets to watch the bouncy, repetitive videos while sitting on the potty. And sitting and sitting and sitting. Zombified by more television (video) than the trainee will ever watch at any other point in life while still living under my roof.
Of course success in the potty, (albeit passive while sitting in front of a video) is then met with the customary fanfare and hoopla, forced onto the rest of the children in the family who are order to participate. Someone did it for them, they can do it too….
This massive influx of adulation and attention in a family where attention is always in more demand than supply is like a sweet intoxicator, more powerful as a motivating force than any chocolate chip or M & M could prove to be. At least I think so, since we don’t do candy.
#4 – We potty train (the boys) while on vacation.
What?!? Vacation? Around a potty? What a way to spend vacation, right?
Well, the lack of regular routine and structure, the customary increase in numbers of adults around and the being-away-from-the-neighbors-when-the-child-is-constantly-naked all seem to help.
This also makes it easier to force the siblings to engage in the fanfare and hoopla, since they are around as well.
As I said, this is what works for us. I don’t know if everyone wants to spend a family vacation this way, but I don’t get out much on vacations anyway. While it may restrict me slightly while away, it results in a whole lot more freedom when I get home!
Any guests that want to visit us at the beach simply have to love us enough to accomodate the potty chair in the middle of the living room. And the naked child running around…. and the occasional obnoxious and catchy potty training tune unconsciously being sung by other family members at odd times.
#5 – Don’t tackle nights for quite a while after days.
I know there are parents who try to train at night right after the day. Perhaps they have drier kids than I do. I just have to pick my battles. I wish I were past the stage of frequent wet beds, but I am not. Until I am, the youngest can stay in pull ups at night. Sorry kiddo; sometimes it has to be about me.
#6 – Don’t sweat the accidents. But don’t be afraid to throw away underwear either.
I am proud to say that when I was training twin boys I simply cut off and threw away several pairs of pooped-in underwear. I was just not going to clean that up. I expect the accidents, and since they don’t ruffle me, they don’t cause my kids to panic. Having said that, if it’s a gross mess, I can afford to buy a few more pairs of little underwear. I can keep my cool, but when there’s poop involved, I have my limits.
I am about to send my youngest off to day camp in underwear. This is an exciting new phase. The thought of using up the case of diapers we have for nighttime and for long trips makes me 100% happy and not one bit sad to see it end.
Okay, so maybe I can say that since my 3 year old still sleeps in a crib and still wants to “cuddle in my nest” most days. For now, he still needs my help more often than not. He still wears footsy pajamas and wants to know if that shoe goes on that foot.
So no more diaper bag? Now that’s a vacation….