Potty on the brain

Warning. A lot of potty talk ahead. No fun pictures, but lots of detail and humor.

I feel like I'm up to my ears in potty talk and diapers these days. I had it in my head for a while that once I was done giving piano lessons for the summer, I would start potty training Josie. Before this time, I had been having her sit on her potty off and on and she was genuinely interested in it. Of course, I have been looking for signs that she was ready since she was around 14 months old and she was showing every single sign that I have heard of.

So the time comes to throw down (the diaper so to speak). I sent Audrey to Grandma's so that we could hang out all day having fun and figuring it out. She had an okay day going both potty and poop before nap and bedtime, but the rest of the day was filled with misses. She woke up dry after her nap and really rocked at the idea of pooping, but honestly, I could tell that the entire concept had not yet clicked.

The next day, we carried on with one addition - Audrey did not go to Grandma's. My attention was no longer focused solely on her, but she didn't seem to be discouraged by this. Because Josie seemed to be okay for 2-3 hour stretches, we ventured out right away in the morning to do a few errands. We made it, but she still had numerous accidents later in the day. Surprisingly, she continued to wake up dry for naps and night time and had no problem pooping. That night, we went to the lake. She didn't make it there without having an accident. I expected it, so we just washed the car seat cover and got her ready for bed.

Saturday morning, she woke up dry and managed to get to her little toilet in time. The rest of the morning seemed to be spent trying to get her to go before we left for town for a couple of hours. She didn't go, and she screamed in my face for over half of it. I did what I could to keep her distracted but if anything, my attempts only made it worse. We ended up just leaving with the plan of changing her clothes at some point when she had an accident. Imagine our surprise when she managed to go from when she first woke up to after we got back (over four hours) without having an accident. Again, she did great for naps and bed time, but just had trouble throughout the day after we returned.

Sunday was when things took a turn for the worst. It was day 4 and she seemed to just give up. She was having accidents every 30 minutes to an hour and I was ready to pull my hair out. Every time I asked her if she wanted to go potty, she would scream and run away. She seemed to always go in the same place in a corner behind a chair, so we moved the potty over there and just decided to let her lead the way. (That didn't work by the way.) I struggled to get the girls down for their nap and realized that I hadn't prayed about this. Meltdowns will do that - remind you what you are forgetting. Sure enough, God blessed me with a huge gift. After Josie woke up, she was like a different kid.

The girl has basically been potty trained since then. Crazy, right? After she woke up, I put her on the actual toilet. She screamed at me like I was hurting her in the worst way, but eventually I got her settled down enough for her to go, and the light bulb just must have clicked. Ever since, she has no problem going and even gets excited about it briefly while she's sitting there. She still could care less about it when I excitedly tell those around us, but hey that's fine with me as long as she's going.

So here is what I learned and what worked for us.

1. The first day, I had her running around with just a shirt on and every time she would go, I'd run back and forth between the accident spot and the toilet saying "No no no not over here, that's icky, let's go on the potty!" She seemed to kind of understand and would laugh at me with my theatrics. I tried using a sticker as a reward and while she was excited about getting one, she did not do anything different to get it. I did have her sit on it occasionally, but I didn't want to force it with the fear of making her feel like it was punishment.

2. After the first day, I tried to entice her by showing her the panties I had for her. Again, she liked them but wasn't willing to do anything different to get them. What really worked for us was using M&Ms. She would get one if she sat on the potty and two if she went. Seriously, it was crazy how motivating that was. When we just offered one if she went, she got discouraged quickly so offering it to her to just sit on the potty in general helped her to relax. She must have felt too tense right away with all of that pressure from me. Totally understandable. Getting her excited and more relaxed got the ball rolling in the right direction.

3. It takes time. She isn't even two yet, so expecting it to only take one or two days is very unrealistic. I was expecting it to take longer than it did, so when things turned around and she showed that she got it, I was surprised and excited. I was pretty relaxed about it most of the time (except right before my meltdown moment) so she didn't have to deal with my stress. Also, I never made it a huge deal when she had accidents. I knew it was going to happen and was prepared to clean it up and deal with each situation.

4. In the morning, it is crucial that I get up and get her on the potty as soon as I hear her. She doesn't always ask to go when she feels like she needs to, so she will go in her bed if I am not paying attention. Again, understandable and I consider those accidents my fault, not hers.

5. Always important to have extra panties and pants along wherever we go. For obvious reasons.

6. We started out using her little potty because she was terrified to sit on the actual toilet. It was nice since I could move it to each room that she was in, but I was worried about what we would do in public since it would be weird to just carry around a child toilet in public. Yes she did sit on it, but no it didn't necessarily help her go. Strangely enough, she does a lot better on the "big" toilet and we just had to get over that fear of being up off the ground. Like I mentioned earlier, distractions can be helpful. I'll give her water or sing silly songs if she's screaming and she seems to forget why she was mad.

7. If using an actual toilet, there are some nice tricks to use to help the kiddo not be scared. You could have a stool or bench for their little fit to rest on, the kid can sit backwards while straddling the tank. Josie prefers to sit on the back of the seat with her legs straight out. Sometimes, she'll have a leg on each side, spread more to help her keep her balance. That's not her favorite, but she doesn't freak out. *Edit: now that its been over a week, she sits close to the front and leans over just enough to keep her balance. She needed some time to figure out how to balance so the previous suggestions worked well until she figured this out*

8. I stress to her every single time to use her hands on the seat to help her stay put. I also have her "dab dab" herself with toilet paper to get her used to that. She loves to help and always says "bye bye" as she flushes. Afterwards, she gets a high five and a hug if she's in the right mood. All of these things together have helped her think of it as fun instead of miserable. She still screams when I make her sit on it if she's doing something that she thinks is more fun, but she has quickly figured out that if she just gets it over with, she gets to go back and play sooner.

9. Don't over-educated about how to do it. I read numerous blogs and articles about it and talked to a lot of different moms that had experienced it first hand. I knew what I was doing in my head, but wasn't sure how to apply it to my child since each child is so different. When I was frustrated, I Googled it and realized that you can find whatever answer you are leaning towards - some say that you should stop and try again in a few months if the child doesn't get it right away while others say that you should never go back to diapers if you go at least a day without them. Some say that you stop diapers cold turkey while others say that you should ease into it by wearing them at night and during naps. Basically, do what sounds and feels right to you and trust your mama instinct. When Josie regressed a little, I started doubting myself. I literally gave myself a pep talk by saying "You know your daughter, you know how changes have gone in the past." I'm so thankful that I stuck with my gut. Even more so, I am so thankful that I prayed about it. It was a big deal to me at the time and I sometimes forget how much God cares about every little thing that happens on a daily basis.

That's all I've got for now. If you have questions about it or would like more details, let me know. I mostly wanted to write it down so that I could remember it when it's time for Audrey even though I am sure it will be very different. Every kid is so different, so take all of this with a grain of salt.

It's been over a week, and most days are pretty good. She consistently has accidents in the morning and I am guessing that I'll just have to have her try every half hour until she gets it all out of her system. She hasn't figured out that she should tell me when she has to go which doesn't help when she has to poop. Even though she figured that out first while we were actively potty training, she isn't consistently doing this on the toilet. I know she'll figure it out and am not surprised by the few accidents she does have. She has had a few accidents at night and I haven't figured out if there is something we can do different to avoid this other than avoid water right before bed. Overall, though, I am pleased with how she is doing and don't feel like we did it when she was too young.


  1. Jenifer Fontenot6/04/2013

    Wow!! That's awesome! Sounds like you did everything right!! When potty training my first two kids, my biggest mistake was showing my frustrations in front of them. Potty training can be sooooo exhausting. I'm dreaming of a day with no more diapers, but sadly Jackson is still probably a year away from even trying.

  2. I have been waiting for you to write about this! After Avery didn't poop for 2 days and then pooped in the tub for the first time ever, we called it quits. She is going to tell US when and where she goes to the bathroom. We did try the M&Ms and that did seem to help a lot. But, like you said, I know my child and I know that with her, I really have to let her be in control (so, so , so hard for control freaks like myself to do) and we will try again. Maybe when I am off of work the week of July 4th. I am so happy for you though that Josie got and that you didn't give up! It must be so nice to only change one diaper!!

  3. Natalie6/08/2013

    I am beginning to think I will never get my boy potty trained--it is exhausting!