tomorrow’s victory is today’s practice

September 10, 2012


I'm going to go ahead and call the great pottytrainingpocalypse of '12 a victory for team fambot, meaning hey we're pretty much done worrying about that and let's move on. Yes, it was really that easy. What can I say, Odin has always liked me.

Since most of my friends are moving in the same general direction (or will be soon) I thought I'd share how we went about it. I'm not the kind to give advice but it's always nice to see how other people do things so we can compare notes and pick up new ideas.

In all honesty Jude had probably been ready for a while. I think if I had really pushed it six months ago we could have forced the issue and made it work. However the biggest thing I wanted to avoid was turning the transition into a power struggle, so I took a cushy backseat in the ol' lazy mobile and we waited a while longer. I know it's fashionable right now to announce how you pottytrained your kid at 10 weeks old or whatever but from someone who waited: we still got to the same destination and not one single tear was shed. Do what works for you.

(Fun fact: I had actually wanted to do elimination communication with Jude when he was a baby, because I'm a lot more hippy dippy than I look, but that shit is just hard has a working parent. It fell by the wayside and you know what? Everything is still okay.)

Step one: The special trip to buy the undies/potty accoutrements/rewards. (Rewards optional, more on that in a minute.) I let him pick out all his gear and made a big, stupid fuss about it, then I had him carry it up to check out and heave it up onto the counter. I wanted him to get invested in the process. That meant we came home with character underwear and a hideous Lightning McQueen seat, but it got him totally jazzed up about his big boy gear. Ding ding ding.

Step two: Cold turkey, no diapers. I hadn't planned on starting immediately but he was all agoogled about his new purchases so we set our caps and took off down the road. I had initially hoped to just let him go naked vs wearing the underpants because I've heard that's super effective, but a few wild sprayed hose-downs later and I'm a card carrying member of the underpants club. It doesn't stop the mess in case of accident but it does slow it down, and it feels pretty gross reinforcing that hey, this is not fun.

The first night our new adventure was a novelty so he wanted to run to the potty and try to "go" approximately every other minute. It was 1) annoying and 2) temporary. The next day the shine had worn off and our visitations slowed to more reasonable intervals. One big accident right off the bat seemed to ring a little bell in his brain and I didn't do much else besides provide reminders.

For the first few days I asked/reminded him about the potty every 10-15 minutes and the look he shot me each time was withering. Counter intuitively, he did much better when I let him manage his timing than when I was all up in his face asking about it. Unless he's distracted by something exciting I try to step off and let him trust in the communications of his body. He needed me to back the hell out of his space, and after a few days I got a better feel for his body's natural pattern.

We had a few repeat accidents on days 2 and 3 where I shook my fist at the futile sky, but day 4 it tapered down significantly. I don't make a big to-do about accidents, but I do ask him to help clean up by getting cleaner/towels and putting things in the laundry. I have tried to keep the whole ordeal low pressure/no shame.

The biggest surprise came at naps and nighttime. I was open to letting him wear a diaper but he absolutely refused. The first time I put him to sleep in underwear I thought for sure we'd wake up to a flood of pee but come 7 o' clock the next morning he had hopped his tiny butt out of bed and relieved himself in the potty of his own accord.

He's been sleeping sans diaper for two weeks now with minimal trouble, I just set a little potty in the corner and he takes care of the rest. (Our bathroom is downstairs, and rather than ask him to hold it or trek all the way down there in the dark the temporary potty is an easy solution. We have a handful of those plastic IKEA potties. I like them because they're cheap and I can keep one upstairs, one downstairs, one in the car, etc. Eventually we'll work on going all-toilet all the time but this seems like a good learning step.)

We did offer him a few "rewards" to get things rolling, but I tried not to make the process about getting "stuff" because I was afraid he'd expect chocolates for every drippy drop of pee and I was not willing to go down that path. We picked out two new ponies and he got one the first time he pooped in the toilet (!!) and one the first time he went a whole day without accidents. I know many kids struggle with poop more than with pee so I wanted to offer him an extra incentive to get started. Once that first deposit was made it seemed to break the ice and we've been regularly delivering packages to their intended destinations ever since.

Straight up: he's pretty much kicked its ass. I'm sure there will still be accidents along the way but in terms of knowing what he's supposed to do and doing it: DONE and DONE. We (really meaning me) still need more practice with the ever terrifying public toilet. He will ask to go while we're out, which is great, but the mechanics of little boy parts + big public toilet still need some finesse. Pro boy moms feel free to chime in here if you have any tip tips.


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