Potty training - what can I say? It's not the most fun transition in the world, but, it's gotta happen and boy does it feel good to be mostly diaper free! I'd say at this point we are 95% of the way there. I did some things different this time around, but I did a lot the same, because you don't fix what ain't broken, right? So, for all those moms out there with little ones, here's what worked for us and how we did it.
1. How old? - I potty trained both my kids over winter break when they were around 2.5 years old. Abby was born in August, and Hazel in late June, so they were roughly the same age when we took the potty training plunge. I honestly think I dreaded doing Hazel more than Abby because looking back I knew that potty training Abby was SUPER easy. Like, it was going to be a miracle if both the kids were super easy...so I worked myself into believing that this was going to be rough. To be honest, it was...for about a week...and then it was done!
2. Why Christmas break? - Well, the answer is two fold - extended time with me and very little planned. It's one of the few times a year that I was going to be with the kids 24/7 for an extended period of time. For both girls we did a potty training boot-camp of sorts. Like, we did literally NOTHING other than stay home, run around naked and practice going potty. We had very few outings and daycare was closed for the week, so I had the kids all to myself. (I was exhausted when the week was over). If you know us, you know that we are RARELY in one spot for very long. We spend LOTS of time away from home on the weekends and even during the week we find our schedules full. The week between Christmas and New Years is relatively quiet for us.
3. Did you use rewards? - I read a book recently that discouraged the use of rewards during potty training. The logic is sound - potty training is a development milestone, similar to walking and talking, and we don't reward those...so why reward potty training? True, good point. But, you know what, M&M's worked for me before and they are a great motivator, so I bought a $3 bag, and felt zero guilt in passing them out when we had successes.
I'd have to say though, we weened off the M&M's much faster this round than with Abby. The biggest reason for that, was well, Abby. You see, she was a GREAT helper in this endeavor. Honestly I think she did a lot of the training herself. She was super excited to help Hazel and watch her - mostly because whenever Hazel went, I coughed up an M&M for them both. HAHAHAHA! You read that right, when Hazel pee'd, Abby also got an M&M. It worked...it really did. Abby was super motivated to help and celebrate our successes but she also drove me crazy asking for M&M's. When I sent Hazel to daycare the following week (7 days post potty training boot-camp) we cut out all M&M's and that was the end of that. Easy peasy!
4. Little portable potty or training seats? - We did a combination of the two. A few years ago we sprung for some really nice toilet seats on amazon that have a built in kid sided ring that hides in the main ring. They weren't cheap but we bought them for all the toilets in our house figuring we had quite a few years ahead of us in which we'd need them, plus friend's kids after that. So, this time around I was adamant that we wouldn't drag out that little plastic potty. My thinking was "why transition again?". Well, as you can tell from the picture above, that didn't last for long. I quickly realized that the little potty was two things: fun and portable. First of all, Hazel was excited to sit on the stupid thing because it was new, fun and played music. Secondly, it was portable. When I trained Abby we used this toilet too but I swore we'd keep it in the bathroom (because, that's where potty happens...not like a diaper when you go where ever, whenever) and I stuck to that rule. We logged a LOT of hours in the bathroom when I trained Abby. This time around, I gave in and we moved that thing right into the living room. Gross? Yes. Practical, you betcha! You see, now, she could do her thing, be with us and I could still run the house. I wasn't stuck sitting in the bathroom all the live long day. It worked great!!
Oh, and, another plus of the plastic potty - well, really two. One, it plays music when she went so I didn't need to be close by to know we'd had a success. I could hear the music (and so could my helper, Abby) so that made it easy. And two, it's impossible to tell if a kid actually pees on a real potty unless you hear it happen. In this thing, there is no water to start, so if there's water, it's pee and you know she went. It made my fly by parenting that much easier to know if/when she went using the plastic potty. So, even though it wasn't my original plan, I'd call it a win.
5. A potty journal: This was a tip I got from another mom when I trained Abby and it 100% worked for me then and again this time. I kept a little journal of every single time she went pee...accidents, successes, pee's, poops, real potty, plastic potty etc. I literally wrote it all down. It helped me to see trends (like she always goes poop at this time of day) and to see trending success. Like, day over day, we've been getting better. I suggest this to anyone doing potty training. It's hard, we get caught up in all the other things going on (especially if you have other kids) so this helps to keep you on track and focused. And, to see when it might be time to suggest we try going. Like, every hour on the hour, we sat down and tried. If she went, great. If not, we tried again in 10 minutes. Exhausting, yes! Productive, you betcha!
6. Naked or with clothes? - This one was a hard one for Hazel. With both kids I started off with no pants on (yes, I knew that meant I might be cleaning up pee on the floor but it happened less than you'd expect). With Abby, we did no pants for 1 day and then we put on training underwear (thicker than normal underwear, but not pull ups...these are still cloth - check Amazon). Anyways, with Hazel we were 3 days in and she was still running around with no pants on. She could do an entire day with no accidents if she was naked, but put on unders or pants and it was done for. I was certain THIS would be the thing we couldn't transition past. But, as with all things, that passed and it was fine. She had more accidents than Abby did, which was hard on me....I felt like we weren't making progress. But, each kid is different and I'd forgotten that perspective when I was "in it".
7. Are you really diaper free now? - the answer is no...and I don't expect to be really truly out of them for awhile yet. Hazel still gets a diaper for naps and for bedtime. She is still in a crib, so asking her to stay dry and be trapped isn't fair. We'll transition to a bed sometime in the next few months, but I know it took Abby to nearly 3.5 before she could make it through the night without a diaper. We aren't diaper free yet, but we've made huge strides and that's all I was asking for.
8. What about in the car? - We used a diaper on car rides/errands that would keep us out of the house for awhile. At first it was anytime we left, and now, we've made it the last two weekends on car rides over 3 hours long without diapers. She'll tell us she needs to go and she's successfully waiting until we could pull over and find a bathroom. I am sure we'll have set backs, but at this point, I'd say we are done with diapers in the car. In fact, she fights me when I try to put it on her so, we told her she had to go in the potty and she's done great with it. This happened much faster for Hazel than it did Abby...I'm reluctant to call this one a success yet at this point, I'm probably just jinxing us!
You're probably getting sick of reading this and I don't have many pictures to show you so I'll wrap this up. At 2.5 months into this adventure, I'd say we're 95% trained. It's been weeks since she had an accident, either here or at daycare. We've transitioned out of the training underwear into real big kid underwear, we no longer do rewards, we don't use the plastic potty anymore, she poops in the potty and can make it on long car rides...and hold it when needed. She asks to go to the bathroom during swim lessons (when she has a swim diaper on) and she even wakes up dry from naps sometimes. I'd say we're potty trained!