Chalk this up as another thing I said I would never do… Here we go, a blog about our potty training experience…
I procrastinated this for a long time. We had given it some half-hearted attempts before and even made the switch to Pull-ups months ago, but for some reason, going “all the way” just really overwhelmed me. To be honest, I’d gotten pretty efficient at changing diapers, and I rather enjoyed the fact that we didn’t have to deal with public restrooms, getting up in the middle of the night, etc. etc. etc. (I know, I know, mom of the year.)
Anyway, as Sam’s third birthday quickly approaches (it’s in two weeks – how is that even possible?!?) and – full disclosure here – I started noticing more and more that he was the only one of his buddies still in diapers, I knew it had to be done.
Thanks to Pinterest, Google, and blogs, I had read just about every guide available on the subject. (Yes, that means I’m fully aware of the fact that the internet needs another article about how to potty train about as much as the Kardashians need more publicity, but I just can’t resist…) Most agree that – when kids are absolutely ready – they can easily be potty trained in just three days with a little determination, consistency, and effort on the part of the “trainer” (that’s me).
I had 99 excuses for why we weren’t ready yet – mainly based on the fact that I didn’t want to stay home and cancel all plans for three days – but, ultimately, I decided I just needed to go for it and get it over with… So, at the recommendation of a good friend, I read the ebook “3 Day Potty Training” by Lora Jenson* and marked my calendar for June 26, 27, and 28.
Now, it’s Monday the 30th, and, well, I think I can officially say I have a potty trained boy!!!
Here’s the gist of what we did:
– On Wednesday, I started talking up “Potty Camp” – short for “potty training boot camp” but that didn’t have the same connotation. 😉 We talked all day about how this would be the last day wearing diapers and that tomorrow we were going to be a real big boy!! We also made an extra trip to Target (of course) where Sam picked out his own underwear, treats, and three special prizes. We explained that they were his “Potty Prizes” and that he had to use the big boy potty in order to get them. When he went to bed Wednesday night, we all knew what was coming the next morning.
– On Thursday, I let Sam wake up on his own and then made a BIG deal about it being POTTY DAY! We went straight to the potty to start the day (he didn’t actually go this time) and changed out of his diaper from overnight into a pair of underpants of his choosing. Then, we ceremoniously chanted “NO MORE DIAPERS” and marched around the house for a while. (Remember when I said motherhood was humbling?!?) I had set up his “Potty Prizes” in a prominent spot downstairs and stocked both of our bathrooms with a potty seat, wipes (we used these so they didn’t seem like “baby wipes”), clean underwear, and a small baggie of M&Ms. (Also, Lysol wipes. Lots of Lysol wipes!) We looked at all of those things and talked (again) about how the day was going to go. Then, he promptly had an accident. 😉
– I also downloaded a free app for my phone – I used “Potty Baby,” but there are lots of options – where I could keep track of when he went to the potty, whether it was a success or an accident, and – best of all – gave him little stars for each success. The app also provided an alarm for reminding kids to go to the bathroom, but I didn’t really use that.
– THEN, for the next three days, whenever Sam successfully used the potty he got 1 M&M and 1 star on my phone. The deal was, after the first 5 stars he got his first small prize, after 15 stars he got his second small prize, and after 30 stars he got his “big” prize (in our case, a clearance remote control El Chu from Planes).
In the end, I consider it a small miracle, but IT WORKED! By day three, Sam was dry ALL day, consistently telling me when he had to use the potty, and rushing to get there in time!! Yes, we had some accidents (although less than I expected, for sure). Yes, we were a little (a lot) stir crazy by the end of Day Three. But, in the end, we are DONE, and we aren’t looking back!! NO MORE DIAPERS!! 🙂
Thinking about it now, here are five reasons I think this worked – and was relatively simple – for us:
1. We waited until Sam was almost three. I admit, I felt pressure to start earlier, but our pediatrician was adamant that most boys aren’t really ready until three. I think this was simple for us because Sam was physically and cognitively able to do it!
2. We got rid of all the diapers – even at night. I really went back and forth on this; but, ultimately, I thought it might be confusing for him if we chanted “No More Diapers” all day and then put on a pull-up at night, so we just went for it! I will admit, I’ve done a lot of waking up and changing sheets in the middle of the night these last three days, but I’m still hopeful that it will “click” soon. Honestly though, I think nights have a lot more to do with how much the child drinks before bed, how deep a sleeper they are, etc. etc. than with actual “training.” We will try it for a few more weeks and see if anything changes. If not, I’m not against trying something different. (Jensen talks about night time training in her book and offers some suggestions – like waking your child and taking him/her to the bathroom one hour after they fall asleep and one hour before they usually wake up – but I have not tried them yet!)
3. We stayed at home – in underwear only – for all three days. Admittedly, this was one of the hardest parts… For three full days, we cancelled all of our plans and stayed at home (with one exception of a play date at our neighbor’s house which resulted in an accident). I also made an effort to be near Sam almost all the time so that if I noticed signs of him having to go potty (or the beginning of an accident) I could rush him to the bathroom! I washed a lot of underpants in these three days, but not many other clothes – so it basically evened out. 😉
4. We said “tell mommy when you have to go potty” instead of asking “do you have to go potty?” constantly. This was something that Jensen stressed a lot in order to give the child control over the training process and that you trust him/her. I think, in Sam’s case, it really did help.
5. We focused on POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT and gave rewards for the first three days. Sometimes it was hard, but I really tried not to ever get mad or frustrated throughout the whole process (or at least not to let Sam see if I was). I made a really big deal out of every.single.success and brushed off any accidents. I also think it helped that Sam picked out his own rewards and knew what he was working for. (Although, I will admit, breaking him from the habit of getting an m&m every time he goes potty might take longer than three days!)
So, there you go… One more thing in the “growing up too fast” books. Now, if anyone has any advice for how to deal with the “terrible threes,” I’m all ears!! 😉
Anyone else do something similar and have success? What worked for you? Please share!
*You can order Jensen’s ebook and find other resources at her website – 3daypottytraining.com. While I didn’t follow her instructions 100%, I have found that – like so many other things in parenting – it is really helpful to declare ONE “authority” on the subject or else you will go crazy trying to follow everyone’s advice!