Potty Training Progress
Hi y'all! If you're here I'm guessing you either are currently potty training, or are planning to take the plunge soon with your little(s). I want to start out by saying this blog post is not intended to be an exact how-to and it is definitely a judgement-free zone! I simply want to share our ongoing progress with Lou in hopes that something might help out a fellow parent. Also, I am very intentionally using the word progress because along with Lou we are still learning so I'm sharing things that worked really well for us, Lou's current potty training progress, and those still-in-progress aspects.
I knew before starting this process that I wanted to go into it equipped with a clear plan which is why I chose to use the Oh Crap! Potty Training book by Jamie Glowacki. It was reassuring when I shared plans to use this book on Instagram that I received numerous dm's from moms singing the book's praises. The book is very clear and the author focuses on exactly what you need to know for success while avoiding parent philosophy debates. The book* is worth the purchase so I am not going to paraphrase Glowacki's method here, but I will share the two points that stood out the most. First, Glowacki places a lot of emphasis on commitment. This helped Taylor and me to both go into the process with confidence and an agreement that once we started we would see it all of the way through. Just like any big milestone we knew there would be a challenging period, but that it would also be best in the long run if we fully committed. I also strongly feel that our children can pick up on our energy so they respond better to an assured parent. Whatever obstacles arose we would address and continue moving forward so this wouldn't become just the first of several potty training attempts. Second, Glowacki encourages her readers to suspend the notion of waiting until your child is "ready" because let's be honest no child is going to just wake up one day and say they're over their diapers. This also helped us with committing because we knew we just needed to find the time that would be most ideal with our family's schedule instead of waiting for some magic moment.
How it started:
Once we determined our start date I literally wrote it in the calendar (1/14/21!). I don't know about y'all but I live and die by my Rifle Paper Co planner so I knew if I wrote it down then there would be no turning back. We're lucky that Lou is only in Mother's Day Out (MDO) one day a week and since we're in the middle of a global pandemic our social calendar is pretty bare. His MDO is every Wednesday so we began potty training on Thursday. Yes, this meant I took on two days of solo potty training (there were a couple of tears), but it was worth having 6 full days at home working through Oh Crap's training blocks. We also waited to introduce the potty until the day we began which is suggested by Glowacki. We chose the OXO Tot Potty Chair* because it is a very simplistic potty option which is easy to clean and did not seem to intimidate Lou in the beginning.
To keep this from becoming one gigantic paragraph, I'm going to bullet point through our experience with what worked best for us and Lou.
Prep your "big kid": Taylor and I both agree that the prep work we put in likely helped more than anything else. For a couple of weeks we made sure to point out all the ways Lou is becoming a big boy. He was no longer a baby, but now a big boy capable of picking out his outfits, pushing his own pants down and pulling them up (tip in the book to teach them this skill ahead of time), helping to clean up after playtime, and really anything else we could think of to make him feel confident. It does help that we were already talking about how he will be the big brother to his baby brother coming in July.
Clear that calendar for 1-2 weeks at home: Ok so I mentioned earlier that Glowacki discourages the belief that your child will all of a sudden just be ready for potty training which we really took to heart. We chose when to start based on timing. We knew we wanted to fit within her 24-30 month ideal potty training window, but we also wanted to avoid the holidays which is why we settled on January (29 month mark for Lou). Even if we had more social engagements (they're basically zero thanks to Covid) January was the easiest month to ensure however many days it would take to work through the first block which entails a bare bottom stuck at home. Clearing over a week of any plans out of the house also helped take off the pressure because we weren't working towards any deadline. Lou was given however much time he would need to master the steps toward this big, new skill.
Trust your intuition: Even though we weren't focusing on that magic "Lou is ready now" moment we do look back and feel confident that we did not start the process too early or late which certainly helped his success once we began. I don't know all the parenting answers, but I do know that Taylor and I know our child very well. Lou has been later with talking so we wanted him to be at least to the point of being able to verbally communicate his potty needs. This took pressure off of me as well during those first couple of days solo because I didn't have to rely on looking for those sometimes subtle pre-potty signals. I do also feel that if we had waited much longer then it would have been harder to break his attachment to his diapers. All this to say that it is important to trust your parental intuition regardless of what family, friends, and experts say. No one knows your child more than you so trust in yourself and have faith in your child's abilities once you do decide to begin the process.
Daniel Tiger FTW: Ok this tip might seem silly and parents who are 100% opposed to tv will roll their eyes, but Daniel Tiger's potty training episode (season 2, episode 1) has been a key component of Lou learning to use the potty quickly. The first half of the episode focuses on one of the children learning to stop playing when he needs to go potty and tell his teacher so he can use the restroom. The second half shows Daniel Tiger having the use the potty while out at a store with his dad. Both sections feature the cute "if you have to go potty stop and go right away" song...don't ask how frequently I have sung this song in the last month. Every kid is different, but at least for Lou this episode really helped him understand that any activity can wait while he uses the potty and also the importance of telling us his needs. It also seemed to help that he was hearing these messages from a fun show he enjoys in addition to mom and dad.
Potty on-the-go: We do have the OXO 2-in-1 Go Potty* always stashed in the back of my car which is a Godsend. It did take a few times for him to become comfortable using it as a sit down potty (it converts from a sit down potty to one that can sit over a big toilet). He did spend two weeks only using a potty in the comfort of his home so practice definitely helped. He did adapt well to the over-the-toilet option well. However, we do try to have the Oxo 2-in-1 stored under his stroller or in the car when we are out so we have been able to use us it over a big toilet a few times at restaurants. It folds up pretty small so we just store it in the small plastic bag that came with it.
Scary big toilets: Although we rely a lot on the OXO Go Potty while out-and-about, it is not always accessible so Lou has to use a big toilet. Lou seemed terrified of full size toilets at first. Honestly it was a part of potty training that I was failing at to the point I was worried I would have to resort to the Big Daddy move (ifkyk). Eventually, Taylor realized Lou was more comfortable when placed at the back of the toilet so his bottom could be supported (with a toilet cover underneath) then we do have to help him aim downwards. There is still hesitancy when Lou needs to use a big toilet, but we are seeing promising progress.
We survived our first road trip!: We survived our first road trip to Colorado (11 hours) in March and it felt like such a huge accomplishment. I'm going to write a whole road trip blog post soon (I'll link it here when complete), but we honestly kept it pretty simple. Lou will not use a diaper when he is awake anymore so even though we kept some in the car we did not end up using any of them. Most of the time Lou was able to communicate when he needed to go then make it until we could stop at a gas station, but a few times we did just pull off the closest exit ramp. Since it is still a pandemic (and no one in West Kansas seems to care about masks) we kept him out of any gas stations. Instead we opted to place the OXO Go potty in the passenger seat. Thankfully it uses plastic bags to capture all the business which we could tie off and pitch at each gas station. We have our next drive in April down to Texas so I will also update this section following that trip if there is anything new to add. Mostly, just prepare to stop twice as much as before.
How it's going:
Lou's potty training journey began on January 14th and we were very lucky that Lou caught on to the process quickly. It took one full pee on the floor and me quickly moving him to the potty saying "hold it hold it" and one poop on the rug (followed by the same quick movement to the potty) to get him to understand that pee and poop goes in the potty. So even though we have still had moments requiring clean up, he at least knows that when he needs to go potty to tell us then get to the potty. Since it only took a couple of days to get Lou to communicate his potty needs and use the potty we've been focusing on other aspects of the process like getting his pee in the potty on his own and toddler stubbornness. There is also one aspect, sleep time potty training, that we are not directly addressing yet.
*I will update as we progress
Ok, so getting the pee to go into the potty is one of the few times I've been jealous of my girl mom friends because every trip to the potty means I really have to look alive or face cleaning up pee. Obviously I can assist Lou with keeping the pee in the potty, but I want him to master the skill of doing that on his own sooner than later. So far he has some success when I actively remind him to aim at a certain part of the potty and lean forward which helps his body naturally aim into the potty. Since this is all still a fairly new skill he does request my help a lot of the time so I'm looking into ways to make it more fun like placing a sticker where he can practice his aim.
We have very intentionally decided to hold off on potty training during nap and bed time. Lou still wears a diaper for nap time (unless he pees in the potty right before nap) and bedtime because we want to allow him to focus on his wake periods first before tackling the part of potty training that can affect everyone's sleep. We also hope that he will naturally work towards some sleep potty training as he progresses through his daytime potty training. We've noticed recently that he is staying dry through naps and waking up in the morning with minimal pee in the diaper. He also does a majority of his poops in the potty, but there are still the rare morning poopy diapers. I know ultimately we will have to intentionally address sleep potty training, but so far this is what is working well for him. *if you do want to potty train 100% then the Oh Crap book does have instructions for nap and bed time potty training.
All right y'all, the toddler stubbornness! This is our newest potty training development that we are working through, but also makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes. Lou's stubbornness is showing up in a couple of ways. First, he is making it a habit of communicating "pee" or "poop," but once we would go to use the potty he would say he no longer needs to go...only to say he needs to go 5 minutes later. He will also pee and then minutes later communicate a need to poop which sometimes take multiple other tries to actually produce (like that polite way of saying that lol). This actually resulted in his only accident since January while he was at Mother's Day Out. He communicated pee then minutes later said poop, but his teacher thought he was "just being a toddler" until not long after he pooped in his pants. Lou has adapted well to not using diapers to the point that if he is awake he refuses to poop or pee in a diaper so I know that means he really needed to go, but I need to help him figure out taking his time to fully use the potty the first time instead of returning to the toilet 2-5 times to finally finish the job. Lou is also showing his stubbornness by flat out refusing to use the potty sometimes like before nap or leaving the house. It has caused a few minor meltdowns which usually result in us backing off the pressure because I don't want to create negative associations with the toilet. This is definitely a part of the process we are still learning, but I have had some success by making a 3 second deal with him. Before nap or leaving the house, he has to sit on the potty while I count to 3. Nine out of ten times he ends up peeing by second 2, but if I hit second 3 with nothing then he knows he at least did a great job trying. Leave any tips for stubborn toddlers below in the comments!
Of all of the milestones we've faced so far I think I was most intimidated by potty training until I did the research. Sleep training was the most emotional milestone, but to be honest potty training meant the possibility of a lot of clean up and also would impact life outside of the home. All that being said though, it is also the milestone that has brought the most pride because it is amazing to see Lou tackling this new skill, which we are guiding him through, but his success is his own. Gosh our little baby really has become a big boy.
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