Potty training. It’s not something I looked forward to. Although as my daughter approached her second birthday, I did reach out to friends who’d been through it to see what recommendations they had. Several of them recommended the online “3 day potty training method”, so eventually I logged on and bought the e-book. I read through it, and took special note of the “supplies” section, buying almost everything that she listed; which included the world’s tiniest underpants, an Elmo potty “with real flushing sounds!,” several books with “potty” and “poop” in the title, and even one called “Big Girl Panties,” that my husband refused to read more than once. But that’s where things stopped.
To actually commit to starting potty training I needed a push. Two months after my daughter’s second birthday, with the birth of our second child coming in just two more months’ time, and a precious three-day weekend looming, my husband and I agreed that this was the push we needed. And despite hating to give up a three-day weekend, I figured that I’d rather not have two kids in diapers, if I could avoid it. At least that was my thinking at the time. So, prep we did.
Well, “prep” may be a loose term. The morning of day 1, Daddy was sitting in the living room reading the book (finally); but in fairness he was the calm patient one throughout the entire three-day ordeal. And I use “ordeal” in all its definitions and synonyms, to include: “a very unpleasant and prolonged experience,” as well as “painful experience, trial, tribulation, test, nightmare, trauma, baptism of fire, hell, hell on earth, misery, trouble, difficulty, torture, torment, and agony.” Yup, pretty much summed it up for me.
What I had not fully comprehended, and maybe it was after the “supplies” section of the book where I got sidetracked, was the true commitment to this project. It’s not just about piles of daily laundry or giving up three days of your life – although that is highly stressed throughout the book, and rightly so. Spending every 10-15 minutes of the wakeful day saying, “Tell Mommy or Daddy if you have to go potty,” leaves little time for phone calls, internet shopping, or even cooking.
But, once those three days of seclusion are done, then the real “fun” begins. And I found that the seclusion just dragged on and on for me. For the next seven days I remained secluded within the house, asking every 10-15 minutes, “Tell Mommy if you have to go potty.” Dealing with lots of accidents, some successes, and trying to keep my happy face on regardless of what it was. It was exhausting and I felt like I was swimming in the sea of “ordeal” synonyms.
I finally reached out to other moms to ask, “When can I ever leave the house again?” And quite simply they said, “Leave now!” Essentially accidents happen, so travel prepared, but otherwise resume your normal life. I did so with great trepidation, for some reason, but I did it none-the-less. And you know what? We all survived! The earth didn’t swallow us whole, no one pointed and laughed at the mommy carrying her travel potty, in fact, nothing happened at all; including no accidents!
I will say that on day 8, we upped the ante (as all my girlfriends suggested and the book recommended, but we hadn’t yet employed) and added the sweet incentive of chocolate chips (known as “bips” in our house) for successful potty trips. And the effect was practically instantaneous. From that day forward, we never had a “wakeful” accident again. And four days later, she even used the travel potty during a play date. I was as proud as a potty-training-mommy peacock, let me tell you!
I won’t share all of the gory details, but we've been at it now for about 25 days and suffice it to say that while we are far from perfect yet, we are seeing enough progress so as to not quit. Nighttime accidents are still a factor, so after three weeks we decided to use “nighttime panties” (diapers) with hopes that eventually she’ll wake up dry and we can ditch them as well.
So, I can’t comment yet on whether this was a good idea or a bad idea, in regards to prepping for the new baby. But like most life lessons, that will come after the fact. But for now, we’re doing our best to resume a normal life, continue with our doling out “two bips!” and doing our family “happy hops” for successful potty trips, and doing our best to go a full 24-hours without discussing our daughter’s latest potty successes. Oh, sorry, guess I’ll have to start that one tomorrow.