I’m about to document the past three days of potty training. Not because I think that my blog audience is particularly interested in such a topic, but because I know that at some point in the near future I will find this story useful, perhaps even funny (right now, not so much), and maybe I will gain some fresh insight through the process!
I am beyond exhausted from the past three days, and I’m hoping to chronicle what has unfolded in our potty-centric household step-by-step so that we can dialogue about potty training victories, pitfalls, and misconceptions. And maybe I’ll even entertain you for five minutes.
Here’s my story:
Alana will be 22 months in two weeks, and has been showing an “interest” in the potty and in bathroom goings-on. I had not felt the need to do any serious potty training yet, but I thought it might be a good idea to get a training potty for whenever she seems ready to start. Couldn’t hurt.
On Tuesday, Kellie, Alana and I were having our regular Fun Tuesday hangout…which, more times than not, finds us at our happy place: Target. This past Tuesday was no exception and as we perused the isles full of wonderful things, I remembered that I’d wanted to pick up a training potty. Over to the baby section we went, and as I grabbed our Pampers Sensitive baby wipes, Kellie and I also chose a training potty for Alana.
Things got a little intersesting when I put the potty in the shopping cart and Alana became like a little broken record. “Potty! potty! potty!” She chanted as I zoned out to protect my own sanity and simply said “Yes, potty. Yes, honey, it’s a potty for Alana.” (I call it the mommy zone. We become like space cadets in response to incessant toddler chatter).
Once Alana and I got home on Tuesday night and I took the potty out of the Target bag, I didn’t even make it to the bathroom with it before she began her repetitious melody once again. “Potty! Potty! Mama, potty!” A little surprised by her excitement, I removed the cardboard cover and opened the potty. When I realized that was not enough for her, I asked if she wanted to use the potty. Without waiting for me to finish my question, she announced “Yes!”
And so, like any other parent who longs for the day of no-more-paying-for-diapers, I happily took off Alana’s diaper and sat her on the potty. She sat for a minute while we talked about going pee on the potty. I wasn’t expecting it, but a few minutes later when Rich said “Did you hear something”? I investigated and sure enough, there was pee in the potty.
On her first try.
Within minutes of being home with the new potty.
She’s advanced. I concluded.
Rich and I looked at each other, wide-eyed, and burst into a round of applause and laughter. You would’ve thought I’d just won the $5,000 Target gift card I’ve entered to win. It was that exciting.
It was nearly bedtime, so Alana got her nightly bath, and once Rich and I tucked her into bed we discussed the possibility of starting to potty train. We both agreed that if she was ready, it would be silly (and perhaps even detrimental) not to strart training her.
But since Alana’s our first child and we’ve never so much as read an article about potty training yet, we utilized the wonderful world of Facebook. Social Networking at it’s best. I put a shout out to all of my friends who are parents, using my status. It read: “Heather needs advice!!! Alana went pee in her potty today during our very first attempt…what should I do? She’s only 21 months but seems ready! Stay home for a few days without a diaper on? Put pull-ups on her and hope that she tells me when she needs to go??? Help me! I’m doing this for the first time!!!”
I got lots of useful responses from my status update, most notably that from my dear friend Heidi, who forwarded an actual 40 page e-book to me called Three Day Potty Training by Lora Jensen (www.3DayPottyTraining.com). Heidi hadn’t personally used this method yet but had a girlfriend who’d forwarded the book to her having said that it worked brilliantly for their child. I thanked Heidi profusely and stayed up late Tuesday night reading the book. Everything that I read made sense, and the self-proclaimed “Queen of Potty Training” declared that any child can be potty trained in 3 days if her method is followed precisely. Guaranteed.
The method relies on lots of love, patience, encouragement, and positive reinforcement (for us it was M&M’s), and no diapers of any kind are involved. In fact, parents and the potty-trainee are instructed to have a diaper-throwing-away-party to launch the training. Pull-ups and padded training pants are referred to as “crutches” that slow the process.
As the primary potty trainer, I was instructed to stay home for three days straight (not even visits outside or walks around the block), making sure that my focus was dedicated solely to Alana. No TV, no computer, no cooking. Just me, Alana, and her new big girl panties. I was to be in the same room with her at all times so that I could catch every accident as it was happening and rush her to the potty. Even if we didn’t make it in time, that was okay because Alana would learn the cause and effect of her body signals and getting to the bathroom. The guarantee is that, by the end of the third day, any child will be potty trained.
One the primary differences between this method and many others is the issue of “trying.” This woman says that it is totally counterproductive to take your child to the potty every 15-20 minutes to have them “try.” In her own words, “No! No! No!” As adults, we don’t have to do that because we’ve learned to listen to what our bodies are telling us. We know our body signals, and we respond accordingly. So, in order to actually teach a child to heed their bodily sensations, we ONLY take them to the potty when they tell us they need to go, or we catch them in the middle of an “accident.”
Makes sense to me.
In addition to all of this, she says that the ideal age to potty train, based on her wealth of experience, is 22 months. Well, how cool is that? Alana is almost 22 months!
So we commit:
Inspecting the big girl panties
Getting rid of the diapers:
Well, I have a bone to pick with this lady.
There is nothing wrong with Alana, and as far as I’m aware, there is nothing wrong with my ability to read a document and properly execute it.
But it is now Saturday, and after an intense and traumatic 3 days – Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday – we are a few steps closer to being potty trained but there has absolutely not been any 3 day magic.
And so, I just spent 3 days at home rushing a dripping toddler to the bathroom about 20 times a day only to make it in time to the potty about 3 times total. I had to clean up the area where the accident happened each time, as well as the long line of drips along the carpet or hallway. I then had to take off sopping wet pair of big girl panties multiple times every hour, and, along with all of the towels I’d used to mop up messes, throw in a load of laundry about every two hours throughout the day. I can promise you that the money we saved in diapers we spent on energy. I had to calm and soothe a stressed out baby each time she pooped in her panties because she was scared to go on the potty. I had to change out crib sheets so often that we didn’t have any clean ones for her to nap on, and the plastic mattress cover wasn’t comfortable or quiet enough for her to fall asleep. At the end of the third day, there were still accidents galore and there hadn’t yet been a single poop in the potty.
And not to sound overdramatic, but staying at home for 3 days straight (when you are not sick) is a very long time. Well, let me rephrase, it’s a long time to do something that doesn’t yield the desired results.
Now, please understand, I am very aware that parenthood involves lots of sacrifice. And that is why I committed to this method! I was willing to work hard and do everything that was necessary, and all would have been worthwhile if it had worked! Therein lies my frustration. I personally feel that we are back to square one, maybe a little further along than we were, but we are going to have to take a break and try again in a month or more. I couldn’t bring myself to stay home for day #4 without any certainty that she’d be fully potty trained at the end of the day. Call me a pansy if you’d like — potty training is no joke!!!
Now that I think about it (isn’t hindsight so wonderful?), the 3-day method is condensing all of the learning into such a short amount of time that it could easily stress a child who has a certain personality. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened to us. In fact, Alana became a different child for those 3 days. Even with all of the smiling and applauding I managed to produce for her, she ate differently, she didn’t nap AT ALL, and she cried infinitely more than she usually does. It didn’t matter how many times I praised her in a happy, sing-song voice, she was stressed. And this after she seemed so ready!
I am sure I would really like this lady if I met her, and I am super happy that the dozen children that she has personally potty trained have all, without fail, been potty trained in 3 days flat. It’s just that my expectations were so high because of the emphatic nature of the book. If results are guaranteed, then shouldn’t she come to my house and potty train my child if her method doesn’t work out for us?
But I guess I should have seen this coming. I’m a realist. Methods are as diverse as children themselves, and I’ve never heard of a method that works for EVERYBODY. If that were the case, wouldn’t there be only one method for any given issue? There wouldn’t be a need for conflicting advice. Each respective genre bookshelf at Barnes & Noble would have one lonely book sitting on it. Or several others that reiterated the same thing. There would be one officially-recognized potty training method, napping method, scheduling method, pacifier resource, and on and on it goes. Some people swear by the BabyWise method, others are totally frustrated by it. Some people use the paci to help prevent SIDS or to help avoid thumb-sucking, others feel that paci use makes you a bad parent. Attachment parenting is a heated discussion. It’s all so fascinating to me. People are passionate about their methods. And understandably so, if something works for you, you want to share it with the world. Or, sometimes, people just want to be right. Regardless, I’m just stating that things are typically not black and white. Can I get a witness???
It’s a good thing that I didn’t give the diapers away like I was planning to. We’re gonna need them for a little while yet.
And that’s okay.
Before I conclude, let me say that I am sure this potty training method is a great one, and I’m sure loads of parents have found it to be successful. And I am happy about that. It’s the word “Guaranteed” that pops up in her literature that bugs me, nothing else. Guaranteed? Do I get my 3 days back or something??? Or are we defective because it didn’t work? You see what I’m saying?
1) Diapers are my friend.
2) I will never complain about the cost of diapers again.
3) I have a newfound respect, and strong dislike, for potty training as I’ve experienced it so far.
4) I love my husband a LOT for putting up my my bad moods and my crying (and no, I NEVER would have believed you if you’d told me that potty training was going to make me cry).
5) I love my little Alana for HOW WELL she did, and I feel bad that I put her through this method of potty training. I simply do not believe it was the right method for her. She’s a cautious little critter who needs time to warm up to new things.
6) I wish we could outsource potty training like we outsource our wedding album design. Is anyone for hire??? I see a lucrative business opportunity here.
Blog readers, unite! Comments? Questions? Feedback? Seriously, I want to hear your experiences and what worked for all of you! Thanks for going on my journey with me! I hope it’s been a worthwhile read.