Updated: Feb 17, 2019
Let’s talk about potty training. The phrase alone can make a mama’s skin crawl. There are so many different methods, products and books on this topic, and everyone and their mother has an opinion about it. It can be an overwhelming path to navigate. So often, I hear other parents say they don’t want to “force” it but then continue to change diapers for their three or even four year-old child. Let’s just take a pause and revisit that. Three-four YEARS of changing diapers. I knew I did not want to be changing and washing diapers for another month, let alone two or three more years. But, I also did not want potty training to be a traumatic experience for me or my daughter. I was so happy when my neighbor referred me to a book she had used to successfully train her son- The Tiny Potty Training Book by Andrea Olson. Don’t stress when I call it a book- it’s actually a quick and easy read, packed with helpful information. After reading through, I felt empowered and excited to potty train my 17 month old daughter. Andrea’s method is a “rip the band-aid off” kind of approach. As the parent, you commit yourself to a 7-10 day potty-training process and follow one rule: don’t go back to diapers, ever. To prepare for the potty training experience I got my classes covered at the yoga studio where I work, prepared my partner to be more involved with the cooking and cleaning that week and rented all the potty related children’s books I could find at our local library. We purchased a seat reducer, step stool and the potette on Amazon. We’ve always allowed our daughter in the bathroom with us when we had to go ourselves, but in the weeks leading up to potty training day, we started telling her “Poop and pee go in the potty” or “I’m peeing in the potty”. Simply by doing this and preparing her and ourselves for the normality of it, she quickly became more interested in the bathroom, and we became more excited about potty training.
Here is a quick break down of the method from The Tiny Potty Training Book:
Phase 1: No clothes from the waist down. Bring child to bathroom every time he or she starts to pee or poo and say “Potty.” Learn the “4 Roads to Potty” (read more about this in the actual book)
Phase 2: No clothes from the waist down, short outings with pants-on after “catching” poo or pee in the potty. Apply the “4 Roads to Potty” to daily life.
Phase 3: Pants-on at home and longer outings. Use the potty outside the home. Integrate the “4 Roads to Potty” to the rhythm of your family in and out of the home.
During all three of these phases it’s important that you are completely focused on your child and their eliminations. You do this discreetly/nonchalantly so your child does not realize you are watching them like a hawk for them to pee or poo. No distractions- no cell phone, no TV, no books, facebook, insta- none of it. Have your partner or a friend prepare your meals. Plan to hunker down in your house for at least 4 days. Yes, it’s a long time. Yes, it’s boring and exhausting at the same time. The days are long. Never have I anxiously awaited someone else to pee…
But at the same time, it was a really enjoyable experience. It was refreshing to be at home and not have anywhere to be. It was a great way for my daughter and I to connect and get in tune with each other. I also enjoyed watching her cute little naked bum run around all day. The experience did not feel coercive or forceful for either of us. I enjoyed watching my daughter take pride in learning a new skill. She claps after using the potty and waves “bye bye” when she flushes the toilet. To be honest, the most challenging part was teaching the “potty intuition” to my partner and our caregiver. When I am gone they offer her the potty every hour and/or before leaving and when arriving to a new location. It took 8 days for me to feel confident telling others she is potty trained.
One week after potty training we went to my partner’s hometown 90 miles away. I was a little worried about an accident on the road. However, to my delight and pride, she was dry when we arrived at my in-laws and that in itself felt like a major milestone.
It’s been one month from our first day potty training and we are still diaper free, with no signs of turning back. It continues to be a learning process for my partner, our caregivers and myself. I’ve learned a lot about our family rhythms and feel more in touch with the needs of my daughter. Some days we have zero misses and other days multiple misses. We look at each miss as a learning opportunity and never shame our daughter for not making it to the potty in time. It is our responsibility to offer her the potty because she is trained to hold it until then. Misses usually occur when there is a lot going on in that moment or my daughter is stressed out. I’ve realized that potty training is very much a journey and learning process.
Most people are shocked when I tell them I potty trained my one year old in a week. It is POSSIBLE and it is EASY as long as you properly prepare and COMMIT. I would highly recommend The Tiny Potty Training Book to anyone feeling ready to take the leap to diaper freedom!
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