I’ve been dreading potty training for awhile now. I know how stubborn my kid is. I know. I recall four months of not sleeping because he refused to stop crying. I remember naps on my lap, the car, the floor-basically anywhere but his own crib. I remember once he figured out how to climb out of his crib we couldn’t get him to stay in his room for weeks at bedtime.
Sure, we moved out of our house and to a different country and he goes to a school where he doesn’t understand a single thing anyone is saying to him, so you would think he goes with the flow and adapts to change pretty easily. Yes and No. He gets excited about new things like a new house and a new school and a new hotel-those are adventures to him. But a change in routine? Forget it. Epic meltdowns.
Kids love routines. None more so than mine. He loves routines to a level that drives me insane. Early on, we thought it would give him structure and might help him sleep-we were desperate after four months of colic and reflux to have a night routine that was solid. So the bedtime routine has never changed-no matter where we are in the world. This helps calm him and get him to go to bed. I both love it and hate it. Just. Pick. A. Book. Oh, Caillou again? GREAT! (note sarcasm).
So I was dreading potty training because this is a major overhaul in Nathan’s routine. As a boy, he doesn’t car about sitting in a wet diaper, so I know how difficult training him will be. But it never occurred to me that I would have to train myself too. I have gotten used to diapers. They are so easy-easier than I recognized until we tried to stop using them.
Our first attempt at potty training was a huge fail. I went cold turkey, kept him in the house for four days-mostly naked. The first day it was exciting for him-an adventure. He liked the timer-every 15 minutes we would sit on the potty and “try” and get a sticker when he had success. He even had success with #2! (TMI sorry).
By Day 2, he was over the timer and just wanted to play. I kept him in a room with no carpet and brought in his train table and popped in his favorite movies. He got restless. I got restless. He started refusing to poop. By Day 3 he was constipated. A problem we had last summer for 4 months that required medication-a path I didn’t want to go down again. It was painful for him and I didn’t want to see him go through it again. By Day 4 he was basically refusing to use the potty and just having accidents.
For the next three days I sent him to school and put on pull ups and he basically just used them as diapers. That weekend was MLK and we went to Disneyland Paris. That’s when I realized how much I really love diapers.
We started the drive and he was wearing pull ups. An hour in we stopped at Ramstein AFB to get gas and he was soaked-had to buy him new pants, new top and since i didn’t bring any-we grabbed some diapers. I knew as soon as I bought diapers we were giving up on potty training, for now.
The whole weekend he basically wore diapers and never used the potty. It was too hard for us and him. The parents needed training. I never had to think about standing in a long line at Disney and suddenly your kid has to go to the bathroom-a diaper means you just change it after you get off the ride. This was new territory. Knowing how far from the bathroom you are at all times. I couldn’t deal with the bathroom interfering with our vacation. I wasn’t ready to change MY routine.
When we got back from the trip, I decided to stop potty training until he was no longer constipated and to come up with a new plan. The new plan has been far more successful (knock on wood) so far-although he really likes running around the house naked so he can just stop and pee easily without having to bother to take his pants off.
Giving the power back to Nathan is what finally clicked for my little man. Instead of making him sit on the potty every 15 minutes, we put him in underpants and told him he gets to decide when he has to use the potty. We spent two days cleaning up pee all over the house. He had an accident every single time. This was ok. He was learning when he had to go. I was a little concerned on the first day when he didn’t even care that he was soaked through his clothes, but he finally started to not like being wet. We also gave him play doh and a truck for 15 minutes every time he had a success.
The truck and play doh set sat unopened in his view for two days-while he asked to open it over and over again. So when he finally had a success on Day 3, he was over the moon to play with play doh for 15 minutes-of course after that he wanted the toy back so much he kept sitting on the potty hoping to go. Daniel Tiger and Elmo are also my heroes. Both love the potty! Which makes Nathan love the potty…..
Now it’s time to train myself. We’ve been sequestered in the house for the better part of two weeks-other than his trips to school where he wears a pull up and they tell me he is doing “wunderbar!” with the potty. We had one outing to music class and he made it sans pull up, but our grocery store run was a disaster-including meltdown and huge puddle on the floor (sorry shoppers).
I needed to retrain my own routines with Nathan. I needed to start asking him about the potty, stopping for breaks, bringing extra clothes and underwear,etc. It definitely requires more planning and thought than throwing on some diapers and going. It means I have to give up the power of the diaper and turn over the power to Nathan-give him control of his own body. The other day he finally went in a public bathroom-and we celebrated by washing our hands and flushing. In other words, it’s becoming normal. He no longer needs the truck or play doh. He does come home from school in a pull up and sometimes it take me a good hour to get him to take it off and put on underwear, but we are making progress. We are making new routines. We are growing, together.
Also, drinking wine helps after potty training. Lots of wine.