Monday, August 25, 2014

Potty Training

We're in the thick of it.  Prizes and panty obsession and "trying" every time we arrive or leave somewhere. It's my dream and my nightmare all in one.  Penny is out of diapers and there's no turning back.  It's a big deal, and it's a lot of work.  Here are some deets for anyone who cares to read a long post about a toddler and toilets.

Kick Off
We are beyond spoiled in that our potty training kick-off was three-days of us not having to do anything.  Penny packed her suitcase and went over to my in-laws house for Nana's Potty Camp. Yes, you read that right, my mother-in-law potty trains her grandchildren. 

The hard part -- going cold turkey with no diapers, and enduring the first couple of days of accidents, and literally devoting 24/7 to nothing but the potty -- was done somewhere else, by someone else.  ... I know.

What exactly went on at Nana's Potty Camp is a little bit mysterious to me because I wasn't there, but I know it involved:
  • This book and this book, 
  • A shopping trip where Penny got to pick out her panties and some prizes,
  • Lots of talk categorizing diapers as "gross" and "just for babies."  
  • Lots of princess talk.  
  • Getting to go see where all her big cousins keep their panties in their closets and dressers, and interviewing them about how they "go" in the potty. 
  • A ceremony for saying bye bye to diapers. 
  • A "potty dance" and M&M ritual for every success. 
  • An outing for practicing going potty in public restrooms.
  • A royal tea party for the first poop in the potty.  
  • Special prizes for any poop on the potty.
  • A play date for "going" in someone else's potty.  
  • A closing ceremony. 
Penny attending this three-day "camp" with Nana and Papa was seriously the greatest blessing in the world for our potty training journey. I could not have done it so well myself, and especially not at eight-months pregnant.  (For those of you wondering how much our Nana would charge to enroll your child in Potty Camp, the answer is that she only takes her own grandchildren as campers. But I am trying to get her to start a consulting business, as she has done this now for seven kids in the last decade!)

At Home

After closing ceremonies, Nana had to train us so that we could stay the course when Penny came home. Full potty training does not happen in just three days vacation, and a big-girl in panties is not the same kid as the girl who wore diapers just the week before.

Some themes we learned from Nana:

Consistency: the language you use, the routines you do, the time that you have them go or have them "try" to go... it has to be consistent.

Cold Turkey: once you ditch the diapers, you cannot ever go back

Enthusiasm/Positivity: it must be a positive experience for the kiddo to avoid power struggles or anxiety surrounding the going potty experience.  Make it fun.

Devotion: it really needs to take over your life for a couple weeks.  All grownups involved must have potty on the brain all the time to set up little one for success.  

Expect other changes:  Penny wearing panties has completely derailed our naptime/bedtime and getting dressed routines. It's a delicate dance to not have it become a power struggle or bring any negativity to the whole experience.   She is so obsessed with her panties that anything involving changing them, or putting pajamas or clothes on over them is a nightmare.  She takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to pick out her panties for the day.   Potty training is going well, but it has affected other areas of our life very much.  This is normal, and it's temporary.  The transition from baby to big-girl includes growing pains that might present themselves in the form of tantrums and rebellion and other things that require extreme patience from mom and dad.

A few FAQ's....

How did we know she was ready?
We started talking about where mommy and daddy "go" and letting her get real curious about the bathroom a month or two before her second birthday.   She started saying she needed to "go" on the potty a few weeks before we decided she was ready for potty camp.  I did not have it on my personal agenda for her to be potty trained before the baby came, in fact I fought it at first.  But really, there was just no question that she was ready... she was interested, she understood it, and she even started complaining about wearing diapers. 

Did we use / are we using a mini potty or special seat?
No. Part out of laziness (just didn't go get one) and part because I don't want to have to re-train her to use a regular toilet or have the mini potty be a crutch. She has only sat her tiny bum on grownup toilets.  This means she does require a chaperone every time she goes so she doesn't fall in! After all, she just turned two.  Haven't quite decided how we are going to work our way up to her completely going potty by herself, we are just happy to be out of diapers! 

What about bedtime and naptime?   
Because she has yet to wake up dry, we are using Pull-Ups (Huggies brand Night-Time style, to be exact) for naps and bedtimes.  These are her "sleep panties" -- we do NOT use the word "diaper".  She fights them like a maniac -- because she is THAT obsessed with her princess panties and because she knows that it means bedtime is coming.  I'm not sure if this is the best method for total cold turkey potty training, but right now I am not physically capable of changing crib sheets and I don't have it in me to be washing peepee linens on a regular basis, so it's what we're doing. 

Would I recommend doing this three weeks before you are due to have another baby?
Absolutely not.  No.  But timing of anything parenting-related isn't always convenient is it?  And ask me in two months how much I love not having two kids in diapers and not having to potty train my toddler with a newborn in the mix.

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