Potty Training By The Book

A few nights ago I wasn’t sure where Isaac was. (In the house. Don’t worry, I was pretty sure he wasn’t wandering around outside in February. But you never know.) It’s nice that he’s at an age where he can be in another room, or even another floor, and we don’t feel like we have to track his every move.

I found him emerging from the bathroom, plastic potty in one hand and small video camera in the other. This guy was proud of his recent solo accomplishment. He handed me the potty to show he had flushed it into the bigger one, then proudly waved the camera around.

Potty training: this shit can be exciting when it clicks! (Though we’re still not brave enough to press play and see exactly what kind of footage he got.)

Laura knew that Isaac was ready for potty training as we headed into true winter. For a solstice gift, I got her a book I happened to come across online. We had zero bearing, so figured we might as well just jump wholesale into someone else’s philosophy and feel it out from there. This is the book:

ohcrap

I read it cover to cover, and it’s solid stuff (with whole chapters devoted to the solid stuff). It’s accessible and modern, without veering into goofy woo-woo or anti-science territory. For every “trust me” there’s an “I used to think that,” proving that Glowacki is more than willing to let her ideas evolve in the face of new information and experience. She does have a clear dislike of the major diaper brands because they seek to delay potty training to sell more units. This seems obvious once someone points it out. Plus, she mentions that disposable diapers have a wicking away effect that prevents a child from feeling wet and associating the wetness with discomfort.

The big thing, though, is that the author claims many families can be ready to train as early as 20 months, should try to do it before 30 months, and definitely shouldn’t wait until the three-year mark. That’s right: your two-year-old is ready. Trust your gut. Trust your child. Decide on a starting date, get both partners on board, then commit to the process. Don’t blow it up into a huge deal and maybe, with luck, it won’t be.

So how did it go for us?

In early January, Isaac was pantsless for about three weeks straight. He was totally housebound, which kind of sucked, but it’s winter and all he really missed out on were grocery store trips. Within three days he was peeing in the potty on a regular basis, and by day four he had pooped in there at least once. Amazing.

potty2
The thing that dictates all joy and despair.

We hit a plateau when it came to putting the pants back on. (Underwear or pull-ups are a negative in this philosophy, because they are basically diapers.) With the pants, Isaac still was pretty good with the pee, but he’d wait too long to tell us he had to go. Our success average slipped a bit, but did OK. It was further complicated by nap and nighttime. We briefly experimented with no diaper one night, and it was a wet mess. We could have powered through, but Isaac’s magnificent 10-hour stretches are just too golden to mess with right now.

Because we’re also contending with Finley.

It’s been a rough month with the littlest guy. Not anything out of the ordinary, just getting up every two hours at night to feed him. Constantly. There’s actually a point in the book where Glowacki mentions the stress of this scenario, using the example of someone “potty training at thirty months with a four-month-old on her hands.” That was our reality. Not ideal, but there you have it.

We continue to work at it. We’ve had very few accidents in public (sorry, librarian in the kids’ section who mopped up for us). Just this morning, Isaac had an awesome burst of initiative and took care of the big business. He knows what’s up. We just have to be patient and understanding. As the book clarifies: “This is probably the first thing you are actively teaching and the first thing he is actively learning.” It’s painstaking at times, but it’s not dramatic.

So that’s our story-in-progress. Every family is different, and the author makes sure to emphasize this: take what works for you and toss the rest. Try to connect with your child without being overbearing. It’s a tricky balance. If you think you might want to follow this particular route, here are a few things to consider:

  • Put the kid’s potty away until the day you are ready to start. Having it out casually to “get them used to it” is probably not helpful.
  • This is not a rewards or bribery program, but rather teaching a life skill.
  • Get everyone in the kid’s life on board. We are fortunate that we did not have to factor in the daycare scenario, so I don’t have any advice there. But don’t let people try to dissuade you, because in all likelihood…
  • Your child is probably not too young to start. If you’re on the verge of going for the classic two-year age gap between kids, potty train that first one, stat!
  • You will be cleaning up poop and pee. Of course you will. But probably not as much as you think. Don’t fear it more than you have to.

Time to draw this to a close. All this coffee makes me have to use the bathroom. Best of luck on your own little one’s adventure.

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