About few months ago we dove headfirst into the adventure that is potty training. To be honest, I didn’t want to. I dreaded potty training. To me, I felt like keeping twin toddlers alive and out of trouble was work enough — why would I add the challenge of getting them to pee and poop in the potty on a regular basis?!
But as the twins starting showing more and more signs of readiness, my husband and I figured it was time to rip the band aid off. It’s been almost two months since we started and I’m happy to say that we have one potty trained toddler, and one nearly potty trained toddler. Both L&H are great with #1. They still have the occasional accident which is not surprising to me – but the length of time between accidents is getting longer and longer. L is also on top if things when it comes to #2. It’s all really clicked for her. We are still working on #2 with H, but making progress (albeit slow progress).
I’ve learned a lot along the way and also I’ve fielded SO many questions from friends and followers about potty training, so I figured it was time to share some thoughts about the topic. This isn’t a step by step guide to potty training your child but rather some tips and things to remember as you go through the process. I hope it’s helpful!
Did you get any great advice about potty training or have a tip you want to share? Are you thinking of taking the plunge with your toddler, but have a question? Comment below!
Find a way that works for YOU. I didn’t read a single book about potty training before we started. Not a single one. Why? Because books don’t know my kids. Books don’t know their personalities. I do. So I figured the best way to tackle this challenge was to make up our own way that worked for us. I talked to friends about how they potty trained their toddlers and then used bits and pieces of all the different advice I got to make my own “plan”. Books and experts are wonderful and offer so much advice – but often I feel they can make parents crazy because if their toddler/child doesn’t fit the exact formula or outcome of the book you’re left wondering “what did I do wrong?” or “what’s wrong with my child?”. And that’s NOT at all how you should feel.
There’s no one way to potty train. There’s the no pants method, some people use pull ups while some use underwear. You can do boot camp and hunker down for a few days, or you can just ease into it. You can incentivize with rewards or not. Really there’s no right or wrong way. And you might not know what works until you try a few things. If you feel like you want to read some books to get ready for potty training – do it! But don’t feel like you need to follow the advice EXACTLY. Use books or advice from friends as guidelines and then chart your own path.
Potty training is a life skill. You are teaching your toddler a life skill. In so many ways it’s like going allllll the way back to getting your infant to sleep through the night – which is another huge life skill. At the end of the day (or night, HA!) the hard reality is, no matter WHAT….you can’t make them do it. Aside from wrestling your pantsless toddler onto the potty, you can’t force them to go to the bathroom. In fact, you could do all that and STILL you can’t actually make the waste come out of their body. They need to be ready, and they need to figure it out on their own. It has to click in their own heads. For some toddlers that happens quickly, and for others that takes more time. And while you wait, all you can do is guide them, encourage them, cheer for them, give them tools to help, and then just wait for it to click on their own.
Keep an open mind…. When we dove into potty training I chose to go ALL in. Straight to undies during the daytime. I felt that was going to work best for L&H’s personalities – they thrive on routine and I worried having a gray area with pull ups would make them confused. But I told myself over and over I needed to keep an open mind. It was possible that my plan wouldn’t work for them and we’d have to go a different route. Know that you might have to try several different approaches to find something that works for your toddler and you. And it’s entirely possible that you might start potty training only to realize after a little while that your toddler just isn’t ready yet. That’s okay too! You can always try again next month….or the month after that…or the month after that. Just keep an open mind and be ready to change plans or adjust your timeline.
….And low expectations! Accidents are absolutely going to happen and it’s okay. In fact, accidents might happen for a LONG time. You should not expect your toddler to bat a thousand when it comes to potty training for a long long long time. It’s hard not to be bummed when your toddler has an accident – we instinctively WANT them to succeed. Remind yourself instead to focus on the positives of the accident – did your toddler tell you they had an accident? Did they recognize what happened? If yes, that’s really great! Did they make it to the potty, but just a little too late? If yes, that’s also really great – that means they were trying! (How many times have you almost peed your pants trying to get to a toilet?! Be honest.) Or if the accident seemed to happen without recognition maybe you can identify why. Did your toddler have an accident while watching a show? Maybe you can help guide him/her to the potty before you turn it on next time. (Literally H wet his pants almost everytime we put on a show for the first week because he got so distracted.) No matter what, remind yourself that the best way for toddlers to learn….is to learn! Accidents helps them learn, but also accidents just happen sometimes.
Life without diapers is not easier. It’s different. I should change the name of my blog to “It’s Not Easier It’s Different” because I swear I write it in every post. But it’s true of so many things as far as parenting/children go. And it is especially true of life after potty training – at least the immediate transition. Taking two toddlers out in public without diapers means, I have to pack multiple changes of clothes per twin in case of accidents. Anywhere we go we have to visit the potty, several times. I have a travel potty in my car (more on that later). I have to rush through the grocery store (even more than usual) because lord knows I do not want to drag my way through the store with two toddlers AND a full shopping cart to find the bathroom. And finally, public bathrooms. Having kids out of diapers means you will now find yourself visiting public bathrooms everywhere. And do you know what toddlers do in public bathrooms? They touch e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. I know I sound like a total Debbie Downer – and for that I apologize. I know it will get better, and it won’t be this challenging forever. But I do think it’s important to point it out so that you fully know what you’re getting yourself into when you potty train. Be prepared that outings as you know them will look a lot different after potty training.
Party like it’s 1999. No matter WHAT method you use….there’s one thing that you MUST do. And that’s celebrate EVERY WIN, big or small. Even if your toddler gets one tiny little drop of pee pee in the potty and the rest is in a puddle on the kitchen floor (this happened a lot in my house), make a HUGE DEAL ABOUT IT. I nearly pulled several muscles from celebrating with L&H when they had a potty success at the beginning. The more excited you get, the more they’ll realize they did something big. And it’s just fun! We make up silly potty songs, we have a poopoo on the potty dance….it’s embarrassing but it’s also fun to see how much of a difference my excitement made to L&H. And at the end of the day, celebrate YOU too! You’re doing a great job teaching your toddler a new life skill.
Think about gear. Great, just what you need…..to buy more stuff! Am I right? But even a few simple things can help make the potty training process much easier for you and your little. Pick out a potty that your kiddo can sit on with ease – maybe that’s a potty chair on the floor (we used the Baby Bjorn Smart Potty) or a potty seat with a ladder (like this KidsKit 3 in 1 Potty Seat) which makes it easy for your child to climb up onto the toilet. You might want to get some new books – some about potty training and some not – for your child to read while they’re sitting on the potty. I also recently stumbled on these adorable Pee-Kaboos which I wish I had gotten for the twins before we potty trained. They’re reusable stickers for the bottom of the potty chair that “magically” appear each time they get wet with urine. This visual reward encourages little ones to use the potty again and again!
Don’t compare. There’s no right age. And no extra credit for being first. I can promise you that at no point in their life will your child be asked ‘well how old were YOU when you were potty trained?’. Just because your neighbor’s cousin’s daughter was potty trained at 2 years old, and your little girl wasn’t doesn’t mean ANYTHING. It’s easy to get hung up if your child is certain age and not there yet — but don’t worry! That only adds so much pressure and turns it into a battle. Whenever we were having tough days during our potty training process I used to say (out loud no less), “It’s okay…they won’t go to college in diapers!”
There is no perfect formula for potty training. There is no ‘put this in and get this out’ guarantee. Just like sleeping through the night, just like breastfeeding, just like learning to ride a bike….just like EVERYTHING – every child is different and will learn differently. I have the perfect study in that. As I said earlier, L is doing #1 and #2 on the potty no problem, while H is good with #1, but still working on #2 several months later. Your child might get it after 3 days….or it could take 3 weeks…..or 3 months. There is NO exact formula for potty training. If there was, then I wouldn’t even be here writing this post. So whether you’re fully IN the potty training zone or getting ready to take steps forward, I hope this insight was helpful!