“This is going to be a breeze” is what I thought about potty training my second child, Luke, who is almost 3.
Like the naive parent I am, I remembered how easy it was to potty train our first son, James, using the methods in the ebook, “3 Day Potty Training” by Lora Jensen. How have I not learned yet that each child likes to totally throw off your game as a parent? I did learn a couple new things, though, while potty training my second child.
Lesson No. 1: You will get very bored spending all day alone with one child in a small area of your home.
Having two energetic young boys, my goal is to NOT spend long periods of time sitting around in small spaces. But with this particular potty training method, you pretty much have to.
For a full three days your child is only in underwear and a shirt, preferably on a surface that can easily be cleaned (for us this meant our tile kitchen). Every time they start to have an accident, you rush them to the bathroom where the goal is to have them finish in the potty.
The idea is that they won’t like the feel of the wet underwear, and they’ll learn where they need to go when they have to go. It’s a great method, all positively reinforced with treats, toys or whatever your child will respond to best.
They’re supposed to drink lots of liquid. So all the stuff I usually dole out in 2 ounce increments, like juice, popsicles, chocolate milk, and lemonade, are all free game. Whatever it takes to keep that kid needing to pee is the key.
We pretty much played games, read books, did crafts, painted, danced around to silly music, and lots and lots of other activities to pass the time. The first day was pretty awesome. I made plans for my older son, James, to be away most of the day so it was just Luke and me. My enthusiasm, smiles, praises and goofiness were over-the-top to keep the mood happy and encouraging. Do you know how difficult that is after a few hours? Exhausting.
Lesson No. 2: You will get very impatient very quickly.
By the third day, I was so stir crazy and desperate for interaction that I ventured out to the mall with Luke. He actually did very well, using the public restroom and not having any accidents. This wasn’t necessarily a good thing though. I was convinced it was he was totally potty trained, and we were all set.
The next day, I resumed normal operations and allowed him back on the couch and planned some outings. Reality quickly set in a few days later, however, when I was on my knees in a Chick-fil-A bathroom with Luke sitting precariously on the toilet in front of me and his poo-soiled underwear on the floor next to me. I was digging through my purse for any leftover little bags of wipes when suddenly, I got hit by a stream of pee. That left me wondering if I had an extra shirt for myself in the van.
I had at least remembered to pack extra underwear and shorts for him. After cleaning ourselves up, we headed back out into the restaurant only for him to have another accident five minutes later. I could feel the sympathetic glances of the other moms as I made my second trek back to the bathroom. I had to swallow an extra large chill pill on the way home, reminding myself that potty training doesn’t really happen overnight.
Lesson No. 3: Once the diapers are gone, you never want to go back.
As part of the “3 Day Potty Training” plan, you remove all diapers from your home. They say this is for the child, but really I think it’s for the parents. We’re weak. So we made it a big deal of going around the house and letting Luke “throw away” all of his diapers. James even reminded us of the ones in the van. (Gee thanks James, those were my last resort diapers). But honestly, despite the effort it takes to potty train, no matter what system you use, it really is glorious to not have diapers around anymore. Which means if we want to have any more children, we better get crackin’ because things are getting pretty easy around here!
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 4-year-old James and 2-year-old Luke.