Currently, my family is in full-on potty training mode and I have come to terms with the fact that for now, our lives must inevitably revolve around my son’s unpredictable peeing and pooping schedule. I have been patiently waiting for this time to come, dreaming of a day where I would no longer have to add diapers to my shopping list. But now that it’s here, I am realizing that helping him achieve this momentous milestone is a TON of work involving patience, creativity, perseverance and many pairs of underwear.
Here are a few things I’ve learned so far:
He’ll be ready when he’s ready: Cognitively, I understood this notion and knew that there was no way in hell that I had ANY control whatsoever as to when my son would show interest in using the potty. However, the emotional part of me was anxious for him to achieve this milestone so we could “check it off the list”. I quickly learned to put my own need for control aside, I stopped comparing my son to his potty-trained peers and realized that it is a readiness that simply cannot be forced. So I waited. And I waited. And although it was tough, I simply accepted his disinterest. My husband and I did our best to nonchalantly expose him to the idea of the potty but we made the conscious decision to not put any pressure on my son. And eventually, the interest came, slowly but surely.
Gotta Gear-up: The interest was there, so the next step was to get the necessary gear to encourage my son’s success. I bought a potty and I also equipped both bathrooms with little toilet seats, and step-stools, with the intention of giving my son the choice to use either option. I went to Bulk Barn and stocked up on some M and M’s (which happened to be very reinforcing for my son), and bought several packages of the cutest little underwear I ever did see! I also purchased the book “Once Upon A Potty” by Alana Frankel which my son absolutely adores and seems to really identify with. My son was an active participant in all of these purchases which was my way of validating his readiness and his sense of control.
Incorporate some fun into it: If I’m going to be honest, from a parent’s point of view, toilet training can be tedious, exhausting, annoying and time-consuming. But I am trying my best to not project this onto my son. So my husband and I try to be creative, light-hearted and encouraging about the whole thing. We throw cheerios in the toilet and make peeing a fun game of target practice. I use the timer on my iPhone and use silly alarm tones to entice my son to use the bathroom every 30 minutes. And we use a ridiculous amount of praise and celebration to mark his successes; peeing and pooping in the potty warrant crazy cheers, dance parties, high fives and lots of hugs and kisses.
Although I am thrilled with my son’s potty training accomplishments, his new sense of acquired independence is forcing me face the fact that my little baby is growing up. It’s almost unfathomable to me that my days of diaper changing are over! But the sense of sheer pride on my son’s face when he proclaims, “Mama, I made pee pee in the potty!!” makes the mess and stress of potty training totally worth it.