Mother's Work · Motherhood · Parenting · Toddlers

Potty training is like a multiple choice exam

Question #1: When is the best time to start potty training?
_ 18 months
_ Between 2.5 and 3.5 years
_ When they show the telltale readiness signs
_ When they don’t make diapers in your kid’s size anymore
_ All of the above

Question #2: What’s the best approach?
_ Gradually introducing more and more potty sittings each day
_ Going cold turkey and letting them run around in underwear all day (and don’t look back)
_ Letting them run around bare-bottomed (at home, preferably not in public)
_ Setting a timer and placing them on the potty every 30 minutes
_ Letting them tell you when they need to go
_ Telling them there are no more diapers left in the house
_ Bribing them with candy and peer pressure
_ All of the above

Question #3: What will Mommy’s role be in this adventure?
_ Lots of physical exertion from bending (to change pants) and lifting (onto potties) and hurrying (to avoid accidents)
_ Lots of negotiating, praising, and quoting the Elmo Potty Time movie (“Accidents happen, and that’s ok…”)
_ Loads and loads of laundry
_ Getting caught in a loop of “do you have to pee? do you feel your pee coming? are you peeing? did you pee?”?
_ All of the above

The secret to getting an A is answering “all of the above” to every question. We’ve been at it the cold turkey way for two days now, and today was the first day at school. I was so worried about the process with our daughter (first child), but this time around I don’t even blink when I hand off two 2.5 yr old boys in underwear and a large bag of clothing changes to their teacher for the two hours of preschool. Getting the report at pick-up is another story. “Not such a good day…”, “lots of resistance…”, “just had an accident in the gym that we haven’t had a chance to change yet…”. But their sweet teachers are undeterred and tell the boys how excited they are to help them go to the bathroom “every 15 minutes!” tomorrow. I will also be utilizing the fabulous nylon swim panties that they can wear over their underwear so that they don’t go through three pairs of pants in two hours. Bring it on, we’re game, we’ve got more tricks up our sleeve.

But technicalities aside… I may feel like I’m swimming in a cold, deep pool at the moment, but there’s also a feeling of lightness. The sense that progress is happening before my eyes, that we’re in the midst of a major milestone, is awesome. The end of spending so much money on diapers is so close, I can taste it. And to see our little boys beaming with pride over their successes is just – to use the cliché – priceless. “Mommy, it’s coming out!” is the best thing this mommy can hear right now.

We shall carry on, and make it work, as Tim Gunn would say. (I bet Tim Gunn never would have imagined being quoted in a blog post about potty training, huh?)

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