Yup, I’m going there. Over time and as my girlfriends’ kids have grown up, I’ve learned that optimal potty training age is between 2.5-3 years old. As time has gone by and we kept getting closer and closer to E turning 3, we knew it would be time to start potty training. In my head, I figured the first of the year would be a good time to start planning on training. I figured that in December we had a Disney trip and then the holidays and I didn’t want the process to be overwhelming for any of us.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in parenting is that the child is running the show. When E was ready, she was ready whether it was the ideal time or not. I mean, the kid caused me to be in labor for 30 hours and then had to be surgically removed after all that so she does things on her own timeline is what I’m saying.
The weekend after Christmas we went shopping for E’s big girl bed. For months she hadn’t been sleeping all night in her converted crib and I thought (hoped) having a new bed would magically change things. Literally the day we picked up the mattress something just clicked in E and all of a sudden she wanted to go on the potty. We didn’t mean for all this change at once, but here we were.
What Helped Us Potty Train*
1. Pick up a potty seat and have it out in the open and talk about it. I had picked up a potty seat (this one if you are interested. I love it because it was cheap and it’s easy to clean.) and placed it in the bathroom when E was 18 months old. We talked about it and saw it every day for over a year. It was normal and comfortable.
2. Wait for the toddler to be ready. We didn’t push E to potty train at a certain age. I heard some awful stories about how frustrating it was trying to potty train for the sake of potty training. In my opinion, there’s not a perfect time except for the right time. Which is always not exactly when you want to do it or when “society” says to do it or your grandma says to do it. Personally, I think the child should have the motor skills to pull up and down their pants and to start to acknowledge when they are wet or dry.
3. Be calm, this too shall pass. We spent a weekend at home just focusing on E going on the potty every 15-20 minutes. There were many accidents but we never yelled or got angry. We just cleaned it up and put on a fresh pair of pull ups or undies.
4. Have the toddler be involved in the process with rewards, etc. Since the timing of potty training E occurred around the holidays, I had lots of new toys that I put away so we could rotate them with her old toys. Then I thought, “why not use the new toys as rewards for using the potty?” Genius! If I hadn’t had these gifts, I would have gone to the Dollar Spot at Target and pick out some little toys. We also used chocolate as rewards and I had E put a virtual “sticker” on the Potty Time app board each time she went. She loved seeing how many were already there and kept saying “almost there!” after each sticker was placed.
5. Be consistent. It’s so easy to use diapers or pull ups, but being consistent about wearing undies is key. We weren’t going to go backwards after spending all this time and energy on potty training so it was full steam ahead! After a couple of weeks of using pull ups we did the undies thing during the day no matter what.
6. Don’t be afraid to leave your house. It frightened me the first few times we left the house without the protection of a pull up. I always make sure E uses the bathroom before we leave and when we arrive to places. When we would go to a restaurant or store I’d say “Don’t you want to see what their potty looks like?” to get E excited to go while we were out and about. Of course, that backfires because she wants to see the bathrooms 12 times during a meal. But at least she’s jazzed about it!
It’s been 8 weeks since we started potty training and it’s been great! E started at preschool a few weeks ago and we stopped having her use pull ups at night around then. We still have some accidents here or there (waterproof mattress pads save us!) but otherwise it’s been awesome. She is growing up so fast.
* I’m not claiming to be an expert and I know every toddler is different. This is just what worked for us. Feel free to leave any helpful hints or suggestions in the comments.