Hop On The Potty Train

We are currently in the throes of potty training.

We seem to be nearing the other side as Jackson has total understanding of the process and every now and then the only issue is remembering to get to a potty in time - not just 5 seconds before, making mama and daddy nearly break their necks as everyone flings themselves down the hallway and into the potty.

As I do for most parental undertakings, I read a lot of different resources about it and asked for advice from anyone who would give it. So I thought I would put together a timeline of tips and advice that worked for us in case any of my four readers were interested. (I see you taking notes, Cookie!)


18 months: Jackson displayed an interest and so we got him a potty chair of his own (from Target) and put it in the bathroom. Just so he would get used to seeing it. He loved it. Found it hilarious. Would sit on it. Giggled and pointed at it. BUT- he never "used" it if you get my drift. Not once. So that was a waste. He wanted to sit on the big potty. The seat gathers dust in the linen closet.

19-20 months: Jackson would inform me of the status of his diapers. He would also use the potty when the mood struck him. Progress.

21 months: I will never forget it. We were at the mall getting Eric's birthday present ordered. He was playing on the train. He started to retreat into a partially hidden part of the playground area - maybe for some private time? I caught his attention with an excited: "Want to go use the potty?" I asked. "The MALL potty!?" This mall concept appealed to him greatly and we dashed down the walk way. At once, I realized I had no idea where the almighty "Mall Potty" was. (Note: My mother assures me that there will come a time in our lives where we will know the location of all potties within a 10-mile radius) I just kept running, with a gleeful toddler ready to see his first Mall Potty trying to keep up at my side. When I finally located it, I was thrilled to see they had a family-friendly bathroom. (Note: You will come to worship these family facilities when you have a kid. WOR. SHIP. You will fall to your knees and thank the potty-gods that this airport, mall, etc. has provided you with a family-friendly restroom!)

At the end of it all, the Mall Potty event was a huge success and really the beginning of the boy’s lengthy potty career. I'm thinking of scrapbooking the event.

After the Great Mall Potty 2009 incident, we decided to get him a potty seat that fits onto a regular toilet. It was a big hit. He loved it. I found that selection is limited everywhere but we located the perfect size at Babies-R-Us. It was the only place that had any variety and by variety I mean a pink Dora one and a green Winnie the Pooh one. I went with Winnie. Also, I immediately tossed the "pee-shield." While it may be needed, it is too difficult for a child to maneuver around that thing. Discard.

I also made sure to get one with pads on the bottom to protect the toilet seat from scraping, handles on the side to help him with balance, and that also separated into parts for easy washing. These are features I highly recommend.

We began the weekend after Labor Day. We had several lengthy conversations about it and one-week prior we regularly started reading an Elmo potty book. The book's sounds effects are hilarious. (No! Not THOSE kinds of sound effects.)

Right after he came home from school on Friday, we explained the system. We set up a potty chart with star stickers. We went through several outfits and did not leave the house. We choose a good weekend that was warm enough for him to run around in with just shorts on. We also found a few cute videos on youtube that showed him other kids training and Elmo's Potty Time song was a helpful tune. Come Monday morning he headed to school with his Elmo underpants on.

Like a potty-training rock star.

His teachers were ready to assist. They set up a chart at school and took potty breaks every thirty minutes. Rumor has it, he bragged about his new fancy pants to fellow classmates and even their parents. Wouldn't you?

Sure, there are occasional accidents, and now the kid bargains for M&Ms as well as stickers, (he is very convincing!) but I am so proud of Jackson and his willingness to learn. Several times a week I even catch him using it all by himself. Once Eric and I did a lengthy dance in the hallway, when we discovered him. I think he was appreciative of the entertainment.

He's also a pro at the public restroom scene. We're free again.

We are using pull-ups when he goes to bed and during the 5-hour road trip to visit grandparents. He does tell us in the car when he’s got to make a stop and we have become very familiar with all of the sketchy gas-station bathrooms along the regularly-travelled route. But we’re happy to do it. Sure we rub Purel all over his body afterwards, but we’re still happy to have yet another successful potty moment. Even if it adds 7 more hours to the trip and is in a creepy Ozark outhouse.

This bring me to the best advice of all: While it is important that your kid is ready for potty training, it is just as important that YOU are ready, because it is something you and your whole family have to commit to.

The best part was when I dared to get rid of the diapers.* At first, I was superstitious that the moment I cleared them out of the changing-table drawer, he would decide he would never use the potty again. So I waited. Eventually, I had to make the move. I was so thrilled to be done with them, I was deliriously handing out diapers to random children on the street.

I may still hand them out to trick-or-treaters next week.

Their mothers will understand.

*I secretly still have four. I told you I was superstitious. I’ll probably keep them until he’s moved out of the house … just in case.


Cookie said…
This will come in handy in 2014.
Cookie said…
I just realized that isn't as far away as it sounds in my head.
Houpley said…
better get that baby in before 2012. Cusak isn't making any promises.
Anonymous said…
really good overview. Don't forget the step stool in front of the potty and your handwashing method, both really good.

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