I am a proud keeper of a husband and two daughters. They confuse and amuse me every hour of every day
If Satan himself could take on the form of a toddler milestone, it would be potty training. I've tried every. single. method. and they all blow in their own special ways. The best tools I have found are the following.
1- Carpet shampooer
2- Washing machine/dryer
3- A genuine disinterest in having nice things
4- The patience of a saint and monk's love child on quaaludes
You see the funny thing about life is that my first born was going to be an only child or at least 5 years older than the next, yet she is 1 year and 9 months older than my youngest. A man with a passion for urology has since taken care of my husband. Since that fateful outpatient procedure, we are a family of 4 and statistically likely to keep it that way.
So how did we end up here, potty training two kids at once? Great question that I have no answer to, yet here we are.
My oldest is technically trained. Her bladder is trained to hold it all day out of shear toddler will. She knows what the potty is, she knows the reason for its existence, the design and silhouette. She knows the potty. She hates the potty.
My youngest likes sitting on things and playing with a toilet brush, so she is also trained on some skewed definition of the term.
So what have we done?
Pull Ups- Big Pharma is a controversial being in our capitalist economy, but I will see you Big Pharma and raise you disposable diapers. Not only are these things terrible for the world waste speaking (not preaching, I've definitely contributed my fare share to the abyss of trash), but they are expensive because they can be. Now, knowing what the disposable diaper industry knows about parents, they introduce the Pull Up. I'M A BIG KID NOW they cheer! DO THE POTTY DANCE they sing! These commercials lure us parents into thinking THAT'S IT! THAT WILL MAKE THEM PUT THEIR EXCREMENT INTO THE SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE RECEPTACLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! They don't. They're diapers that don't have the tabs and kids know it. Oh and they're twice as expensive. KTHXBYEEEEEEEEE
"Don't make your cute underwear dirty"- remember that statement about you needing a genuine disinterest in having nice things? Your kids already have it mastered and solidified. Telling them not to wiz on their favorite character portrayed on their underwear has had zero success in this household.
The naked method- this method has had some success with both stubborn cases when paired with a YouTube video of Elmo on the potty. The thing about our house is, YouTube is reserved for only the most precious of meltdowns like the doctor's office for blood work. The girls don't really watch much TV and the phone is absolutely off limits. It may sound a tad different from many modern toddlers, but hear me out. Seeing Elmo on YouTube for 2 minutes and 23 seconds is like Christmas morning to these kids. So back to how this has related to moderate success. I do work from home and decided recently to pull my oldest out of daycare to join the younger and I. I did this for various reasons and can say that her behavior has improved. We were never able to really do the 'naked method' because well she couldn't do it at school (rightfully so) and she wasn't getting a consistent method. I tried the underwear method for a week and again, genuine disregard for nice things. It might as well have been a diaper with all the fun of laundry so my last resort was the naked method. The thing I think resonated most with the girls is that they couldn't control where everything went. They were desperate to regain that control and the potty with a fun Elmo song gave them that control. Now please take my definition of moderate success lightly. I'd say there is one successful potty attempt for every 2-3 accidents. But the progress and general peace while being on the potty is a success in and of itself in our house. For those who want my plan, here it is and Godspeed.
The Naked method
Acquire a carpet shampooer if any part of your home where toddlers roam has carpet. I have the Hoover Smartwash and can definitely say I love this object. It was given to me new and in perfect timing for potty training. I'm cheap so the Facebook Marketplace, Let go, Craigslist, and Offer up are where I go for most of my discounted but fancy purchases.
Bleach diluted in water in spray bottles placed strategically throughout your home work wonders for getting rid of the smells quickly enough so you can clean in a gag free environment. Several cans of disinfectant make me feel sanitary as well.
Stickers and rewards from the dollar store/discount section. Some parents swear that this alone got their kids potty trained. If that is you, congratulations but my kids needed a regime-like environment and Disney stickers.
Potty paraphernalia like seat adjusters, toddler sized potties, and step stools. Because I have two kids doing this at once, I have all of the above. I would also like to add keeping a mini potty in rooms far apart or multi-level homes is also helpful in sanity maintenance.
Quite possibly the saddest part of this prep work is requesting vacation or PTO time to be at home long enough to make this effective. #cabinfever #yayvacation
The method itself is straightforward. Naked or at least from the waist down. I have a couple of divas that must have their hair done and a shirt.
Every hour put them on the potty and let them stay their for 5 minutes. This is where Elmo saved my skin by distracting them for 50% of the time. Rewards are given to those who complete the task at hand.
Keep a journal/notes of their daily events. Nothing has been quite as fun as writing down when my kid wakes up, craps on the floor, and eats 3 bites of cereal, but it did help me get a general pattern of behaviors. I learned quickly my youngest would get so excited by lunch she couldn't hold it and had to go about 5-10 minutes after finishing her drink.
And repeat. Keep at it and I only put them in a diaper when it was time for a nap and bed time. I'm so sorry you're reading this right now and know that I'm crying with you imagining my kid filling out college applications while peeing on the kitchen floor. I hear it gets better.
Consistency helped get my kids from toilet-phobia to a moderate admiration of sitting on the potty. Keeping my oldest at home was honestly the biggest and best help in getting her toilet trained. I know this is hard to replicate in all situations, but asking their daycare provider what they do, how they do it, the verbiage that they use, and even the supplies and design of what they use all help with maintaining a consistent, please crap in the right place message.
It's normal to scream and cry the first time they go to the toilet on their own and drop a dookie. Completely normal. You may feel compelled to take a picture and share with your family. That feeling is normal but the action is slightly frowned upon in some circles.
This too shall pass- just as their gas passes. Message me and your mom friends if you gotta vent because we're all in this together. When these kids are getting their 8th PhD from Yale, know it's all because you taught them how to wipe.