**Warning – this is a very long post**
It’s been one month since we started our potty training endeavor and I’m proud to say that Joey is on the road to success with only one accident in the last 2 weeks that was actually my fault. He told me several times while eating lunch he had to pee but I asked him to hold it until we were finished…the walk to the bathroom after he finished proved he was telling me he did really need to go – it was just a little squirt but I felt so bad. He told me and I didn’t listen and I apologized to him. Bad mommy. But he’s not wearing pull ups for naps, just bed time. Once he can go 2 full weeks of waking up dry I will stop pull ups at night. He’s had a few days in a row completely dry but then every once in a while a little bit…but he’s still very young and sleeps a very long time at night. I’m not concerned.
We decided to do the potty training boot camp and just jump in cold turkey. They say all you need is 3 days, but I was skeptical about that so I took a week off of work to get this done. The real test would be the following weekend as we had several events planned, including my MBA graduation ceremony. The article is very detailed and every child is different so you sort of have to tailor it to his or her needs.
On Friday, May 19th Joey said bye bye to his diaper pail, his changing pad, and the rest of his diapers. For a few weeks I told him that we would be saying bye bye to them soon and start using the potty only so he knew what to expect. I didn’t lie to Joey and say the diaper fairy took them away, I don’t throw him into situations without warning so he knows what is happening and why, I don’t pretend I don’t know what happened when he asks where something went or why it is happening mainly because I put myself in his shoes and think if someone did that to me I would be an anxious mess. I explained that if he tried hard and did well that we would have a week full of treats and presents for his efforts and success with the ultimate prize being a big boy bed! I hid all his diapering paraphernalia in a closet just in case and the following morning his last diaper was taken off, he sat on the potty, and was naked from the waist down from there on out while in the house.
Let me tell you, day 1 did NOT start out well. In a matter of a few hours I was peed on 6 times. SIX. The poop was a struggle. My hopes were torn to pieces and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I thought over and over that I rushed into this too quick, he’s too young, I took a week off and it will be a failure. Boy was I wrong…after his nap on day 1 he was like a new person. Turns out Joey wasn’t getting allllll of his pee out. Just little squirts. So when he’d play and jump or laugh or sneeze another squirt would come out. I don’t know if it’s because he was being stubborn or if he was nervous or just trying to rebel against the potty but the first few hours he did not fully void his bladder. And he did NOT like when he had an accident. “WIPE IT MOMMY!!!” is what he cried and he would help me clean up. I explained to him over and over that it takes less time to sit on the potty and pee than it does to clean up an accident so we need to try harder to make it to the potty. I can’t tell you how many times he helped me clean up that morning and I was just exhausted and ready to throw in the towel on day 1. He pooped on the potty but it was like pulling teeth and I had to wait until he made his patented poop face to get him to go on the potty. I was a wreck, he was upset, confused, nervous, anxious…I can’t even imagine what he was going through being thrown into something completely different than he was used to. I don’t know what happened during his nap but once he woke up it just clicked and it was a week full of success after success. Friday we will be putting his big boy bed together as his ultimate reward. He totally deserves it.
Now…you can stop here since I provided the link to what we used to train, or you can check out some of our work and adventures. This is going to be a long post so here’s where we get into the details of our week of training and how we’ve been continually doing AMAZING ever since. There’s a few snags we faced and overcame along the way that may be of interest so if you have the time, please continue reading…
Our Potty Training Experience:
Joey has a potty training video he has been watching consistently for probably about 8 or 9 months (Potty Time). I bought it early knowing he loved Rachel Coleman and the whole signing time series so this would likely be beneficial since he has a big interest in her and sign language. I think the key here is finding something/someone they like and starting the videos and books early so they know how things work and what you are supposed to do. Toddlers are sponges so they will be telling you what needs to be done once it sinks in.
Several weeks before starting I told Joey every day that we would begin potty training soon and did a countdown. He knew what to expect and when. When the day got closer I would ask him “So what are we going to do starting Saturday?” and he’d repeat “Only pee pee and poopy in the potty.” Another key to our success was preparation and not leading him in blindly. He knew what to expect and when so he was not as nervous or as anxious about just being thrown in cold turkey.
The night before we began we gathered all his diapering materials (changing pad, excess diapers, and diaper pail) and said good bye to them. The best advice I was given was from my sister-in-law and she told me once you start you need to stop changing them on the changing pad. These are all things associated with diapers so to set up for success they do need to be removed. And it sucks, because it was a bonding experience with us as well but it is for the best possible chance of success.
While Joey slept that night I started breaking out all the treats and prizes that he could potentially earn with his potty charts, successful poops on the potty (that was our biggest hurdle!), and big achievements. They were set up and displayed where we spend most of our time so he has the goals in sight (and he’d often check it out to figure out what item he wants to try and earn next). I also set out all his new big boy underpants (and night time underpants) for him to see. The next morning his diaper was taken off for the last time and we sat right on the potty to start the first day of training. His new routine. This is where it gets interesting…
I think seeing what he can earn helped him try harder to get it. He understood that none of the prizes were available to him until he met certain milestones that were set. Some people use sticker charts, some people use fancy personalized potty training kits on etsy, all you really need is to give them a goal and a way to track it and it’s all good. I literally printed out a template I found on google the night before and gave Joey a crayon so he could color in the circles every time he was successful. If there was an accident he would help me clean it up, we’d finish on the potty, but no circle to fill in.
Here’s how our days went:
The day started rough, Joey refused to pee on the potty when he woke up at 6:30am. The rebelling started even with the preparation. I think he wants to control the situation and go back to his normal routines but I’ve got to remind him that mommy is in charge and this is something we need to work on together. We had our milk, still no pee on potty, and while sitting on mommy’s lap he lets out the pee he refused to do in the potty that morning. We were both soaked and he was upset. Being upset is a good thing, it means he didn’t like the way it felt and will try not to do it again. There were lots of small accidents between 6:30 and 9:30 – once he felt the splash come out he would stop and go on the potty. This is where I think he started to process what was going on and try to figure out how to control the “squirts”. At 9:30 I ask him to keep pushing it all out since he was going constantly and just little bits at a time. I’ve never seen so much pee come out of him before. This is when I realized he has only been peeing a little bit at a time and not emptying his bladder. This was the start of less accidents but still had one more before nap time. I wasn’t this optimistic during the morning of day 1, but reflecting on it now all the signs pointed us in the right direction based on how Joey reacted to and handled the situations. After lunch I threw a pull up on him for nap time (since we were only working on half hour intervals at that point and I didn’t want to upset him too much with a nap accident) and we started fresh when he woke up. Let me tell you…after he woke up and let out all his pee in the potty he was like a new child. He actually held it in the full half hour or told me if he couldn’t make it and he only pee peed on the potty for the rest of the day.
Our biggest hurdle was poops. While he had been familiarizing himself with the potty for many many months so he wouldn’t be scared of it when the time came, he never attempted a poop in it. I was scared going into the week since he refused to even try previously. The week before, however, we caught him in time and sat him down and he did it. I saw he was starting to make his infamous poop face and stripped him and put him on the potty. It was a bit of whining but he did it and we all cheered and danced and he got a piece of “minty chocolate” as a prize. This was a huge relief going into potty training week…we had popped his poop cherry on the potty and it helped get through this week. Day 1 he had a successful poop on the potty and got both a “minty chocolate” (mini peppermint patty – his poop treat) and a prize for hitting his first big milestone of pooping on the potty.
Seriously…Day 1 was the only bad day. On Day 2 we still had the potty timer going every half hour and he went successfully each time. Even asked for a few pees in between because I was keeping him very hydrated so he could feel it. There was only one accident on this day and it wasn’t due to pee…he sat down on the potty and pooped but got so excited he did it that he stood up and the rest fell out. He literally finished his poop like a horse. And it was not very solid. There’s something about diapers that make poop less gross…but when it is on the floor it is so bad. Thank God we have hardwood floors! We were even able to get out of the house for a little bit and go to Uncle Jeff’s house with our potty in tow. Joey played very hard outside with the kids and went on the potty 3 times while we were there without so much as a fuss. No accidents. I was so proud.
I started getting a little ballsy. I knew that next week he’d be returning to school so he needed to be able to hold it longer. I also knew that I did not want to be bringing pull ups to school…he’d be doing the same thing we were except with clothes on. I increased the time and let him feel what it felt like to have an accident in bed. Yes I did it on purpose. Yes I am horrible for making him cry and get upset. But you know what, it never happened again. Sometimes you have to let them fail so they know how to correct the situation and figure out how to be successful. Babying them will not help them figure things out for themselves. So I let him drink up his water, he peed before his nap, but woke up 2 hours later and had an accident. I softly explained to him that he should try to hold it in his belly until mommy could get to him and he can pee on the potty. He helped me clean it all up and he said he would try hard not to do it again because he didn’t like how it felt. But seriously, he had no more nap time accidents at home.
During this stretch we were playing outside and I had asked him if he was ready to go in for a quick potty break but he said no. I knew he would eventually have to figure out how to deal when he’s playing and doesn’t want to stop to go so I didn’t force the issue. I’d much rather him figure it out in our own yard than at someone’s house or at a park with a total meltdown. He did it one time…that’s all it took. I let it drip down his leg and he was upset. Sometimes you just have to let them lead, fail, and help guide them to figure out how to do better.
We were coming close to the end of the week and I needed to get a hold of daycare to set ourselves up for success, especially since the director would be going on vacation the following week. We went over schedules, what I can do at home to help the transition, what they can do to make him more comfortable. Seriously, meet with your school – a good director will work with you but also lay down the ground rules (No potty insert at school…only the toilet. Scary, yes, but you know how much that helped us when we are out in public and don’t have our insert with us??) Both the director and I knew that the first week would be rough…he’s been home with me all week and changing the routine would likely disturb him…but we made a plan and she passed along the needed info to his teachers. I think we were both nervous but hopeful.
Thursday (Day 6) I knew I had to prep Joey for the upcoming weekend. We had a few things planned…My graduation was on Saturday, we had a birthday party on Sunday for his friend Nixon, and Monday was Memorial Day. Our last day together before he returned to school. We did a few walks on Thursday and Friday to get him out. Played outside in the yard. Unfortunately he had caught a cold and we couldn’t really go visit anyone because there was a chance it could have been pneumonia since there was a reported case at school along with other respiratory infections. I was actually afraid he wouldn’t make it to my graduation if he was still under the weather…my mother was ready to watch him if that was the case. I really wanted him to be there since he was my reason for working so hard and finishing.
Saturday morning he woke up feeling great so we got ready, packed up some snacks, pull ups just in case since it was a big LONG day, and picked up my mother. Can I tell you that Joey had not one single accident? NOT ONE. That made my graduation day so much better because not only was I able to accept my prize from all my hard work, but I also was able to hold my biggest gift of all and be so proud of how hard HE worked. It was perfect.
Sunday was his friend’s 2nd birthday party and he was also accident free the entire time. We’d remind him every 20 or so minutes to let us know when it was potty time but made sure he was going every hour or so.
Monday was also accident free and we went to see a parade.
The week of potty training ended on a high note. The following 2 weeks would be the real test on how successful this week of training was for him.
Back to school!
I knew and already prepared myself for a not so good first week back at school. I packed so many extra clothes you’d think I was crazy. I wasn’t. And it went as I expected…he needed to adjust to a new schedule. I messaged his teacher the first few days to check up on him and for being so new and adjusting to school he did really well. His biggest issue was poops (duh!) and holding his bird down while he peed. He had a few little pee accidents when he couldn’t hold it in line to go to the bathroom and a lot of peeing over the toilet because he didn’t hold it down. He also had, and needed to have, a nap time accident to learn from…never happened again. All things we would work on during the week/upcoming weekend to have a better next week.
The poop was the big issue…he had only ever gone at home on the potty. We needed to pop his “not at home” pooping on the potty cherry. Prior to this we were sending him to school without underwear because in the boot camp it says not to use it because it gives the false sense of wearing a diaper, which makes sense. But we had to quickly end this when we had a literal shit storm of accidents. The poo literally fell out of his shorts and created a mess at school. I was totally embarrassed. It was a Friday. I wasn’t going to let that happen again so we slapped on underpants and he only got confused one time with one tiny tiny dot of an accident and was perfect ever since. It did not confuse him at all once he felt it. I finally got him to poop that weekend at my mother’s house and from then on out he only pooped on the potty at school. He just needed to do it one time somewhere else. Now he can poop anywhere. We worked on holding the bird down the entire weekend and were happy to hear the excitement in his teachers voices when they said he did it at school too! The next week he was accident free and as I recall he hasn’t had any more accidents since the ‘shit storm.’
I’d say the boot camp was a complete success. I can’t say it can be done in 3 days or less, I think small achievable goals and baby steps are important to guide and grow confidence and establish a new routine. I also think going cold turkey and being fully involved in failures and successes help achieve quicker and more successful results without causing too much anxiety. It also helps to have people who are ready and willing to help with your child’s success as your support group.
Joe and I were actually able to go away for a night to attend a wedding and Joey was accident free with Grandma the entire time. She learned he loves to narrate his poops…PLUNK! and that he’s hilarious with telling her everything that needs to happen. His personality really started coming out during this time and he’s becoming so funny and vocal. It’s amazing what a little change and stepping out of your comfort zone can do to positively impact your child.
What I will warn you is that following this method there is a LOT of nakedness. A LOT. And it gets a little weird. There’s a lot of “exploration” and touching of things you don’t want them to touch. And you need to buy all the Lysol because naked hineys rubs all over EVERYTHING. And you can’t take lots of pictures because there’s just so much genitalia…but it’s only a week. And it has been fun and crazy ever since. I’m so proud of all that he’s been able to accomplish and I hope that my experience with the boot camp method can help others get a little more confident to just stop and say “Let’s do this!” and rock the whole potty training experience.
I have heard there is some regression, most children experience it at some point and not to get upset or nervous about it. It just happens. We may see it or we may not, but we will cross that bridge when we get there and hopefully we never have to. I am a firm believer in consistency, listening to your child, and keeping them involved. These things are huge when it comes to success. You can’t just do this for a week and think, ok it’s on them now since they are so good at it now. This is an on-going process for the whole family for several months…set your child up for success and better confidence by continuing to work with them and being consistent.
Good luck ❤
If you have any questions or comments on anything specific or how we handled certain situations please feel free to leave a comment!