Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Motherhood: Potty Training


One thing I have learned in the last 3 years is that parenting looks different for every family. Every kid is different and every parent has a different way of doing things. It's like snowflakes – no child-parent experience looks like another child-parent experience (even within families with multiple kids I would venture).

When I was pregnant with Jack I read several books about parenting, but since his birth I have tended to rely on watching people who are a few years ahead of me in the parenting game, as well as trusting my own instincts. (Obviously Daniel is a part of this parenting process, but for the purpose of this blog post I will be writing from the first-person perspective.)

So how does this play into potty training? One of the main tips I read around the time we were wrapping up potty training was that being that before you start, the child should be ready. I agree with this 100%, but as I have mulled it over I think there is another component that is not addressed... I think the parent who is doing the main part of the potty training (in this case, me) needs to be ready as well. If you aren't ready to deal with the commitment to the potty training, I think it's ok to wait.

We didn't start Jack until he was 2.5 because, to be honest, I hadn't been ready. I dreaded the potential mess and having to constantly be on guard. So I put it off. In May I thought Jack might have a UTI so I took him to the doctor. They wanted him to pee in a cup. I was like, "No way. He isn't potty trained. It isn't going to happen." They asked me to try anyways and what do you know, my little guy peed in a cup. Twice.

I went home thinking it was time to start potty training. I waited a couple of weeks because I had just had a miscarriage and wasn't ready to deal with any extra work, but Memorial Day Weekend I knew Daniel would be home to help so we bit the bullet. I let the childcare at the Y know that the following week Jack would be in underwear. They kind of rolled their eyes and me and asked if I had tried potty training yet. I told them "no" but was confidant that the weekend would be enough.

We did one day in pull-ups, but treated Jack like he was wearing underwear. We excitedly told him he was a big boy and was going to pee in the potty like he did at the doctor's office. He was on board, saying "I pee in a cup?" and running to the bathroom any time he had to go. After that day, we went straight to underwear with pull-ups reserved for sleeping. The experience was exciting and he just seemed to get it. He liked to give us a thumbs up when he went or sing verses to us from Daniel Tiger's song about going potty.

Fast forward to the last several weeks... Jack appeared to become bored with the whole potty thing and regressed to having accidents at home. He almost NEVER had accidents when we are out and about. Not at church, not at the Y, not in the car. But at home has been another story. 

Initially this was really hard on me. For the first 2 months, I felt like I had gotten an unexpected pass and now it felt like we were starting over and that I had somehow failed. After talking to other parents and doing some research I came to the conclusion that when we started the process it was new and exciting but the excitement had passed and now Jack was bored. I also discovered that this type of regression is not uncommon. Plus, kids get busy playing and can be too distracted to stop what they are doing.

I spent about two weeks setting a timer for every 40 minutes when we were home. This is where the commitment on my part came in. I had to stop what I was doing and guide Jack to the potty EVERY time my timer went off. He was not a fan of this process, so I would remind him that we could stop doing the timer when he could remember to go on his own. I also gave a marshmallow for dry pants (though not when we are away from the house). He finally seemed to reach a turning point and started running to the potty on his own (again) and wanted to pee standing up like daddy (new things make everything exciting). We are no longer setting a timer. He still has the occasional accident but I think that is somewhat normal.

Anyways, like I said above, kids are all different. I have friends who potty trained at 4 months, 18 months, 2 years, 3 years, and everywhere in between. The kids always figure it out eventually. Sometimes it's easy. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes they regress. Sometimes they don't. It's just a part of the process. I still feel like I got a bit of a pass with Jack. The cleaning up accidents phase is annoying, but it is still a million times better than changing diapers!

Also, I am very thankful for the childcare workers at the Y and at church who have really worked with Jack. They ask him when he needs to go and always take him, contributing greatly to this process. Every potty training experience is different. This was ours. Kid and mom were both ready to potty train and we have had fairly smooth sailing.

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