It’s so hard for me to believe that three weeks ago my daughter had her last day in diapers. It is even harder to believe that in these past three weeks, she’s only had five- that’s right, only FIVE accidents TOTAL. The reaction most moms give me – Say What? How did you do it?
All of the credit goes to the book, Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything modern parents need to know to do it once and do it right by Jamie Glowacki. It will be the best $10-$15 you have ever spent on a parenting book – seriously.
Here’s my story of potty training in three days, broken into phases:
Phase 1: Prepare
I believe before beginning any training routine, you should make a plan and create an environment that supports that plan. Glowacki recommends this method for children 20-30 months old. My daughter was 26 months.
The first few days are spent naked (only the toddler being naked is required…) and at home. Honestly, this was the hardest part for me. Though my title is “stay at home mom”, less than 5% of our days are spent exclusively at home. This required me to look at our family calendar and schedule three days that were committed to staying home and potty training. I picked a Friday, Saturday, Sunday because I knew that I would need to enlist my husband to tag-in so I could get to yoga…or a bar… or something other than focusing on a two-year-old defecating.
A few weeks before the ‘scheduled start day’, I put away the potty-training poster and all of the potty training chairs that we had already begun confusing our child with. What I learned from Glowacki- we don’t have children practice or get rewards for using a high chair or a car seat, so we don’t (and shouldn’t) with a potty chair and potty training.
I also started shifting my language and word choice to support our potty training. I no longer said “come here baby” or used any word-choice that alluded to my daughter being a baby. Truth- I cried… A LOT when I realized this truth… my daughter is no longer a baby… A deeper truth- my husband and I both have infertility and our daughter was conceived with a risky IVF procedure that miraculously led to her – so she is more than likely going to be an only child and the only baby that I will ever have. So for me, most ‘milestones’ are filled with an exemplified amount of mama-emotion.
Phase 2: P-Day
P-Day was the first day we started. My daughter was naked from the waist down all day. We stayed on the main floor which is only tile and hardwood (easy for cleaning up accidents). The craziest thing – I turned off my phone and just focused on playing with my little girl. Not only was this the craziest thing, it was the most rewarding. I literally followed my toddler around all day and played whatever she wanted to play (while staring at her downstairs area waiting for pee or poop to begin the teaching) and I had so much fun appreciating her and learning about her.
As Glowacki puts it – potty training is the first real opportunity to teach your child something. You are not teaching them how to go to the bathroom (this is an innate talent we are all born with), you are teaching them WHERE to go to the bathroom (this is the societal norm that does need to be taught).
So why naked? I learned that diapers, pull-ups and underwear all feel like the same thing to a child – a diaper. So being naked helps them recognized when they are peeing. Once they pee and you calmly and confidently get them to the potty chair – you begin the process of teaching the child to recognize that they are peeing and eventually that they recognize when they have to go. This process is tedious and exhausting. The author recommends drinking to support the process – I will up that and advocate for day-drinking in this scenario.
Phase 3: Getting Dressed
We started with a dress, but then progressed to loose-fitting pants – regardless of apparel, COMMANDO (no underwear) is the directive from Glowacki – and we followed it (and are still following it except for 6 hours per week when underwear is required at preschool… remember we are only on day 21). During this phase we still stayed at or around the house, but we did venture outside and even down the block to gain confidence. There was a ton of prompting throughout both of these phases, and now, and it will continue… because when we are learning- we need scaffolded support and reinforcement.
Phase 4: Going Public
We left the house to run errands on the fourth day and have not stayed home a day since! The first few trips I made short and to places where I was confident in the proximity and cleanliness of the toileting facilities… but where we are at now, on day 21… we are EVERYWHERE. And let me verify that my daughter has both peed and pooped in almost every public toilet that she has encountered in this time.
Phase 5: Our New Normal
This is where we are now- this is our normal after only 21 days. I rarely ask if there’s a NEED to go to the potty – I just frequently say, “Come- it’s time to use the potty” or “We can do that, after we use the potty”. I no longer carry a big diaper bag, I now have a big purse with an extra change of clothes and post-its (for covering the automatic flush on public toilets) in it. I frequently talk to my daughter about how proud I am of her, and how she is such a strong, independent, persistent little girl who always can ask for baby snuggles.
She is still wearing a diaper for naps (I plan for that to be the next phase in a few weeks) and night, but like I stated in the beginning – she has had only 5 accidents the entire time – I know some adults with a worse track record. I won’t bore you with all the details – but all five accidents were preventable with prompting (be careful of exciting activities and family/friends who don’t ‘hear’ a toddler’s request to use the potty).
The ultimate assessment of success – we are taking a road trip as a family next week…. Send me crappy vibes (that was meant to be punny).
Throughout all of this my biggest insight is this – the parent who is primarily in charge of potty training needs to have the right mindset and get everyone else in the household on board. With the right mindset, determination, and support (in this case Jamie Glowacki’s Oh Crap!), truly anything is possible…. Including potty training in three days.