I have a list of blog posts I plan to write one day. When ideas pop in my head, I try to write them down. Sometimes I brainstorm blogs to write for the month. Either way, there’s a blog post that has been on my list forever. It was titled “How I potty trained my kid”. In some versions of the proposed title, I combined it with my interest in early childhood development, “How I potty trained my kid, and helped her learn to read” or “Additional skills learned while potty training”. Other times, I thought I could help other moms with titles like “I potty trained my kid and you can too” or “The no-stress way I potty trained my kid”. But the reality is, I hate potty training and it’s awful.
Every kid is different. I say this as a reminder to me and to you. The kid who is an amazing sleeper might refuse to eat anything other than mac and cheese or breadsticks. A great eater might decide not to walk until 18 months. The fabulous running, walking, talking kid might take forever to potty train. In the end, they all get there, but your life as a parent will vary quite a bit depending on which elements end up being a hurdle for your kid.
I never imagined that potty training would be difficult. I figured Harley would understand what needed to be done, hit a certain age, and it would be like magic. Maybe she’d watch a key video. Maybe there’d be a song to go with it. As part of my planning for those oh so optimistic blog posts, I made flashcards that we’d do in the bathroom to make her time sitting on the potty more useful. Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans?
Harley’s school is great with potty training. From the time they enter the 2s, they start getting them to sit on the potty. Harley screamed, cried and refused. I told them to relax and not to push it. Then and now, I’m adamant that potty training shouldn’t be traumatic. C’mon, I’m an armchair psychologist who knows what Freud would say. So they took it slow and eventually Harley got into it. We got her a potty seat and stool at home to make it easier for her, but continued to let her go at her own pace, peeing in the potty when she wanted to and otherwise just keeping her in diapers/nappies.
But the school has a rule that the kids can’t go into the 3s, aka “real” preschool, unless they’re potty trained. Most preschools only accept potty trained kids, so this seems fairly standard or normal. I wasn’t too worried about it until all of a sudden Harley was close to turning 3, when I started to encourage it even more. She has since turned 3, and she’s still in the 2s because of the potty training thing. It’s not the end of the world, but the fact is that she’s super smart and probably not getting challenged nearly enough, even with her awesome teacher trying to keep classes interesting while also sending her off to go potty every hour.
I feel like I’ve tried everything. We did the sticker thing. We did and still sometimes do flashcards to keep things interesting. We offered candy or treats. She has big girl panties that she adores… but doesn’t really care about making them wet or dirty. After a few days of staying dry at school, the teacher figured we could send her in wearing those big girl panties. My heart sinks every time I see the “accident” report on the app the school uses. At least they do the cleanup, but my poor little monkey.
Then again, it doesn’t seem that she gets too upset, which might be the problem. Yeah, she’s sad or whatnot for a bit when she has an accident, but she bounces back quickly. I’m glad to see she’s so resilient, but without caring enough, it seems that she doesn’t REALLY mind and probably doesn’t feel that much incentive to get potty trained. She’s even told me “I don’t want to get on the potty train, I just want you to change me.”
It’s hilarious… and frustrating.
So, I’m trying to take a fairly relaxed approach to it all. I don’t want to push her to get out of nappies/diapers if she’s not ready. But I also want her to be challenged at school, to continue developing. It feels so close and yet so far.
Can I also say that I’m dreading the weekend? At school, they do all the cleanup and potty runs, with their bathroom that’s perfectly sized for her. When she comes home in the evening, I set an hourly timer to take her to the bathroom, do flashcards with her or get sent away – she likes to tell me “Go away mommy, I need privacy”. But on the weekend? Do we put her back in diapers/nappies and wait to try it all again? Or will we be stranded at home, cleaning up accidents and spending way too much time in the bathroom? I know this is much touted online as the “potty train your kid in 3 days” method, but it doesn’t sound like the kind of life I want to live.
I have to remind myself that this is a season in life. Eventually, she will be potty trained and this will fade into distant memory. You know, like my memories of breastfeeding, doing tummy time, or any number of other baby care activities that filled the hours of my day. This isn’t forever. But damn, it sucks right now.
Please feel free to share any potty training tips you might have. I’ve tried so many different things, but more ideas are always welcome.
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