Welp, here we are again, friends. It’s potty training season in my house.
I’ve potty trained two of my three kids, and now it’s time for the last child to shed his diapers and use the toilet like the rest of us! This is another exciting yet dreaded milestone.
Exciting because ditching those diapers is like the ticket to freedom! This is definitely where we level up as parents. There will be no more hauling diaper bags everywhere I go. Additionally, not having to spend $50 on diapers each month is HUGE! And dreaded because, well, potty training can be a P-R-O-C-E-S-S.
Let me break it down for you.
1. Get your head in the game.
Mentally prepare yourself. You are a mom ready to go into battle against an overly adorable yet highly irrational tiny version of yourself with a very strong will and their own agenda. I’m being slightly dramatic, but realistically being mentally ready always helps tackle a challenge and optimizes success.
2. Set a date.
Pick a date that works for you and your family. Maybe you’ll plan to do this on a staycation so that your partner is home to help. Avoid lumping this in with other transitions like moving into a toddler bed, starting preschool, or bringing home a new sibling.
3. Get rid of the diapers. Adios! Auf Wiedersehen! Au Revoir! Namaste!
Toss those bad boys goodbye. Or better yet, find a place or another family to donate them to. I’ve found that if you still have the diapers in the home, you are more likely to go back to them easily. Ditch the diaper, and there will be no going back.
4. Purchase some cute underpants with their favorite character.
Plus, it makes for a good laugh when your two-and-a-half-year-old starts yelling out for his “WOODY UN-DE-PANDS!” My littlest guy LOVES to wear his underwear like his big brothers. He’s been wearing underwear for months, even though he has not used the toilet. It’s all about getting them comfortable and invested in the process.
5. Incentives and positive reinforcement.
They are commonly referred to as bribery. (Let’s call a spade a spade). Whatever you call it, I’d like you to think about what motivates your child and work with that. Some great ideas include little cars from the supermarket, stickers, small toys from Oriental Trading, screen time, M&Ms, or Dum Dums.
6. Get the big kids involved too.
Let them high-five, cheer on, and dance for your toddler when they go to the bathroom.
7. Start slow or go all in.
Some kids are ready the first day you ditch the diapers. For other children, it may mean trying to go to the bathroom every night before bedtime. They probably won’t go the first time you try. They may not even go the 50th time you try. But you are getting them familiar with the process.
8. Model desired behavior and find a dialogue that works for your family.
Some examples are no more diapers today. Today we are wearing underwear. When you have to pee, say “bathroom,” and I will take you. Or you can coach them to take a deep breath in. Take a deep breath out. Now do a gentle fart and let your pee come out. (This one works well in the morning if they wake up dry with a full bladder.) And if nothing happens, you can say, “You tried so hard, but nothing came out. We will try again next time.”
9. Phone a friend and do your research.
Talk to other parents about their experiences, scour the internet for articles like this, or invest in the OH Crap! Potty Training guide for all things potty related, including knowing if your child is ready, power struggles, dilemmas, tackling regressions, nighttime training, etc.
Now that you have the basics, you are ready to go. Well, hopefully, your child will be ready to go too. Pun intended.