We are in the midst of potty training Twinkle. And like all things related to parenting, there are countless opinions on the subject. To which I reply, I cannot even. Just let us each do what is right and makes sense for our children and family. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, what makes sense for each family will vary and is not an immediate indication that anyone else is doing it wrong.

But there is one thing perhaps many of us can agree on. The need for a survival kit. Because OH. MY. GOD. And true as toast, may I never have to do this again.

Patience in potty training is a virtue. And I am not very virtuous. But, alas, I have learned to fake patience for the sake of the girls. Here’s how I pull off this incredibly huge lie.

Stock up on rewards. FOR YOURSELF. Seriously. Potty training is just as much a learning curve for the parents as it is for the children. Okay, maybe not exactly equal, but pretty close. I mean, do you stop and try again in a few weeks? A few months? When they are 25 and presumably out of the house? Is Junior Pipsqueak really ready? Were those signs of readiness really readiness or were they misconstrued because you were getting tired of buying diapers? Passing notes in junior high about who likes whom and asking someone out on a date in high school were easier to navigate than understanding if your child is ready to potty train. So many mixed signals to decode. You know this to be true. So stock up on rewards for yourself. Alcohol is clearly a frontrunner, unless alcohol is not a good choice for you. No, I get it. I really do, in which case, maybe something else. Snickers. Sex? Sports? Pick a guilty pleasure and then go with it.

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You were dying to see my mad photography skills again, too, weren’t you? Every time I take a shot, a photographer loses her wings. Perhaps I’ll celebrate Twinkle’s eventual potty-training success by signing myself up for a photography class. Okay, but these are steadily getting better. Or rather, it’s just hit and miss. Remember this one when I tried to photograph orange food? Okay, kids, we are never eating orange again. Ever. We are only just going to eat strawberries.

Also, yes, the Lime-A-Rita is gone. Based on our new diet, no one in our house is technically supposed to drink it. That and 50% of us are under the age of 21. I, however, can technically get away with it. Mother is just another word for martyr, so I took one for the team and finished off the last one. Life is just full of tough decisions. We will rebuild.

Say good-bye to your carpet. Now, if you are a family that gets away with calm potty training in which Junior Pipsqueak goes straight from diapers to pull-ups to underwear, all without an accident, then, well, good for you. I am genuinely happy for you and your carpet. Our children have never quite potty trained that way. There may have been a time Dad was with me while I was potty training Toodle. And it’s possible she had an accident in the dive diner, so I hauled her out to the car while Dad cleaned up the mess, paid the tab, and left a VERY BIG tip. There was also this time, again with Dad, in which Toodle peed right in the middle of a clothing store. So that was good. Suffice it to say, we keep towels, spot cleaner (this is the recipe we use), and a 700-count box of wipes nearby. Also in our car, my purse, and K-Hubs’ fanny pack. Okay, fine, not the fanny pack. But he does still carry one around. Nope, he has just informed that he no longer carries it around. It is stuffed in a drawer somewhere in the basement.

Wipes towels and Cleaner

Wear nothing of value (fanny packs included). The second time around for us has been a little cleaner than the first time. When we started potty-training Toodle, I had no idea just how much I would be peed on. It was nothing in comparison to the newborn weeks when I was getting used to diapers and changing them every 20 minutes, because, yes, I swear that is how often we changed diapers. K-Hubs and I also walked uphill to school both ways. Bottom line? The amount of laundry was overwhelming, and 2/3 of it was ours.

Grant some grace. For yourself and your child. At least when we potty train, it is always a little hit and miss in the beginning. And I am horrible about granting grace. I am so goal-oriented in life, I forget sometimes to sit back and relax, even if, and especially when, I am covered in pee and God only knows what else. A friend who potty trained her children quickly, and while they were young, said that as soon as you are ready to throw in the towel is about the time they’ll turn a corner and everything will click. I typically feel like the afore-photographed spray bottle of carpet cleaner, a little dejected and out of steam. But I will say as far as Toodle was concerned, my friend was absolutely right, and I believe the same will be said for Twinkle. But, holy cow, each child is different, you absolutely know best, and, yes, it’s a total marathon.

Take breaks. This is a must. You have to walk away from it. Let your spouse or significant other take over. And if you are a single parent like Mom was, consider asking a friend or neighbor to come over. One who will willingly follow your lead on how to potty train your child. One who will support what works best for your family. And if none of those is an option, then sneak outside. I, for one, am partial to hiding in the closet.

And how do you measure success? Well, clearly if your child is going to the bathroom ON the potty, it’s a clear sign of success. I also define potty-training success as not throwing the plastic potty out the front door into the yard. So there is that. Go with the one that makes you feel best.

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