Potty training for dummies

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I feel like everywhere I turn, I keep hearing about/seeing/schmoozing with toddlers WAAAY younger than my own 2-and-4-months-year-old who are potty trained β€” as Leo would say β€” “ALREADY!” (He loves adverbs. He doesn’t always use them correctly).

I know girls often potty train a lot faster than boys, or at least this is what I tell myself in the witching hours of the night when I wake up wondering if my kiddo will wear diapers forever (the Honest Company patterns are so cute, I wouldn’t blame him). But in all seriousness: I had not been sweating Leo’s lack of potty-dom because I’d been going off the advice of some friends with older children, which was that if you train too early, you might regret it AND it will take longer. But if you wait until they’re old enough, it can happen quickly and painlessly (hold back the laughter please, thanks). Anyway, I figured we’d get to potty training when Leo was about two-and-a-half. Until last weekend, when TWO (seriously: two) different parents* of two different toddlers scared us shitless by telling us that there is a window for potty training, and that window shuts at 28 months. And guess what. My child is 28 months old… today.

I got super curious as to what actually happens after that window closes and another one does not open even though the Mother Abbess said one would. Does your child just decide that diapers are the new black and vow to never pee or poop in a toilet EVER UNTIL COLLEGE? Does he/she give you the toddler version of the middle finger? Does a two-years-and-five-months-year-old realize that diapers areΒ actually more convenient?Β (Who really wants to take a potty break during a fun Elmo movie/Thomas episode/board meeting at work, anyway?) Honestly, I’m just really scared of having to persuade my kid to put down the train so we can go potty. Or leave music class to go potty. And I didn’t even think of this until RIGHT NOW, but God help me if I have to take off his car seat cover because there’s an accident. That thing actually requires a PhD to put back on. And a mechanic’s license. And patience. Okay we just won’t ride in the car. It’s settled.

In a bit of a panic early in the week, I read a potty training book INSTEAD OF WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY, ordered about forty (unexaggerated figure: seven) Thomas the Train underpants on Amazon Prime, and started mentally preparing myself for what I believe will at best be challenging and, at worst, require us to buy all new rugs. I’d love to hear any potty training tips below (but even better would be some encouragement. Because if we epically fail, Ethan will be thisclose to hiring a Taskrabbit to do this for us). Okay, not really. Okay sort of really.

PS: The dummy in the title of this post is obviously Mom. And Dad. Not Leo. He calls a yoga mat a “yogurt mat.” If that isn’t brilliant, then what is? xox

*Parents, you totally did us a public service and are amazing and we love you. You just scared the living daylights out of us. But don’t worry we won’t send Leo over with his crayons and the directive to “draw on every available surface.” We would never do that.

PPS: I think Leo will actually nail this potty bizness. It’s just a hunch.

27 thoughts on “Potty training for dummies

  1. I’m laughing…and gloating that I have two totally potty trained kids – ha! My only advice — do nothing until they’re seriously interested. We didn’t push at all and both kids stopped using diapers around 2.5. No drama. No funny stories even. Although in the spirit of the yogurt mat, my daughter has been calling the neighborhood park repair the “au pair,” and my son used to call Santa Barbara “Sam and Barbara’s.” Savor that cuteness…our conversation is now 100% focused on riding rockets into outer space. XOXO

  2. I guess I am in the older children/old fashioned camp. My doctor always told me that 95% of kids were potty trained between 24 and 36 months and that it takes anywhere from 2 days to 10 months. I decided I preferred the 36 month/2 day version. Whit was about to turn 3, it took a weekend, and we have never looked back. Grace was 2 years 9 months, and it was similarly speedy and easy. I don’t think you should stress!! I really don’t. xoxo

    1. This makes me feel SO much better, thanks Lindsey! I asked Leo this morning if he wanted to start going exclusively in the potty, and he proclaimed: “No more diapers!” So I think I’ll try it, but if it’s miserable then we’ll put it on hold for a while. xox

  3. I’m with Lindsey! (I think I’ve told you that before re: older potty training.) But either way–you’ll get it done. I know you will! Also, happy to see you with a new post. Missed you!

    1. Thanks, Nina! I’ve missed you all, too! Some things in my life have (sort of) started to calm down a little, so hopefully I’ll have more time for blogging as well as finishing my novel. Thanks for checking in! xox

  4. I have for kids (one with special needs) and the range of being potty trained was TWO to FIVE (and no, the one with autism wasn’t the oldest). The one that potty trained at 2, I can’t even take credit for. My sister-in-law put her on the toilet and she was done. It just happened. He’ll let you know when he’s ready. The worst thing is to worry about it, I promise.

  5. He’ll do it when he’s ready.
    Give it a try here and there, and you’ll know when you’re creating a road to mommy-alcoholism vs when he’s actually having success.
    I tried with Luke when he was 2 1/2 and he just did not care when he had pee running down his leg. You know who cared? Yea, that would be me trying to protect my carpet and upholstery. So I bailed on that and tried again when he turned 3. He did it in like 2 days, and it hasn’t been an issue since. (except for sleeping at night, but you can’t “train” them for that- when their bodies are ready, they’ll do that on their own)
    Now, on to extremely headstrong boy #2. He just turned 3, and we’re trying. And shock of all shocks, he doesn’t want to do it. And I learned a long time ago not to push ANYTHING with him too much, or he’ll dig in his heels just for the hell of it. (I know, I know, he comes by that personality trait from BOTH sides, so what did I expect?!)
    But again, if he doesn’t go for it soon, I’ll bail and try again this summer.
    I’m not worried. I’ll just keep checking in with him, and when he’s game, he’ll do it. He won’t be in diapers forever, so it’ll work out. My thing is, I’d rather him be ready and be fairly confident he has it down than try and try and try for weeks or months and clean up the aftermath of all of that trying… gross. And you’re right- talk about forcing yourself to stay at home! No fun. Some kids just want to do it (I hear girls do this often…. I keep reminding myself that I get to skip the screaming hormones of middle school drama, so I’ll take a few more months or even years of diapers, please.)

    Love reading your blog. SO FUNNY.


  6. And PS- I really don’t think there is a window. Otherwise there’d be a lot of kids in kindergarten in diapers.
    It’s sort of a wash, the way I see it. There may be a time when it’s theoretically easier to train them because they aren’t as opinionated/independent yet, but they’re also less developed both physically and mentally at that point.

    1. True — I think it’s really just a process that parents dread whether they do it earlier or later, so it’s easy to come up with reasons why you HAVE to do it now or MUST wait till later b/c it makes us all feel in control when, in truth, we aren’t!

  7. I hate to say this but I completely DISAGREE with those parents who said that there’s a “window” for potty training, and that window closes at 28 months. I probably read something similar in a “bootcamp” potty training book.

    My son potty trained at 35 months & it was easy as breathing for us and him. Seriously. Yes, I had to take him to potty every 15 min the first and second day (Sat. and Sun.), and I was so afraid he’d have to go when we went on our first walk to the park or our first drive to daycare (20 min away on Mon.) but no accidents! I can probably count the number of times on my hand that he wet a Pull Up during nap or bedtime. And he wet his carseat once, but only because he fell asleep on our night-time drive home from Philly (3 hrs).

    So, yeeeeeaaa. If you have confidence that Leo can do it — because he is able to understand what the sensation of needing to potty is — then go for it and you’ll both do great. No new rugs needed.

    High five.

    1. I’m pretty much waiting at this point. Leo actually really like the Thomas potty seat we got him to go on the big potty. And he likes pee-ing in his small potty. But I’m kind of enjoying the fact that it’s “fun” for him right now… and I’m tired. Not that I’ll be any less tired in a few months… but then I’ll have less of a choice about putting it off. Ha! Thanks for chiming in. Sounds like it was simple for you guys – nice work!! xox

  8. Let us know how it goes! I think I told you we tried with our boys at 26 months, and it did not happen. I read every article / blog post under the sun. They were. not. ready. Sam seemed to be catching on, but after two days of running around naked, even he did not notice the sensation BEFORE he needed to go, he would only force out two drops when he was sitting on the potty in order to get an M&M. Perhaps if we had spent two weeks doing nothing else they would have figured it out? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

    Every now and then I ask if they want to pee pee on the potty and they laugh and say “nooooooo” πŸ™‚ They are 27 months old now, so if the window ends at 28 months, we are also screwed. I’m going to try again on spring break, or maybe early summer, but only if they seem interested. Because you are right, these days those diapers are awfully easy and convenient, and I’d rather not spend months cleaning up “accidents.”

    1. I’ve decided the window thing isn’t real. (Come back to me in a few months on that, but for now I’m sticking to it). Both Leo’s part-time nanny AND the woman who runs the small daycare he goes to twice a week have said that they think I should wait and that he’ll probably “do it in a two days” if I follow their advice. I LIKE THAT ADVICE!! xox

      1. Yeah, that’s where we are too. We have parent/ teacher conferences at “school” next week so I’ll be curious what his teachers say about this. They really push for everyone to be potty trained by 3. But have not even mentioned to me that we should start trying.

  9. Like my kid’s pediatrician said, no kid goes to kindergarten in diapers. I think it’s worth a shot to try, but not to pressure. Always be willing to hold off, even if just a week, to see if your kid’s ready. If he cries and it becomes “an issue,” he’s not, and try next week. My kid started potty training at close to 3 years old and even though it was after that window, he did really well πŸ™‚ He also didn’t master the pooping part til months after (meaning, he wasn’t consistent with using the toilet and would still have accidents once in a while).

    Good luck! I would recommend keeping them diaper- and undies- free for a full weekend. Messy but it worked out (and we even have carpet lol)!

    1. Thanks for the pep talk — we actually haven’t really done a thing since I wrote this post… and I’m rather happy about our decision to just kind of wait and see. It will happen when it happens. Kind of like everything else in life. That’s what I’m going with πŸ™‚ xox

  10. Sweet Jesus, did someone really tell you that? I know I’m late to the conversation, but maybe reading this article (http://www.babble.com/toddler/dangers-potty-training-early/) will help calm you down.

    We approached potty training with an open mind. That is, we didn’t do it (because Gavin had no interest in it) until we had to (when he moved into the preschool room at school and they train your kid if they aren’t already trained). It was a painful week of emotions (even though potty training itself was largely successful after Day 1). I cannot imagine starting a day earlier.

    My non-advice: take your time. Let Leo let you know when he’s ready. I promise when he starts potty training won’t affect whether or not he gets into Harvard.

      1. Oh, right, that’s what I meant. Ahem. STANFORD will not care one iota when Leo potty trained. In fact, if he hasn’t yet potty trained, it might provide for a very interesting and well-received application essay. πŸ˜‰

  11. My older one wasn’t ready until 3. Then honestly, once we found the right motivation, it was a single day. Motivation? Bought her a piggy bank from Michael’s, gave her a quarter for every successful potty visit. My mother matched the contribution. Seriously. One day. But she had to be ready. I’m not rushing my Leo-sized one yet, either.

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