Just getting started with potty training? Let me offer my sincere condolences. I wish there was a way to skip this part of parenting. But since there isn’t, here are 10 suggestions for preparing and persevering through this SUPER fun time from a mom who has been there, done that, and finds herself there again.
So, here are 10 Real Mom Tips To Survive Potty Training
First things first: Get your gear.
In reality, all you need is a toilet. But Oh. My. Word., there are a gazillion different types of potty chairs and seats. Want to get real fancy? You can actually buy a potty seat that has an iPad stand. I guess if your kid is watching the iPad for hours on end anyway, you might as well have him/her sit on this chair at the same time. Something will have to come out eventually!
We opted for a potty seat that attaches to the top of the toilet because I have no desire to be transferring human waste from point A to point B. But if you don’t mind that sort of thing, there are plenty of potty chairs to choose from, and your toddler will probably love helping pick one out.
Next step: Pick your poison. I mean potty training method.
Some parents choose to let their kid run around naked so they are more aware of what is coming out of their body and when. Some parents choose to set a timer and have their child spend time on the potty every time the timer goes off. Some parents let their child tell them when they need to go.
I don’t believe there is one perfect method that will work for all children. It’s a crapshoot (pun intended). Pick a method that seems the most appealing to you, take several deep breaths, and give it a go.
One word. Bribes.
Frowned upon in politics, a must when it comes to potty training. For my oldest, a few stickers on a chart and the promise of a cheap toy was all it took to get the pee flowing. I’m still trying to figure out what currency will work on my youngest.
Instead of a matchbox car we might have to bribe him with the real deal. “Son, if you will PLEASE crap in the toilet, I will get you that Benz you have been eyeing!” Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Channel your inner Lady Gaga and perfect your p-p-p poker face, p-p poker face.
Do not, under any circumstances, let them know how much power they hold in this situation. If your kid pees on your carpet or has pooped in his undies for the tenth time that day, you have to act like it is no big deal (while secretly dying a little inside.)
Smile sweetly at your little darling and tell them you know they will make it to the potty the next time! Potty training can lead to EPIC POWER STRUGGLES, and if they see they can get a rise out of you, they will probably attempt a repeat performance.
Make switching to undies the coolest thing that has ever happened in the history of the world.
Sell the hell out of it. You will cringe when you discover how ridiculously overpriced character undies are, but it might just be the ticket to willingly tossing the diaper or pull-up if your kid can have Thomas the Train or Dora The Explorer covering their heiny. On a side note, you will probably reach a point where you can’t force yourself to clean one more pair of soiled underwear and will just throw them in the garbage while cursing under your breath.
Be prepared for poop talk. A lot of it.
Maybe this is just a boy thing. All I know is that not only do they want everyone to see their poop, they want to see yours, too. Yes, my youngest cried because I flushed too soon.
It is in these moments, cheering loudly while staring at your child’s poo, that you will think back to your COLLEGE DAYS and wonder what happened to the ULTRA-COOL twenty-something you used to be.
Make it fun.
For them, not you. There is no possible way any of this will be fun for you. But if you try to make it fun for them (example: throw some Cheerios into the toilet and have them dunk the Cheerios with their pee) it might help them realize that using the toilet is not the worst thing you have ever asked them to do.
Next up? Night-time training.
Just when you think you have the daytime conquered, you realize that is only half the battle. The first step to successful night-time training is to cut down on your child’s liquid intake before bed. This didn’t go over so well with my little cherubs because asking for a glass of water at bed-time was one of their tried and true stall tactics.
I also recommend investing in a waterproof mattress cover and having multiple sheets ready to go for those middle of the night accidents. If you get real lazy, just throw a towel on top of the pee spot and change the sheets in the morning. I won’t judge.
Celebrate small victories.
Maybe they only had two accidents that day instead of five. Maybe the carpet cleaner actually removed that pee stain from your brand-new carpet. Maybe your child wakes up your partner in the middle of the night after an accident instead of you. It’s the little things…
Don’t give up.
You will want to throw in the towel at some point. You will be convinced that your kid is never going to get it and you will toy with the idea of just giving up and trying again when your child is 16. Trust me, everything will click eventually, and the accident-free minutes will stretch into hours and then days.
You will survive. And then you can pass on your best potty training advice (and a sympathetic hug) to the next poor parent in line.