Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Dirty Details: Potty Training My Toddler

No worries we aren't going to talk about how her father caught her literally playing with her poop a few days ago. I know, you all breathed a sigh of relief. 

I started potty training Gracie last Monday. She kept taking her diaper off, telling me when she had gone potty and asking to be changed. She showed interest in the potty and using it and used it a few times before we started this whole thing. I was relieved because we have just been waiting on her to be ready to start training. I really wanted her to be trained before the new baby got here, but I had heard from several people to not rush her and wait till she was ready. When she showed the signs of being ready, I was excited! I thought, this will be easy! She's ready right? Shouldn't take longer than a day! Ohhh boy was I wrong...

We potty train in this house with painted toes and dress-up shoes. #classy
In some aspects I guess she was, it only took her a day to figure out she couldn't pee in her pants anymore. We had three accidents but even more successes that day. The rest of her accidents were learning how to hold it until she got to the potty & had her underwear pulled all the way down. In the past week, total, I'd say she's had about 10-12 accidents. We even went to church, and while we brought her potty seat with us (because she won't pee on the potty without it. No worries it was in it's own bag the whole time and plenty of lysol, soap & sanitizer was used) she didn't have any accidents and was dry at the end of church. She's doing really awesome and I am very proud of her. Potty training is a big change and she is handling it like a champ.

But I won't BS ANY of you. Potty training is HARD. Potty training is EXHAUSTING. Potty training is FRUSTRATING. You will 100% deserve a gold star at the end of it.

The most frustrating part of this whole process can really be narrowed down to two things for me:
1) I didn't know how hard this was going to be or how stressful and
2) I didn't know what to expect at ALL because this is 100% the stuff no one tells you about/ no one talks about. So I have no idea if I am doing this right.

Which is why I am writing this blog; I am going to talk about this because I know there is a mother like me who wished there were more people who did talk about it.  This is 100% biased information that I have learned in the last week and a half so, do with it what you will, but at least it's THERE. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions 
 I used my Facebook to ask all of my mommy friends for advice on how best to proceed when I came to a road block or got frustrated or really, just needed some reassurance. I wanted real life experience and I wanted specific examples of what worked for them and be able to formulate my own plan from there. I think the best advice comes from those who have been through it, not from a research paper written by someone with no children but hold a medical degree.
  • Some kids potty train themselves -- some kids don't. If your kid doesn't, it doesn't mean your kid is defective or that you tried too early to potty train. EACH KID IS DIFFERENT.
I was constantly told that maybe Gracie just wasn't ready after day one, when I had lamented how hard day 1 was and Grace had 3 back to back accidents after doing so well. I was told about kids who went once in the potty and they were done potty training but that was because "they were ready" for it. The advice I asked for, though 99% helpful, 1% made me angry. Yes, make sure your child is ready or it is just gonna be a brick wall of pee and poop all over your house, but don't feel bad that your kid isn't peeing and pooping after day 1. It can take weeks and months for a kid to be fully potty trained. Use your own intuition if your kiddo is taking to it or not, and not another child's experience.
  • Figure out what works for YOUR kid, and keep trying till you find something. Don't be afraid or ashamed of evolving your plan or sticking to your guns. 
A lot of things I read about potty training involved bribing Gracie with treats to get her to potty. That was immediately a no-go because Gracie doesn't like sweets so we knew we couldn't bribe her with that. We tried stickers as a last resort on the 2nd day but Gracie has a weird thing with stickers and it ended up being way more of a distraction than a help. We tried bribing her with music (because she loves it) or some other reward and that just did not work for Gracie. 

Then we decided we didn't want her to expect a toy/treat/sticker every single time and get used to it, we wanted the pride she felt for being a"big" girl to be enough for her. So instead, we give her a LOT of praise and affirmation. That REALLY works for Gracie. She looooooves feeling like a big girl and like she is doing something worth celebrating. 

I got a little bit of guilt from someone about not giving her treats for going potty and I don't feel one bit bad. The way we have works us and other ways work for other people. Don't feel bad if your way isn't someone else's way or vice versa. What ever gets your kid on the potty.
  • Potty training IS frustrating and therefor you are entitled to FEEL frustrated. 
A few days ago I wrote a Facebook post asking for advice about how to get Grace to poop on the potty. I didn't really know that poop takes longer for kiddos to master. I thought I was doing something wrong and that's why she wasn't getting it and pooping in her pants. So I said how frustrated I was about the whole thing and some assumed I was freaking out on Gracie, being frustrated with HER or physically punishing her for it. (I don't physically punish Gracie, period, so that really bothered me.) 

I was frustrated about the experience but not at the child who just pooped all over. Why was I frustrated then? Because cleaning up poop off the floor is a frustrating thing to do, especially when the kid who did it was JUST on the potty. That is FRUSTRATING. You can totally feel frustrated because it IS frustrating, don't let anyone let you feel like you have to be happy about poop stuck in your carpet. 
  • Accidents happen, don't get mad about them. Potty time should be a HAPPY time. 
Part of why it bothered me that people assumed I was freaking on Grace for pooping her pants was because I try SO very hard to make sure potty time is a happy experience for her. I don't want her to have a bad memory there and not want to go potty or become too scared to go and just completely regress. I don't get mad for accidents. We talk about them, and as I am cleaning up her pee/poop I say "Gracie, peeing/pooping in your big girl pants is a no-no, okay? Where does pee-pee go? It goes in the potty, that's right. Big girls don't pee in their big girl underwear, ok?" then I clean her up, put her on the potty and say "If you need to go pee/poop this is where you go, ok? And you tell mommy if you have to go potty, ok?" and I have her repeat that. Then that's that. I don't get angry because she is a little tiny human who is learning how to control her body for the very first time. Accidents are going to happen in that process. Don't get mad at the tiny tiny human who is just trying to figure it all out. 
  • Pee usually comes before poop. 
Grace HAS got peeing in the potty down pretty good. She knows when she has to go and she tells me and we go potty. She's doing amazing with the whole pee situation. 


Grace will NOT poop in the potty. She just won't do it. She will try. She will tell me she has to go and she will toot a bit on the potty but she won't go and as soon as she has a second she will poop in her pants. (see: frustration) 

I honestly thought it was because I was doing something wrong, but guess what folks--poop is a LOT harder to get them to do and can take weeks after they master peeing to do it. Who knew that? NOT me. Though it does make sense, who wants to poop in front of someone? 

MANY children struggling with pooping right off the bat, MOST master peeing before they will pooping. Go with it, try new things, give positive reinforcement and be there with a party when they finally do poop in the potty. 
  • Night training is TOTALLY different than DAY training.
This is probably the BIGGEST thing I learned. I was SOLID that Grace would not go in a pull-up or a diaper of any kind after the moment she went into big girl underwear. I didn't want her to regress or give her the idea that she could pee at night in her pants but not during the day. To me, that was a weird message to send her...until I realized I was setting an unfair expectation for her. 

Being able to hold your pee at night is a genuine ability. It is something that your body has to learn and your body has to be ready for. Some children's bodies don't develop the ability to do until they are 6. Grace wasn't able to stay dry through the night when she was in diapers, so it's not realistic of us to expect her to now, even though we don't give her liquids 1.5-2 hours before bed anymore. That will come on it's own, truly. They will eventually wake up dry and pull-ups won't be necessary.

We use the goodnite tru-fits that look like underwear. You just put a little insert in there and you're good to go for the night. So Grace still gets to feel like a big girl, knowing she still needs to go potty when she is awake but is covered for when she is asleep. 

These were recommended by a friend and I can't recommend them enough. I wish they had a bit smaller size because they are a bit big for Gracie. But we love them and they are cheaper than pull-ups. 
She is really good about it actually, she won't go to sleep if she needs to pee first and she goes pee the first thing in the morning when she wakes up. I feel good about that, I simply can't expect her body to do something it just isn't ready to. Awake Grace is potty trained and that's exactly perfect for her. 
  • And lastly, this will most likely be hard on you! Make sure you give yourself room to be frustrated, be tired, and stock up on chocolate and bath salts. 
Maybe it's because I am 7 months pregnant but this is exhausting. Especially the first few days where the kiddo wasn't out of my site for even a second. It does take up a LOT of your time and I haven't gotten to the point yet where I can relax and fully trust that Gracie will tell me she has to pee, or to the point where she will just go on her own. I am lucky and have a husband that takes over so I can have a moment to recollect my brain and sanity. I have taken a lot of bubble baths this week after Grace is in bed, do what you have to do to make yourself relax and kind of let go of the day. You have to accept that this is gonna be a long road and prepare YOURSELF for it. You have to be ready to potty train too. 


I really hope that some of this helps you guys. I really hope I will be able to look on this later when I am potty training little dude or even while I am still on this journey with Gracie. 

Potty training isn't a picnic for pretty much everyone, it's okay if you are eating a massive box of cookies at the end of the day. The good news is, your kid will eventually, at some point in their life, be potty trained. 

Good luck ya'll!


  1. Ooo... those underwear/pullups are pretty clever!! :) I like them!!

  2. A friend of mine is going through potty training hell right now. Her daughter is a year older than Gracie and knows how to go on the toilet but just isn't motivated to do so. This is something I stress quite a bit about because I fear it will be exhausting and frustrating and it's kinda hard to navigate these parts of motherhood.


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