If you’re looking for a potty training expert who has really insightful tips on how achieve accident-free success in only three days, you’ve come to the wrong place. Sorry, folks, but my journey to potty land was nothing like the picture of perfection that those popular gurus promise. And if you’re wondering how a busy mom like me, who can barely find the time to shower, finds the energy to potty train, well here's my confession—I didn’t.
With my firstborn son, my husband and I both worked corporate nine-to-five (read: seven-to-six) jobs so when it came to potty training, like most of the household tasks those first few years, we outsourced. We were privileged enough to have a nanny who decided when it was time, probably partially influenced by my hint that my son needed to be trained for preschool that fall. She most likely took him to the bathroom every 15 minutes (who has time for that?) and—voila!—by the weekend he was toilet trained. I remember wondering why people made a big deal out of potty training, since it was so easy. Night time pull-ups took much longer to get rid of, and we waited for months of being dry before we risked taking them away.
When my daughter came along, I saw the early signs of curiosity at 18 months so, naturally, I pulled out the potties—one on each floor, in every room. She tried them out, loved her new undies, decided my Girl Gotch inventory was hers and had a few successes. Nothing to it, I thought. Until the novelty of underwear wore off, that is, and—bam! —my daughter no longer wanted anything to do with it. Whomever said that girls potty train earlier than boys didn’t meet my spitfire. Her drawer was full of underwear and I asked every single morning: pull-ups or UNDIES!? My excitement didn’t fool her as she opted for pull-ups.
Then, she turned three and her daycare began to ask for undies, telling me she was ready. She wasn’t ready for me but I wondered if she’d do better for them, so one day I put them into her bag and she came home with them on. Finally, success! The next day, she caught me adding undies to her bag and quickly kiboshed that plan, as she huffed down the hallway to throw them back in her room. Then, just a week later, she came home in her classmate’s Paw Patrol Skye underwear, and guess who was now interested in potty training. *insert swearing and facepalms here*
From then on, I had to lean on what worked— peer pressure, fancy undies (even ones that weren’t Girl Gotch!), dance parties and high fives, and straight up bribery. My one-time reward of a Ring Pop for pooping turned into her asking for one Every. Single. Time. But you know what? Oh well! It’s working and I’m not going to mess with it. At three she knows she's a big girl, and there are many things that big girls do—ride bikes, sleep in big-girl beds, get dressed, and use the potty. It was a waiting game and there was nothing to do except wait for her to be ready.
I knew it would eventually happen. She's strong willed and, when she puts her mind to it, she can do anything—but it has to be her idea, on her terms. And my spitfire has taught me that just because something works with one kid does not mean it will work with the next. That we are all just winging this parenting thing anyway, and to pretend we have any idea what we’re doing is just naïve. Potty training is just one stop on our journey and, if it’s any indication of what’s to come, we have a pretty exciting adventure ahead.
Who else has a spitfire? Any clever tips for lazy potty trainers like me?