Potty training is hard. (There’s the understatement of the century). If I had to choose, I would rather change diapers for months than go through a few days of teaching a child how to use the toilet. But this is a necessary parenting task, and so I persevere.
Now that I’m on my third round of potty training, I can say that there are a few tools that make the whole process run more smoothly. I gather all of these in our downstairs laundry/bathroom so everything is close at hand.
Underpants. Lots and lots of underpants. In our family, one of the cool “big kid” things you get to do is pick a pack of special character underpants. Superheroes, cars, ponies, whatever. We also have a stack of hand-me-down underpants in the smallest size, because those first few days, you need extras. (Before you ask, we buy underpants new. No used underpants here. The exception is this first smaller size, but even then, only from family members or friends.)
Cloth diapers or rags or towels. These are for cleaning up spills, for kids to sit on while they’re on the couch or carpet, for wiping up wet legs and floors. Have a stack of something. We have the trainee sit on a cloth diaper, and use the towels for cleaning up bigger messes. Because when you’re already cleaning up the puddle on the floor, you really don’t want to scrub the couch cushions too.
Carpet cleaner spray. Wiping pee off of hardwood or tile floors is no fun, but scrubbing pee out of carpet is even worse. Using pet urine spray makes me giggle a little bit, but it works very well.
Baby wipes. Potty training is one thing. Teaching a child to wipe is a whole other skill set. Work on one thing at a time. Which means Mom is still on deck for wiping duties.
Treats! We like chocolate chips and M&Ms in our house. One for number one, two for number two, (a handful for mom). But only if it makes it in the potty.
A book, your phone, or a tv show. The book and phone are for you. You may be spending quite awhile hanging out in the bathroom, waiting for something to happen. The tv show is for your child. If you’d rather not hang out in the commode, plop the potty in front of the tv and turn on your kid’s favorite show. Something will eventually happen, and you’ll have a success to build on. This is how we usually start day one of potty training.
An open washing machine. Going through lots of underpants means you’ll need to do an extra load or two of laundry. I just keep the washer open, and we throw all the wet undies and towels and rags directly in there. After the kids go to bed (or sooner if we’re running low on undies), I’ll wash the load and we’ll start over again in the morning.
Finally, and most importantly, a child who is ready. Trying to train too early means you’ll fail. There will be tears and frustrations and plenty of messes. After two and a half days of trying, we gave up this time around, because it became apparent that she wasn’t as ready as I thought. And that’s okay. I have my tools ready and waiting for next time.
I’m sure I missed something important. What keeps you sane during potty training?