When the world announced being in quarantine, I immediately became unglued, unhinged & undone. As an entrepreneur, I am blessed to be able to create the life I love, which means it’s a must for me to have space in my week to focus on myself. That meant going to the gym & working out with my mom group, attending my small group from church & working from wherever the creativity would flow. Then I had everyone home under one roof and had to figure things out, and fast.
If I was going to be home, might as well get some things done, right? One of the activities we had been dabbling in with Liana, our youngest, was potty training. Potty training Laila was pretty much a breeze and with the reinforcement she had at daycare with friends who were doing the same, she learned quick, fast & in a hurry! So when it came to Liana, she wasn’t too interested. However, since we all had to be home, there was no time like the present to kick it in high gear because we didn’t have daycare to help us out.
I am proud to say, with a few tried & true methods, Liana went from wearing training pants all day to panties. She only needs trainers during nap and bedtime. If you’re wondering what I did, grab a notebook and lean in, sis. Today I am sharing my potty training tips that have helped me along the way.
Note: there are a lot of people who will proclaim that boys are harder than girls. That may be true. I can only share as a mom of girls. However, with focus and consistency, I have seen moms train sons as young as 18 months. Everyone is different. The most important thing to remember is to do what’s best for your child.
1. Know when it’s time – The first step is a tricky one because every kid is different. Some kids are ready before 2; others would rather stay in a diaper until they are in high school. You know your child! If your child is the latter, I would, first off, encourage you. If they are at the age where you need to get the ball rolling, take heart and grab your bag of patience. You can do it.
My indicator: whenever your child starts randomly taking off their diaper, it’s time. Period. If you can unlatch it, you can start learning. Laila was around 17 months and Liana was around 20 months. A naked tush was all I needed to run to my next step.
2. Take away the security – diapers, pull ups & anything else you are using as a barrier is not going to cut it. For my girls, training pants were the equivalent to diapers. They know it’s there so they just went. However, when I took it away, it automatically made them aware, which was exactly what I wanted! This step was essential to starting the process.
Grab a cheap pair of toddler underwear from your local Target, Marshall’s, etc. and put it on them. Tip: THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE AN ACCIDENT. Do. Not. Stress. If you have wood floors, even better (for cleanup purposes). For the most part, they are going to forget and go on themselves. Which is what you want. You want them to start the process of realizing when they need to go potty.
When it happens, this is your time to talk them through it. Don’t yell, fuss or get angry. Show them the accident. Explain in their language that we don’t potty on the floor, but in the potty. Keep cleaner on deck, sis. And be ready to toss undies that don’t make it out alive!
3. Set a timer – Daycares are fantastic reinforcements for potty training. Why? They have a potty schedule! Pick an amount of time to take your little one to the potty. Even if they don’t have to go! Why? This is practice. So with Laila, we did everything 30 minutes if she had something to drink and every hour if she didn’t. If you forget, set a reminder on a device to remind you to take them to the potty. It’s annoying, I know, but trust me: eventually you won’t need the reminder.
4. Create a potty station in a bathroom – Now this is my personal preference, so don’t think there’s any magic to this. I found a little basket from the Goodwill and filled it with potty books and little reads. As we practiced, as mentioned above, they could “read” while in practice.
5. Take them to the potty when you potty – I have little girls, so I can only share my experience from this vantage point. Obviously if you have a boy, you may not be comfortable doing this. With my girls, I used to make them practice while I went to the bathroom so they could see someone doing the same thing they were. Plus, either way, they were going to end up in the bathroom with me anyway, so practice makes perfect!
6. The potties that make noise are cute. Skip them! – I can’t tell you how many moms tell me they went out and bought this cute contraption that lights up, plays music, makes flushing noises and dances if you feed it a coin. Girl, look – skip all that. Find you the most basic of basic toilets out there. The one I have is very similar to this one. They use the potty, you dump it in the toilet, clean it out and put it back in its spot.
7. When they go, make a BIG DEAL – Sis, when I say a BIG DEAL, almost throw a party. Play music, dance, clap & “yay”, high five, hug, do fist bumps or do a Soul Train line. Hype up your child when they finally go on their own. It’s a BIG DEAL! Celebrate it! Kids love to know “They did it!” and it will give them a confidence boost to go again.
Some other practical tips:
You gotta chill – Listen, if you are a parent who loves predictability or control, good luck. If you set your expectations that this is supposed to be happening by X age or because someone else did it earlier, you’re going to frustrate yourself. When it comes to potty training, you are not on your own schedule – you’re on theirs. Remember pregnancy? If you are anxious, frustrated and flustered, you’re going to make the child feel the same way. If you want it to happen, you will have to be patient.
If you can’t chill, step away and do it another day – Real talk, sis. Sometimes we have a lot going on or you’re just not in the best space, mentally. That is quite okay! Do not force yourself to have to do anything. If it’s not poppin’, give yourself grace & try again tomorrow. We have ENOUGH going on in 2020. Don’t sweat it. It will happen.
Once you kick start it, try to stick with it. Consistency is key, so adding it as a reminder during the daily routine will make it feel less forced and make it seem more practical, like a bathroom break.
Sending you all the love, encouragement & patience. Only you know your child better than any one else. Go with the flow. Let them help & lead this and you continue to guide. Truth be told, my method may not work for you, but at least figure out which pieces will and take it from there.