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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Potty Training for the Rest of Us

So you are taking the plunge. Your baby is showing all the readiness signs. You are done with cloth laundry. You've bought the mini potty. Your sticker chart is ready to go. You've read all the posts about potty training you can find. They were called something like:

Potty Train your 18 month old in three days. How I potty trained my 16 month old in a week. How to potty train your 20 month old on a Tuesday afternoon.

You've seen all the posts on Pinterest. It's all over your social media feed: cute pictures of potty trained toddlers on the potty. Reading a book. You may have gotten e-mails with instructions on how to potty train a toddler. You are so excited to get started, and figure your experience will be like those internet posting parents. After a few days you'll be able to say “done!” and show off your potty wise toddler to all your friends and family.

I don't know who these women are, but they are setting up false expectations for the rest of us. Perhaps you have a little potty training whiz (no pun intended) on your hands. So maybe all of those blog posts will hold true for you. But for the rest of us, with normal kids, we are just setting ourselves up for a horrible disappointment. Its just another insane standard that makes parents and toddlers feel inadequate. You may feel like a total failure when you head into potty training expecting to be done in three days. Instead your child has peed once on the potty and a dozen times on the floor. Or the couch. The bed. The table. Or my favorite, your lap. Now you have two outfits to change and wash. Oh, the laundry.

Don't get me wrong, Pinterest is great. But for those of us who live in the real world the potty training timeline may appear very different than that blogging mom who trained her kid in a weekend.

Expect it to take awhile. You may have a great day, where baby peed on the potty, every time, all day. You are on cloud nine. You are a fantastic potty trainer. Everything is right with the world. And then bam! The next day it's like the potty is the boogie man and your kid won't touch it. Or go anywhere near it. After spending a day washing trainers, then pants when you ran out of trainers, and then the floor when you got tired of finding clean pants, you are left in a puddle of depression crying and wondering what happened. Where's the fantastic potty training super hero mom? After about a week, or maybe two, or three, of these ups and downs, you start having some very dark thoughts about those “three day moms”. You start wondering if they made the whole thing up to get readers. Maybe they did. Maybe they didn't.

Like everything else with a toddler, potty training is not linear. Expect ups and downs. Expect wonderful days and very messy days. Give yourself a break and lower those expectations a bit. You may be successful at home, but not outside the home. Or just with daddy. Or just with mommy. Or just at day care. Or just in the mornings. You are not a failure, your child is not a failure. You two are just learning. Together.

I started potty training my daughter at 20 months. The first three weeks were an intense roller coaster of emotions. Every time I thought we had it in the bag (or the potty) a set back happened. For no apparent reason. I almost threw in the towel on several occasions. We are two months in and I still can't say I have a fully potty trained child 100% of the time. At this point I have just accepted the pooping in the tub. But I am so glad I stuck with it. Refusing to pull out the cloth diapers again, insisting on the potty, sent the message that I meant business. I know you know how to pee on the potty kid. You can do this. I can do this. Eventually, we did. Mostly.

Expect road bumps and setbacks. Don't let them discourage you- or worse, drive you to quit. Yes, it's been longer than your planned three days. And your kid is still hiding behind the curtains to poop. Don't let false expectations of you and your child lead you to quit- when you may be on the verge of success. It just may take a bit longer than those Pinterest mommies.

Bio: Alexis is a stay at home mom of a toddler and two dogs. She struggles to be the best mom she can everyday.

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1 comment:

kim worrell said...

Thank you for being honest for the moms that have stubborn potty trainers. I started potty training my son around his 2nd bday, we just finished a 2wk stretch with no accidents (he turned 3 in feb). Our biggest obstacle was his reoccurring fear of the toilet. After more than a year of potty training I can say we are mostly there.