Chocolate Chips for the Win!
some jews spend christmas eating chinese food and going to the movies. some volunteer and others head to disneyland. in the BN house? well, apparently we potty train.
there was a method to my madness. i knew EBN was ready. heck, she’d been ready to get started since about…20 months when she started talking about the potty – incessantly. ”mommy potty.” ”daddy potty.” mommy potty quick!” understanding that the interest was there i was quick to put a kiddo potty in our bathroom and without any effort, EBN started sitting whenever giving the opportunity. she loved the routine – the wiping, the dumping, the flushing. but it was all an act. other than when she was bare-bottom before a bath, i never pulled down her pants or took off her diaper. it just felt like so.much.work. i simply wasn’t ready to put the effort in. and sure enough, after a few weeks of “pretending to pee” EBN got tired of it too and the potty went back to live in the garage.
i was pretty sure i’d failed as a mother. my kiddo had showed signs and i’d missed the moment. i kicked myself for a while, decided she’d have to go to college in diapers and moved on to other things – like giggling when she repeated my expressions (there is nothing cuter that EBN saying, O.M.G in reaction to something). and then, one day we were hanging out in my closet (girlfriend spends a lot of time in there) as i was putting away laundry and she pointed to a pair of my underwear. ”mommy undies,” she announced. that’s right, i told her. and one day you’ll wear undies too. and just like in elmo potty time [we watch this dvd...constantly] you’ll get to pick-out your own undies.
well, she was sold from that moment on. on our next trip to target (probably later the same day) she picked her own undies (thomas, toy story and dora – a little girl in little boy undies = i die) and i decided that christmas to new years would be the perfect time to get started.
i read this book, recommended by a friend, and while i didn’t follow each and every rule along the way, i found the advice extremely helpful. turns out, potty training had very little to do with whether or not EBN was ready and a whole lot more to do if i was ready to step up and make the commitment necessary to get ‘er done.
here’s what worked for us:
- no training pants: when EBN woke up on xmas eve, rather than bake cookies for santa, we waved farewell to diapers (during the day). she spent her first day naked from the waist down, her second and third day commando and on day four, she started wearing undies (which, for EBN, was a huge draw – THOMAS UNDIES – there is not much in this life that is more exciting). if she peed, she peed and it was messy and a tad annoying and i did a lot of laundry on day 1. but it meant that i knew as soon as she started to pee and could get her to the potty mostly in time. if she had been wearing a pull-up my guess is i would have missed the moment. i read that it can also be confusing to the kiddo to use a pull-up because it feels like a diaper, but as i mentioned above, it’s not really about the kid
- staying home – by choosing to get started over xmas, a time that we had no plans and no commitments, it meant it was easy to stay home. staying home for the first three days was key. it meant EBN could be naked. it meant she could have an accident and it wasn’t a big deal. it meant the potty was always within arms reach.
- my partner was around – getting started when ABN was working from home was SUPER helpful. you can ask him and he’ll agree – i ran the potty training show – no question. for days 1 and 2 i didn’t leave her side for more than a minute or two, watching for the clues that it was about to be go time, and getting her on the potty. but potty training is exhausting and so having ABN around made me feel less trapped. it also meant that EBN got to leap off the potty each and every time she peed and run straight to her favorite person ever (aka ABN) and share the news of her latest deposit. and believe me, while i did all the work (and laundry) no one celebrated EBN more than her daddy. [our normal schedule also includes a babysitter twice a week and while i know BUDDY would have been more than happy to take on the first few days of potty training, i felt like it was much more fair for her to come into the equation when we had about a week of practice first].
- we started with the small potty, but we quickly switched to the big potty – while i was happy staying home for a few days, i knew i couldn’t keep it up for long and while i know moms who keep a kiddo potty in the trunk of the car, i wasn’t sure that would work for us (plus, i think they’re gross). once EBN had peeing down, i started having her sit on the big potty (with an attachment – i’m not nuts). at first she was terrified but after two pees she was more than fine and now it’s just our way. ABN turned to amazon (duh) and bought me this beauty to keep in the diaper bag. technically you can attach a bag and use it as a mini/self-standing potty but we bypassed that stage. i like that it has hand grips which mostly prevent EBN from touching the public toilets.
- we established a schedule – we try to pee before bed and naps and as soon as we get up. we try to pee before we leave the house and before we head home if we are out (and the bathroom is clean – enough – my standards have changed). these times of day are non-negotiable – EBN tries, and i try. other than that, i let EBN tell me when she has to go. i trust her. sometimes, if i’m pretty sure she needs to go i’ll say, i’m going to trust you to tell me when you need to go. i’ve decided i’m empowering her. it’s also probably bullshit.
- chocolate chips – bribery works. for the first 4 days that we potty trained each and every time EBN made it to the potty she got one chocolate chip. you would think she was getting a barbie dream car and a hot fudge sundae and front row tickets to the NKOTB concert. she would go nuts for one freaking chocolate chip. if only life would remain so simple. a routine quickly developed – i’d sit in front of her while she sat on the potty, often reading or singing a song but as soon as she knew, “it’s coming,” even before the first tinkle hit the water, she’d screech at the top of her lungs, “CHOCOLATE CHIP.” and it was so. even after we stopped the chocolate chip dispensing, she still tends to announce her business is on its way by screaming chocolate chip.
- we’re taking it slow – we’re a month out now and while i can claim pretty much complete day-time victory, EBN still sleeps in a diaper and will…forever? there’s no way i’m anywhere close to waking her up in the middle of the night to go so until she wakes up on her own or wakes up in the morning still dry, we’re going to stick with what works. [it should also be noted that 99.9% of the time she poops while she is babbling to herself first thing in the morning. so it's in her diaper. we've worked on doing it in the potty and we've had a few success stories - i'll spare most of the details except to say that two of these successes were at target - my kid is weird. for now, as long as she's pooping and not getting a complex about it, we're cool. she likes her privacy (can't blame her) so i think she might need to a bit more independent about her potty-ing before she's regularly doing her business the way we would all prefer. if you've got any experience to share - i'd love to hear it in comments].
i know we’re a long way from being done. i am sure that one day i won’t think about where the nearest potty is, how long it’s been since her last sip of water, or how many slices of pear she had at breakfast. but for now, it’s basically all potty all the time. and i couldn’t be prouder of
myself my little girl.