May 4, 2019…..It began! (“May the fourth/force be with us…”)
20 months, 11 days old
We’ve done it ya’ll! We have potty trained our first born child, and are still living to seize the day. I’m going to be completely honest here….I actually thought it would be fun to potty train Annabelle Grace (yeah- you read that right- I thought it would be fun- joke was on ME…..) BUT, I must admit, it was one of the hardest parenting milestones we have had to date! (We’ve also been fairly fortunate to have pretty easy babies, Eloise, most certainly included.)
Anyhow, I absolutely loved baby led weaning with Annabelle Grace. It was fun watching her independence and curiosity grow and change over the months, and aside from cleaning, it was pretty hands off for Will and me. Now, I knew potty training wouldn’t be “hands-off,” but I did envision my very independent child to be super pumped to try… she was excited, but we all had our days! Now, as hard as it truly was, I would NOT do it any differently, and I would NOT wait any longer to have done it. Really, we would have done it earlier, but we just had way too much going on from January-May, with Disney World, Will and Annabelle’s trip to Columbia, and Eloise’s birth, along with my crazy recovery, that the timing just wasn’t right to devote solid blocks of time to getting it done!
In case you are curious, we followed the book, Oh Crap! Potty Training, by Jamie Glowacki.
I liked her method a lot when I read the book. Basically it breaks potty training into three blocks that typically take 3-10 days to fully potty train your child, depending on your child. She offers a way to day train, or to day train and night train at the same time. Doing both day and night training at the same time is the recommended way to really help your child understand the concept fully; but, she actually says it is not for the faint of heart, and I 1000000000% agree. (Again- as hard as it was, we still would not have done it any other way, nor would we go back and only day train.)
My thoughts on not night training at the same time are that it just seems kind of crazy not to… to me it seems more confusing to the child going back and forth with using a potty/not using a potty- which in turn, seems like it would lead to more potential day time accidents in the long run. I also will admit it took away a lot of sleep from us, when we have a GREAT sleeper in Annabelle, and honestly have a pretty good sleeper for a newborn/infant. To interrupt the sleep Will and I were able to get during one of his busy seasons, wasn’t an easy task- but we know it will be so much more worth it in the long run!
So, with all that said- here’s how it went down!
We woke Annabelle Grace up and said bye-bye to diapers! She was a tiny bit confused when the only thing she got to wear was a shirt…. but she went along with it! (Block One in the book actually recommends you letting your child be naked for the extent of Block One, but if he/she may need something, do a shirt only.) We went with just a short shirt. (The reason for little to no clothes is so that you can begin to see your child’s “tell” for needing to go to the bathroom, and it’s easier to get them to a potty with less to remove.) We hung out in the kitchen for a good bit of the morning, and so did the potty. (You are also supposed to pretty much play with and stare at your child- so no leaving, no cleaning, no cooking, nothing that will deter you from watching to see if your child needs to pee. It is an exhausting part of potty training- but does work.)
We would prompt some, but really not all that much. The idea is for them to also start to learn that sensation and what it means, and by prompting and making them go to the potty, they’re not learning that part of the process as fast. We also kept a water cup near by to help with the need to pee. (You only push liquids during Block One, and not close to nap or bedtime) On the downside, Annabelle Grace almost always has a water cup nearby- so it didn’t really entice her to drink a lot more. You also don’t want to overdo it with liquids either. She actually didn’t pee for quite some time. We kind of think she was still just unsure about what was happening, and her “routine” was off. During the day she and I typically clean/ play/ go outside/ do laundry/ etc, and today we were doing nothing but sitting in the kitchen AND Daddy was home, so it was not normal at all! (She is a veryyyyyy routine child, much like me!)
Once I realized she would maybe do better treating the day like we typically do, I decided to move us into our family room to do activities, with the potty close by. It was definitely a gamble, as we do have carpet in there, but, I needed her to pee, so we went for it!
And what do you know…it worked! She finally just sat down and peed on the potty….I was so proud of her! Obviously I sang and danced and said “yay!” (and naively thought to myself “my kid is golden- this will be a breeze!” hahahahaha) Will comes back in and I share the good news! So we went along with our day. She peed another time or two before nap, but was starting to almost seem a little “scared” when the pee would go in the potty. (she had not had an accident yet by this point.)
We took a quick trip outside, with the potty, as a family! Daddy even carried the potty down the drive way- just in case! During Block One, the idea is to have the potty nearby to make sure your little one can have successes on his/her own, since there shouldn’t be a lot of pushing/prompting from the parent!
Finally nap time rolled around. In some book or mom group or something, I found such a great idea to help with quick changes- layer waterproof mattress covers and fitted sheets so you can pull the wet one off and they can go right back to sleep. Instead of adding the waterproof mattress cover between each layer, we did one over the mattress, and then layered with puppy pads, fitted sheet, puppy pads, fitted sheet, puppy pads, fitted sheet! It served the same purpose, and was one less cover to wash!
We also skipped any diaper, pull up, and even panties for nap time and bedtime- which is why this is described by the author as “not for the faint of heart.” It’s basically a lot of trial and error. Naps aren’t quiet as hard since they are a shorter amount of time. Since she sleeps more than an hour, I started by waking her at the one hour mark, and that was it. Bedtime is a whole different animal…. Annabelle, and I would assume a majority of toddlers, sleep for a long span of time at night. As mentioned earlier, she has ALWAYS been an EXCELLENT sleeper! We put her to bed at 7:00pm, and she’ll sleep until 6-6:30am. So we started with two wakes- one at 10:00pm and one at 2:00am. We basically played with those times for a few days and we then learned that Annabelle did better waking herself up, or we watched for her to get wiggly, and then we would go in and get her to a potty. She had one accident the first night and I believe it mortified her. (and we didn’t even get angry! We just said “you’re still learning, pee goes in the potty” and hugged her and got her bed changed.) Annabelle Grace is apparently going to want to be a bit of a perfectionist like her Mommy…sorry kid- it can be anxiety inducing! hahahah Anyhow, from that point on, she stayed anxious about going to sleep. She would pee, and then she would want to pee like 10 more times in a row, and would cry. We’re still not sure why she was so worried or scared, but it lasted a solid 2.5 weeks for naps and bedtimes. She has really not had many accidents during naps or nights, and from the get-go was pretty good at waking up when she needed to pee, even if she didn’t realize that was why she was waking up! Late in the middle of the night she didn’t give as much pushback as she initially did when going to sleep.
The first several weeks of night training were especially exhausting. Eloise was only 5 weeks old when we initially started with Annabelle, Will was working late nights, and I wasn’t even cleared completely from all of my restrictions. Nap times and consistent bed time routines have always been my “relief” when he works late- the little, tiny bit of time I can sit for a minute to myself. Because Eloise was still nursing frequently, and Annabelle was so anxious upon going to sleep, I was WORN out when Will would finally get home. The two girls seemed to overlap and back up to each other when needing me for something, so the days and evenings felt even longer than they usually do as a “single parent” during those times, for a lack of better words.
Thankfully, when Will did get home, he was 100% on board and ready to jump in and help. Night times with Annabelle’s pee times were his job, and nursing Eloise throughout the night was my job. We lost a lot of sleep, but we got through the crazy weeks! I did have sheets to wash more frequently than normal, but I do feel like Annabelle honestly did REALLY well picking up on potty training, so avoiding the temptation to use even pull-ups at night paid off.
We ended up repeating Block One for a second day before moving to Block Two! (The author gives really good descriptions and examples for how to know if you child is ready for the next block or not, which was so helpful!)
So Block Two is when you add in clothes to the mix! Your child is kind of getting the peeing and pooping in the potty thing, probably still having accidents, but understands where pee and poop go for the most part! You add clothes in, no panties or underwear, just pants/shorts and a shirt or a dress if your girl wants to wear a dress, but again- no panties or underwear, unless it really bothers you to not put them on your kid! We had been working with Annabelle for a while on “pushing her pants/shorts” down, so she was fairly good at the task, which was a HUGE help! During block two, you pretty much do the same things as block one- just prompt even less, and if your child has an accident- you don’t get mad, but also don’t say “it’s okay.” The author recommends just saying “pee goes in the potty, not on the floor,” as you help them get to a potty to finish, even if there is no more pee to come out. You also can start with a very small trip away from the house at some point during Block Two, to see if your child will know how to signal he or she needs to pee when not at home- it also helps to see how they do in bathrooms that aren’t their own.
By Block Two, Annabelle had finally pooped in the potty (she didn’t poop for a solid day and a half..) (that can be normal, and the author actually has a whole chapter in the book devoted to poop problems because they are SO COMMON with littles during this process!) Annabelle finally went, but was a little upset and worried when it happened. She continued to still go, and to this day, has not pooped in her pants, but did have that “fear” for probably a week.
Our first outing on day three, during Block Two, was a stroller walk around our yard and down our street. I kept it to about a 45 minute span of time, and didn’t start it until she peed (on her own time, without me pushing/prompting.) Puppy pads, by the way, also line her stroller seat and carseat when we go out! We still haven’t had an accident in either place, but, we keep them lined, just in case- after all- she isn’t even two yet!
She continued to do well through the morning and her nap, so we decided to do a second actual outing for the day! We took a quick trip to Sonic, potty in the van, to get ice cream. I figured it would be a good outing since we could sit outdoors, and could easily access the potty in our car, should she need to pee. We took our time eating ice cream. I asked once before we left if she needed to pee, she said no, and we went home, no accidents! Another thing the author tells you to try your hardest not to do, is to not continue to push if your child says they don’t need to pee when you ask them. We always all go to the potty before leaving the house to go somewhere, but while we’re actually out, I may ask once if she needs to go to the bathroom. If she says no, we move on. I honestly do the same thing while we’re at home, and she has done really well with answering yes and no.
We repeated Block Two for a second day as well, and I attempted a longer outing with a trip to Walmart. We did NOT attempt an actual full grocery shopping trip because I’m pretty sure we would have just been setting ourselves up for failure, but I did want to see how she did in a very public place, in a public bathroom. I packed myself, Eloise and Annabelle up in the car! Little potty in the trunk, toilet seat topper in the diaper bag, and changes of clothes for everyone! I also thought I had post it notes packed- a recommendation from the author for automatic flushing toilets! She mentioned that several kids don’t realize toilets can flush by themselves, and when it happens, it is loud and scares them, messing up future trips to public bathrooms. She tells you to put a post it note over the sensor, that way you can flush when you’re ready. I apparently had them packed in the wrong diaper bag, but we made do! I still had pads packed from having Eloise, so we stuck one over the sensor and it served the same purpose. I did pull it off at the end so Annabelle could hear the toilet flush on its own, and she did great! She actually ended up really liking our adventure in the public bathroom..(yeah, don’t worry, I’m pretty disgusted by it, and have to really work on my phobia of the grossness in public bathrooms! ahahaha!) On the bright side- we learned that the family bathroom in the back of our Walmart actually has an adult toilet and a child sized toilet! Guess who wanted to try them both out?! My beautiful, ambitious, fearless and independent child, Annabelle Grace, tried them both!
We had a successful second day of Block Two!
(She loves to carry her potty to where ever we are placing it for the time period!)
By day 5, we were able to start Block Three. During Block Three you try not to prompt at all, and you wait for your child to alert you about needing to use the bathroom. You continue wearing clothes (still no panties/ underwear/ pull-ups.) Really this is kind of like the “test.” You continue small outings, and even if you are driving and your child says “pee” or whatever they say to alert you, you pretty much pull over immediately and let them pee. At this point you want successes. If they do have accidents, you just remind them “pee goes in the potty, not on the floor.”
After this point, life moves on, which is where we are now! It has been 1.5 months since we initially started potty training! We have successfully done full grocery store trips (They take me an hour to an hour and a half with both girls in tow.) We have made trips to and from Memphis in the same day. We have spent the night in different locations/beds, and we have tackled places like the zoo, and trips to the farm with Daddy, and so far, Annabelle Grace has done so well!
She has even moved past her super anxious bed time pees, and Will only takes her to pee once, around 10-11pm. Other than that, she will typically last until anywhere from 5am-6:30am in the morning with no accidents.
We still keep a potty and toilet paper and wipes in the car and it will remain there for a while. We started letting her use panties under her clothes about two weeks ago, and she is even doing well getting two layers up and down!
Our next big feat will be our upcoming trip to Michigan! That will be a long car ride! Hopefully in a future post I can say it went well, with no accidents, but I’m not counting on that until it happens!
As for the things we have used for potty training-
-The book “Oh Crap! Potty Training” linked earlier in this post. It truly was a helpful book with knowing how to even start! She breaks EVERYTHING down into chapters! She has chapters devoted to kids under 18 months, over 3 years old (I think), day training, day and night training, poop problems, FAQs, problem solving, what to look for to know if your kid is ready to train (not the typically signs most people think they should look for- and she even explains why), and more. Really- it’s a great read if you decided you like this/her method!
-We own three little Summer Infant My Size Potties– we have three because we have two bathrooms that Annabelle Grace frequents and we have one for our car. (These are the little potties you see in all of the pictures in this post!
-We own three portable kid’s toilet seat covers– they fold up super flat, have a plastic zipper pouch, and easily fit into diaper bags! They have been great and don’t seem to slide or give, so are perfect when we are in stores and restaurants. We have three- one for me, one for Will, and an extra to keep in the van, just in case!
-We have two Munchkin Sturdy Potty Seats for the two bathrooms Annabelle Grace uses. Eventually we’ll completely do away with the tiny potties, (until it’s Eloise’s turn to potty train) but for now we have both options ready. She’s just about to the point she prefers these potty seats on the real toilet instead, which is great!
-We have two step stools pretty similar to these for each of the bathrooms that have the potty seats for the real toilets.
-We have a pack of puppy pads that we use to line her fitted sheets, carseats, and stroller seats. Funny- when I linked this- there is a picture of a baby on it! Guess they are frequently used for babies and potty training!
That pretty much sums up our first experience potty training! I’m sure Annabelle Grace will loathe this post one day, but we have a while until she gets to that point!