After a couple of false starts, I’ve finally succeeded in potty training. Below I’ll tell you my experiences of days 1, 2, 3, and 4 of toilet training and let you know the mistakes I made and the things I’d change if I had my time over again.
My husband bought me a book for Christmas called ‘Easy Toilet Training’. I’ve given it a few glares over the last three days thinking it’s a bit much to call toilet training ‘easy’. That is because my experience and the experience of almost all mothers is that potty training your first child is anything but easy…even if you have an extremely cooperative child.
I’ve had to pray for patience and write myself pep talks the whole way through the last few days as I’ve begun to feel like I’m losing it…especially on day 2 of potty training!
However, this is a success story and I’ve reached the end of day 4 of potty training and my boy is doing just fine! He’s hardly urinating during the day with underpants on. He is still wearing nappies at night and during daytime naps, but you can see below why I made this choice instead of going cold turkey.
But, I won’t give any more away. I hope you enjoy reading my experiences and I’d be encouraged if you’d comment and tell me what your experiences have been.
First Disasterous Toilet Training Venture
When Luke was 6 months old I ambitiously tried to potty train him. I’d been inspired by a video of a Japanese mother who got her newborn to poop and wee on command. So, I tried sitting my boy on a small plastic potty I’d purchased. He was happy to do it once, but then there were tears thereafter. It was almost impossible to get him to sit. At the time, my back was quite sore, so we decided to wait due to both factors.
My husband and I then agreed to start toilet training again a few months ago, but this attempt was a disaster too. One lady at my husband’s workplace said we should wait another few months until Luke’s ‘nerves are myelinated enough to control body functions appropriately’. Hence, I have written the account below which I believe has been a success.
Potty Training Preparation
After reading a toilet training book I got for Christmas called Easy Toilet Training, I did a readiness checklist (like the one on this page) to ensure my 2-and-a-half-year-old was ready for the challenge. He scored well and it seemed to indicate he was ready.
Among the things that indicated it was a good time to start were:
- It’s summer – a good time for lots of washing which you’ll be doing if you toilet train
- He’ll have a new baby sister in a few months, so we didn’t want to leave it too late so he won’t regress and
- He asked to use the toilet the other day.
We decided the toilet training would start on Monday. I was planning on staying home for three days but was only able to do it for day 1 and day 3 of potty training as we needed to get more undies and other potty-training supplies on day 2!
It seemed like it was going to be a messy process, so I took all the unnecessary items out of the immediate vicinity of the toilet including the toilet brush, toilet rolls, and bin. I also put the towels up on the shower glass, so as not to clog up the small area we had.
Toilet Training Technique
On Day 1 of toilet training, I began by praying for calmness and patience, and for competence for Luke. This was very reassuring and I felt that, even if this whole toilet training venture was a failure like my previous two attempts, God always has a good plan ultimately.
My plan, which I got out of the book ‘Easy Toilet Training’ was to demonstrate the process myself, get dolly to ‘demonstrate’ it by pouring water down her backside while she sat on the toilet (Luke loved this!) and then say to Luke, ‘Your turn now.’
After the first two demonstrations, Luke was as keen as mustard to show me and dolly how it was done. We took his undies off and he sat down. I learned to tell him to hold his willy in the toilet (after I realized he wasn’t very good at shuffling back on the seat) and then give it a little shake when finished to make sure all droplets were in the loo, instead of the toilet seat.
While he sat, I read him a book. I think I must have read him 20 books on day 1 of potty training!
Then he had to climb down and I helped him put on his undies (he doesn’t seem to have to dexterity to do this himself yet). He has to balance on the stool, wash his hands, and then dry them and flush the toilet.
Then he gets a lolly. The book said you can cut a jelly bean up into 8 pieces so they’re not high on sugar all day long. Instead, they get a little ‘hit’ to keep them motivated and happy.
Day 1 of Potty Training
One of the first obstacles we tackled was the issue of shorts. Like his Daddy, my little man is one of routine. He likes things to be exactly the same every day. So, he was non-plussed when I said we were only putting undies on and not his nappy or his shorts.
He was unhappy with this decision, but soon overcame it when I said he could watch a toilet training video. He is very excited about videos as he almost never gets to watch them as I’m fairly strict with that sort of stuff for many reasons.
He sat and had his breakfast while he watched what I like to call a toilet training propaganda video. This went for about an hour…we broke up the video and he watched bits throughout the day. The next few days we parroted what he’d seen in the video below.
When he urinated all over the floor, we called it an ‘accident’ like the video. When he succeeded, we ‘celebrated’ like in the video.
I decided to ask Luke every 30 minutes whether he wanted to go to the toilet. As he watched the ‘propaganda video’ he did two wees right through his undies and seemed to not have noticed he’d soiled himself. I wasn’t sure if this was because he was so engrossed in the video or not.
Both times I noticed, I said, ‘Uh-oh. You’ve done an accident. Time to go to the toilet.’ I took him out of the highchair and ran him to the toilet dripping wet and we took off his undies (and shirt which he had also managed to wet).
Then he climbed up the toilet step which was an assisted process the first few times (but soon was able to do it independently). He didn’t do anything the first couple of times, but thereafter usually managed to squeeze something out as he knew it was expected of him.
He took his dolly with him, who obligingly did a wee on command every time. Then it was his turn to show her how it was done. While Luke did his wee on the big toilet, dolly sat in the potty we’d purchased when Luke was 6 months old. He seemed to feel comforted that she was sharing the experience with him.
After dinner, I put Luke to bed in undies and decided he was going to go cold turkey. He woke up in tears at 5:30 am the next morning with everything soaking. I supposed he’d get the hang of it eventually.
‘Ok,’ I told him, ‘Time to go to the potty.’
But, that wasn’t going to happen with an upset, half-asleep toddler. So, I changed everything and put him to bed again with some more undies.
End of Day 1
Day 1 of potty training was full of partial successes. That is, he’d do a little wee, realize he had undies on and then look at me and say he needed to go. Sometimes they were little wees and other times they were everywhere. Other points that were relevant include:
- I wrote myself little pep talks throughout the day, saying it was my job to not get cranky and just clean up the spills. Luke watched a lot more videos today than he’s ever done as I felt exhausted at being constantly vigilant.
- My husband called me at midday to ask how it was going so it was lovely to unload on him. Tristan considerately decided we needed to do very easy dinners for all this week as we’d be needing extra energy to deal with the potty training.
Even though I spent much of the day cleaning up spills, I felt strangely triumphant at the end of the day as I saw Luke was beginning to realize what his body was doing and even starting to tell me when he needed to go wee.
I needed some encouragement as day 2 of potty training could only have been described as the disaster day…
Day 2 of Potty Training
Perhaps the only lingering concern about Day 1 was that we had seen no poo. My little man is usually as regular as they come, especially when fed high fibre foods like sultanas.
After the night-waking event, Day 2 of potty training began fairly well. Luke was happy to go to the toilet at 7:30 am when he awoke.
I fed him his morning milk and he had an accident and then requested to go to the toilet twice in 20 minutes. He did wees both times and washed his hands.
Something I’ve noticed is that Luke takes advantage of the handwashing as he loves water so much. This means I sometimes needed to change his shirt as he got it everywhere.
This morning Luke had plenty of sultanas, blueberries, and Weet-Bix as I didn’t want to deal with a constipated toddler while toilet training. I thought, ‘There’s no way he can hold it in with that amount of fiber in him!’ I was right as I later saw.
After breakfast, we had a break and I popped a nappy on him and went to the local mall. We bought undies and a sturdier stool he wouldn’t fall off while washing his hands. We then went to a café to buy some chips which was a nice break from the monotony of toilet training.
We returned home and I fed him lunch. I toileted him and started feeling more anxious about the elusive poo I knew must be coming.
I put Luke to bed at 1:30 but fell asleep as I was exhausted from being so vigilant. I must have slept for half an hour. When I awoke everything was quite. As most moms know, this isn’t always a good sign. I wasn’t sure if he was asleep or something else was going down.
It turned out to be the latter.
When I peeped into his room, he had a mess. His undies were off and poo was everywhere! On the couch (thank goodness it was leather!), floor, bed, his little toy piano, and toy cars. Actually, he was using the poo as the ‘dirt’ for his toy dual-cab-ute to carry – points for creativity. He’d also given the floor a generous sprinkling of wee, just to finish the job successfully.
I was stunned and then I took two seconds and pulled myself together and said, ‘Luke, no. Poos go in the toilet.’ I rushed him to the bath and began the cleanup which I will not go into further other than saying I’m still trying to get the poo out of his dual-cab-ute despite two washing machine cycles.
I couldn’t help but get a little frustrated and short although it wasn’t his fault. The next hour found my mental health deteriorating as I juggled cleaning the mess and washing the many undies and other clothes and items that had been soiled. The afternoon ended in me sitting him in front of a DVD for an hour while I read a book…something I never resort to.
My mother soon called and was very encouraging about the whole thing. She said wees come first and then poos will follow, but sometimes it takes time. So I rallied and ticked this day off as a partial success because, even though we’d had a poo disaster, there was significant progress compared to Day 1 of potty training.
After I put Luke to bed in undies again, I did a little research and decided to switch to nappies at night and during daytime sleeps. This had the effect of revolutionizing Day 2 and Day 3 of potty training…
Day 3 of Potty Training
I felt a little fragile going into day 3 of potty training. After a fairly dry overnight nappy, Luke didn’t want to go to the toilet first thing in the morning. 20 minutes after his milk, he did a good wee on the loo though.
Really he didn’t miss a beat and was an efficiently trained toddler until lunchtime.
After lunch, Luke was toileted and I put on a nappy on him for his daytime sleep. He fell to sleep after half an hour and slept well for two hours. This was the wonderful refreshment that I needed especially as the last two days were exhausting!
We only had one significant failure of a wee in the afternoon after he woke up, but all other events were a success or a partial success. No poo came on day 3 of potty training, but I assumed he would do this on day 4.
A realization I made today was that Luke is capable of telling me if he needs to go or not. This means I don’t need to force him to go to the toilet every half hour. Instead, I ask him every 20 minutes and if he says no, then he says no – and usually he’s right. (He’s also started to hold his crotch when he needed to go which was such a lovely tell-tale sign!)
Day 4 of Potty Training
Day 4 of potty training started with a success. After this, I had a bath. I leave the door open while I bathe and Luke is free to come and go. While I was washing, Luke was fussing about and wanting to put pants on. I thought this was unusual for Luke and asked him if he wanted to do a poo in the toilet. He then said, ‘I get on potty and do poo.’ Then he pulled down his pants, sat on the toilet, and did 5 poops which took him about three minutes.
I didn’t think he’d do this for a while, so I was elated and sent my husband a message, celebrating the success.
At about 11:30 am, he did another poo after I toileted him (thank you, sultanas!). He seemed fascinated when he saw his poo floating – even if he was a bit disappointed that we had to flush it away in the end.
The last few days, I’ve been giving Luke little bits of apricot bites as a treat for urinating. However, I’d said I’d give him chocolate if he does a poo. Hence, the photo below is a picture of him enjoying his just rewards!
Potty training will make you want to tear your hair out. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not progressing. Keeping tabs on your progress will make you remember that you have indeed made improvements in the toilet training department. Remember that children will eventually toilet train whether that takes you 1 day, 2 days, 3 days or more!