Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back on the Train...

...the potty train. Before reading, be advised the words "poop", "potty" and "panties" are used frequently throughout this post. If you are offended or grossed out by any of these words you should stop reading now...but if you're a parent I'm sure you're numb to the use of these words!


18 months ago Ruth Ann started showing interest in potty training (that's when the picture above was taken), so 18 months ago I bought a little potty, little panties and we set out on the road to potty training. 18 months ago I sat on top of my VERY high horse and proclaimed I would NEVER put my child in Pull-ups and deemed them "over rated diapers". 18 months later and rivers of tears later (rivers filled with tears belonging to both myself and Ruth Ann) I have spent countless dollars on Pull-ups, new undies and shouted "JUST POOP ALREADY!" more than I ever thought humanly possible...another shining example of how humbling parenting can be...humbling to the point it brings you to your knees in defeat.

As I type the following words I'm knocking on wood, crossing my fingers...whatever it takes in the hopes that I don't jinx myself...since last Thursday afternoon when I picked Ruth Ann up from pre-school she has been wearing wear big girl panties (except when sleeping...don't judge unless you've potty trained) and she's been CLEAN & DRY! Now when she goes to my in-laws tomorrow and back to school next week she'll be back in a pull-up...I'm not ready to send her into the world without a pull-up just yet but we have gone out of the house on several occasions this weekend and she's managed to either use the potty where ever we were or she was able to make it home...success is very near my friends **I began typing this post on Sunday, it's now Tuesday...let me modify this to read she was dry all day Monday while with her grandparents, who rewarded her with a shiny quarter, but she pooped in her undies both yesterday and today...I'm still counting dry undies as a serious improvement!**

Along my 18 month journey I've sought out and received a lot of advice on the subject of potty training...and if you're reading this and you've potty trained a human being you've probably heard all the same advice. What I offer you now is not to be perceived as advice...but rather comfort for those who are fighting, have fought or will one day fight this battle...

1. Pull-ups aren't so bad...they're expensive, but sometimes necessary...so don't judge!  I vowed I wouldn't use them and I probably judged those who had...because before you have kids you think you know EVERYTHING about what you should be doing to raise children correctly...another humbling moment. If I had the luxury of being a stay at home mom I probably would not have used them at all. But since I work 3 days a week and have family keeping my children I didn't want to burden them with the chore of changing dirty panties...if given the choice of changing a dirty pull-up vs. dirty undies...I'll take the pull-up please. Over time Ruth Ann developed a very expensive pull-up habit and I realized I was buying a box of pull-ups nearly once a week...which meant I had to go to Target once a week and once I'm in Target I always need just a few more things & oh the dollars I started adding up in my head...that was when I realized I had to get serious about potty training & fast! I just couldn't afford the $100 cover charge to Target any longer!

2. Every child is different...I know I heard people say this once or hundred times...but it's really true and until you start potty training I don't think there is any way of knowing whether your child will be easy or hard to potty train. I've had friends who practically potty trained they're kids over night...and I HATED hearing their success stories...happy for them, but seriously jealous that I would no longer see them in the diaper isle at the local Target. Ruth Ann is strong willed...with a capital "S". I already see a little leader emerging and one day this strong will is going to take her a long way...and help afford the best nursing care possible for her dear sweet parents...but in childhood her strong will is often times in direct opposition with the plans of her equally strong willed mother...I'm big enough to admit that I know exactly where that strong will came from. I've learned just because they may show interest does not mean it's going to happen over night...for some it might, but I'm here to say I tried IT ALL!! I used rewards...first candy because we usually don't keep sweets in the house, but that didn't make an impact...then I had toys displayed on the back of the potty for months as a reward for going the whole day with clean undies...after being taunted for months by those barbies, which to me were proof of my continuing failure, I took them to the beach on our family beach trip and told my niece & Ruth Ann if they could go the whole day without having an accident then I would give them a barbie. Ada has been potty trained for a while so I knew she would get a Barbie each night...I thought a little competition might push Ruth Ann in the right direction. Each night Ada got a Barbie...Ruth Ann never got one. She cried for a minute or two, but soon forgot and went back to her un-trained ways...clearly competition and bribery weren't working. I tried putting her in cloth training pants and regular undies...she would just mess them up and not tell me until I found the mess for myself later. One blog suggested taking 1-2 weeks of staying home all day every day and doing nothing but potty training...but I have a limited amount of vacation time off and if you think I'm spending 2 weeks of my precious vacation time potty training then you've lost your mind!

In the end I think she just wasn't ready. She couldn't hold it and she wasn't going to the bathroom completely when I made her sit on the potty. My friend Brantley gave me the best piece of advice about timing...leading me to my 3rd tip...

3. When you notice they are waking up from nap time and bed time dry then it may be a good time to start potty training. So I started making sure she went to the potty before nap time and bed time and I limited her fluids after supper time...success! She was waking up dry...so we started talking more about going to the potty again...the tears returned but mostly because I was interrupting what she was doing, but last night she actually stopped what she was doing and told us she needed to go to the potty! Behold, I see the light at the end of the tunnel!

If you're in the middle of potty training and would like some moral support...please feel free to contact me...I'll offer no advice because I'm seriously the last mom on the planet to offer potty training advice...but I'll be happy to offer you what ever sympathy you may need...because really that's all we need some times as moms...someone to listen to us and take their turn to try to guide us in the correct direction.  I'll also share with you my own horror stories in the hopes to cheer you up and encourage you that you will make it through the potty training years...and hopefully your child will survive them too.  I was fully prepared to send Ruth Ann off to college with her Depends in hand...but I'm finally to a place where I believe she may actually be potty trained by then!

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Brantley said...

Well now I can send Roper to your house and you can potty train him for me. :) Just kiddiing...I'm not even going to attempt that for a while! And really I shouldn't take credit for that advice I gave you...it was advice given to me by one of my college roommates.

The Crotwell Family said...

I seriously think the two of us could write a book on potty training. From your thought to my thoughts on the matter it would make for a humorous read. I will just tell you that Allie-Ann is JUST now starting to wear her panties that I have had stacked in her dresser drawer since she was 18 months old. I too, started early thinking I have the smartest child on the planet that she will get this in no time.....Ha, boy did I get a wake up call. I honestly think it's the smart ones that fight it the most because they are smart enough to know that someone else can change their mess for them. Honestly, to share a story with you, Allie-Ann was standing in the living room when out popped a poop from her diaper...I was nursing Belle at the time...nice. So I told her to leave it that we would take care of it, but no sooner had I told her this that she was running back with toilet tissue, picked up the pooped and flushed it down the toilet. So what child can poop in her pants, pick up her own poop and flush it down the toilet and act like it's just any other day. So I COMPLETELY understand your journey of the potty war. We've been living it over here as well and I only hope Belle will be more advanced in her skills. Oh and we had Allie-Ann in cloth diapers for most of her diapering years because all the research said that those wearing cloth diapers are easier to train to use the potty....Ha.