Monday, January 18, 2010

Potty Training Guide... erm... Guide on How to Abandon Potty Training

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here...

I'm pretty sure that should be the opening line of any potty training "manual" (imagine me speaking this with aggressive air quotes). Because "3 Day Potty Training Solution" - can suck it. That means you too, "One Day Guide to Potty Training".

Since we had a full week off with Maddie between Christmas festivities and back to daycare/work January 4th, we figured it was high-time to start the official attempt at potty training.

This included prep work of:

  • reading a lot about potty training, with and without Maddie
  • including her on the trip to Walmart to buy "big girl underwear"
  • talking and prepping and generally hyping-up the whole "you're gonna be a big girl, potty time woot to the woot!"
  • buying an superfluous potty (as we already had 2) that was specifically DORA-themed 
  • stocking up on ice cream treats, m&m's, and stickers/potty training charts
Anyone who knows me, knows I'm just a bit too Type A to go into battle without researching my enemy. The research was done. The groundwork was laid. The Daycare Provider was conferred with, and in agreement that It.Was.Time.

So we went whole hog. No pull ups (oh I had plenty on hand, but not for "training" purposes - more for when we went out somewhere) - just underwear between the pee and my carpets.

The first few days were hit and miss. Like maybe a 50% hit rate. As long as I was asking, coaxing, encouraging, doing-nothing-but-watching-her-like-a-hawk-the-entire-time, we were able to pee pee on the potty. She got it immediately. You sit on the potty and you squirt a bit. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes not much at all, but enough to warrant the demand of a "Dib - the ice cream treat".

And then maybe I relaxed. Or got a bit tired of the constant watching/monitoring/asking/coaxing. I tried to explain/encourage/bribe her that she needed to tell me BEFORE she went pee. That when she needed to pee, she needed to go on the potty, not tell me AFTER she had already started peeing.

This went on for more than a few days until I started to get frustrated. Like how many times do I need to ask you if you need to go on the potty, before you'll put the sensation and the need to tell me ahead of time together? Because this is totally the LAST TIME I'm washing all the pads/straps on your highchair...

By the time Jan 4th came around, we had hit a milestone - she was starting to poop in the potty. That was almost a 100% hit rate. She wouldn't necessarily tell us - she'd just head to the potty and sit and sit and sit and sit. Finally I figured out, oh - she's working on a Number 2. So that's awesome (and also not just a little bit gross to clean up out of a potty chair, for the record). I figured - well, if she's got this, then pee isn't far behind.

Except it still was. Our daycare provider was all over the no pull-ups, just underwear, style of training we were trying. So that's awesome. Except it wasn't for her either because Maddie still wasn't able to "tell" when she had to go.

She would go - no hesitation, if you asked her to come and sit on the potty. So it wasn't a fear thing. Just a body-function-not-triggering-her-thought-process thing.

So after another week of no real progress, I reverted. To pull-ups. I figured this would still give us the opportunity to work on the "pull up, pull down" easier access to potty training, but without the mess. Except pull-ups are an easy way for you (as the parent) to get lazy about potty training too. So while there was no mess, there was really no progress being made at all.

I'm not a quitter and I hated the thought of putting all the progress we had made on the shelf and just abandoning the entire endeavor. So I researched more. And read more. And chatted and discussed and asked for opinions from pretty much any mom-type-person I came across.

It all came to pretty much the same conclusion - if she's not ready (and she was mentally, but perhaps not physically), there's no point in continuing. Because we could just frustrate her, we would (definitely) get frustrated and it could turn into a far harder process than it should be.

So we quit. For now. Good thing diapers are on sale this week. I bought another 2 boxes. Hoping that perhaps this would be the last... I guess we'll try again in a few weeks.

What's really ironic, is that I'm not frustrated with her at all. She's still young, perhaps just that little bit too young to really "get" it yet. But I'm frustrated with myself - is it weird that as a mom, you feel like potty training could be "your" failure, not your kids? Like, I could have been more on top of it. Perhaps if I pushed a little harder, or if I had watched more closely, or not been so quick to move to pull-ups, then we would have been further along?

Ah - the guilt of motherhood. How I've missed you these past few months... welcome back.



Melissa said...

You're doing the right thing. There's no shame in a pull-up phase! She'll get it eventually.

Joanna and Marcus said...

this is how i know NOTHING. I thought pull ups WERE part of the phase. jesus.