Thursday, July 28, 2011

Adventures in Potty Training

So it figures that the other day I proclaim that we are 90% there on potty training, then we have some regression, ugh!!  I am writing this post as a personal documentation of our experience, and because one of my followers asked for more about our story and advice.  If you are squeamish about pooping, peeing, or bathroom talk consider yourself warned to move on now.

I would first like to say about potty training, that I take 80% of the blame for failure as I am just lazy about it.  The other 20% is complete stubbornness on Austin's part.  But we learn from each other and we are getting there slowly, but surely.

I wouldn't have even started potty training when we did, but opportunity presented itself.  Since Austin was 9 months old he had gone to an in-home daycare, the only licensed daycare in our area for probably 60+ miles around.  We were lucky to get him in there.  They were always full on kids, they could have 16 at a time, and I always felt they were too busy to devote time to potty training and was afraid Austin would get frustrated if they were not attentive to his needs.  Plus he was not showing all the signs of potty training readiness.  However in June, my employer opened a licensed Learning Center for 2-5 year old's.  The only caveat was that they did not set up a diapering area, as required for licensing, so they can only take kids who are potty trained.  The original daycare was 8 miles to the north of our house in another town, and I work 14 miles to the west of our town.  So I would drive 8 miles, drop off Austin, drive 8 miles back, literally past my house, then 14 miles to work.  Then I would repeat for pickup.  The new Learning Center is 3 miles past my office, so i still drive a little out of the way, but he is so much closer overall.  I talked to the Director of the Learning Center and he agreed that since they were just starting out that they would take Austin and attempt to potty train him. I could not pass up the opportunity to lessen my drive and have more time with my favorite two year old, plus no more diapers is a great thing.

That was at the beginning of June and we started out with him going four half days, the same schedule that he went to the old daycare.  After a couple of weeks he was starting to get the idea of going potty there, but would not sit on his potty seat at home.  One day I was out of town and Dustin had a meeting so Austin stayed at the Learning Center through his nap and he slept there, unlike at the old daycare where we had me work half days so I could take him home at nap time, so we switched our schedule to three full days, Tuesday-Thursday, and I stay home with him on Mondays and Dustin stays home with him on Fridays. His PTing continued to improve to the point where he was no longer having accidents at the Learning Center.  They of course were totally focused on the two kids they had for the first month and a half they were open, so they honed in on his cues right away.

At home we really struggled at first, but are making solid progress.  At first he refused to sit on the potty, we  got him a little kiddy potty chair thinking that would be the best thing.  We tried it in the bathroom, then the living room so he could watch TV.  We read stories to him on it, and we tried putting our laptop in front of him to play games while he sat on it.  He obviously hated the thing though and it was always a cry fest to get him to sit on it.  Eventually I tried taking the seat part off and put it on one of our big toilets.  He was much more interested in that so I went and bought a seat for each of our toilets and that is where we have found success. We also bought a step for one of our toilets that he is just a bit too short to stand at, but he seems to be hesitant about using it, having a similar reaction as to the potty chair.

When the staff of the Learning Center started with him they asked him if he wanted to sit or stand to pee.  They have a super tiny and adorable toilet plumbed in at the learning center, so he did not even need a step to stand at it.  He told them he wanted to sit though so that is how they started him out and taught him to aim himself down through the legs.  We went camping for the 4th of July and I forgot to take some type of potty with us, yes I already admitted to being lazy, lol!  We improvised on that trip and taught Austin to just stand and let it go in the woods.  It was just an overnight trip and luckily he did not need to go #2.  Since that time he has been all about standing to pee, which believe me I appreciate in public restrooms!!!

I have always heard and read that you should wait to potty train until a period of time when you will be home and can get the process down without complicating maters.  Well guess what, life happens and we have been traveling and what not and continue to work on it.  I think our recent trip to Colorado is the reason for our recent regression.  We started out the road trip with the intent to stop if Austin asked to potty.  For the first two occurrences it went down as easy at that.  If there was no bathroom in sight we would just pull over in a place where we could aim him out the door and let him go on the ground, out of sight of anyone (one of the perks of having a boy, right?)  The third time he said he needed to potty and we were on the interstate in the middle of no-where Utah, with no trees or natural cover.  We stopped anyway and I was just going to position myself to block his view.  When I went to get him out of the carseat he was already wet and so was his carseat.  At that point I decided to put him in pull-ups to prevent another accident while on the road.  Of course when he is in a pull-up he knows it and then the need to pee in the potty goes out the window, well and again honestly it was easier for lazy me to say "you have a pull-up on, just go" versus trying to find a restroom, or convenient location to stop.

When we got home from the trip I have had to firmly commit to no more pull-ups and go back to underwear to get him back in potty mode.  He is doing much better, but we still have the occasional accident.  Pooping is still a hard one, that for me anyway he has never vocalized the need for.  I more so catch his poop face or hear him grunting and whisk him off to the toilet.   If you miss either cue, well you had better get another pair of underpants. 

The transition to pee standing also presented an interesting issue while we were at my Mom's house in Colorado.  I took him in to pee and I had to lift him a bit to aim his stream into the toilet.  Next thing I know pee is coming out of the front end and poop is coming out the back.  So as if this isn't bad enough, now trying to figure out how to coax him to sit if he needs to poop, the next night Dustin takes him in to pee and the SAME THING HAPPENS!  Knocking on some serious wood that it has not happened since we have been home.

Anther tricky thing we have faced with PTing is that Austin loves to wash his hands in public restrooms, and if it has an automatic soap dispenser he is all over it.  He will ask to go "pee-pee in potty"  then when we get to the restroom firmly yell "No" about going potty and try to get to the sink.  A few times we have had to call his bluff and say no to going to the potty, for the third time in the middle of dinner at a restaurant.  So far it has not back fired on us, but one of these days the boy who cried "potty" will probably teach us to tell him no to the bathroom.

And on Monday I learned that you should only ask them to pee if you intend on taking them to the bathroom.  We had just finished up lunch in the dining room and I was going to put Austin in a pull-up for nap time.  I stripped off his bottoms and then asked if he needed to potty.  He of course tells me no, like always, but it hadn't been too long (or so I thought) since the last time that he went so I let it go.  Before I could get the pull-up unfolded he sent a stream across my dining room floor. Silly mommy, rookie mistake!

And one other clarification, I should mention that all of our potty training is in the day time at this point.  I think at this age most kids aren't able to hold urine through the night, and am not at all focused on that, so we still use nighttime diapers.  I will also try to switch him to at least a pull-up for naps to prevent an accident, although most times he can nap and wake up dry. 

So in closing, in the hopes of helping along others, maybe not that you learn what to do from me, but rather what not to do, here our my potty training tips:
  • Patience, patience, patience!
  • Pullups are basically glorified diapers.  If you want to get serious about PTing go to underwear.
  • There are two types of underpants, regular ones and training ones that are made from thick cotton and have several layers in the crotch.  The training ones are nice because if they have an accident most of it is absorbed right in the crotch area.  The regular ones result in a puddle on the floor during an accident.  The kicker is the training ones only come is simplistic styles, like the one pack we bought was all white and in the other pack one was blue, one was blue and brown stripes and the third has little construction vehicles on it.  When I first thought about PTing I bought the regular undies in two of Austin's favorite characters, Go Diego Go, and Cars.  Then the Learning Center Director recommended the training underpants, but of course Austin wants to wear his Diego's all the time and gets mad when I put him in the training pants.  In hind sight I would have saved the Diego's for when he was done with accidents.
  • Instead of asking if they need to potty, say "lets go potty".  When you ask you are likely to get a firm NO!
  • Did I mention patience? 


  1. You are so right on those last pieces of advice! I am SO glad that I never have to revisit potty training... it was not fun.

  2. I agree with the pullups...panties or undies are the way to go!

    I also agree to say it in a comment instead of a question...when you question you are always going to get a no. :)

  3. Thanks for posting about this. We're probably close to wearing panties all the time (except nap and nighttime, I totally agree with you there!!). Devon is going poop on the potty more than pee though. Believe me, I'm ok with that. We do the reward thing. She gets a hand stamp if she goes on the potty, or if she tries really hard to go. It's always so nice to hear other peoples experiences and get tips from them so again, thank you!

  4. I am so glad that I found your post Sarah! Avery is about to turn two but has been showing signs of wanting to sit on the potty. Any advice is appreciated!


Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment!