I am excited to say I am currently a mother of only one in diapers!! I am as shocked as you are! Actually probably more!! I know some kids revert back and forth between diapers and underwear and go through ups and downs, and that is why I am currently knocking on every piece of wood in my house in hopes I didn't wave our flag too soon!
Since I am a potty training expert now (totally joking! though we have gone a full week without any accidents!!) I thought I would share some advice. Probably not the advice you wanted to hear, like how did I do, best tips and tricks, or even how to potty train in a weekend. Don't ask me any of those questions, I do not know the answers! For me, I totally winged it and by a mighty miracle the little man caught on. The advice I am going to share today are the top 4 things (because there are many more than 4) that I myself learned while potty training Tate!
When we begin potty training our little ones, we think 'boy do they have a lot to learn!' They need to learn how to sit on the potty, put on their underwear, pull down their pants, wash their hands properly, flush the toilet and sometimes we even need to start from the very, very beginning and teach them where the pee and poo comes out of their little bodies (been there)! These kiddos really do have to learn a lot while potty training and it is quite a process!
For me, what I didn't realize before beginning this dreaded process, was all that I was also going to learn. I thought it would be all about Tate and his learning process, but in the end I think I may have learned even more than him!!
What I learned while potty training my son...
Small accomplishments are big
Sometimes peeing a little in your underwear and then running to the potty to finish is major! Like you get a handful of M&M's reward for that one and mom may or may not be jumping up and down like a crazy person (just maybe?!)!! Teaching our kids how to use the potty is a huge process. Like huge! Think about where they start, peeing and pooping in their diaper (totally gross) to sitting on the toilet by themselves, pulling their pants up and down and finishing it all off with clean hands. It is a process, and along that process will be many, many small accomplishments until they reach that final, big accomplishment. Get excited, jump around and excitingly scream when they have small steps. Don't just sweat the small stuff, but celebrate the small stuff too!
I have been so grateful for this reminder. Most of us are constantly wanting to change and to become our better selves. Many times I get frustrated with myself because I am not there - where I want to be. I am not doing this or becoming that. I set these goals but fall short. But what about the small changes I did make? What about those small successes I am making towards that big accomplishment I am working towards? I need to get more excited about my personal small accomplishments, just like Tate peeing a little in his underwear but holding the rest until he reach the toilet. He did it! He made it! He may not have made it all the way, or done it perfectly, but it was better than before. Get excited about small progress.
Our kids are capable of more than we think
I know it is going to sound horrible, but I totally didn't think Tate was going catch onto this potty training 'thing' and do it right now. A couple days after we started the process I kept telling Geoff how shocked I was with the situation we were in - we had a kid ready and on his way to being potty trained. I'm sure Geoff thought I was a lunatic every time I made a comment like that to him! Didn't I start the potty training process in hopes the result would be a potty trained kid?! Yes of course, but I didn't think he was ready or capable of becoming potty trained right now. I started the process more of a way to get our 'feet wet' and try again later this summer. I didn't really believe in Tate and that he was capable of doing.
My kids surprise me every day with things they say and do. I love laying in bed with Geoff every night recapping my day with the kids. "Guess what Tate said!" "You will never believe what Maddie did." Or the best one "The kids play sooo well together today!" I am constantly shocked by all that my kids are doing. As a parent, spouse and friend I know that I need to believe more in those I associate with and tell them that! We need to be each other's biggest cheerleaders and believe in each other!
Teach with love
This has been one of my biggest overall lessons learned as a parent. Before being a parent I thought 'I am the parent, the adult. You are the little child. You will listen to me.' And then I had kids and realized that is not quite the best mentality to have when parenting.
Of course I have frustrating moments and days when all I want to do and sometimes do do is say "because I said so!" "just listen to me!" In those moments of frustration, I can just see my kids get fueled up by my intense energy and it sparks that control battle kids just love to have with adults (am I right?! we have all been in that control battle with our kids before!). On the contrary, when I take the time to take a deep breathe, listen to my children's thoughts and feelings, try and sympathize with where they are coming from and then teach with sharpness but immediately followed by love there's a difference in their reaction, and in mine.
There were plenty of times during our potty training process where we would have just asked Tate if needed to go potty and he would immediately say "no potty." Fast forward 1 minute and he is peeing on the floor! Awwww!! There were times I wanted to yell, scream, shake him, and stop the process dead in its tracks but you just can't. That sort of reaction will get you nowhere. At least nowhere productive. I am not saying you need to teach your children like small adults. We should teach and discipline our children when needed, but immediately let them know in some way you love them just not their behavior or decision. This lesson has come over the years, but was very different from the perspective I had of raising children.
Commit, commit, commit
I know every kid potty trains differently, every parent pushes (or doesn't) differently, and every family situation for each kid during potty training is different. I am sure no two kids learned how to use the potty exactly the same. Every situation is different and calls for different methods/techniques/tips. For us, though, the thing that helped get from A (peeing and pooping in a diaper) to B (peeing and pooping in the toilet) was committing. Full commitment from Geoff and I to work with and for Tate to make sure he was successful.
We decided that once we started this
dreadful potty training process Tate only would wore underwear (except for naps and bedtime - that's a completely separate potty training process right? right!). Switching from underwear to diapers to pull-ups was just too confusing for Tate and for me. I knew if we did a mixture of everything I would rely on pull-ups too much for "special trips" to the grocery store or the zoo or a friends house for a play date and those "special trips" would turn into regular occurrences and we would be doing this dreaded process halfway forever. For us we just committed. We only put Tate in underwear and stayed home for days and days and days to help him learn how to use the toilet, feel comfortable using the toilet and gain confidence in himself. It was an awful process, as I am sure it is for most kids and parents, but the thing that helped us have success was committing all the way!
I love this little (or actually rather BIG) personality Tate has these days! Here are a few photos of what every day looks like with this guy!
And for those really interested in the cliff notes version of how we potty trained Tate...
We started during the weekend so that one of us could always be sitting with Tate and giving him all our attention. We sat him on the potty seat and gave him a huge glass of apple juice! He loves apple juice and rarely gets it, so it was special, special treat! We plotted the iPad in front of him and told him "bottoms up" and he guzzled and guzzled and guzzled juice all day, which then led to lots and lots of peeing and practicing in the potty seat. We did this for the next 36 hours until we felt he was comfortable on the potty seat. We continued to lock ourselves at home for 3 full days (I felt like I was stuck in a dungeon!) and had a mixture of accidents and successes. We made a big deal about the successes and not-so-big deals about the accidents but used them more as teaching moments. Like I said above, we used only underwear and made that commitment early on. After a few days we started to venture out in small windows. We never had any accidents out, but continued to have a few accidents at home. At this point I felt he knew he really needed to use the bathroom, just didn't want to stop playing or doing whatever he was doing. At this point, I would make a big deal about the accidents and "how sad his planes were that they were now all wet" (all his underwear have planes on them - obviously!). He caught on pretty quickly (which leads me to believe Maddie or future children will be horrible to potty train!) and is still doing great!
In the beginning stages of potty training I was kicking and screaming through the entire process!! It was a pain. A huge pain!! I thought I had made a terrible mistake starting him so early because it was so convenient (for me) to have him just go in his diaper anytime, anywhere (the middle of Kroger) versus having to run around wherever I was to try and find the nearest bathroom, all while juggling a one year old trying to reach for the potty seat and touch all things disgusting in sight. What had I just gotten myself into!! But, I can say now that the light at the end of the tunnel is close (not counting us totally there), the whole process was worth it!
I am so proud and excited to say, I am a mother of one child in diapers!! Woohoo!!!