BEST OF THE MESS ◽ ENCOURAGEMENT
The last few months, this page has been all about my fitness journey after having two babies. If you want to read about that, check out our archives!
This month I'm taking a sharp turn into momville. Specifically, I want to share the long, crazy, frustrating, exciting and rewarding journey of potty training my 2.5 year old.
When he was about 18 months old, Axel started to show signs that he wanted to use the big boy potty. He followed us in there, he'd try to pull himself up, he'd indicate when he had to go to the bathroom and started wanting his diaper changed anytime he went. I thought "Wow.... I don't know if I am ready for this.." but the more research I did suggested that it's better to start when they show signs instead of following a predetermined time that you set.
I had to have been 6 months pregnant with Jaxson when we started this process. And let me tell you, there have been SO many lessons learned. So, I wanted to share those. Obviously every child is different and boys are vastly different than girls, but if I could go back and save myself some of the frustration, I would in a heartbeat.
Lesson #1: Be all in, or just don't. When we started, I was 100% dedicated when we were at home....but not so much when we got in the car, went to the store, the park, the gym, church or anywhere really. This ultimately led to months of confusion and frustration for my little guy. I didn't know it was causing confusion, I just knew that when we would get home and I would take his diaper off, it was like I had to retrain him. Every time. Finally, one day about 6 months in, I decided to line the car seat with towels, get a foldable potty seat and leave the diapers at home. There was a little learning curve, and I became an expert at removing the car seat cover, but the progress I had been desperate to see for months finally came. If I could go back and do it again, this is probably the biggest thing I would've considered - whether I was ready to go all in, or to wait longer before even starting.
Lesson #2: Stickers, stickers, stickers. When I decided to start potty training, I was flooded with all the suggestions. "My son loved M&Ms when he went potty." "Mine liked to aim at Cheerios." "Mine would get a new toy from the dollar store." You name it, I heard it. So I tried them. The M&Ms resulted in tantrums because he would just want them, forget about going potty, and then have an accident while I was trying to calm him down and explain how to get an M&M. What finally did work, was sticker charts! Pinterest has a bunch of great templates but I just made my own using a marker and paper. At first I made these huge elaborate charts that had a trail of spots for going pee, spots for going poo with the famous poo emoji all over, and spots for accident-free days. I wanted to keep him motivated with the stickers, so I would get different kinds of stickers with different fun characters. Then I started using flashcard paper for his charts so that we could take them to the store when he filled it up and trade it in for a hot wheels or Play-Doh. Almost immediately after I started using stickers, we made a huge transition from me taking him to the bathroom on a schedule, to him actively telling me he had to go potty. Or more, he'd yell "I gotta go I gotta go!"
Lesson #3: Be open and if anything, over communicate with childcare. When I work out or go to church, there is a team there helping care for my son. One of the biggest struggles has been him having accidents there. It wasn't until I found that sticker charts worked so well, and had the childcare workers willing to use them, that he started going accident-free there, too. It also helped that I had switched to flashcards because I could put one of the cards and a sheet of stickers in a baggie for them to use. I had to make sure to show him where the potty was and check if he needed to go before I left him there. I'd show him the stickers and remind him and the workers how he would earn a sticker. Once that consistency was there, the accidents stopped.
So here we are. He's just over 2 ½ years old and not only have the accidents almost entirely stopped, but now Axel has become super independent. He will go to the bathroom, use his stool to turn on the light, close the door, take off his pants and go potty all by himself! Now we are working on putting his pants back on by himself, and we are a very long way from when we started.
Needless to say, this mom is SO happy with his progress!