5 THINGS THEY DON'T TELL YOU ABOUT POTTY TRAINING
There are so many things about parenting that you forget once you’re out of a specific stage. Like now that Sebastian is two, it’s so hard to think back to when he was six months old and just starting solid foods. It takes a bit to remember where my mind was at, how worried I was when trying a new flavor on him, and what things I prioritized on his “to eat” list.
I feel like the same will eventually be true with potty training. Maybe I’ll forget everything we went through. Or maybe I won’t. Either way, I thought I would share some of the things I learned from our Potty-Training-Party-of-Fun (which for the record, was neither a party, nor particularly fun). Now let me also preface this post with: I am not a healthcare professional and the following should not be considered medical advice. So take this for what it is: my own personal experience. If your potty training escapades were different—that’s great! These are just my personal thoughts and I'm trying to keep it real with what we went through.
So I did the "millennial" mom thing (and, air quotes because the word millennial is the worst)—I read all the blogs, polled a ton of friends and family that had already gone through it, and tried to prepare ourselves as much as I could. And even after all of that... I still wasn't prepared. I felt there were still a few things some of those mom-bloggers left out. So here are my top 5 Things They Don't Tell You About Potty Training:
1. It takes longer to potty train boys.
I know there will be one mom out there that reads this and goes— oh, my son was an angel and was sooooo easy to potty train! GOOD FOR YOU! HIGH FIVE! That was not our experience!
From everyone we’ve spoken to, including our daycare (and let’s face it, they are literally Potty Training Professionals) they all say the same thing: it takes boys longer. I’m not even going to try and unpack that, because we all know the stereotypes associated with boys, and guess what? Apparently those also apply when trying to make them poo or wee in a toilet!
We are over two months in, and Sebastian still has accidents. It’s not every day, but it happens enough that I ask myself if there is an end in sight. Life tells me there is, and we will just keep trucking along until he’s fully nailed it.
2. The “3-Day Method” is a joke.
I read ALL the blogs, talked to ALL the friends, and everywhere I looked maintained that “the 3-Day Method is the only way to go”. Insert eye-roll here.
I did everything all the blogs that preached the 3-day method said to do. I bought fun extra toys for Bash, some new coloring books, lined up a couple of his favorite movies, covered all our important furniture with waterproof covers, etc. He went full-nakey the first day and we were on constant “willy-watch”. But here’s the deal... after 3 days he was still having multiple accidents. Now, I’m sure the 3-day method works for some people. But for whatever reason... this method took a hell of a lot longer than 3 days for Sebastian.
3. No one said it was going to be easy.
Oh boy, ain’t that the truth. Most friends and family (many of which have boys) all told me that potty training is THE worst. Oh and wouldn't you know, I didn’t believe them. I stupidly thought it would be different for us. And if you’re the mama reading this hoping that your potty training experience is easy, I sincerely hope it is!
Potty training ranks up there with one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a parent. Right up there with “cry-it-out”, and that's in my top five of Hardest-Things-I’ve-Ever-Had-to-Endure-as-a-Human-Being. Okay, maybe that is a bit dramatic, but listening to my child cry for (what felt like) hours on end, was literally the worst. But like most things that are difficult with parenting, I am SO thankful we did it. I’m thankful we did cry-it-out, and our son now sleeps like a champ. And I’m thankful we went through potty training too. I mean, the thing with potty training is, it’s kind of non-negotiable. At some point, we all gotta do our business in the porcelain throne.
Have no fear though—there is a silver lining to potty training being the absolute worst: each day it gets a little easier. Believe me, that first day my husband and I both had two VERY large and potent gin and tonics. And the next day, taking Sebastian to the potty was a little bit easier. And each day, he improved. And now, I don’t even think about it; it’s just part of our daily routine. Does he still have accidents sometimes? Sure. But they are fewer and farther between.
4. There will be an incident of some sort where you have your child’s poop all over you.
When I first started talking to one of my best friends about potty training, her first words were, “just be ready to clean poo out of little boy underwear”. This seems like an obvious part of potty training... but dear GOD—cleaning poo out of underwear is SO much worse than changing a diaper. And then there is the added bonus of having to deal with an big ol' accident out of the comfort of your own home.
There was one day where we were out and about... and Sebastian had a BIG accident. I'm talking the kind of accident where I would have just stripped him down and thrown him in the bath if we were at home, type of accident. The closest bathroom was a Chipotle (which seems totally fitting now that I think about it), and I took him in the big stall to clean him up. By the end of it, I somehow managed to have his poo all over our diaper bag, all over his shoes, and somehow a big smudge running all the way from my wrist to elbow. I left that bathroom thinking I would truly never be clean again, and I swore that we would never leave the house until he was 5 and competent with going numero dos in a potty BY HIMSELF. But about a mile down the road, I started belly laughing as I repeated the story to my husband. I mean what else can you do after that situation? Staying confined to your house is in no way as fun as cleaning poop off your arm in a Chipotle bathroom sink!
5. These "Training Underwear" are actually worth purchasing!
In parenting these days, there are so many new, and oftentimes useless, tools out there to help you feel like you're doing the most! Normally, us Woolleys go for the basics and figure everything else out along the way. We tried to do that with potty training too, until we walked into our first day of daycare with a semi-potty-trained boy and a giant stack of little boy underwear, and were told we didn't have the right supplies.
Sebastian's teacher showed us a pair of "Training Underwear" and before you tell me how useless that sounds, hear me out. First, they were recommended to us by a Potty Training Professional... so you know they have to work. Second, they are actually more absorbent in helping to contain a wee, instead of it going down his leg and recreating that one scene from Billy Madison. And finally, what Sebastian's teacher also mentioned is that they are a good segue into proper underwear. You can even use them as an incentive to "graduate" to Big Boy/Big Girl pants!
*This is NOT an affiliate link. It's linked to Target (because Target) and also because I think they are a bit cheaper than anywhere else (Amazon).
And just because you made it all the way down here, I'll give you my extra credit, last piece of advice for potty training tip:
6. Don't give up. It will all be worth it in the end.
I know this sounds like a really, really obvious one. And it is—but there were times where I wanted to quit. Several times, if I'm honest, I wanted to throw in the towel and admit that he would wear diapers until he was 6.
Like the time we were at the park and Sebastian had an accident, so I took him into the always-gross park bathroom to have him try to go pee, and to change him. I brought in his little portable toilet seat, which of course lost the one screw that was in it as soon as I pulled it out of the diaper bag. In my stupidity, I still put the thing on top of the toilet hoping that it would still work. Well wouldn't you know, the thing crumbled into pieces, and then fell in the toilet. And as soon as I took Sebastian off the potty, which was more like rescuing him from falling in, he immediately decided to start sorting through the uncovered and soiled sanitary bin as I tried to fish his broken seat out of the toilet! I eventually cleaned him off, threw the pieces of the wet potty on the grass in front of the playground, and hardcore sobbed my eyes out. It was not my finest hour. I felt like a massive failure as a parent. And after all of that, I really, really wanted to give up on potty training.
There were times where it would have just been easier to put him in a diaper. And like so many other things in parenting—consistency is key. So we stuck with it, and here we are... still dealing with days where we have the occasional accident. Also still having days where he's completely accident-free. Eventually, he will get it and this too, will just be a phase in parenting.