Tired of changing all the diapers? Teaching my kids to use
the "Big Kid Potty" sounded like the next best thing in parenting—at first. But
OMG, potty training wound up being the hardest thing I tackled as a parent, by
far! The kids have all the power, and they know it.
You really can't influence
the process as much as you would like to, and that's a blow to any parenting
ego. The trick is to keep your sanity. Here's how.
Emergency trips to the outhouse at the baseball field or the sketchy gas station bathroom earn extra treats, of course.
Using some sort of treat as a reward for using the potty seems reasonable at
first. But when your kid quickly realizes that she can hold her pee and let it
out a teaspoon at a time—thereby racking up as many M&Ms as possible—you are
headed for trouble. The problem with using treats is that they are for the
trainee, not the trainer.
Stock your own treat stash before you start potty
training your wee one and reward yourself frequently. Whether your treat of
choice is a piece of dark chocolate or a glass of wine, it doesn't matter. It's all
about you. Emergency trips to the outhouse at the baseball field or the sketchy
gas station bathroom earn extra treats, of course. Mom 1, trainee kid 0.
2. Skip the books
There are so many books on potty training tips and tricks there's an entire
section for them at the bookstore: "Potty
Train in Three Days!" "Quickest Potty Training Ever!" "Be a Potty Training Master!" On
top of all the how-to manuals there is an assortment of picture books for kids.
Do we really need picture books about using the potty? Save your sanity ahead
of time and skip the books. Trust me, nobody wants to read and re-read "Everyone Poops," "The Potty Train" or "Where's
the Poop?" over and over while sitting on the edge of the bathtub. Nobody.
3. Don't tell anyone
Once you share you can't take it back.
With Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all up in our daily lives it's hard to do
anything without sharing. And we love your tidbits about your kids—really, we
do. But please don't overshare about potty training.
Those pictures of kids
with their feet dangling sweetly from the too-tall toilet seat are endearing,
yes. But once you share you can't take it back. Your friends, co-workers,
siblings, neighbors and family dentist all know what's happening in your house.
And if it isn't going well, you are stuck answering a billion questions about
how not-well it's going. The advice you will receive from everyone in your
immediate circle of 1,200 Facebook friends will not be worth it. So keep it on a
need-to-know basis until you can confidently proclaim potty victory.
4. Ditch the potty seat
Wait, what? You heard me—skip the stupid little potty seat thing. No kid has
ever been seriously wounded or emotionally scarred from using a big-kid potty.
The diehard moms buy the cutest, most colorful potty seat they can find early on,
and it becomes a fixture in the house. See, little Sally is sitting on the
potty seat while she eats her snack! She loves her potty seat! Soon the potty
seat becomes a must-have accessory in the car, in case of emergencies. Sure, it's
great to have something toddler-sized. But who has to clean it? You. There is
something to be said for indoor flush toilets. End of story.
In the end (pun intended) how you choose to potty train your
kid is as individual a decision as bottle or breastfeeding, disposable or cloth,
organic or not. And when you're in the trenches things can get real dicey
really quickly. Hang tough, moms and dads. I promise your kid won't go off to
middle school wearing a Pull-up.