Each stage of motherhood brings its own unique set of joys and challenges. In the early years, we encounter milestones like sleeping through the night, teething, first steps, and potty training - to name a few.
I've had my share of potty training highs and lows. Potty training shouldn't have to be a stress-filled journey but I have to admit that potty training my eldest daughter, Cadence, was just that...stressful. Thankfully, I've learned a lot that can make the potty training experience less stressful - for all involved.
My initial push to start potty training Cadence came when I witnessed a friend potty training her toddlers who were much younger than Cadence. They made the process seem effortless, almost as if potty training was a natural instinct. Her kids caught on to the method right away, so seeing this inspired me to start the process with Cadence.
At 20-months, my daughter showed all the signs that she was ready. She was wetting her diapers less frequently and when she did wet them, she was quick to let me know. I started potty training her and soon found out that potty training wasn’t going to be as easy for my family (I knew this may possibly be the case before we started because not all kids will potty train the same!)
My first attempt at potty training Cadence found us both in tears on many occasions. At the time I started potty training her, I had a newborn, I was running my own business, I was trying to maintain our household, all while battling post-partum anxiety.
We kept a potty in the family room, and my daughter would sit for hours watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Potty training quickly began to consume our lives and went nowhere fast. She would often leave the potty and quickly have an accident on the floor. The process was quite the challenge for all of us.
We threw in the towel after a week. Our initial potty training attempt was not positive. It was limit-testing and stressful for the both of us. There was so much negativity in the air that was causing more harm than good.
A process that seemed so easy for other mothers wasn’t for me. It was discouraging, and I dreaded the day of restarting the process again.
When we re-introduced the potty a few weeks later, we stopped using diapers. Cadence enjoyed having the independence of being able to dress and undress herself. Adding Pull-Ups Pants into the mix was a huge hit because she could easily remove them herself.
Our second attempt at potty training was a smoother ride. The first few days we stuck close to home and would set a timer for Cadence to visit the potty every 30-minutes. Over the first few days, Cadence struggled with recognizing when she had to go and she did have a few accidents. Each accident would come with a reminder that she needs to listen to her body and communicate when she needed to use the potty.
Her independence quickly took over. She took control of potty training, telling me when she would have to go by dragging her potty into the family room, undressing herself and getting situated. Usually within 5-minutes I would be greeted with Cadence cheering proudly, “Mommy! Mommy! Cadence did it! Cadence pee-pee in the potty! Cadence did it!”
We always celebrated her successes with an impromptu Pull-Ups Potty Dance party in the family room. (This song was played over and over again when she was potty training!)
We had turned what was once a very the stressful situation into one that was fun.
It took about 3-weeks after we restarted potty training before I felt comfortable leaving the house. Before we would travel, she put on her Pull-Ups Training Pants which brought her much comfort knowing that if an accident were to happen, her car seat wouldn’t be soiled. We travelled with a potty in our car because there is no waiting when duty calls! When a toddler has to go, they have to go! NOW!
Five years have now gone by since Cadence was potty trained and I’m pregnant with my fourth. I can now proudly say that I have potty trained two children. My third is starting to show signs that she may soon be ready and I'm armed with experience, my trusty potty and piles of Pull-Ups Pants for her journey. This time, I know to go with the flow and let nature take its course. Pun intended. I'll allow ample time for this journey to go fluidly and be a positive one - for everyone.
As I learned, it's not a good idea to potty train your child if they are resistant or hesitant. Potty training is a journey that parents and children should both be ready to take together. Start when everyone is ready.
As much as potty training tested my limits, showing your frustrations will be unnerving for your little one. Try hard not to let negativity shine through when accidents happens. Instead, encourage them through all steps.
When your toddler is ready for potty training, try what I did: go cold turkey and stop using diapers right away! Get them into training pants. When I did this, it allowed Cadence to really feel that "big kid" status. This in turn helped her to feel confident and more secure in the whole journey.
Keep in mind, that you may have to start and stop the process a few times like I had to. This is totally normal. While my daughter showed the signs, I soon realized that maybe she need a little more time after starting. We started up the process a couple weeks later with much success.
When your toddler uses the potty successfully or has shown a good effort, reward and motivate them! A potty dance party or a sticker chart is a great way to track accomplishments!