Potty Training: Tales From the Trenches

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Potty training. Never have two words struck more fear and anxiety in the hearts of mothers everywhere. It’s so much more than just teaching a small person how to use the toilet. It’s bribery, crying, cleaning up messes, pleading, more messes, banging your head against the wall, wine drinking frustration. (Just to be clear, the wine is for you; not the little person.)

In short, potty training is war.

If you’re anything like me, you feverishly read every article and Pinterest tip you can find leading up to the big event. You consult friends that have successfully battled before you. You look for signs and cues that your little one is ready. And then, when you have conjured enough bravery, you gather all the necessary tools and pray for sweet mercy from the potty training gods. My tools of choice are:

  1. Plenty of liquids for your little to help move the show along.
  2. Wine (or adult beverage of your choosing) to help take some of the edge off. No judgement here if you can’t keep it corked until 5 o’clock. Gotta do what you gotta do. This is war, people. Showing up to potty train without alcohol is like showing up to a gun fight empty handed.
  3.  Plenty of cleaning supplies and paper towels for messes. War is messy.
  4. Bribery implements. This can be candy, small toys, whatever motivates your child. This is one time when you must engage in negotiations with the terrorist, err, kid.
  5. A lot of new “big kid” undies/panties that your little will like. A lot. Like I said, war is messy.
  6. A cleared schedule. Plan on being home for at least 2-3 days. You didn’t have anything to do anyway, right?
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Have your battle gear ready.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Have your battle gear ready.

I nervously entered into potty training battle with my oldest when she was 2 years 10 months old. She was probably ready before that, but I wasn’t. With my second being an infant at the time, I felt I had too much on my plate to jump in sooner. Also, the very thought of potty training made me so anxious that I put it off.

We jumped into battle and got both feet wet. Both metaphorically and literally. That first day was TERRIBLE. She didn’t make it to the potty on time once. Plus, every time she peed on the floor little sister came crawling over like the bat signal had just flashed into the sky. It was as if a puddle of her sister’s piss on the floor was the best sensory play ever. It was not a good day. Wine was uncorked, words were muttered between gritted teeth as I tried to feign a smile and pretend I wasn’t about to lose my ever-loving shit. I almost surrendered, but decided to show up for round two. She had won the battle, but she wasn’t going to win the war. Then, something happened that second day. At some point it just clicked for her. She got it. She started using the potty and we never looked back.

Doesn't everyone keep a little potty by their front door?
Doesn’t everyone keep a little potty by their front door?

I felt like a potty training genius. I figured it would be just as swift a victory when it came time to potty train my second. I was wrong. The battle instincts are strong with that one. It started off well enough, but as you can see in the progression of photos morale started to waver as the day went on.

All smiles on the beginning of day 1.
All smiles on the beginning of day 1.
Starting to have second thoughts about this thing.
Starting to have second thoughts about this thing.
“Is this how you use the potty, mom?”
Just not having it anymore.

You see, my second child is un-bribable. No amount of promises for candy or toys was going to convince her to use a potty. How am I supposed to parent under these conditions?! On top of that, she could give a rip about pissing on the floor. My oldest was very upset when she had an accident. Not little miss stubborn. She would no sooner take a wiz on the floor and look at me all matter-of-factly and say, “Mama, I go pee-pee on the floor. Clean it up”.

This continued for three days. She didn’t go in the potty once. Not ONCE. On the third day she began telling me, “Mama, I not a big girl. I a baby. I want my diaper”. How can you argue with that? She had won this war. I packed up my battle gear and retreated to safety.

So here we are, four and a half months later. It’s time to declare war once again. She has proven she’s a worthy adversary. I have enlisted a secret weapon this time. Big sister. I have bribed her with a trip to Toys R Us if she helps me encourage her sister to use the potty. Pathetic, I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Wish us luck.

How was your potty training experience? What worked for your little one? Feel free to share your funny/scary/encouraging stories in the comments.

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12 thoughts on “Potty Training: Tales From the Trenches

  1. Reading through this have me flashbacks to the 10-12 months (days? No, months!) of potty training at my house. It was my ‘Nam.

    This cracked me up, though:
    “Plus, every time she peed on the floor little sister came crawling over like the bat signal had just flashed into the sky. It was as if a puddle of her sister’s piss on the floor was the best sensory play ever.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, this is that “pay back” time that parents talk about. Your brother was pretty easy (he was definitely a people please), you on the other hand were very stubborn, your dad always said “isn’t she cute, she’s so spunky”, yeah, whatever, I didn’t quite call it that. I got little panties for a few of your favorite dolls and stuffed animals priding myself for such a clever idea. You would rush to the potty with one of them knocking down aanything in your path (usually your brother, cat, toys etc. , you pulled their panties down, making a swooshing noise, like they were actually “going” and then and only after they went mind you, you would stand next to the potty and pee on the floor all pleased with your effort. My sister in law had pity on me and gave me a book called “Elle the elephant gets pretty panties” or something like that. We went shopping, you picked out some pretty frilly panties and that was that. Instantly using the potty like a champ so you could wear those pretty panties. How’s a mom suppose to know these things, little ones sometimes seem so much smarter than the parent. You are so right, it is war. Glad it is taking place in your homeland and not mine. Good luck, let me know if you run out of wine

    Liked by 1 person


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