Wednesday, September 10, 2014

When I put the diaper back on.

Warning: This isn't going to be your normal potty training post. 
It's probably not what you expected. 
Which is exactly why I have to write it. 

Potty training. It's a major source of conversation among mamas with toddlers. We dread it. We don't look forward to it, yet we read and prepare and ask our friends and family how and when we should start. Of course, we receive many opinions, advice, and a book on 3-day potty training that promises your 26 month olds will get it by the end of 72 hours.

B and I read and read and read. We reviewed and reviewed and reviewed. We set aside our Labor Day weekend solely for potty training our 2 year old twin boys, with hopes and pretty strong expectations that if we did everything that was spelled out in the book, we would find great success! We prepared. We prepared well. We ordered the highest ranked potty chairs and picked up stickers, gum, fruit snacks, lots of juice, dollar store toys, 47 pairs of underwear, and a Costco-size box of flushable wipes. We set our alarms and got up early to shower, have breakfast, and be ready for a full, intense, focused day of potty training. We each picked a boy to focus on and went at it!

The first day was rough. Extremely rough. But, we were told to expect this. The second day was a tiny bit better, but no real progress. That night, we told ourselves "They have to get it by tomorrow!" We even prayed together that things would "click" and we would be on our way. The next day, things were a little better. The boys were doing better about warning us when they were about to "go" and there were definitely less accidents than the first day. Yet, it still wasn't clicking. We were advised that twins may take a little longer, just because it's hard to give full attention to 2 kids- even when you have 2 parents, because 1 is rushing a kid to the bathroom and the other is wiping up the floor. Yet, B and I feel we were pretty focused and catching a majority, if not all of the accidents when they happened.

By the end of day 3, we reassured ourselves that it was okay if it took a little longer and hopefully by the end of the week, we would be good to go. B went back to work, so it was just me and the children all day- potty training. Each day seemed to get a little better. There was a day that Finn had no accidents and I was so thrilled and excited and overjoyed and I clapped my hands and did a little jig! I posted it on Facebook. I posted it on Instagram. I honestly felt like I was the best mom in the world, having accomplished such a feat. I was positive things would just keep getting better and better.

Then Friday happened. Accident after accident. The boys became scared of the potty, in a way. This surprised me, because we never shamed them or were negative or pushed them to go to the potty. The whole purpose of the method we were using, is to help the boys recognize when they have to go on their own. There was never any "trying" or sitting on the potty for a long period of time. We were so positive and upbeat, I was confused why they fought me hard, even if they really had to go. They also were wet and poopy EVERY time they got up in the morning and from their naps. I even started to sit by their door after they went down and if I heard one peep, I went in and reminded them to tell mama if they needed to go to the potty and I rushed them in if they said "yes". Yet, this still didn't prevent another load of wash and cleaning poop-filled underwear in the toilet. We followed the advice to wake them up 1 hour after they go to bed and 1 hour before they get up in the morning to help keep things dry. This did more harm than good. We were worried they were starting to associate going to the potty with being woken up from sleep and sat on a cold seat- which I wouldn't enjoy myself!

By the time yesterday morning rolled around, things were basically the same as Day 1, except a few less accidents. I was so frustrated. I felt so defeated. More than anything I wanted to take a break and try again later, but I kept hearing the words "Don't look back!" "It's not when they're ready, it's when you're ready." "They are old enough to be potty trained. Keep at it." For whatever reason, I had associated successful potty training with being a good mom and if I failed at this- I had failed as a mom.

Then I talked to Becky.

Becky is a mom of four, including twin boys. Her boys are about 15 months older than mine, so we have this great deal that I buy all their clothes at a huge discount when her boys outgrow them. It really is the bomb-diggity. The first time we did a clothes "exchange" was when we were both really pregnant- me with the twins and her with her baby girl. From there, she's become a friend and a person I trust to talk "parenting" with.

When I got to her house yesterday afternoon, she asked how I was doing. I basically vented all my frustration and discouragement from the past 10 days and desperately asked her what she did. Her answer surprised me. "I don't potty train." I gave her a weird look and asked "You don't potty train?" She explained that with her first child, a boy, she tried potty training, but it wasn't happening. So she got this idea "I'll let him tell me when he's ready to use the potty." And that's exactly what happened. One day he came up to her, told her he wanted to use the potty, and he was trained over night.  He has never had an accident. Then, when her twins came along and it got close to that magical "time", she decided she was going to try the same thing and see if she got the same results. Sure enough, one of her twins came to her and said he wanted to use the potty. She sat him down and he was done with the diapers after that. After seeing brother use the potty, the other twin decided he wanted to do it too and....Voila! Her twins were toilet-trained. Each of her boys was bout 3-3 1/2 when they used the potty.

I was shocked, yet a feeling of relief came over me. It was like everything clicked and I heard the words of my pediatrician in the back of my head "Sure, you can try to start potty training, but just remember- it's when they're ready." As I left her house and drove home, I started to cry. For some reason, I was worried that if I followed my instincts and put the diaper back on, I was giving up. I was failing. I was going to lose all the hard work I put into the past 10 days. My children would be behind. I would be a complete failure.

At that moment I listened to the voice in my head and thought "What a stupid thought!" My children are happy. My children enjoy exploring, learning, and talking to me. They are active and healthy- especially since we haven't been to nursery in 3 weeks! ;) They are smart. They love to read books. They love to play games. They love to sing songs. My children are LOVED.

Is this the result of a failing mom? NO.

Even as I write this, I can't help but feel emotion as I receive a witness that this decision IN NO WAY reflects my failing as a parent. I feel so strongly about this and I want all of you mamas out there to understand as well. Why do we do this to ourselves? It's damaging and completely un-necessary. So, I'll tell you what I keep telling myself -STOP IT.

I am a STRONG believer that every mom knows her child and has instincts to what that child needs. For some moms, I know the 3-day potty training of their 22 month old is right and they find great success. For me, I think I needed to go through this process to learn this principle, and, as B and I have discussed, our boys now have a better understanding about what using the potty is all about. We will continue to read potty books, take them to the bathroom while we use the potty, explain what the potty is all about. But, we both agreed we are going to let them tell us when they're ready.

This post is not meant to convince or advertise to anyone that this way is better than any other way to potty train...or not potty train. My purpose is to hopefully help any mama out there who is struggling- with potty training or whatever else. Because your child isn't doing algebra at 4, reading at 3, or isn't potty trained at 2 does not equal failure on your part. Look at your child. Really look at them. Watch them. Pay attention. Are they happy? Are they loved? Are they being taught correct principles? If the answer is yes, chances are you are DOING JUST FINE. End of story.

For B and I, our parenting style is very parent-directed. But we both agree, this is one thing we're completely okay with being child-directed. I've had a couple friends ask if I'll blog about potty-training and I know this probably isn't what they wanted to hear or expected. But make sure, if you've already started or about to start, that you remember it's okay to take a break. It's okay to reassess. Do not put added pressure on yourself that is completely useless. You have enough stress in your life! I know I do. :)

I can tell you, though, the anxiety and frustration is basically gone from our house. My boys are happier. I'm happier. I am more confident and peaceful- as a mother, as a wife, and as a woman.

Just some things that happened 
when I put the diaper back on.


  1. LOVE this Megan! Sometimes we just have to learn things the hard way as a parent, and sometimes that means that we need to learn over and over again that we need to trust ourselves! What a good mommy you are!! My boys were about 3-3 1/2 when they started being interested in potty training, and I am a firm believer in working on it when they are ready. I didn't read that book. I know that it works for lots of people, but those quotes that you mentioned made me want to scream out loud. I think that we can glean things from books here and there, and then ultimately we need to follow our instincts. Our kids should be happy and WE shouldn't be going crazy, or something needs to be changed. I had to stop and start potty training more than once because after a day or two I was going crazy (I don't do well with cleaning up that kind of stuff), and the child wasn't catching on like I thought they would. I had to learn that that was okay and it wasn't the end of the world. You gave it a good shot and learned a lesson too :) Well done mama! PS...those boys just get more and more adorable!

  2. Megan, I'm so glad everyone is happy - especially you!

  3. I just went through this with my 2 year old. My first 2 pity trained pretty early, so I tried to push it on Claire. But she's just not ready yet, so we wait. And I'd rather wait than be stressed out and cranky.