How To (or not to) Conquer Potty Training

Sitting in Victoria’s room, rocking her gently and singing to her as she  slowly shuts her eyes. It is quiet. Just the sound of classical music with the faint sound of waves coming from her sound machine. And then, from upstairs…
“Mommy, PEE-PEE!”

I hurriedly drop the baby in her crib, and run out the room.


I’m too late. He already peed, and just decided that he should let me know, now that I am too late.

I hear Victoria wailing downstairs. I change James’ diaper and tell him I’m going to go take care of his sister.

“More smarties?” He asks with his innocent smile.

“No baby, you get smarties when you pee in the potty, not in your diaper.”

And there, he falls to the floor and begins to cry for smarties as though his life depended on it.

This is potty training.

If you have been through it, you know that it is the worst milestone yet! It is unpredictable, challenging and will seriously test your patience. If you are not there yet with your little one… good luck.

You can read all the potty training books and articles, the how-to’s and know-how’s, but nothing can prepare you for the weeks, months (years?) you have ahead of you. You will try books, and you may even resort to the iPad and at some point you will find you have spent the last 45 minutes sitting in front of a potty,  making up “peepee-caca” songs.

Then he will get up and pee in his diaper, (or the floor).

You will give up, and cling on to the reality that your child will not go to college in diapers, (you hope) –it will happen eventually! And then you’ll pick up the courage to start again. In doing so, you will resort to the many potty training techniques and advice found online. I’ll save you the trouble, here is what you will find and why they will fail…

Potty training tip #1 : keep your toddler naked and place on the potty every 15 minutes. (this is suppose to be the speedy way to get through it). To those who came up with this idea — you clearly don’t live with a clean freak.

Also, have you ever tried making a child sit on a  potty when he doesn’t want to? It is like trying to fold a piece of flat wood in half.

Potty training tip #2, Read books on the potty.IMG_1550 2

We read books. We read several books, over and over again, until he learned them by heart. Did it help? — No. He began to use the potty as a reading stool.

Potty training tip#3 , Buy them fun underwear to motivate them.

I bought him Lightning McQueen underwear. He wanted to wear them over his diaper. I said no. He threw a tantrum.

Potty training tip #4, make up your own tips, because these tips don’t work!

I dragged lightning McQueen into this. I explained to him that even his biggest idol, the fasted race car in the world doesn’t wear diapers. He agreed. But James does.

Finally we resorted to the “pipi race”. Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like. Daddy would sit on the toilet and James on his own potty; whoever pee’s first wins! This worked for a while, we finally made progress! IMG_6418

Finally we introduced the sticker chart, (with McQueen stickers!) This worked very well for James and he loved filling out the chart.

We also set a kitchen timer. It would buzz every 15 minutes and it was his cue to go to the bathroom. James would sit on his potty and if he peed, I would reset it for the next hour. If he didn’t, I would reset it for another 15 minutes to try again. This worked for a bit, as it was the buzzer asking him to go and not us.

As you can see, it took a number of strategies and a few adult meltdowns to conquer potty training. In the end, I learned that it is all a matter of time. Looking back,  I don’t think James was emotionally ready when we first started. He also went through a phase where he regressed (0ver the holidays) and we had to start over again. It can get quite frustrating but patience is key.  At some point, when a second baby comes along, your toddler begins to look like a big kid to you and you wonder why your still subjected to wiping this huge butt and cleaning these adult size poo’s . And believe me, sometimes they are shocking.

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