Tuesday, April 5, 2011

chronicles of potty training

What better day to start potty training than April Fool's?  It's like trying to play a joke on myself. 

At two and a half, Annike has been ready to be potty trained for months.  How do I know?  She asks me to change her diaper when it is wet or dirty, she stays dry for hours at a time, she likes to sit on her baby potty... all the signs are there and have been there for a while. 

I am the problem.  I am the one who is not ready.  I am the mom unwilling to clear my schedule in order to give time over to training up my daughter in something that will clearly benefit her.  Diapers are SO easy right now!!  I don't have to worry about running errands for too long, or about accidents in the car seat or on my new rug or anywhere!  If diapers weren't so environmentally unfriendly, I might consider keeping her in them until she turns 5... her kindergarten teacher could handle it from there.

Alas, I have avoided this task for months, and now it seems that I have no more excuses.  Thus, we begin.

Day 1Absolutely exhausting. 

After researching a few different potty training methods online, I opted for the method that offered the quickest results: allowing her to roam the house naked all day long.  This method claims it works because toddlers are rarely motivated to use the potty, but feel motivated by being allowed to be naked.  That explains my daughter to a tee.

This was my view all day.

She did great all morning and we had no accidents.  We actually had a really fun day just playing together, which is something I rarely set a whole day aside to do because I am usually more focused on my particular agenda.  But today, I laid the agenda down, focusing on one goal: get my toddler potty-trained as quickly as possible. 

By the time afternoon hit I had a huge headache (one of the joys of extra hormones in my pregnancy) and truly felt exhausted.  Maybe I was exhausted from giving all of that undivided attention to someone.  Maybe it was simply that the thought of her peeing on my furniture was stressing me out.

Annike hadn't had a bowel movement by 5pm, and I kept watching for the signs, but man, she is quick.  Thankfully we were outside when she decided to leave a large lump on the patio.  I didn't see it until she told me she wanted to go look at "the big poopie" on the walkway.  About 20 minutes later, when I had really let my guard down thinking she was finished, she shouts from inside her playhouse, "I did it again, Mama!"  Sure enough.  There it was in the playhouse, only this time it was also on her leg and shoe.  Somehow, I managed to step in it too. 

I had been so patient all day long, and now I just wanted to give up and put the diapers back on.  Because, really, who ever wants to clean up poop?  Especially with a headache.  Especially pregnant.  It  was definitely tempting to throw in the towel and try again next year.

When the day finally finished, uneventfully I might add, I crashed on the couch to consider my options.  In the end, I realized that the real problem wasn't Annike, it was me.  The primary issue was my own impatience as a mother who did not want to sacrifice the necessary time to help my daughter achieve a great milestone in her life. 

But isn't that why they call it potty training?  Not just a potty lesson where the child watches once and gets it.  Problem solved.  No, it is potty training.  The actual process of practicing something over and over until it is mastered.  A transitional period of time involving discipline, instruction, education, and apparently, patience.  I suppose it is naive of me to even hope I could potty train her in a day. 

Training our children is what parenting is all about.  Over and over and over and over again.  And the most important thing my child learns when I train her is about who I am in that process... my mannerisms, my ability to be patient, my character.  Potty training is only the beginning, for this truth applies to the Spiritual disciplines we have in our future as well.  Kids don't learn by being told once, they learn by practice.  If I am to train her up in love, kindness, faith, and hope, then we must practice it over and over and over again.

In the end, I decided that it doesn't really matter what all the books or methods say, potty training doesn't need to be an all or nothing endeavor.  It is a process.  If I need to put a diaper back on her, when we ride in the car, or when we are at a friend's house, it is okay for a while!  The discipline of training is as much a learning process for her as it is for me.
Good-bye diaper tan!

Day 2:  One accident in the kitchen, which thankfully made it easy to clean up.  My own change of heart made the day feel more successful than the one before.

Day 3: An almost-accident where she stopped herself (because she didn't want to get pee-pee on Blankie), then made it to the potty. Major progress!

Annike earned a set of "Mermaid panties" for learning to use the potty.  She then insisted on wearing all 14 pairs.

Day 4:  Not wanting to put our lives completely on hold, we took a long hike with Annike in the backpack.  She wore a diaper, but at the end of the day, it was DRY!! 

1 comment:

  1. oh, hon, good for you.

    I could never bring myself to the naked child thing because I am really, really not ok with pee and poop on stuff. so glad you are seeing the process as a long-term thing. evan is kinda sorta potty training, and just like you say, his main hindrance is me. i am just too lazy to put him on the potty every 30 minutes to try to catch him before he wets the diaper. (i just have too many other things to do!) most of the time he uses the potty when i put him on, but recently he does not. frankly, they are just not going to be potty trained until they feel like it, and some days he clearly does not. i decided way back on child #2 to let it go and just not stress about it. i would rather be washing/buying diapers for an extra 6 months than stress about it.

    hubby does not feel the same way, though. so i'll pray for your quick success, and would you please pray for mine? : )


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