When I was pregnant, it seemed like everyone I spoke to had some sort of advice for me – get the epidural, sleep when the baby sleeps, don’t give baby a pacifier for at least two weeks. But this was nothing compared to the onslaught of advice I received when I would casually mention that we were thinking of potty training our first born. Even our pediatrician spoke more on this topic than any other I’ve asked about. Complete strangers would offer to send me articles and my veteran mom friends were eager to talk about what worked for them. I quickly discovered that my friends were divided among two camps when it came to toilet-training: Do it as soon as possible and don’t rush it.
After reading an embarrassing number of books and articles on the subject, I decided to combine strategies from various methods and use what I thought would work best for us. I started the process over a three-day weekend, so that I would have my husband’s help with the baby and we began that first morning by saying “bye” to our diapers. We had our fair share of accidents the first day, but by the second and third day, it was obvious that the concept had clicked. Except for a minor incident involving green toilet water on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. A few days ago, one of my friends commented that she thinks she is ready to try potty-training with her son and asked for my advice. I told her what worked for us, but also made sure to mention that every child and mom is different, so tailoring the process to fit their needs is key.
That being said, I compiled a list of potty-training signs that are true for every parent who is attempting to say goodbye to diapers, because let’s face it, when pee and poop are involved, sometimes you just have to laugh or else you might cry.
1. You check out books with titles like, “Everybody Poops” and “Oh Crap! Potty Training” (see what they did there?)
You read these books with the intensity and focus of a med student studying for the MCATS. I’m only a little ashamed to say I used a highlighter and dog-eared the good parts.
2. You have a jar of M&M’s in every bathroom.
My daughter has been potty trained for two months now and still asks for a potty treat. I haven’t quite figured out how to tell her that relieving herself in the toilet is considered a social norm and isn’t really something most people celebrate. I keep telling myself it’s a small price to pay for not having to change poopy diapers anymore, but I’m not so sure her dentist will agree.
3. You talk about poop and pee constantly.
Little poops and big poops and rabbit poops, oh my! During the first few weeks of our potty training endeavor, my husband would rush through the door after work and ask breathlessly, “How’d she do?” Um, don’t act like we haven’t been texting about this all day.
4. You break into a cold sweat when you can’t find the bathroom at a public place.
The first thing I do whenever we go to a new place now is find the bathroom. Fellow potty-training moms know that, without fail, your child is going to have a potty “‘mergency” as soon as you enter Costco or the mall or the grocery store. Never mind the fact that you sat her on the potty for ten minutes before leaving the house and not so much as a drop.
5. You say “don’t touch anything!” over and over again when you take your child to a public bathroom.
I feel it is my duty to turn my child into a germaphobe. How else is she going to learn to spread toilet paper on the seat or flush the toilet with her foot?
6. You offer your husband a treat when you hear him peeing.
It’s a pavlovic response at this point. If I hear peeing, I’m going to say “good job!” and ask what color jelly bean you want.
7. You rate bathrooms.
I have a very complicated rating system that takes into account cleanliness, ease of which I can fit a double stroller, and whether or not they have hand dryers. (My daughter is terrified of hand dryers.) I’m currently working on an Excel spreadsheet. Nordstrom rates the highest at a 10 while a popular grocery store, which will remain nameless, received a 1 due to the fact that they are always out of soap and have mysteriously sticky floors.
8. You look at clothes in a whole new way.
Tights are now the enemy, and don’t even get me started on buttons! When a freshly- trained two-year-old tells you they have to go, the last things you want to worry about are zippers and ties. Elastic waist pants for the win.
9. You treat your child like a convict.
You don’t take your eyes off of them and you definitely don’t trust them. “Do you need to go potty? Are you sure? Really sure? Because last time you moved your legs like that, you peed all over the new rug.”
10. You find yourself missing diapers.
Because let’s face it, it’s much easier to change a diaper than it is to change bedsheets.