Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The potty training predicament

I've been thinking a lot about the toilet lately. Specifically, whether or not it is time to guide my toddler toward commencing her lifetime relationship with it.

Is Madelyn ready? I think so. Are we, her parents, ready? About this I am not so sure.

I believe that Madelyn is physically and mentally ready to use the toilet. She communicates well, and understands a great deal more than she can say. She grasps the concept that we sit on the toilet and go potty. She says "potty" when mom or dad does it, and knows how to pull down her pants and take off her diaper. She has gone pee pee in the potty twice in total, by coincidence of good timing. Sometimes she says "pee" or "poop" when one is taking place in her diaper, so I know she is familiar with the sensation.

I have discovered a 3-day potty training method that I plan to utilize. Its principles are in line with my instinctual beliefs on the subject (we'll see how many of them remain when it's done), and it provides very clear instructions for getting the job done. I don't want to figure it out on my own, I want someone who knows what works to tell me what to do. The woman who created the method has personally potty trained 8 of her own children and helped parents train 3000 more. Her experience has lead her to believe that age 22 months is the perfect age to potty train. I think most parents would be surprised by that assertion. While I do believe that each child is unique, and some may not be ready, I believe Madelyn has the capacity to succeed at this age.

So it sounds like this is a no-brainer, right? If Madelyn is ready, and I have the proverbial "instruction manual," it's time to pick a date, right?

Not so fast. I've been contemplating how a child in underwear will change our lives!

The less-imposing dilemma is that the method I enthusiastically plan on implementing requires 3 days of 100% focus on Madelyn. Attached at the hip. No writing emails while she plays nearby. No phone calls. If I'm cooking dinner, then Daddy needs to be by her side. This commitment is necessary to facilitate bi-directional communication, and allow us to catch accidents as they are happening, every time.

The three days of total focus might be difficult. But I feel it will be manageable if I schedule it into my calendar well ahead of time, especially since Gary and I will work together and tag-team the responsibility. Also, it will be good for me as a mother to force elimination of daily distractions and spend every moment playing with and being with my daughter.

The bigger problem revolves around the future. One major principle of my preferred method is the concept of diaper-free potty training. Once you decide to start, all the diapers go away, for ever. The motive is to avoid sending the child mixed signals: it's okay to pee in your pants in bed or at Grandma's house, but not the rest of the time. It's best not to have a crutch to fall back on anyway. Keeping the diapers around would be like trying to quit smoking while keeping a pack in your glove compartment, just in case you really need one.

As it is, Madelyn gets her diaper changed several times per day, when it is convenient for me (except poop, which is handled immediately of course). She pees in her diaper at unknown times throughout the day--during story time, while I'm fixing lunch, while we are driving in the car. Once she is out of diapers, we have to stop what we are doing and run to the potty--even if we're in the grocery store or playing at the park. What if we're in the car and she has to go? I begin to feel as though potty training--and it's desired results--isn't very advantageous after all.

The most dear sacrifice I will be compelled to make is sleep interruption. If a diaper-free Madelyn wakes up in the middle of the night, one of us will have to leap out of bed and rush to her room to see if she needs to go to the bathroom. Currently, Madelyn may whimper for half a minute and fall back asleep without any assistance from a parent, probably after peeing in her diaper. Also, Madelyn is my alarm clock in the morning. If she had a "snooze" button, I'd be hitting it frequently, because I HATE getting up the morning, and it takes me some time to emerge from what always seems to be a very deep sleep and drag my butt out of bed to go get her. Sometimes she'll wake up and cry for a minute, and then either go back to sleep or play silently in her bed for a while. I take advantage of that time by catching a few more precious zzz's. Usually by the time I go in there, Madelyn's diaper is so full it looks like it was thrown into the pool. Sans diapers, I will be required to snap awake and scurry in to take her to the toilet, whether she (or I) is really ready to be up for the day or not. I realize that once she learns how to "hold it," this won't be as much of an issue, and I just need to be mentally prepared for a rough couple of weeks.

Insights? Advice?


Bridget said...

Hoo boy. I HATED potty training. It was hell. It's easier with some kids than with others, though, so maybe you'll get lucky. It sounds like we have similar approaches to the subject. We also did a "blitz"-type training - none of this off-and-on over a few months stuff. I used up our last diaper and that was it. We just didn't buy more (and no Pull-Ups, either). A lot of people disagree with me, but in my opinion, a Pull-Up is just a really expensive diaper. My big mistake was not, as you said, focusing entirely on Miriam for a few days. Instead, I naively tried to continue working, doing errands, etc. You are right that you just need to stay home and focus 100%.

As far as your worries stated in the last paragraph, it's not as much as an issue as I thought it would be. There are always a few times in the beginning where it is a pain to drop everything and go to the bathroom (and then, joy, they don't produce anything once they're there), but it really doesn't happen that often.

Good luck!!!!!

Kristen said...

Thanks for the reassurance, Bridget. I knew your PT experience was awful, but knowing that you continued the errands and work makes more sense of why that might be. I added another paragraph that I forgot to write yesterday (hope that's legal), so if you're interested, check out my final (and biggest) worry. Oh, and I agree about Pull-ups.

Mikael said...

This is no method for me! I only have 2 arms, and 2 eyes for my 3 kids. This is why Makenzie, almost 2 1/2, is still in diapers. She may be ready, but diapers are easier for me now. I dont care if she is in diapers by age 3, as long as I still have my sanity.
If I only had 1 child, I would do this method too. Good luck, tell me how it goes. You are brave to try this so while she is so young :)

jeni said...

I agree with the last lady... it is easy (ish) to do something like this with one child.... but then you hit three and it is impossible! I had Lillie when Malaki was 13 months, so I never was able to focus 100% of my attention on any one child at any time. However Malaki is potty trained now, and Lillie (2 and a half) is still in diapers, thought she will sometimes take it off and go potty when she wants to. She also has started changing her own poopy diapers... so why isn't she potty trained...? because I am not going to try and push her. She seems to be getting it on her own, and I don't have time or energy to stress about it because I am trying to take care of a 4 month old and keep an eye on a 3 year old in addition to helping her. With Malaki he just sort of picked it up on his own when he was ready, so I am doing that with Lillie as well. However if I only had one child I would try the method you are doing because it would be nice to be out of diapers early... oh well.
I have to agree about pull ups though. Lillie can take her diaper off easier than pull ups, and she always leaks out of pull ups at night. THe only reason we have them is because people gave them to us.

M and Em said...

Wow - That's impressive that she knows - I say go for it and if it works great, if not you can try again later right? For me I decided that Andrew will have to wait until after baby #2, so he'll be almost 3. Hopefully it will be easier that he's older? I'd love for you to share the link/book/research you found though

Sarah Rose Evans said...

I plan of doing a bit of hybrid-- we're spending several months talking about it, practicing getting on and off the potty, and sitting on it sans diaper. So far, Demitri's using the potty once or twice a day-- but he doesn't ask for it yet. After Christmas, we're going to Blitz it. I just bought Demitri some underwear . . . it'll go in the stocking. Good luck. . . let me know how it goes.

Wiyaka said...

Good luck! Lilly has been very comfortable with the toilet since before her first birthday. I always made a big deal out it whenever I went and she would sit on hers (with her clothes on)at the same time. I thought it would be no problem to potty train. WRONG!! Lilly is on a potty strike.

This past summer when it was over 100 degrees at my house, I thought it would be a perfect time to train. Being diaperless, I asked her all day (at least once, sometimes twice an hour) if she needed to go. Well, I think that she got burt out on the idea and now she refuses! I have tried bribing her with treats and using reference to the characters she likes ("Elmo uses the potty").

Every once and awhile she will surprise me and let me know when she has to go. There is hope. I think that means that she is close to being ready, but she is not one to be pushed. Every child is different. I hope you have an easier time.

Kristen said...

Wiyaka, I think some of what you are experiencing with Lilly is part of the basis for doing the 3-day method rather than easing into it. I definitely wouldn't be interested in trying this with twins babies Mikael! But part of my motivation may be that I'd rather have Madelyn potty trained before any future little Winters arrive. But the book offers advice for parents of more than one child, and even for potty training twins. As requested, here is the website: www.3daypottytraining.com. I am about 99.7% positive the creator is Mormon, based on several pieces of evidence.

jaeyde said...

let me preface this with 1) i am not a parent and 2) i know little to nothing about potty training. that said, this might be something to keep in the back of your mind.

children generally go to bed before the parents right? and they go potty before they get in bed. what better time for a bathroom run than when the parents go to bed? my parents religiously took my brother and i each to the toilet before they went to bed EVERY night for almost 10 years (even school aged kids can and do have accidents). Often we slept right through the whole thing, and if we wouldn't go automatically, there was a faucet nearby and apparently the lukewarm water thing really does work.

This is of course not specific to the process of potty training but can be really helpful in reducing nighttime oopsies for the many years that follow.

Kristen said...

You know, Jaeyde, that's not a bad idea. When Madelyn was a newborn I would wake her up to nurse before I went to bed; it's a similar concept. I think some parents would avoid this method if their child has trouble going back to sleep, but I believe Madelyn wouldn't have any problem with that. Thanks for the advice. And welcome to my blog!

Jennifer said...

I meant to post a comment on here when you first posted. I am obviously not ready to potty train yet, but am intrigued by the process since I'll be there eventually. I would love to hear what you decide to do and how it goes. If this method could work, that would be awesome!


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