I’m not going to lie. Every stage of motherhood, I outwardly expect and prepare for the worst, but inwardly I think “This is probably going to go great!” I’m the yin to my own yang.
When potty training was on the radar, I immediately reached out to trusted friends (some who were also somewhat experts in the field) and purchased the highly recommended Oh, Crap! Potty Training book by Jamie Glowacki.
Late Summer, when my kiddo was still in the stage where we counted by months, potty training was all about light reading, and that “someday” type of mentality we all go through – where we know the pressure will come eventually, but we don’t really have to think about any of it now. Basically, that blissful part of parenting where we think we know more than we do.
Over the Summer we had moved from Los Angeles to Nashville, and I was focused on being the best Southern-Again-Mom that I could be. Then we realized Nashville wasn’t a fit for us, and Los Angeles really was our true home. So, believe it or not, we MOVED BACK just 4.5 months after arriving!
The moment moving back to California came up on the radar, I immediately knew we would put off potty training until we were well and established in our new/old life. Well, as most two-year-olds do, Mr. W had his own ideas. We made it back to Los Angeles in time for Thanksgiving, and W jumped into a new preschool class in December.
Joining in on a class of slightly older kids at his new preschool, suddenly W was PUMPED about the potty! He asked teachers if he could sit on the potty. He asked us at home. He even peed and pooped on the potty a couple of times! (I really thought I was ahead of the game here! Ha! Hahahaha!)
With all of this, we decided Winter Break was probably the best time to start the fun. THEN, we decided that Christmas Day was the absolute best. We already had plans for an easy, stay at home Christmas, so why not just make it a naked, potty-training toddler Christmas, as well! (It actually wasn’t a terrible idea –hooray!– , and I am super glad we decided to do it during this time.)
Jamie Glowacki, the author of Oh, Crap!, lays out six easy Blocks for you to follow. Which I love so much more than the guaranteed amount of days something will take.
Let me clearly state this here: My personal theory is that though, yes, you can have your kid regularly using the potty in even just 3 days, potty training is a long process. You will continue to have ups and downs, successes and accidents. As your child grows over the days/weeks/months, their relationship with the potty will continue to grow. There’s leaps, there’s regressions, and then blissfully, there’s days where you will forget you even had to work to get to this stage of life.
So to break that down more, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:
- Every kid is different. Duh! If you’re a parent, you know this. If you’re a parent of multiple kiddos, you really know this.
- Every person’s definition of “potty trained” is different. Are they MOSTLY peeing in the potty? Are they wearing diapers for naps and night-time still? Are they going to the potty completely self-initiated? Remember this fact when you’re talking to that stranger in the grocery store line who swears her child was completely potty trained in one day… all while completing complex calculus and solving world hunger in the middle of their big poops. 😉
- If you’re like me, you think you don’t need every single physical tool the blogs or books recommend. Then, halfway through, you’re making Midnight Amazon purchases. So that extra step may add a little time to the process. (List of what we actually used at the bottom of this post!)
How did we start? Block One – Nekki Time! (Or “peeing and pooping while naked, with prompting or without”)
In Oh Crap! Potty Training, author Jamie Glowacki recommends not pulling the potty chair out until you are actually potty training. This is another one of those things that I feel really depends on your child.
The main focus is – make sure your kid only views and uses the potty as a potty. It’s not a toy. We have a great Usborne Books & More book, What’s a Potty For? That helped us walk through exactly how to use a potty. It also mentions poop in it, so it was immediately a big hit for our toddler.
Our kid does not like things sprung on him. He likes to warm up to the idea. So we had our potty out for a little while and limited it to trying it right before bath time. This ended up slightly biting us in the butt because when we asked him to use the potty that first day, he thought he was going to have to take a bath. Learn from my mistakes. Ha!
On Christmas Day, we really got started. We had our regular Christmas morning, and then once presents were opened, breakfast was devoured, and all of the wrapping paper cleaned up, it was time to strip!
Day 1 is naked time! At least the bottom half of your kiddo needs to be free of any fabric, but W was more than fine going stark naked. This was the day of constant observation. I was looking for his “tell.” I don’t think I have ever stared at my son so much!
We decided to have the potty in the living room with us for the first few days. I wanted it super close both as a reminder and as a “whoops! you’re already peeing on the floor, let’s move you over to the potty!” station. We actually had a pretty great day because he was so excited about it! Yes, there were a couple of pee accidents, as he was still learning how to hold it, but he was getting the hang of it and he was super into it. He cheered for himself every time he peed in the potty!
At this point, his “tell” was just staring at his penis half a second before the pee came out. (It took him probably a week before he actually started giving us bigger signs, like grabbing himself or verbally sharing.)
We decided not to sleep train at this point because W was still in his crib and his language just wasn’t developed enough for us to feel he could wake us up to tell us he needed to go. Everyone is different on this, but we decided to wait. (Jamie Glowacki recommends doing it all at once, but she gives tips on if you decide to do it at a different time.)
Day 2 is the hardest day.
Let me repeat: Day 2 is the HARDEST day.
The book promised me it would be, so I was prepared and felt a little vindicated when Day 2 just sucked. This was the day that we got more pushback, less “hooray!” when he went to the potty, and got our first poop on the floor. PUSH THROUGH THIS DAY!
Also, to note, Day 2 was another naked day in our house because we were hoping to have more success with the poop. We had no idea that poop would be a multi-month long process for us.
For us, the Day 2 drama also bled over into the morning of Day 3, but after a hard few hours, we knew we had to regroup.
We put our two tired parent heads together, and realized we got a little lazy a little too fast. You see, there’s this constant battle in your head “Do I prompt now? Am I prompting too much? Do I need to prompt every 30 minutes?” To be honest, I don’t think the book really answers this for you. Every time we read it, we felt like we were getting opposite answers. So my tip: just try it all! Figure out what works for your kiddo. Eventually, it will become natural, but at first… oh my. Just push through, and work on finding that personal balance.
Something I added that helped re-up the excitement level for peeing in the potty is this great potty sticker. We are firetruck crazy over here! Every time W uses the potty, a firetruck appears in the potty! It doesn’t always lure him in like I want, but he is two months in and still cheering when he sees it at the bottom of the potty. (When pee is not in the potty, it covers up with a solid green square. Make sure to regularly clean this too.)
BLOCK TWO – Live a Little (Or “peeing and pooping with clothes on (but no underwear) with prompting or without”)
Day 3 was also when we put pants on him for the first time (Commando. No underwear for a while longer). We even walked him around our little neighborhood (Gone for maybe 15 minutes. We were just excited to get FRESH AIR!) We were still only using the potty at home.
BLOCK THREE – Wait, There’s a World Out There (or “peeing and pooping in different situations, with prompting or without”)
We played it safe. We stayed around the house, with small trips outside, for three and a half days, but the evening of Day 4, we partied! We drove 5 minutes to Barnes & Noble and purchased a couple of new potty books for W. We brought our potty with us, and popped open the hatch for a potty-try before we headed home. No luck that first time (I think he was too curious about everyone in the parking lot), but it was great practice.
Each day after, we traveled a little farther, still bringing that potty along. When he finally used a public potty on a Target trip (where all important life events should happen), we decided to jump in and get a foldable travel potty seat (see list at bottom of the post).
Eventually, we were able to go out for longer and longer, WITHOUT the potty chair, and W became a master at using a public potty (especially once his potty seat arrived). All of this took about a week and a half. With this process, we were able to move a little slower, because we were on Winter Break. If your kiddo has to go back to preschool or daycare after just 4 or 5 days, it might look a little different, but I KNOW you can do it!
A big part of any education for kids (including the education of using a potty) is collaboration with anyone who provides care for your kiddo. Back to school time came with our fam a mix of completely ready to get back into the world and routine and slightly missing our cozy time off.
We immediately let the teachers know W was potty training, that he needed to be reminded (especially after lunch), and the tells that he had shown us (for W this was a mix of saying “paw-paw” and just straight grabbing his penis – and sometimes just going back to basics of looking at his penis, but normally that was far too late in the process. ha!)
Whatever your childcare situation looks like, this is step is SUPER important. Everyone has to be on the same page. If you feel your child is not getting the support he or she needs, talk to them about it! We actually had to do this with our preschool, and my husband works there!
We had several great weeks of peeing in the potty, with occasional pooping in the potty. W had pooped in the potty at home and at school, but his body just wasn’t quite used to going in the potty on a regular basis. The moment his body relaxed in sleep, he was releasing it in his diaper.
Jamie Glowacki shares that there’s two types of situations where your kid waits for the diaper to poop. 1. Basically they are being obstinate and holding it or 2. They just aren’t used to it yet, and it will take time. We were definitely in the second realm, so we were patient, and we just reminded him every time that we poop in the potty, not our diaper. He slowly started pooping in the potty more and more.
During these few weeks, we only had a couple of pee accidents – always while he was distracted with a toy or a tv show. This is a slightly on going situation. So we have been working with him more and more on stopping what he is doing to use the potty. He is getting better every single day. He even stops playing on the playground to tell his teachers when he has to go. We still have to watch for his tells.
BLOCK 4 – Look, Ma! Underpants!! (Or “peeing and pooping with underpants, with prompting or without”)
The biggest day in his little life probably came four and a half weeks in when he got his first pair of big boy underwear! I purchased both the adorable Cat & Jack brand and the Pixar Cars themed – guess which one he loved more. The reason the Oh, Crap! Method has you wait on the underwear is because they can feel a little too much like diapers, and they can cause more accidents. So we pulled these out when we knew he was used to taking those potty breaks.
So far, he has been proudly rocking them for about a month. He had one small poop accident at school, because he was too distracted playing with trucks on the playground, but he immediately ran to the teacher to let her know… it was just a little too late.
We are mostly into BLOCK 5 – Mom, I don’t need you anymore (Or “consistent self-initiation – meaning your child will go potty without your prompting”), but he normally calls for us to help him pull down his pants.
Up next, we have what I am dreading the most, BLOCK 6 – Save the Environment! No More Diapers! (Or “dry nighttime and naps”). I actually have plans to start the nap training this week, and we’re going to go from there (excuse me while I run to my book, and refresh!)
Like I said before, this potty training business is such an on-going experience, but it continues to get easier. I have learned so much about my son and about communication with my son.
And can I just throw in there that I much prefer this to sleep training! Anyone else with me!?
Essential Potty Training Items:
- THE Book: Oh, Crap Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right, by Jamie Glowacki
- Potty Chair We Prefer: BABYBJORN Potty Chair, Grey
- Potty Seat for Big Toilet: Munchkin Sturdy Potty Seat, Grey
- IMPORTANT Travel Potty Seat for on the Go Restroom Stops: Portable Folding Potty Seat
- Optional Fun Add-On: Pee-kaboo Reusable Potty Training Sticker for Potty Chair
Fun Potty Themed Books:
- What’s a Potty For (Lift the Flap Very First Questions and Answers) – This one is fantastic at introducing the potty to your little one! We love it! Plus it’s lift the flap, so it really captures their attention!)
- What is Poop (Lift the Flap Very First Questions and Answers) – This is all things poop theme which is VERY popular in our house right now.
- Everyone Poops! – This is a classic, but still a favorite!