Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Potty

When I was pregnant with Eamon, I remember talking to my mom about potty learning.  I told her I wanted to have the baby out of diapers by the second birthday.  As Eamon approached 18 months, I started looking for signs of readiness - waking up from naps dry (which he's done since about a year old), knowing when a diaper is wet or dirty, general toilet interest, etc.  When Eamon started showing these signs, I spent a lot of time researching potty learning techniques.  (Of course I did.  Research is what I do best.)  I really liked the concept of the three day method, so I decided to go all in on a long weekend.  

The basic premise of the three day method is that you don't leave the house, pump your kid full of liquid, and offer potty breaks every 15-20 minutes.  There's no rewards system, there's no shaming or discipline for accidents.  There's just, the potty is where we pee and poop, and that's it.


We used elimination communication from the time Eamon was about four months old, maybe a little younger.  We've never been really great about it, but I figured his familiarity with the potty chair couldn't hurt at all.  


I decided to use a little reward just to keep the experience positive.  Eamon could care less about candy and treats (not to mention I don't like the idea of food rewards), so I stocked up on balloons and stickers (which he most certainly does care about) before our potty weekend.  


Since I knew we'd be stuck in the house all weekend, I stocked up on all our favorite foods, and collected lots of snacks, books, games, and toys.  


We started intensive potty learning on a Friday morning.  I took the day off work, and we didn't have any plans for the whole weekend, so it was a perfect time.  We had a relaxed breakfast, then tucked in for a day of pottying.


It didn't take long to learn Eamon's pee schedule.  I kept offering the potty, and most of the time, he happily sat, even if he didn't pee.  We read books, played games, sang songs.  When he peed, I did a little happy dance, and we took his pee to the toilet together.  I used the stickers and balloons, but he totally doesn't get the reward system, which is fine with me. I’m pretty sure he’s starting to understand that the potty is the right place to pee. 


Pottying brought us closer together.  Having to be so vigilant actually made for a fun, very bonding day for us! Since I wanted to make sure I didn't miss any signals, we spent A LOT of time sitting and reading, singing songs, etc. 


Day 2 was a learning day for us.  Chris was home from work, which meant the TV was on most of the day.  Also, we had house guests.  In addition to being distracting, having guests over is a sure fire way to make sure Eamon doesn't nap at his regular time.  House guests, the TV diversion, and sleep deprivation= (you guessed it) bad pottying times.  We had A LOT of misses, and I found myself very frustrated after the very positive start we had on day one.  


Day 3 was relaxed.  We were all spent from the disappointments of day 2, so we just took it easy.  Had about 50% success.


Day 4 was my first day back at work.  I wasn't sure how consistent Chris would be with the potty, but he was great (and has been great through this whole process).  Eamon did great in the morning, but the afternoon and evening with me were a little rough.  He was already showing a trend - he doesn't do well with the potty when he's tired or grumpy.


On day 5, I got a great text from Chris that said, "Just had a poop on the potty with no help from me.  He grabbed a book, sat down, and pooped."  I almost exploded from pride.  


By one week in, Eamon was getting many of his pees in the potty, including his first morning pee.  The ones we most often miss are before and right after nap time.

Eamon ended up sleeping diaper free about a week and half in, sort of by accident.  I had been putting his diaper on after he fell asleep, but I fell asleep with him, so he ended up with no diaper.  He is dry most nights anyway, but I felt like sleeping without a diaper was a big step!  Now, a month in, he sleeps diaper-free some nights, and other nights in training pants.


By two weeks in, he was averaging only one miss a day, and most of that was because we weren't offering the potty often enough.  
We were in a habit of reading a book or singing a song on the potty, which seemed to really help.

Not quite a month into the potty adventure, we took a road trip to the beach.  Over the four days, he missed three pees.  We didn't use a single diaper.  


We took another road trip about a month and a week in, and he had a little regression after about 4 days away from home.  He got to the point that he would physically protest sitting on the potty, and lost all interest in pottying.  I had to start offering a book at every potty break, and I tried not to push it.  Of course, we were guests in a family member's home, so I didn't want him peeing on things.  He finally got over the hump by our last day, and did really great on the car ride home.


Now, after about six weeks, he's averaging a miss every other day.  Some days are great, some days are not so great.  But he never wears a diaper, and knows where the toilet is in all of our regular haunts.  He loves to flush, his favorite potty song right now is "Pop Goes the Weasel."  He still has misses when he's tired or really distracted. 


For us, the biggest keys for successful pottying have been an enthusiastic team (having my parents and Chris on board is such a gift), a positive outlook, the willingness to jump in full force (and clean up some pee on your carpet), and a child who is ready and interested.  Oh, and several potties.  We have a toilet ring, a potty upstairs, and a potty downstairs (which travels with us).