Even though I wanted Addison potty trained months and months ago, she wasn’t cooperative with our early efforts. Knowing her personality, determinedly independent plus strong-willed, I decided to wait until she seemed ready and not stress about it. And then I got pregnant. The window of riding it out became smaller: I firmly did not want two kids in diapers.
We planned a “naked weekend,” which sounds highly more scandalous than it is. I didn’t do a ton of research, so my plan was simply to keep her out of a diaper for three days. She didn’t necessarily have to be totally pantsless, but if she was wearing clothes at the house, she only had underwear underneath.
Great plan in theory. In reality, we were all fantastically stir crazy by Saturday afternoon. And the little stinker waited until the two times we left the house to go in a pull-up. (As committed as we were, cleaning up an accident in the car was not even considered, I don’t care how far back those pull-ups set us.) She seriously waited for hours and then went within minutes of having the pull-up on. Strong-willed, much?
She ended up having two accidents in the house and one at the park – we had to get out! – that weekend. She hated it. After those, it was game on for her. It took about two weeks for her to be nearly perfect peeing on the potty. Soon after she got the hang of using the toddler potty, she wanted to use the “big potty,” so I bought her a princess seat for the top of the regular toilet. Because princesses make everything better. Can I tell you the quote on the potty seat? “Glamour begins with confidence.” I am so close to taking a Sharpie to that thing and changing it to “Book smarts are the ultimate goal.” or “You can’t wash your hands or read too much.” This princess culture is too much for me sometimes.
The “system” we’re using somehow morphed into a complicated algorithm of rules and rewards. I printed charts and hung them outside the bathroom with a sticker book.
At the beginning, Addison would get to put a sticker on the chart and get a treat every time she used the potty. Because I was desperate to have this milestone behind us, I also offered a small prize when she finished a row and a great big awesome prize when she finished a whole sheet. It was way too much, and of course she remembered everything I’d promised and made us hoist her up for a sticker and drug us to the treat jar after every pit stop.
Also ridiculous were the treats. We had tons of leftover candy from Christmas stockings, so instead of one M&M or one jellybean, homegirl got a full size York Peppermint Patty or a fun size candy bar. There was no messing around. And she learned so quickly that she was having five of those things before lunch.
The small prizes mostly came from the Dollar Store or repurposed Christmas presents from other people. Lots of stickers, some little books, temporary tattoos, that sort of thing. The favorites have been a set of “Frozen” rings and “Frozen” headbands.
Since then, the rules have changed a few times and she’s been surprisingly flexible about it. First, I casually stopped giving her the small prizes. Then, if she didn’t mention it, I bypassed the stickers because it became such a chore to lift her up that much. Now, the stickers and treats are reserved for non-pee scenarios only. This helps buy us a lot of time in between full charts. Otherwise we’d have gone through about four sheets already.
In a month or so, she is about 95% potty trained. She still wears pull-ups, but I think we’ll get rid of those during the day soon. I have been quite impressed with how well and, I don’t even want to say, easy the whole process has been. I mean, there have certainly been messes that I’d like to block from memory and potty training out in public is a whole other nightmare, but overall it seems like we waited until Addison was good and ready. And if she’s like her mama, she’d do just about anything for a constant stream of chocolate throughout the day.
Finally, there’s one item on our Before Baby checklist that’s actually complete!