Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The case against potty-training

A few weeks ago we decided to just go for it and potty-train Mary.

She is 2 1/2. She's smart, she communicates well, and we wanted it done before we bring home little Mister.

I asked for advice on Facebook and got, of course, a little more than I needed. It seems that there are as many opinions on potty-training as there are parents.

It also seems that most parents remain scarred for life after the experience.

Knowing that struck deep fear into my heart of the process.

I thought it over and chose the potty-training method that fit our personalities the best. "Wait until she potty-trains herself" isn't my style, and neither is the "just let her run around naked until she figures it out" method. I wanted a system. So I chose the "Toilet Training in Less than a Day" (Azrin & Foxx) method. This involves about 4 hours of time where ALL YOU DO is potty-train. You practice going potty, have the child teach a doll to go potty, stay off the carpet at all costs, and reward any successes shamelessly with junk food (M&Ms in our case). Also you shove as many fluids down the gullet as possible to, of course, increase urinary output. Because when they pee more, they practice more.

Two weeks later, Mary is, I'd say, about 90% there with potty-training. She wears pull-ups at night, and I frankly don't care if she keeps that up until she's 10. Accidents are getting pretty uncommon (we're still working on pooping), and all in all I think she's done as well as can be expected for a child her age. She was already starting to get it by the end of the first day. (In spite of what I'm about to say, I was very pleased with the book we used. I plan to use it again on future kids.)

Nevertheless, no experience with parenting thus far, not even the newborn stage, has made me question my decision to bring children into this world like potty-training has.

By day three I started panicking. What had I done? I'd created a monster! I'd left the blissful life of the diapered child. On purpose, no less!

Why on EARTH would any parent willingly give up the freedom of diapers? Who are these parents that push potty-training at absurdly young ages? Or that complain about having a child in diapers?Sure, they cost money, but they are a PORTABLE TOILET the child wears ALL THE TIME.

That day I hit a wall. Would I ever leave the house again? Would the fear of an impending accident forever cloud my sense of well-being? At one particularly low point, I looked down at my own expanding belly and thought to myself, "What have I done? Why am I having another? I'M GOING TO HAVE TO POTTY-TRAIN THIS ONE TOO?!?"

I started surveying parents of toddlers in diapers with pure jealousy.

With Mary in diapers, I never second-guessed what surface she sat on. Sure, sit on that couch! Wondering how I would clean pee off of it never even crossed my mind. Marathon grocery trips? No problem! Road trips? Big deal! My bladder reached capacity long before her diaper ever did. Leaving the house? Piece of cake (compared to now, anyway)! Because I didn't lose 15 minutes in negotiations, trying to get her to pee before we left. ("I'll give you anything! What do you want? Chocolate? Chips? A pony? Just sit on the dang toilet!")

The panic is starting to subside and I have, in fact, left the house successfully with Mary in tow. I am clinging to the hope that my decision to potty-train before kindergarten might not actually ruin my life.

All the same, I plan to outsource potty-training with the next kid.


  1. I love your blog posts. I think there should be a potty training boot camp. Send your child to camp and they can't come home until they are potty trained.

  2. wow this brings me back. I felt every emotion you described in exactly the same way when I potty trained Oakley. It was a very stressful 3 days! I was so scared she was going to pee in her car seat the minute I put her in it. 1.5 years later, the fear still exists but it's much less prevalent. Have you seen these travel potties?http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0016KV73W/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1439956889&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SY200_QL40&keywords=pottete&dpPl=1&dpID=51O97pYQIQL&ref=plSrch We've used ours a ton. I think it helped save my sanity. And m&ms too. :)

  3. Now you know why I had no advice for you...
    That being said, ALL my kids are COMPLETELY potty-trained now...so there is light at the end of the tunnel! One Mom said to me once that nearly everyone is potty-trained by the time they go to scout camp :)

  4. Hahahaha! I love this post Camber! I had the same thoughts/feelings. :)

  5. You're prego?! When did I miss that? Congrats on that news.

    Love the post about Sarah.

    And yes, I had the same thoughts about potty training as well.

  6. Hilarious! I felt the same way. I think I still do. My boys have small bladders and even to this day we are making too many potty stops. I'm pretty sure they would be unwilling to go back to diapers at this point though!

  7. Okay, I TRIED to outsource. Seriously, both my older girls had full-time nannies during the potty-training period, and I just couldn't wait to hand them off on potty-training morning with a hearty handshake and a "good luck!" But you know what? Both my girls decided to potty train on the weekend and during the holidays. WHAT. Yep. So I got it. Both times. That's okay - it's a right of passage.