Our Let’s Wing It Approach to Potty Training

Potty Training

My last post is from over six months ago, but why not start the whole blogging thing back up again for this very big parenting milestone: potty training. Yeah. I never thought I’d be the kind of person that would write extensively about her kid’s poop and pee, but here we are. Because let’s be honest: leaving those diaper days behind is a BIG DEAL.

But not thát of a big deal. Let me explain.

Potty training is usually seen as something that’s stressful, daunting, and in no way any fun. But being the little rebel I am, I’m here to tell you that’s not our experience at all. I don’t really like to give parenting advice, because as we all know each kid is different, and what works for my kid doesn’t necessarily work for your kid. But it might be nice to hear from someone whose potty training process was actually really fun. Yes, FUN. Okay, here we go.

Meeting The Potty

We bought our potty back in June – so over 10 months ago. It’s just that simple white and green one from Ikea. We were there for something else (probably some last minute baby shopping since I was almost due with baby Boaz), but thought we might as well bring a potty home. Without any intention of starting anytime soon. So the potty has been standing in our bathroom for almost a year. First in our Amsterdam home, now in our new home.

Luc was intrigued by it, and occasionally sat on it, but usually without any result. Totally fine. If we did have a plan, this might’ve been it: getting the kid acquainted with the potty, with ZERO pressure. He didn’t sit on it every day, and usually only before bedtime.

Set An Example

Another thing that we did, not intentionally though, was let him come to the toilet with us. I mean, there’s no such thing as privacy when raising a toddler anyway, so it might as well be educational, right? We would tell, and show, him how it works – no shame here.

First Successes

Every now and then he would actually pee on the potty, and we would high five him, but no stickers or gifts or anything like that. We wanted him to know that it was awesome if he did something, but if he didn’t, that was totally fine too. We also noticed he started telling us when he peed or pooped, so that was a sign he was getting ready for a diaper-free life.

But since we weren’t really looking forward to potty training a toddler while also having a newborn in the house, we kept putting it off. And now that newborn is 9 months old.

Potty Training Kids Room Decor Nursery Ikea Hack Ivar

Taking Advantage Of Quarantine

We knew we had to start at some point, especially since it become clear that Luc was ready to go, but we just didn’t make the time to get ready ourselves. I mean, I did order a book a while ago, but it just ended up in the bookcase – unopened. The only thing I did read was this blog post by @mamalotje (in Dutch), who basically has the same laidback approach to potty training. I saved it for when we would start, you know “probably this summer” we said to ourselves.

Enter: corona. And with quarantine life being forced upon the world in full force, we realized this was actually a perfect time to start potty training. We’re both at home, we simply can’t go anywhere, and trusting our daycare to be on board with our plan of no plan isn’t a factor now either. So last Friday morning, when the husband suggested we just kept Luc’s diaper off for the day, we were both like “sure, why not”. And that was that. Kinda.

Potty Training On A Whim

The thing is, we knew there’s no way back. Once it’s off, it stays off. I’ve heard it so many times, when you put the diaper back on – because a trip to grandma, or the zoo, or daycare seems a little too intense in the beginning – your kid might get confused, and you drag the process on much longer than needed. So, no more diaper. “Uh, but what does he wear then?”. Right. Underpants. And we had no such thing in the house because that’s what happens when you start potty training unprepared.

Speaking of things that miiiight come in handy, we quickly realized that him going to the potty on his own means he should be able to get out of bed by himself. But Luc still sleeps in a crib, mainly because we liked having him contained when he doesn’t want to go down for a nap but wants to party. At least he parties in a confined space. Luckily we got a convertible crib/bed, so we could easily take a few bars out, which of course he LOVES.

Potty Training Child Crib Oliver Furniture Wood Mini Bed

Okay, so now he can get in and out of bed on his own, great. Not so great: a sleeping bag. Yes, he was still sleeping in a sleeping bag – again: the less mobility the better when it comes to our nap refusing toddler. But an extra obstacle to tackle all by himself in the middle of the night? Not a smart move. So, we ditched the sleeping bag. Final thing we bought is a mattress cover – for obvious reasons.

Phase One: Bare Bum

On the first day we let him roam around the house butt naked, so at least the underwear crisis was averted for now. We just took the potty downstairs, let him decide where to put it (in front of the window of course – sorry neighbors!), and told him to go every 20 minutes or so. I specifically say “told him to go” and not “asked him to go”.

This is a little unrelated, but we generally don’t ask him questions that he can answer with “no”, when that’s not an acceptable outcome for us. Instead, we give him two options so he can feel in control, but whatever he chooses, the outcome is still what we want him to do. For example, we don’t ask him to go upstairs because it’s time for bed (he can answer “no” and then we have to disrespect his answer, even though we asked for his yes or no), but we ask him “do you want mommy or daddy to go upstairs with you?”. I strongly believe this is why we only had minor toddler tantrums; we give him some control over his decisions, ánd we respect them. But it just might be a total coincidence :).

Okay, back to the potty. We would ask him “do you want mommy or daddy to go with you?”, or something like that. And he just went and did his thing. He even went to do a number two all on his own, only a few hours post-diaper. Like what?! I was in a call upstairs, and the husband was downstairs with Luc – but also on a call – and suddenly Luc walked over to him with a freshly made number two in the potty. Can you imagine his face?

Overall, it went very smooth. Even though he was fine with sitting on the potty for a while, we did help him to stay put by reading a book (but we stopped doing that on day two because we don’t want it to become a habit). There were only a few peeing accidents, but he peed on the potty way more often, so I call it a win!

Phase Two: Going Commando

In the morning he was pant-less again, but around noon we had to pick something up at a local farm, and since Luc LOVES farms, we really wanted to bring him along. On day two of potty training? Uhm yes. We put some pants on him (no underwear!), threw the potty in the car and went on our way. No wait. We did make sure he peed before we left. We immediately wanted to establish the habit of going to the toilet before we go somewhere. So we went to the farm, roamed around a bit, and before we drove back we put him on the potty in the back of our car. He loved it! He even instructed us to close the hood. Ha! We were feeling brave so we also made a quick trip to the bakery, and we made it home with a dry toddler. High five!

Potty Training

Phase Three: Backing Off

Another day of going commando, so no diaper, no underwear, but with pants. First of all because the underwear hasn’t arrived yet, but second of all because it’s a little easier for him to go on his own if he only has to pull down one layer of clothing. Where on day two we still prompted him to go on the potty, we now tried to back off a little, so he could be more in charge himself. It’s one thing to have a potty success when you tell your kid to go, but it’s another thing when he tells you he needs to go, ór goes on his own. So now we slowly transitioned to asking him if he needs to go, and then we leave it up to him.

On this day we had a few accidents, which was to be expected. But I believe it’s more important to look at the successes, and we did went on another outing today and he stayed dry again. Oh and seeing your kid walking up to the potty, shimmy down his pants, and sit down for a pee or poop, is honestly such a proud parenting moment. I’m pretty sure most parents will agree.

Phase Four: Bedtime Training

As I’m writing this, we’re currently on day five. And as much as we would’ve liked to start with nighttime training immediately, our mattress cover hasn’t arrived yet and I didn’t want to deal with bedtime accidents without that thing. Today I did find some sort of disposable cover that we got with our diaper subscription once, so we tried naptime without a diaper. Now, you might be thinking, “are they insane?! bedtime potty training on day five?!”. Well, yes – maybe a little. But on the other hand, as I mentioned earlier, we feel it’s super important the diaper stays off once it’s off. And although we can easily explain to Luc he now only wears a diaper in bed, I do think it makes much more sense to go all the way asap, because it’s much clearer for him that this is the new normal.

Of course he didn’t sleep on this first nap; way too excited about the whole diaper-free sleeping situation. I told him he could only get out of bed for the potty, and on the baby monitor (#stalkermom) I could see him on the potty every ten minutes. Fine, totally fine. I got to work, and an hour or so later, our cleaning lady came downstairs with Luc on her arm (note: get everyone in your house with the program). He’d opened his bedroom door, which he knows is off limits, because he wanted to tell us he made a poopy on the potty. He was so proud – and so was I! And with this event I am now ready to say that our two year old is officially potty trained. Hooray!

There will probably be some accidents along the way, especially in the coming days, but the fact that he knows he needs to (get out of bed to) go on the potty if he needs to pee or poop is exactly what potty training is to me.

Final Notes

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: every kid is different, and what works for our kid might not work for yours. I think what’s most important is that your kid is ready, and that you don’t make an extremely big deal about it. Of course it is a big deal, but try not to stress about too much. Just enjoy watching your kid become more and more independent, even if it means mopping the floor a few extra times, and doing a few extra rounds of laundry.

And if you’ve been postponing the whole potty training thing because it seems so daunting, but your kid seems ready, I would highly recommend you make use of this slow phase in life we’re all in right now. Take advantage of this quarantine, there’s no time like the present!

Feel free to contact me here or on Instagram if you want to know more.

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Potty Training

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