Last Friday we officially started potty training (RJ was just short of 30 months old). Up to that point, he was showing some interest in going on the potty, and he would do it occasionally if we initiated it, but we were not actually in training mode.
I think the hardest part about it so far is that I was clueless. I have never had a toddler before, I had no idea how the process should work. I did a little bit of research, I know there are a million different methods and strategies available on the internet. But there was not one certain plan that worked for our schedule. I can't do the 3-4 days home with no where to go and nothing to do but potty train, our schedule is way to busy. And I am not strict enough to set timers to remember to go every 20 minutes. But I also wanted to be consistent so that he understood the change and knew what was going on.
So my plan was this... we started on a Friday because I was off from work from Friday-Sunday. We made a big deal about starting to wear big boy underwear and getting rid of the diapers leading up to Friday. That morning when he woke up, we took off his diaper, threw it out, and never put one on again. To get use to the idea, I let him run around with no clothes except his new undies. Then I would just bring him to the bathroom every 20-30 minutes. He was off to a good start... he only had 2 accidents that day and he did actually go to the bathroom every time I brought him there.
This idea continued, but on Saturday and Sunday we had things to do so we couldn't just stay home and potty train. For the most part he did well, but I found the more I transitioned back and forth between pull ups when we were out in public and underwear when we were home, the more confused he got. He wasn't doing awful, but he wasn't getting the idea of telling me when he had to go and he was confused about when he was allowed to go in a pull up vs. when he had to make it to the bathroom so he didn't have an accident.
So I refocused on Sunday night and planned to put my inlaws to work on Monday since they were in charge all day while I worked. The rule was only underwear all day, no pull ups allowed, even if they wanted to go out. He had a really good day, went on the potty every time he had to go, but still wasn't the one to tell us it was time. He did have one accident, and of course it was while they were out of the house at the StrideRight buying sneakers (I'm sure it wasn't the first time they had an accident in their store). Overall it was a good day.
Then that night we had another revelation. After his bath I let him run around naked for the rest of the night. After a little while, he was in his room playing and I was doing laundry, and I heard him call "Mommy, Pee-Pee!!" and he ran to the bathroom. We made it in time and he did his business in the potty. This was the first time he made the connection he had to go, and got to the potty all by himself.
The next day I was home with him again so I cleared the schedule and declared it NAKED DAY! No clothes at all, not even undies. If the night before he was able to feel the urge to go when he was naked, maybe thats what he needed. It was worth a try. Again, things were not disasterous, but we still had work to do.
Well naked time worked. Every single time he had to go, he told me first and he made it to the potty. He had a perfect day! Wednesday morning, he had to go to my Aunt Lindas house when I went to work. I was a little bit worried because this was the first real test. My aunt said she did have errands to run, so she put him in a pull up so that she did not have to worry about it. As I thought would happen, as soon as he was in the pull up, he forgot about using the potty and had a few accidents in the pull up. That afternoon when we got him back home, we went back to naked time and he went back to only using the potty.
Thursday morning was the next test. I told my inlaws no pull ups no matter what, only naked or underwear! They did a good job and followed my rules! But the true test was that he had an hour car ride to Grandma and Grandpas house and then another hour ride home. Both were successful with no accidents!!! Yay! I feel like he is definitely getting it.
To sum up, its now Saturday afternoon and he has been accident free since lunch time on Wednesday. We have been to stores, my dads softball game, in the pool, and in the car and he has told us every time he has to go to the bathroom. I know we are not totally in the clear yet, but we are definitely in good shape and I am super proud of him.
In conclusion, here are my tips that seem to help the process....
1. Try (even with a busy schedule) to get at least 3 days in a row to stay at home and practice
2. Be consistent! Changing back and forth from underwear to pull ups to swim diapers and then back to underwear doesn't really teach them. They get easily confused and don't start making the effort on their own.
3. Go totally naked! For some reason that is what he needed to be able to recognize the "I have to pee" urge.
4. After a good stretch of going potty all by themselves, its okay to start going out and doing things again, as long as they are still in underwear... don't switch back to pull ups!
5. Be okay with accidents. There are going to be some messy days, and accidents in public or in the car, but that's okay. It was better to have an accident in public and he understood what happened then it was to be inconsistent and go back and forth between potty and pull ups.
6. Stay strong! Don't give up! Stick to it! haha how many other encouraging thoughts can we come up with. But I mean it. Being strong and consitant and not easily phased is the trick to success (just like it is with most mommy moves).
Hopefully we are in good shape and he will continue this stretch of success... but I am happy to say that the hardest part is (probably) over.