The potty training anniversary

Last year during Thanksgiving weekend, we locked ourselves up at home, rolled up our rug, and potty trained Joshua for 3 days straight.  I was in the late stages of being pregnant with Savanna, and we wanted Joshua to get the hang of using the potty before she arrived.

Now looking back at this past year, there was much cleaning poop off all sorts of interesting surfaces, wiping up pee, and doing many loads of extra laundry.  I am soooo glad the training stage is over, and Joshua is a potty pro.  He has also recently decided that he won’t be using the potty seat or the potty chair anymore, which makes traveling so much easier!

Having a potty trained toddler is great on so many levels.  Not changing diapers or carrying a diaper bag for him is certainly a plus.  I think mostly I love the fact that he is proud to have the independence to use the potty at his will.

Here is a series of pictures of Joshua showing me his dance moves, after coming out of the bathroom at the Woodland Park Zoo.

Joshua-1233 Joshua-1234 Joshua-1235

The potty training journal

I kept a potty training journal of the last 9 days.  I don’t have any golden tips or magic tricks.  On the contrary, all you’re going to see is where I really struggled.  At the end of 9 days, we’re still not 100% done with the training, but we’re pretty close.

Day 1

I’m not sure if I’m just totally crazy.  I decided that we should try the 3-day potty training method.

Cliff and I booked this long weekend (Thanksgiving, which also happens to be Cliff’s birthday weekend) to be home, devoted to this potty training method.  I bought Joshua some really cute Cars (Disney movie) underwear.  The two potty seats have been in the bathroom for over a month now for him to get acquainted with them.  We rolled up our rug and stocked the fridge with groceries.

The training material indicated that Day 1 will be the most frustrating, and it certainly is true.  Joshua peed everywhere, at least 8 or 9 times today.  Good thing Cliff and I were both home all day, so one can watch him while the other one cooked or cleaned or walked Sam.

I think towards the end of the day, Joshua was getting the clue when he needed to pee.  He still couldn’t tell us before he went, but I think he was trying.  One of the last times he peed on the floor, he had told us a few minutes before that he wanted to use the potty.  We rushed him there and he sat on it for 1/2 a minute, but nothing happened.  So we took him off the potty and went back to reading a book, then he peed on the carpet a few minutes later.

Right now I’m not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel, other than 3 loads of laundry so far in one day.  So far tonight he has wet the bed once.  We’ll probably be doing a couple more sheet changes at a minimum.  It’s going to be an interesting few days!

Day 2

It was a crazy, up-and-down, heart-breaking, and mixed kind of day today.  Joshua wet the bed late last night.  Then Cliff tried to take him to the potty around 2 am, but he didn’t pee.  Then he stayed dry for the rest of the night.

He came to our bed around 5:30 am, stayed dry for almost an hour, then at 6:15 am said he needed to pee.  Cliff took him to the potty, he sat down, and peed in the potty!!!  We were soooo proud and so excited.  Joshua got a new toy for peeing in the potty.

Then a couple of hours later, he wanted to poop, and he actually pooped in the potty.  We cheered and clapped and gave him a new truck toy.  Don’t worry, I won’t show you a picture of that event.

Just when we thought things were going well and that maybe he’s all done with potty training, the rest of the day went all the way down hill fast.  He had diarrhea, so 3 very messy accidents in a row.  Each time he would ask to go to the potty, but cried when we put him on the seat.  He would struggle and want to come off the potty, put his arms around my neck and just wail.  It just killed me inside when him hanging off my neck and crying, while obviously struggling with something.  Then he would come off, and have diarrhea in his underwear a few minutes later.  Obviously he knows his body is doing something, but he couldn’t time it well enough to go while he’s on the potty.

At the end of the day, he did pee in the potty successfully once and got a loader truck toy, but then proceeded to pee in the bath tub while having his bath.

So, that’s what I meant by it’s a very mixed bag kind of day.  On top of that, it was Cliff’s birthday today, so I made all the meals, and made cupcakes, and did all the cleaning and dishes.  I am exhausted.  I guess it’s really good enough that Joshua did go in the potty a few times today.  Apparently most kids don’t really get it till the third day.

I think for me, the most exhausting part today wasn’t all the clean-up and rushing to the potty.  It was the uncertainty of it all.  I have no idea what I’m doing!  It reminded me of when we were sleep-training Joshua when he was 6 months old.  It broke my heart when he cried in his crib with his big teary eyes.  I felt like a bad mother just leaving him to cry and not picking him up and comforting him.  I wondered if 6 months was too soon to sleep-train him, and what if I was causing him emotional damage?  Today was a lot like that.  Maybe 23 months is too soon for potty training.  What if he is holding his pee in and get a urinary track infection?  What if he is permanently damaged by the experience will never function properly as an adult when it comes to his bowl movements?  What if he grows up hating me because I forced him to do this?  What if I am doing something wrong and there’s a study out there showing evidence of my ignorance?

Even though I’ve done the research, I am still just doing the best I know how, without ever knowing the consequences 20 years down the road.

Day 3

So I’ve decided in my head today that I AM STUPID AND CRAZY to try this potty training thing.

Joshua peed in his underwear half the time, and peed in the potty half the time today.  And he’s refusing to poop.  I can tell he wants to go, but every time he sits down on the potty, he gets up right away.

This is not what the book promised about the 3-day potty training method.  Everything is supposed to be done by the end of the 3rd day.  So what have we done wrong?  I have NO FREAKING CLUE!

After a long weekend at home with the potty training, I am totally stressed out, on edge, exhausted, and grouchy.  I am questioning my sanity right now.  Why did I think we should try this?  Why is it not working?  WTFFFFF?

I am heart broken and feeling so guilty.  I feel like I am torturing my child.  If he wants to poop in the diaper, why should I not just let him?  What if he holds in his poop for so long that he becomes constipated and have other problems later?  What am I supposed to do now?  Go back to diapers?  Or keep trying this training thing?  I wish somebody can just tell me what to do.

Day 4

After the long weekend, I went back to work totally exhausted and on edge.  Cliff took Joshua to the doctor today, and the doctor said it’s probably just a virus causing Joshua to have the runs.  While at the doctor’s office, Joshua told Cliff he had to go pee.  Cliff rushed him to the washroom, set up the folding potty seat, and Joshua actually peed in the potty.  I got a text message from a very proud daddy.

The rest of the day was many messy clean-ups because of the runs.  I was totally useless because I was at work.  I wondered how Cliff was doing with all the clean-ups.  When I got home, he kind of just shrugged and said it was not that big a deal.

We decided to keep the message consistent with Joshua that #1s and #2s go in the potty. It may mean more clean-ups while he has the runs.

Day 5

Another day for me at work.  Joshua managed to get all the pees in the potty, and a few of the poops too.  Still had a few messy #2s.  The poor guy still has the runs.   I am feeling VERY bad for Cliff.  He looked tired and worn out when I got home.

Day 6

First half of the day, Joshua peed and pooped in his underwear.  Second half of the day, everything went in the potty.  Maybe he’s “getting it”.  We decided that we need to buy him a backpack to carry his stuff, and get rid of the diaper bag.

Day 7

After my doctor’s appointment this morning, I stopped at MEC and bought Joshua a kids backpack.  I dropped it off at home for him, and told him it’s a “big boy backpack”.  We put a change of clothes in it, the folding potty seat, and a few toys.  We told him no more diaper bag because he is a big boy now.  He loved the backpack.

Today was a glorious day.  ZERO accidents.  Joshua still has the runs, but he managed to get EVERYTHING in the potty.

It was a bit unbelievable for me.  I mean, having the runs is pretty difficult (even for adults)! My little dude has learned his body’s cues enough in a week to communicate when he needs to use the potty.

Day 8

At 6:30 am, Joshua woke up.  I figured I’d test him with purposely NOT asking if he needed to use the potty.  A few minutes later, he said he needed to go but has already started to pee in his underwear.  That was really my bad.  I should have reminded him the option to use the potty.  It was first thing in the morning; his head was probably still foggy.

For the rest of the day, he used the potty like a pro and had no accidents.  His diahrrea seems to finally slow down a little.  We had brunch at a friend’s house.  He asked to use the potty twice and actually went twice.  We were invited to another friend’s house for dinner.  We brought a portable potty with us on the one-hour drive.  Almost at the end of the drive, Joshua said he had to use the potty.  We pulled over in an empty parking lot, set up the potty in the truck, and put him on there.  He actually pooped.  It felt a little ghetto to put my kid on a potty in the back of the SUV, but hey, it worked.  Then at the friend’s house, he would ask to go use the potty when he needed to.

Day 9

It was almost an accident-free day.  Joshua is quite good at telling us when he needs to go use the potty.  We did have 1 accident today when he was throwing a temper tantrum.  He was crying hysterically, then started coughing and gagging, then proceeded to throw up all over me, and at the same time peed on the floor.

I had vomit on my shirt and pee on my socks, just as a friend arrived to pick up something from us.  I actually really wanted to laugh.  Sometimes life can be so comical.

3-day potty training

When friends asked what we were doing for Thanksgiving, I was a little evasive with my answer.  The truth is, we blocked off that 3-day weekend to be home, and devoted it to potty training.  We blocked off that weekend more than a month ago, with the thinking that we’re going to give the “3-day potty training” a shot and see how it goes.  But like I said in my last post, I was afraid of criticism from other parents, hence the vagueness with what we were actually doing for the long weekend.

I read a couple of “books” on the 3-day potty training method.  I say “books” in quotes because they were really only about 30 or 40 pages.  They were more like a “guide” than a “book”.  The two I read are about the same in terms of the main points:

1. You devote 3 days of full time attention to potty training.

2. You throw away all your diapers, pull ups, training pants.  From here on, it’s underwear and underwear only, including night time.

3. You do not get emotional over the training.  It’s a matter-of-fact teaching to your child that keeping the underwear dry and clean is important.

4. You offer positive reinforcement (praises and rewards) to your child for using the potty.  We included a call to Grandma in Taiwan to make a big positive deal out of the first time Joshua peed in the potty.

There are some slight variations between the two books, but nothing major.  Of course, I Googled comments on both books, and they were mostly positive in terms of the theory.  There are some criticisms against both, but that’s something you’ll have to read through and decide for yourself if the 3-day method would work.

Now it’s been a week after we’ve started this potty training journey.  I’m happy to say that Joshua is about 95% potty trained.  He had an accident first thing in the morning 2 days ago, and another one today when he was crying and throwing up.  Other than that, he tells us when he needs to use the potty, even when we’re visiting at friends’ houses or driving in the car.  It took us more than 3 days to get to this point, but we also had to work through Joshua having a bad case of the runs for a few days in the middle of it all.  All things considered, I think he did really well, and I am so proud of him.

Trying to do the right thing

Joshua arrived almost 2 years ago.  It has been some of the most rewarding and some of the most challenging times in my life.

Since day 1, I struggled with trying to be the mom who always does the “right” thing.  I was so worked up over breastfeeding because I didn’t produce enough milk.  So should I keep breastfeeding?  Should we supplement with formula?  Should we do just all formula?

Then it was the sleep training issue.  Would sleep training traumatize him?  What if he becomes a serial killer because I traumatized him?  Am I being selfish by sleep training him so I can sleep through the night?

Then it was the solid food battle.  Joshua hated solid food for 4 months, and screamed every time I tried to feed him.  Am I doing something wrong?  What is wrong with Joshua that he won’t eat solid food?  Am I forcing him to do something he hated?  What if he doesn’t get enough iron and his little bones don’t grow properly?

And what about discipline?  Should we spank him, or give him time-outs, or try the reasoning method?  What is he grows up to be a complete brat?  What if he has no respect for authority?

No one had all the answers for me.  Joshua didn’t come with a troubleshooting manual and I felt lost at many times during his little life.  If you put any of these parenting topics into Google and hit “search”, you are bound to end up being more confused with all the studies and research published by everybody and their dog.  There is conflicting information on every topic, and there’s controversy on every parenting theory.  If you do something one way, there will be someone there to cheer you on and another 5 people to tell you that you’re screwing up.

All I really learned, is that this parenting gig is pretty hard, and a lot of times there’s no right or wrong answer to something.

I remember that I often asked my mom why she raised us or taught us a certain way.  She always said that she did the best she knew how.  I always wondered if she read enough books, or sought enough advice, or did enough research before deciding on something.

But today, what I’ve realized is that regardless of how much reading and research you do, as a parent, you still have to make a decision on what might be best for your child.  And you will never know if that was the best choice for your child.  And then even if you did your best, the damn kid may still one day tell you that you did it wrong and that’s why she is going to run away from home and become a cold blooded serial killer.

What’s my point to this whole post?

Well, first of all, Mom, I’m sorry that I ever doubted you.

Secondly, I was scared shitless about writing a post on what we’ve been doing this past week–potty training Joshua.

I was not convinced that potty training Joshua right now (almost 23 months) is perfectly acceptable because most people train their boys a little later.  I wasn’t sure if my motivation is purely for Joshua’s sake, because I did think it would be easier for ME if I didn’t have to wash two sets of cloth diapers once Savanna arrives.  And I really haven’t heard much about this “3-day potty training” thing until recently, and Google turned up a bunch of controversial studies about how you could harm your child emotionally and physically if they’re not ready to be trained.  I was mostly afraid of being judged by other parents or experts because of whatever I’ve chosen to do.

I feel like I have no control of the outcome of a choice, be it breastfeeding or sleep training or potty training.  And this is what makes parenting the most rewarding yet most challenging gig all at the same time.