Thursday, January 30, 2014

Potty inquiry. Potty misery. Potty Bliss.

As a stay at home mom I have tried my best to stay out of any type of kid comparison. Speaking French at 2, composing symphonies at 4... It's hard not to find identity in your child's achievements when rearing your child is your full time job. I want to find my identity in her in some ways. I want to find my identity in how I've helped her grow in kindness, her ability to look at the world and see beauty, her sense of wonder, her easy laughter, her confidence and willingness to try. The rest is whatever. As long a she's happy and healthy that's all that matters.

When one of my mom friends discretely pulled a travel potty out of her bag and snuck her 18 month old out of library time I was shocked. Is she doing potty training? She'd talked to enough moms already to know to minimize it. "Welllll, she's been going pee pees on the potty for a few weeks now."
"Is she potty trained?"
"Errr, uhhh, she's like 90% potty trained."

The room stopped.

"WHAAAAAA???" All the moms were wide eyed and seemed immediately defensive.
"Well, Johnny pees on the potty every night"
"Avery is only 6 months but we're potty training her!"
"We would potty train Annabelle but she's so advanced in her music I'd hate to take distract her."

Ok, so truth? These are not all actual things people said, but come on moms, we've all been there! Someone else's kid is advanced at something and you catch yourself tallying up all you've done... thinking, did I do everything I could? did I forget something? AM I RUINING MY CHILD?
How quickly the mom mind can go there.

I was surprised, felt a little bad for this mom that lost the freedom of diapers, and noted that I should probably get that potty down out of the attic, dust the old thing off and give it as an option.

The first time we introduced it, our little bird ran over and peed in it. Hmm, nice! At least she's keeping up with her peers, she's peed in it once. Then the rest of that day she started telling us when she had to pee and going to the potty.

Uhhhh, I don't think I was potty training till I was 2 1/2 at least. The idea of my 19 month old showing interest was great but the thought of her actually potty training was terrifying! I had no idea what I was doing. I gave it a week. If she was still into it after a week we'd jump in. All week we stayed in our cloth diapers but she was very consistent about peeing in the potty and refused to poo anywhere else!

So we took the giant leap.

I asked my friend what in the world comes next. She said set a timer everytime you hit 30 minutes. She also said undies but I was not ready for that! We did a few days of 30 minutes, then 45, then an hour. She was doing great.

Thus began the search for big girl underwear.

My 19 month old was a small 19 month old and the smallest size undies they sell offline are 2/3 T. We took a trip to Carters and bought a 3 pack. They were so big they would fall off as she was walking around. Even now that she's 22 months I still have to plan our Carter's brand undies for days when she's wearing tights or leggings! Later we found that fruit of the loom undies fit really well and thank goodness for that. In the meantime I dug through all her old clothes that I'd already washed and stored for twobert to find the little bloomers that come with dresses. Whew! life saver!

Another thing about potty training a cloth diaper baby I'd never thought about was that without her bulky cloth covered bum she was back wearing a size smaller pants. Sometimes even 2 sizes smaller! Thank goodness for tights and leggings! :)

After a week in underwear and barely having any accidents we hit a rough patch. Accidents every day, sometimes twice a day. Crying and crying and crying on the potty. Crying to get off, crying harder when I took her off the pot. We'd both reached the end of our rope. We'd been stuck inside for 2 weeks not wanting to pee on anybody else's floors, we were tired and unnecessarily STRESSED OUT.

My little bird was wailing on the potty for like the 10th minute in a row and I was trying to sing to her, encourage her, make her laugh, MAKE HER PEE, MAKE HER STOP CRYING AND WHYINING...  and, in a dark moment of mothering I caught myself whining right back and begging her to "STOP YELLING AT ME! I DON'T CARE IF YOU WEAR DIAPERS! THIS WAS YOUR IDEA IN THE FIRST PLACE!"

Then I sought good counsel. I called my friend who'd been through it the month before and I posted on my trusted Birth Center Toddler Mom's group.

So much support, so much love, so much good guidance... most of it was:

*keep it fun
*get special toys and books just for potty time
*don't push it
*as much encouragement as you can muster whenever she's successful

The last one we do really well at, but though I'd done all these in the beginning stages of potty training I'd let the first 3 slide that week. I was making us both miserable.

I apologized to my sweet girl right there when we were in the bathroom and again after I got all this great insight.

We went together the next day to get a special potty book from the library and we sang songs and didn't push it.

And go figure the accidents stopped.

***NO, they didn't stop forever. We still have an occasional accident. Bladders are still pretty small at this age and anytime juice is in the picture it just falls out whenever it pleases without poor little bird even noticing! ALSO any time we have a major schedule disrupt or too much excitement our potty stability flies out the window. (Christmas was wild!) But that's why we didn't put away our cloth diapers yet! we still use them at naptime and bedtime. (Pre Christmas she was waking up dry from both nap and bedtime... post Christmas is another story... )

Now when we are the ones sneaking out of storytime or the church nursery to go pee pees on the potty I have learned to be discrete and if we're caught I do get the occasional snide comment or eye roll for pushing my child too hard too early (even my Grammy checked to make sure I wasn't trying to push her too hard to grow up too fast... she said it so sweetly though!) I emphasize that it was her leading not me, and what a pain it is sometimes, and how smart your kid is, because I don't want people questioning their child or their parenting based on mine.

Your kid's not potty trained already? Who cares! Go on a long car ride and just slap on that diaper! You don't have to pester your kid about "do you need to go pee pees?" or in every new store you go to find the bathroom and touch everything and not pee after all that! The most important thing is always if baby is proud, happy and healthy. What more can you ask for?

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