Sunday, November 9, 2014

Potty Training at 20 Months: Week One.

Well, if that isn't a loaded blog post title...

For those of you who couldn't care less about potty training children, these two posts might not be for you.  There is literally nothing else in these posts (part 1 and 2).  You've been warned.

We've kept this pretty hush hush because, honestly, we didn't want to hear the opinions of the world on when/how/why we should potty train or not.  As with many things parenting, everyone (okay, maybe not everyone, but it sure can seem that way) has an opinion (and those opinions come with unsolicited advice).  We knew Myra was up for it (a few specific signs of being capable like going away for privacy to poop, able to communicate wants and needs, and she often shivered when she peed=aware), we were up for it, so we did it.  We wanted to do it without the commentary and eye rolls, so we did.  While I am proud of Myra showing the toilet who's boss (and proud of us for sticking it out, me sans wine...), I didn't write this to brag.  I wrote this for my own precious memories (you're welcome, Myra) and so others know it does get better.  That resistance phase is tough and I can totally see why people would quit then, but it does get better then life gets easier.  If you're currently going through it and want to commiserate, you've come to the right place.  Plus, some of the problems we ran into might be fairly common and maybe our ideas could help someone else get through it with their sanity in tact.

We followed Jamie Glowacki's "method" as detailed in her ebook "Oh Crap. Potty Training."  I'm not going to rewrite her book here (i.e. plagiarize), but trust me when I say it's phenomenal and well worth the $15.  It was even an entertaining read.  She talks about beer and uses the s word.

Here's the summary.  I thought about breaking this up into separate posts, but figured if anyone is interested enough to read about this, it would likely be easiest to have it all in once place.  (Edit: I ended up journaling for two weeks and separated it into two posts, link for week two at the bottom.)  We started on Saturday, October 11, 2014 when Myra was 20.5 months old.  I quit using months a long time ago, but for this purpose it is relevant.  We chose this day because we would have a nice, long stretch without anywhere to be and we could just focus on potty training.  Myra has school on Fridays, but there was no school that following Friday, October 17.  She showed Jamie's signs of being capable (she doesn't use "ready" and it makes sense why).  We have a very simple Baby Bjorn potty chair (which is what I will be calling the "toilet" or "toilet chair"), no bells and whistles, easy to clean.  Edit: a few days in, we got a new toilet seat for our actual toilet.  It has a built in toddler size seat that stays up via magnet unless it's needed.  It also has a slow close lid, so Myra can close it herself without slamming the thing shut.

If I could go back in time and give myself advice the day before we went for it, this is what I would say: You know Myra is capable of this, but seriously, she really, truly is-do NOT give up.  Enjoy the first few days of "doing nothing but watching your child."  Seriously, have fun with it.  No distractions, just play and do fun stuff while watching her.  This experience will make you two closer.  She will be proud of herself and realize she's becoming a big kid (as will you!), but she will find other ways to need you and that will give you warm and fuzzies.  And, hello, you will be able to run out the door quickly with your keys and wallet, nothing more.  But, before you start, get yourself some ice cream or something since you can't drink booze.

Saturday, October 11.  Day One.
We started the day off by saying "bye bye" to the diapers and put them away in her closet (cloth diapering, so no throwing those away!).  I talked about this part the last couple days, how we were going to be all done with diapers and she would pee on the toilet like a big kid.  Myra spent the day bottomless. 

I spent the entire day literally just watching (any playing with, reading to...) Myra.  No phone, computer, cooking, cleaning, nothing except watching her.  I was watching for her to pee so I could rush her to the "toilet chair" as we decided to call it as well as see what sort of signals she would show us prior to peeing.  Myra realizing she had peed would be progress.  I quickly realized she was waiting for any moment of privacy to pee.  I really did watch her the entire day, but if I looked away for a second, that's when she would pee.  There's a section about this in the book.  Myra wanting privacy to pee was a good thing, progress--just made my job a little trickier.  When I could catch her in the act, it all happened so fast and she was done (or would stop herself) by the time I could pick her up and get her to the toilet.  She pooped on the floor and I was able to get her to the toilet where she finished pooping which was pretty darn exciting.  I was calm and told her "you did it, you pooped on the toilet," and we flushed it together and said "bye bye poop."  For now, she will still be in diapers for naps and night time, especially since so much of her diet is liquid.  For the rest of the day, we didn't get anything else into the potty, but she definitely vocalized when she had peed/was peeing and was debatably giving us some warning when she had to pee.  This is definitely progress!  Also, she seemed totally comfortable sitting on the toilet naked, also progress!  Even though I didn't "do" anything today and it went very well, this is all very mentally draining (for all of us) and I'm tired!
Toilet pee count: 0.  Toilet poop count: 1.

Sunday, October 12.  Day Two.
Back at it again, bottomless for another day.  Trevor missed anything even a little bit exciting yesterday, so he decided he would stay upstairs (rather than go study) until the first pee happened.  Day One taught us Myra is already aware of her desire for privacy with bathroom matters.  Day Two quickly taught us Myra is also a pee camel.  Similar to the privacy thing, it is a good sign of progress, just makes things a little trickier.  From the time Myra woke up and had her morning bottle, she held her pee over three hours!  Not a drop!  I'm not sure if this will be a trend for her, or if it is part of the "common day two resistance" discussed in the book-we'll find out.  We both agreed we can see why people would think it means they're not "ready" or just give up because it's frustrating.  Again, the Oh Crap book is fabulous and not only warned me about this part, but also encouraged us to carry on.  Myra was still comfortable sitting on the toilet, but when we really started to get the feeling she needed to pee, she resisted.  She peed a little standing up, and we cleaned it up together.  She sat on my lap (we were right in front of her toilet chair), peed a little more, then I quickly got her onto the chair.  She immediately started crying.  I knew she had more pee in her and my gut told me the crying was out of frustration or maybe a certain level of uncomfortable with letting her pee go into the chair.  It all happened really fast and I still don't know what the expert advice would be, but I was firm in her staying on the potty chair.  I offered her a hug, and she hugged me while crying then peed more and I quickly got her back onto the chair.  I didn't want to hold her down and she was much more into hugging me than usual, so I hugged her while she sat on the chair and cried.  Trevor was hearing all this commotion and came upstairs just in time to see her take a big, giant pee on her toilet!  Cue the angels singing!  Again, we tried not to overdo the enthusiasm and fanfare, but we wanted to be very encouraging after the stressful dance we had just done.  And, heck, we were thrilled!  Once she started peeing, the crying had stopped, which made me feel like it was more the newness of letting her pee go into the toilet.  Myra did start with some tears again when she was done peeing, but we quickly drew her attention to what she had accomplished.  We showed her the pee in the toilet, told her "you did it-you peed in your toilet," and took her to the bathroom to flush it and say "bye bye, pee!"  She got hugs and a couple reinforcing "you did it. you peed in your toilet." and we carried on with our day.  I fed her lunch then put her down for her nap.  Naptime/bedtime will be my new favorite time for a while as it is the only time I can sit and do anything but look at Myra.  I know this is an investment that will be well worth it, so I'm totally on board still, it's just strange how draining it is.  Thus, my lunch:

After her nap, we were back to Myra being bottomless and me staring at her.  To clarify, I try to engage her and just be near her rather than be creepy stalker from the table.  The book references how much pressure we put on the kids (whether we realize it or not) and that they can definitely feel it.  I quickly realized I (we?) was likely doing this.  So, I just played with her and kept a close watch while trying to just have fun and do normal things like read books and play with blocks.  Myra decided to go for pee camel round two and went almost FOUR HOURS without peeing.  She started getting whiny and "leave me alone-y" (swinging arms and being generally feisty) which I try to respect while still somehow sticking to the plan (thus, tricky).  We got through supper without her peeing then bedtime was approaching.  Trevor and I discussed how we thought it should go at that point.  We didn't want to be too forceful because we were not considering this a "behavior" issue on day two and she was already showing progress and meeting some of the milestones outlined in the book.  We didn't want to turn this into a bad experience for her.  On the flip side, we wanted to make this whole day worthwhile.  I was dreading Myra peeing in her diaper as soon as we put it on for bedtime after all that time I spent watching her this afternoon.  I really did want to give her an opportunity to do it because I knew she could.  I realized I had been physically putting her on the toilet for each attempt (only once every hour or so, but still) rather than just verbally prompting her.  Looking back, I probably should save that physical act for when I catch her peeing and at least try to stick to verbal prompts, if anything, in between.  So, I thought I would give it a try.  I just told her "it's time to sit on your toilet chair now."  When she did just that, I would then tell her "it's time to pee in the toilet now.  I want to hear you pee." And nothing.  She would get up, sit on my lap, go get a book, whatever.  I would let it go, then prompt again.  She definitely had pee in her.  Again, I don't know what the "right" thing to do here would have been, but we were just going with it.  I wasn't going to be too pushy, but I wanted to give it a good try.  She got on, then off, the toilet many times after being prompted, but no pee.  Then she started the whiny stuff again.  

We both encouraged her saying "you can do it," which is what we say about other things, too.  She started crying while sitting on the toilet and I gave her a hug again.  Then, BOOM, peeing on the potty.  Same song and dance, "you did it. you peed on the toilet.  look at your pee in the toilet. let's go flush it away now." ... "bye bye, pee!" Then back to normal routine, which at this time was pajamas, bottle, brushing teeth, books, song, bed.  Annnnnnd Mom and Dad can breathe again.  Trevor and I were pretty pumped about that last one, and Myra was, too.  We could just feel her pride, nothing incredibly dramatic, but it was there.  Again with the mentally draining.  I do not want to be writing all this out right now, but I will want to read it later (and hopefully it is useful to others!), so here I am.
Toilet pee count: 2.  Toilet poop count: 0. 

Monday, October 13. Day Three.
Kind of a blur, more "resistance" phase. Myra is consistent in that she can hold it a long time and wants privacy. She held it for 3 hours this morning then peed in the two seconds I looked away to put the scissors out of her reach. This is mentally draining! When she napped, I nap. She plays very well, and quietly, alone in her crib when she wakes up so I ended up sleeping for almost two more hours after she was already awake. Oops. By then, I knew she could hold her pee until bedtime so I didn't expect much afterwards. She did her pee signals (wiggle, grabbing and holding, getting feisty, and saying "pee") but refused to sit on her toilet. She's not afraid of the toilet as an object itself. She will play around it, point to it/touch it when I ask her where it is, say "hi" to the bear on it (Baby Bjorn logo). When we tell her baby it's time for baby to pee, she does exactly what we wish Myra would do: puts baby on the toilet, waits, then sometimes even tells her, "you did it!" So, she also knows how this works. Our conclusion is this is pure resistance with maybe a little awkward/uncomfortable feeling about letting her pee go while sitting. 
At bedtime, she peed just a little on the floor, so we knew there had to be more. We didn't want to physically force Myra to sit on the toilet, so we tried to just tell her, "it looks like you have to pee-there's you're toilet." She wasn't having it. I thought she would probably have to go very soon based on how she was acting and figured maybe some privacy would help. We brought her toilet into the actual bathroom, where she's seen me pee and it's not so open. Nope, no pee. We talked about where her pee is (in her body, pointed specifically) and where it needs to go (toilet). We were boring and tried not to stare at her, nope. Finally, an hour past bedtime we decided to call it a night. We didn't want to push her into the realm of over tired. This was a mental battle for us because we don't want her to think she can just hold it til nap/bedtime then pee in her diaper, but neither of us had the energy to keep this up much longer and neither of us could really argue that would be best in the long run either.
So, no pees or poops on the potty today. Grandma is coming tomorrow so hopefully the change of pace is good all around!
Toilet pee count: 0.  Toilet poop count: 0.

Tuesday, October 14. Day Four.
Today was a breath of fresh air, not because of any one particular reason, but a few bits and pieces combined. First and foremost, it was Grandma Day! Trevor's mom comes once a week to hang out, play, have tea parties, and the like while I do the bulk of my week's work all at once. We gave her the run down then I left and crossed my fingers. Myra had no problem instructing her giant pink teddy bear and her baby how to use the toilet, but still wouldn't sit on it herself. She did, however, pee on the floor less than two hours after waking up. This is good news in that she let go of just holding it all morning, at least we can work with that. We told her pee doesn't go on the floor and had her clean it up. 
I posted about the specific issues we're having (privacy+holding+too cool to sit on the chair) in a wonderful parenting group on Facebook and along with some needed words of encouragement I got a couple tips. Number one: hang in there. Number two: try the normal toilet, probably with an insert thing. A couple people suggested replacing our current toilet seat with a toddler seat built into it, in between the regular seat and the lid.  The toddler seat stays up in the lid with a magnet unless we pull it down.  Bonus, it's a slow close lid, so Myra can shut it herself without slamming it down. 

I liked that idea best so I picked one up today. When I got home with it, Myra sat on it on the floor no problem. I swapped out our old seat for this one, with Myra's help, and had her show her doll how to use it. Then, I helped her up and it wasn't love but she wasn't actually resisting. I pointed out my bottle of lotion with a baby and an angel on it (which she loves) and that calmed her down. We sang Twinkle Twinkle then she said "all done" and I helped her down. No pee, but still progress! We ate supper then she got a bath. After her bath, I figured I would try again. She got up there and we sang two songs while she laughed and danced, then said "all done" and I helped her down. No pee but a much better attitude about the toilet! All of that plus the fact that I got to step away from it all for a while has me feeling refreshed again. I was just drained yesterday!
Toilet pee count: 0. Toilet poop count: 0.

Wednesday, October 15. Day Five.
Well, today we had some good and bad, to be expected at this point I imagine.  She was fine sitting on the toilet this morning and singing a song, but when I could tell she really had to go later, no dice.  I tried convincing and distracting (fine line of helping her through it and creating a traumatic experience here...) and nothing.  So, I let it go.  She wore pants today, no diaper or underwear though.  We played and danced and had a good day, much more relaxed overall (much more my issue than hers).  I noticed she actually peed her pants a little so I got her up to the toilet and she wasn't happy.  I probably pushed it more than I should have (hoping I don't regret that...), but I literally just walked away.  I was partially giving her privacy, partially just done with it.  She had to pee and was bothered by the fact that she had to pee, but wouldn't do it.  So, whatever, work it out, girl.  She followed me downstairs and was a hot mess-we were definitely pushing it on nap time by then, too.  She let a big ole pee go onto the floor and I scooped her up and plopped her on the little toilet chair still in our kitchen area.  She had mostly stopped, maybe even mostly emptied by then, but did pee a little bit on her little chair.  WOO!  We had been going with not-over-the-top-but-more-neutral praise, but I threw that out the window after all the back and forth.  Lots of "woo hoo! you did it! there's your pee!" and Myra was still whimpering and waved at her pee and said "bye bye!" So, I invited her to help me "put it away" in the big toilet and we ceremonially said goodbye to her urine.  Then lunch, then NAP.  I forgot to finish this last night, but I know we left the house briefly for a 1 mile walk and no pee.  I honestly think she held it all afternoon (late-ish nap) and I/we decided not to push it at bedtime.  Myra sat on the toilet, happily, but didn't pee.  At this point, we were okay with leaving it at that.
Toilet pee count: 1. Toilet poop count: 0.

Thursday, October 16. Day Six.

Today was pretty good!  Myra held it for a couple hours in the morning, then I saw she had a very small wet spot on her pants so off to the toilet we went.  She got on just fine and we sang some songs (I'm not going to start bribing her with STUFF, but I'm down with a little "twinkle twinkle" if it does the trick).  She got antsy and frustrated, started crying, then would distract herself, repeat.  We have a skylight in our bathroom so she loves to look at that, otherwise she will just snap out of her mood and point stuff out, "soap!" or "lotion!"  Anyway, she was fighting it a bit and not thrilled, but not actually fighting ME and generally doing better than previous days.  She peed and we made a deal about it, even interrupted Trevor's studying to share the news, "I did it!"  We went back to our day, but Myra was quickly grabbing and squatting again so we went back to the bathroom.  It still took her a bit, but not quite as long and she peed a little more.  Same response, praise, high five, bye bye pee, and flush.  Lunch, NAP.  After her nap I was all ready to head out the door.  Our realtor's office (from when we bought our house) had a fun open house thing with face painting, free pumpkins, photos, and more this afternoon.  It was our first real "outing" since we started potty training.  As soon as Myra woke up and had her bottle, we were out the door so we could hopefully get back before she had to pee.  Everything went well, we got home, ate supper, read some books, and she sat on the toilet twice but no pee.  Again, we're just going with it for now and I didn't push it.  Knowing she can, and will, consistently hold it plus my break away from all of this and the new toilet seat has made me a lot more relaxed.  I have even let her play in our carpeted upstairs living room while I cook and clean and I don't worry too much.  I know I need to watch more closely as she passes the two hour mark and especially closer to three or more hours.  And I have to remind myself of the progress we've made and that it hasn't even been a week yet.  This is a big change and we're off to a good start!
Toilet pee count: 2. Toilet poop count: 0.

Friday, October 17.  Day Seven.
You guys get the short version for this one.  You can thank me later.  I didn't feel like sitting at the computer last night, so I didn't.  This would have been a school day for Myra, but it's MEA so nope.  This was the reason for choosing to potty train now (plus we had no weekend plans and she was showing us she was up for the challenge).  Grandpa came to visit around noon and Myra had just finished pooping on the potty!  She was doing her usual signs a bit earlier than usual (hooray!) so we went and hung out in the bathroom for a while.  She sat there and was whiny/crying off and on, but didn't fight me to get off the toilet so I left that part alone.  We hugged it out quite a bit, but she didn't show she wanted to get off for quite a while.  When she did, I let her, but we stayed in the bathroom.  Once she got really obvious with her signs again, I put her back on.  She started stressing out, but we pushed through.  I can tell when something is actually about to happen, but this time I noticed her belly was really tight--poop!  We celebrated and said "bye bye poop!" as it was flushed away.  About two minutes later, Grandpa got here.  Our bedtime attempt didn't go so well, but she was still okay with sitting on the toilet.  She had started to pee her pants, so Trevor grabbed her and they hung out in the bathroom for a while.  No luck though.  And that's the long and short of it.
Toilet pee count: 0.  Toilet poop count: 1. 

Click here to read Part Two

1 comment:

  1. What a source of encouragement! We're day four with our 20.5 month old, and it's going pretty similarly. I know this was three years ago, but thank you for writing it up in such detail!!


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