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Potty Training: Summer Edition

Have you ever played the “Would you rather… ?” game?

Would you rather go bungee jumping into jello, or swim in a pool of spaghetti noodles?
Would you rather have ears made out of Pringles or toes made out of grapes?

So, here’s the age-old parent question:

Would you rather continue paying for diapers OR have a “potty-trained” toddler that you have to take to the potty every 5.6 seconds?

Stack of white diapers beside of toilet paper roll

It’s tough. I LOVE the convenience of diapers.  I don’t have to escort 3 small children into the public restroom at Walmart for Small Toddler Man to hover over the edge of the potty, and NOT DO ANYTHING, then wet his pants in the shopping cart 3 minutes later.  But, I don’t love paying for diapers, changing diapers, remembering to bring diapers (including in my little-purse-because-I-want-to-feel-like-a-lady-and-not-carry-a-diaper-bag-anymore), and planning/packing for road trips with a whole suitcase full of just diapers.

So, here we are, Summer.  You are the perfect time for mommies to potty train the little peoples.  No carpool lines.  No after-school pickup with little people wetting their carseat. No strict schedule. Plenty of time to sit at home, locked in the bathroom with a small person.  Yay.

In all seriousness, summer does make for a (hopefully) less stressful time to focus on the little ones and let the big kids run amuck play with no pressure of homework, so here we go.

Here are the basics for my favorite method of potty training: The Crash Course Weekend: 3 Days to Bathroom Bliss.
AKA “Like a bandaid, one yank.  Painful, but short.”

closeup of legs of the child sitting on the potty. the idea of training the child to the potty with a toy bear, which also sits on a toy potty

Potty training supplies:
Clorox wipes/Baby wipes/toilet paper
Anything/Everything to drink: Water in a cool new cup or bottle to encourage drinking, apple juice, lemonade, popsicles, Jello treats
M&Ms or small rewards
Underwear (optional) / bucket with soapy water for pee undies (also optional)
Portable potty, or park yourself near the bathroom (NOT on carpet)
Digital timer – iPhone, or use a kitchen timer/thermometer timer
Sticker chart – I use it for putting a sticker every time they sat, even if they didn’t pee.
Lots of activities: books, chalk, coloring/crayons, balloons, animals/figurines, DVD player & movies
Easy lunch and dinner options for the fam.  Ain’t nobody got time to stop and cook during this boot camp.

Before Day One:
• Pump up the idea to your toddler.  Big day, big boy!  Potty time! Best day of your life! Whatever tricks your own mind into thinking this will be fun for mommy too.
• Make sure you have all your supplies.
• CLEAR YOUR SCHEDULE.  Don’t plan to accomplish ANYTHING ELSE these few days.  Relieve yourself of the pressure of cleaning, emails, social-media-checking, phone calls, cooking… EVERYTHING.  You will be a happier mommy/family.

Day One:
1. Wake up early, before Small Person. Get your coffee. Turn on Eye of the Tiger.  Get your mind right.
2. Set up a kiddie table, rug, pillows (for your mom hiney on the tile floor). Get activities ready.
3. Bring Small Person in for breakfast.  Remind them how awesome this is going to be.  Remind yourself.  Eat breakfast.  Remind yourself again.
4. Say goodbye to the diapers.
5. Stay in one room ALL day, preferably on a hard-surface floor. (Maybe add “mommy margarita” to the liquids list?)
6. Set timer for 10 minutes.  Feed kid liquids like it’s goin’ out of style.
7. Sit kid on the potty for as long as they’ll sit there. Give kid a sticker on their chart, even for just sitting.
8a. If kid pees in the potty, PRAISE THEM big time. Give a sticker for sitting and a sticker for going. Have them help empty the potty bucket into the big potty, flush, wash hands and get an M&M! (2 for pee and poop) Set timer for 20 minutes.
8b. If kid doesn’t pee in the potty, tell them “good job” for sitting anyway. Give them a sticker for trying.  Set timer for 10 more minutes.
(Basically, if they pee, you know they’re “empty” so lengthen the time between each attempt.  If they didn’t pee, it’s coming soon, so shorten the time between each attempt.)
9. Repeat forever.

Notes:
• It worked best for us with no underwear on. When ours had them on they just peed out of them anyway, all over the underwear and all over the floor = 9 pairs of underwear I washed that day.  Also, no underwear meant a quicker transition to sitting down on the potty.  That may not be your jam, but I loved it.
• We also found that ours loved to hold the timer while they sat on the potty.  It was a digital one with buttons, so it kept them occupied.

Day Two:
Same as day one. Lengthen time to 15-20 minutes if they are understanding and not peeing in the potty every time on the 10 minute schedule. This gives them more time to initiate on their own rather than having the timer initiate. If they go potty successfully, allow for some “run around the house time.” Just make sure to set the time so you know when to rein them back in to the prison potty room. Try to keep track of how long it is between their “hits” so you start to learn how long they can hold it.

Day Three:
1. Same idea. Don’t isolate to one room, but always keep an eye on them and continue setting the timer. (You WILL forget to take them potty.) You’ll probably still have to take them to the potty – they won’t initiate on their own.
2. If you’re feeling brave, attempt a short trip out of the house right after a successful potty stop at home.  Go get yourself a Sonic drink.  Go to the grocery store and get 2 items and run back home. Take a quick walk.

(I tucked a towel under mine in the carseat and the shopping cart just in case.)

Post-Day Three:
Follow Day Three schedule and stay close to home, doing short trips out of the house.

Again, repeat forever.

It took our oldest a while before she would initiate on her own and tell us she had to go, but she was great about it when we remembered to take her.  This lasted for weeks, so stay on your game.  Keep reminding them.  Keep taking them.

*Poop and nighttime-dryness are a whole other level of training.  Some kids pick it up super fast (our second born).  Some kids live life on their own schedule (our first born.)  Be patient.

My main things:
I repeat: clear your schedule of everything else you deem important.  This IS the important.

I highly recommend the isolation (stay in one room) technique.  You may lose your mind and end up in the loony bin, but at least you won’t have to hire a professional carpet cleaner.  Kids like to hide when they pee/poop in their diapers.  It’s no different after diapers.  Isolate!

Overall, I love the Crash Course method.  I don’t know how I would have trained without it.

If you have a toddler and have the time this Summer, take advantage!
And call your mom and thank her for all the work she did in teaching you to potty.
We’re all grateful that we’re not in our mid 30’s and still wearing diapers.

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If you did the crash course method, or a different method, how did you do it?  Were there any other special tricks or supplies you used?  Any questions about this particular method?

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