...of faith, family, and farming
Well, after almost 14 years, I’m officially done with diapers. It’s bittersweet. There is part of me that is doing a joyous dance that I never have to change a poopy toddler diaper ever again!!!...and a part of me that is grieving over the fact I have no more babies (insert ugly cry). I love our babies, and if I wasn’t 40 and didn’t struggle with our last birth, I’d totally have more…(my husband even said I could!!!)…but with four precious healthy kiddos and my aching back, I know it’s time to count my blessings and be content. So, alas, I’m done with diaper duty.
Potty training in the early years with Duckling #1 was crazy. This little girl was super smart speaking full sentences at 18 months and bringing me her diaper and wipes to let me know she wanted to be changed. As a new mom I thought this must mean she was ready to be potty trained right?! I researched the best methods, how long it should take, what little toilet to get, and loads of other information to begin this process. She was a little early, but I knew she was ready since she showed all the book taught signs. There were lots of accidents, lots of rewards, lots of rushing, lots of anxiety, and lots of tears (mostly mine). It took almost 4 months to get that brilliant little one to go on her own and not have an accident in the middle of the slide at Chuck E. Cheese (yep, that happened). Because, I’m not too proud to admit it, I started her too early.
Duckling #2 arrived about a year after that and I had learned my mistake, I would NOT start this one too young. So at 22 months this girl was older and showing the signs she was ready (according to previous research). And while she was in a much better place than duckling #1, there were still accidents, rewards, rushing, and tears. However, it did only take 2 months this time so at least we improved!
Because let’s face it, potty training isn’t usually training the child...its training the parent. “Ok, let’s go potty before we leave to go to the store…ok, let’s go potty before we head back home…ok, let’s go potty now that we are back home.” The kid isn’t trained and telling us, it’s us just remembering (or forgetting) to take them often enough. It’s the child trying to learn a feeling and knowing what to do with that feeling and telling you about that feeling in time…when they are only 2. Most children can’t even say a full sentence at two, let alone make all those connections. And sometimes, even if their language ability is there, it doesn’t mean they are ready physically (see duckling #1).
Insert arrival of Duckling #3. About two months after his arrival I was at a pre-school birthday party for Duckling #2 and talking to one of the other mothers. She was a mother of four and expecting surprise number 5 in a couple of months. Her youngest child was about two and a half and I asked if she planned to have her potty trained before the baby arrived so she wouldn’t have to change two diapers. Her answer not only astonished me, but it forever changed me as a mother…”Oh no, I don’t potty train my kids.” I seriously think my mouth fell open. What!? I’d never heard of this in all my research with duckling #1. I was so confused so I completely absorbed everything she said, after all she was twice as experienced as I was. “Potty training in the traditional sense is too hard on me and them. It takes so much effort on my part, and I feel anxious. I don’t like disciplining my child for something they just might not be ready for just because I want them to be. I wait until they tell me they are ready.” Yes, yes and yes! Brilliant! Why aren’t we all doing this? So, I was determined to try this new concept with our newest addition.
Now, at age 2.10 (yes that is much older than socially acceptable, but wait for it) my little guy came to me and said “Mommy, I want to wear boxers like daddy.” I replied, “Well, you can’t bug because you still go potty in your pants.” “I won’t anymore Mommy. I’ll go in the toilet like a big boy.” “Ok then, let’s go to the store and get you some boxers and we will try it.” And that ladies and gentlemen was it. No tears, no accidents, no rewards, no discipline. ONE DAY! (not 4 months, not 2 months, not even a week like some books say it will take), nope ONE DAY I didn’t even have to buy pull ups because he never even had an accident at night. I was SOLD! Now, that doesn’t mean he NEVER had accidents…he had the typical I’m having too much fun and waited too long so now I can’t make it in time, or the mommy and daddy kept me out too late last night and I slept so hard I didn’t wake up in time accidents (even adults have these accidents), but they were around once every few months unlike the previous two experiences of once a day!
Another benefit beside the ease and lack of pull ups is the lack of parent involvement. My girls required help with getting their garments down, climbing on the public toilets, and getting it all back together. Waiting meant this kid was significantly bigger and could do all of this ON HIS OWN! Now that is not to say he wouldn’t come out with his pants slightly crooked and his boxers rolled at the waistband, but he did it all by himself, and he took so much pride in that! I also did wipe number 2 episodes until I was confident he was getting everything, but still WAY less involvement. It was an amazing experience, and I shared it with everyone. Plus, I never had to buy those hideous kiddy toilets for him since he was big enough to handle it all on the porcelain throne. Another win, win! (because those just take up space and are gross to clean (insert gag reflex here)).
Next to arrive, Duckling #4. Now this guy had a very rough beginning (you can read his story here), so when age 3 arrived and he still wasn’t interested, I didn’t let it get to me (too much). I expected him from day one to be a little behind the curve and if this was an area of that, it was okay with because he was here and healthy. I did ask him several times if he wanted to be big and wear boxers like daddy and brother, but he always stated without hesitation “No”. He was so “anti-going on the toilet” that we even had the following conversation…”Mommy, I want to be a bulldog when I get big” (meaning a football player since we are season ticket holders to Fresno State football). I responded and said, “Well you can’t because they are all big boys and go potty in the toilet. Since you still go potty in your pants, they won’t let you. But, we can start going potty on the toilet so you can be a bulldog”. He thought for a minute and replied, “I don’t want to be a bulldog” (little stinker). I even bought him Spiderman boxers one day to see if that would excite him, but it didn’t, so I continued to just wait. Then it came. At age 3.4 (significantly later than socially acceptable I know) he said “Mommy, I want to wear big boy boxers and go potty in the toilet”. Hallelujah! So, off came the diaper and on with the boxers. We practiced that day on how do everything, and that was that. He has worn boxers for a month now (including night time from day one) and has only had 3 accidents. Two accidents were mommy and daddy keeping him up too late so he just slept too hard, and one waiting too long while playing.
Folks, this is it. The easiest potty training method ever…not training them at all. Totally out to the box, and probably something you won’t try until you’ve tried the other methods a couple times, but it works. There is such a heavy stigma new moms put on themselves to do everything by the book and to do it just right. But as an old mom of four, sometimes the books need to be thrown out and I’m so much more proud of the memories I have of training the boys than the memories I have of training our girls. All joyous moments, all proud moments. Will society ever accept such a practice? Who knows…but I know my ducklings accepted it and that is all that matters. Their lives and memories matter more to me than what another judgmental parent might think of me. And how I feel about myself as a mother when I go to bed at night means more to me than any negative comment I might receive.
Wishing you all potty training (or lack thereof) success and accident free Chuck E. Cheese parties!