This kid, right?
I am tentatively willing to put on the blog that my child is potty trained. I have held off on writing this post (and not just because, ya know, I haven't really written anything substantial for a couple of months) partly because I don't want to jinx our progress, and partly because I really don't want Natalie to look back in embarrassment at the nitty-gritty details of her life that I chose to share online. In the interest of her teenage reputation, I will keep the gross to a minimum here. Promise.
I thought it might be helpful, though, to outline a bit about how our process has gone (well, is going) so that other parents have our insight, and so I can someday look back on all this and laugh. *Fingers crossed*
Okay, so we introduced the potty (holy heck do I hate that word) to Natalie when she was around 15 months old. We kept it downstairs (our only bathroom is upstairs) and encouraged her to sit on it, play with it, and let her toys practice using it. She would alternate complete disinterest with some excitement over it, and we got in the routine of her actually using the potty maybe once every other day. That was pretty much it until partway through this summer, when she hit just about 27 months old. At that point, we started really encouraging her to use it first thing in the morning, right after her nap, and just generally if she showed signs that she had to use the bathroom. It was not super successful.
Our clues that she was ready for something a little more formal included her ability to wake up with a dry diaper about 50% of the time (from naps and overnight); her success at practicing pulling her own pants on and off; her ability to follow multi-step instructions (um, using the bathroom has a lot of steps); and the occasional "Mommy I peed!" or "Mommy I have to pee!" exclamations that let us know she was tuned into when those bodily functions were happening or about to happen.
My cousin (and tons of ladies of the internet) recommended the 3-day potty training method, so we set aside a long weekend when we would all be home and pretty much imprisoned ourselves in the house for three days. Natalie was pants-free the whole time (with the exception of one outing each on the 2nd and 3rd day), and we loaded her up with juice & fruit & veggies so that our constant nagging to get on the potty would have some results. Overall? Success. We had accidents, to be sure. Oh, did we have accidents. We still have accidents, to be honest, but the headway we made over those few days was incredible. I wouldn't call this method entirely fool-proof, or a guarantee that your kid will be fully trained in just 3 days, but it does force the issue in a way that I think is really helpful. It made me and Mike follow through, got us all lots of practice at remembering to try All The Time, and helped us figure out a plan for the inevitable accidents and setbacks ahead.
That was almost two months ago, and I think it's safe to say that Natalie is fully potty trained at home. With the exception of when she's sleeping, we are diaper-free (and still often pants-free) whenever we are in the house. We occasionally have accidents when we are away from the house (usually at the playground or some other fun place where she gets so caught up in having fun that she doesn't remember to tell us she needs the potty, or maybe is just hoping we won't notice the drenched pants), and we are nowhere near potty trained at daycare. Actually, that's probably been our biggest challenge. Nat's teachers are great about reminding her and encouraging her, but Natalie's response at school is usually, "I go potty at home, not school," and then she refuses to try there. Ugh. It's tough to face putting pull-ups on her every morning before I send her to school, and I am so ready to be done with talking about the potty every frickin' day with her. I know she'll get there (she's made so much progress at home!), but it is feeling like a looooong process.
Some things that have been invaluable to us: lugging the potty chair EVERYWHERE in the house and backyard to make sure it's always available; getting a little toilet seat converter to make the bathroom upstairs accessible; finding rewards that work (outings are our most successful reward--the promise of leaving the house is a guaranteed way to make sure Natalie uses the potty); and having Natalie "help" us clean up accidents when they occur.
Any tips from potty-training veterans?? I'd love your thoughts on how to encourage Natalie to take her potty skills outside of our house. :)