A look back at our potty training journey

Thanks in absolutely no part to anything her loving parents did or didn’t do, our amazing little girl has decided she wants to put everything in the potty – both pee and poop – and no longer wears diapers.

She is even reluctant about wearing a diaper at night, but experience tells us it does make sense to keep one on for sleep just in case. She wakes up dry about 6 days out of 7, but who wants to wake up in a pee puddle one morning a week? Hence, the diaper back-up plan.

I want to share our potty training timeline, both so that I can look back and marvel over how amazing Zoe is, and so others can benefit from one family’s experiences. Here goes. All glory goes to Zoebelle and none to us!

About 23 months of age (February 2012) – Zoe started in a new classroom at her daycare just before her 2nd birthday. The new classroom had a significant focus on pottytraining and put a lot of emphasis on it. Their goal is to pottytrain every child as quickly as possible. At the time, I felt it was pushing her a little too much, but I didn’t really know better. I now feel it was a bit draconian and wish I had asked them to back off a little, but what can you do. I blogged about starting our potty training journey and some of the things we did at home to accompany what she was learning (or being pushed into) at daycare.

All spring and summer long – I’ll admit, I was not in any rush for Zoe to give up diapers. Reason #1? I hate public toilets! The more we encouraged Zoe to wear big girl underpants when we went out, the more we had to take her to the restroom. I’m no germ-phobe but the condition of public toilets varies widely and some are simply not fit for a precious toddler’s little bottom. So, even though Zoe wore underpants to daycare and was accident-free for the most part (certainly pee accident free) by end of summer, we still wore diapers a lot during evenings and weekends. I was a lazy parent in that regard. I simply didn’t push it – if she asked for panties, we wore them, but otherwise I kept going with the diapers. Sometimes I even put a diaper over or under her underpants if we were going out and I didn’t want to risk an accident. I was – and still am – really bad about remembering to ask her to go to the potty before we left the house. I absolutely stink at pottytraining, have I mentioned that?!

About 30 months (September) – When we moved to a new house, in a new neighborhood, and put Zoe in a brand new school/daycare, I expected some pottytraining regression. Even though by that time she was full-time in underwear during the school day, with nary an accident, I reverted back to sending her in diapers when she started her new school. It was a terribly emotional time for her, with lots of tears and upsets as she got to know a whole new set of friends and new teachers – I didn’t want her to have to worry about accidents or going to the potty. Sure enough, just as I had read, she did in fact revert back to using diapers for about a month. Once she was fully settled in her new school and routine, she began using the potty again and we went back to sending her to school in big girl underpants. By end of October, she was  VERY good at putting peepee in the potty, but was still pretty hit or miss with poop and typically preferred diapers for that.

Around 32 months (November) – By mid November, Zoe had a clear preference for wearing big girl panties and we only put diapers on her for nap, at bedtime and if she specifically requested a diaper to poop in. Since starting at her new school, she’s been in a routine of holding her poop until she gets home. Seriously – she only pees at school, and only in the potty since October. She’d occasionally poop in the potty at home and we’d make a HUGE (think Buckeyes winning over Michigan) deal out of it. But, for the most part, she would proactively request a diaper, specifically so she could poop in it. Around this time I realized that if I fumbled and delayed enough with getting the diaper on, she would grow frustrated with me and run to the potty instead to poop there. I made a big enough fuss out of her doing this that she realized she preferred the potty over pooping in a diaper! And by December, just in time to make her mommy and daddy oh so happy for Christmas, we had…

A potty-trained 33 month old!  We are so very, very proud of our big girl. Zoe has been peeing and pooping in the potty all month long with almost no accidents at all anymore. She is so good at remembering to tell us that she has to go – or even just heading to the potty without announcing it or asking for help. She really doesn’t need our help with much in the bathroom these days – she does it all. I like to double-check/clean her up after a poop, but other than that she’s a champ. She washes her hands, flushes her toilet, the whole 9 yards. We are so proud of her – and just in time for our big trip to Cali to visit her cousins, too! We still insist on a diaper at night, but often she goes down for her afternoon nap in big girl pants and doesn’t have any problems with accidents as long as we head to the potty as soon as she wakes up.

Lessons learned?

So, what are my tips or lessons learned? Don’t rush your toddler. Go at her own pace and watch/listen for cues. Ask if she’d like to wear a diaper or underpants – if she says underpants, then remind about potty breaks and be calm if there are accidents (and be prepared for them). If she says diapers, you can still remind about potty breaks but if she chooses to use the diaper, that’s fine too. There really is no rush. Studies show they will potty-train eventually! There’s no prize for super early birds and in fact I’ve heard from several sources that early potty-trainers can sometimes regress later on.

I still wish I was better about remembering to ask Zoe to take potty breaks. Sometimes we’ll come home from school or an errand and move on to our next activity without me checking with her or asking her to go potty. It’s not fair to leave it all up to her – I need to get better about reminding her to take potty breaks at reasonable times. It’s amazing she is as accident-free as she is, really! She seems to have a cast-iron bladder. But for sure anytime she drinks or eats, I try to ask her if she needs to go. There’s not much cuter than the sight of her running full-speed to the bathroom because she’s just realized she has to go “really bad, Mommy!”

I don’t miss diapers or diaper changes. I do still regret having to take her to a public restroom that is less than sparkling. I can tell you the bathrooms at Cheesecake Factory are spotless and a pleasure to use! Airports and other public places, not so much. But overall, having a potty-trained toddler is an honor and a pleasure and I’m so very excited that she has mastered this important personal milestone.

How’s potty training going in your house? Any tips to share? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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