This is my very honest and very real experience with potty training. I know a lot about early childhood development and I have my fair share of tools and techniques when it comes to practising mindfulness with your little ones, however, one area that has always intimidated me as a parent is potty training. Every child develops at their own pace and every child comes with their own personality. Shifting from diapers to toilet is the first time a child takes their own self-care as their own responsibility. It is a big step. I used logic from what I know and intuition from my soul to tackle this new experience for us. This is my story:
It ain't all pretty, and it ain't all easy. I am not claiming to know "the way" to potty training that will be a universal success story for anyone who reads it. This is my approach, knowing what I know about my family.
Firstly I introduced Zinnia to the potty months ago.
I put it in our common space and talked to her about what it was for. I put a few potty training books in her rotation and didn't really make much of it. I thought that by introducing her to the idea in a casual and not so do this right now kind of way, that I might make using the potty appealing. I talked to her at each diaper change about how some day, very soon, we would be all done with diapers. She listened, sometimes asked questions, and that was that. I made sure that our approach was far from forceful, well-prepared for and void of any negative associations. I feel using the potty is a personal subject for children and one to take very compassionately.
At first she was alright with sitting on the potty. We never pushed the issue. We would just encourage her to try it here and there.
I knew it was time to potty train for several reasons:
- she is fully engaging/understanding conversation and therefore the concept of using the potty
- she can pull her own pants on and off with ease
- knows when she's peeing/pooping
- can almost change her own diaper (this I am not a fan of!)
- we were going to be in town for a big chunk of time with ample time and space to be naked and make mistakes
Day 1: Long.
I know that in order to potty train successfully you need to go cold turkey. (Many mama friends sent lovely messages reinforcing this too, thank you girls!) So we did. No more diapers, we're doing this! I am empowered (this week's mantra) with all these positive moms this week and ready to rock this milestone.
* just to be clear we are still diapering when sleeping
At first Zinnia was a little adverse to the idea of no more diapers, but she quickly embraced it because it's just being nudies, and she loves being nudies. Haha.
She actually did pretty well today.
We had an argument every time I asked her to sit on the potty, but we got there. I had some tough bottom lines that were hard to stick to, but they happened.
Am I proud of every moment in my day? Not entirely.
I probably took some aggressive deep breaths and put my hands up in the air and said something along the lines of "another accident?!". It happens. I'm human, blah blah blah. It was exhausting.
Keeping your cool while dealing with an insanely irrational mini human is not light work. I needed to walk it off and breathe it out (many times). Staying compassionate to what she's feeling, as she enters into a new stage in her life of rules and responsibilities, was an important reminder for myself. She'll get there, right?
We are working at it together, and I tried to stay in-tune and check in to how she was feeling. I offered clear and concise words of encouragement and information and I let her try. I wipe the mistakes, no problem (insert pacing and deep breathing here) and dealt with it. The calm and out of the moment version of myself knows that shaming her mistakes and negatively reinforcing the undesired behaviour of peeing on the floor is not only useless, its detrimental. So I tried, so very hard, to release the things I cannot control and normalize the struggles I was feeling. Every parent goes through this right? I surely couldn't be the only parent who felt mentally and physically drained by the end of day 1?
When Shane came home I was instantly relieved of some of the pressure. We ironed out the approach I had been taking on potty training and he got right into his place in it all. Thank goodness for amazing dads!
We made some crafts, she had a bath, we ate some delicious vegan chili and we read stories. We snuggled in the rocking chair and she fell asleep.
We hadn't done that in a while, snuggle in the rocking chair to fall asleep. It was our thing when we were breast feeding and I made sure it was going to be our special thing every once in a while for many years to come.
The day was tough. It took a lot of effort, but we did it. It deserved our special moment in the chair. The mistakes were fine and we both got the message loud and clear. It was finally time to say goodnight to July 14th 2016. I'll see you never!