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The best part about having three kids and a blog is that I can look back and re-read blog posts I wrote earlier in my parenting journey and die of embarrassment. Ok, maybe that’s a little harsh. Let’s go with “Look back and see how much I have evolved as a parent since sitting on the struggle bus as a first-time Mom” LOL. In any case, one of my favorite things I’ve done recently is reread all of my potty training blog posts. I CAN NOT BELIEVE how intense I was about potty training Marlowe. There are three (count them, THREE) blog posts about the various phases of her potty training experience. They each are the length of a novel. I actually spent three weeks preparing Marlowe to give up her diapers, with daily preparatory training sessions IN ANTICIPATION OF potty training. I only state all of this for two reasons: 1. If you are a first-time parent and everything seems hard, just please read my blog posts from 2015-2017 and know you are not alone! Ha! Also 2. My technique for round three of potty training my third and final child is about to read very differently. If it were a haiku it would go like this:
To Train A Third Child
You Simply Pull The Rug Out
The Sibs Do The Rest
But, since a blog requires more words than a haiku, I will write one final post all about our experience with my wily and dangerously clever two-year-old learning to ditch diapers. It tested my patience in new and exciting ways! It came with lots of surprises like the other two times! It was a power struggle like no other! I still maintain that potty training is worse than sleep training if you’re curious. But, without further ado, here is round three in all its glory.
We decided to potty train Mateo about nine months earlier than the other two kids. One big reason for this was that he has the verbal capacity of a five-year-old, and something seemed a little foolish to me about having a full conversation with a child while he laid down on his back and I changed his disgusting poopy diaper. If a child can talk to you about the Food Pyramid and which food groups they’ve eaten most of that day, they are most likely capable of communicating well enough to coordinate putting their poop and pee inside a toilet instead of a diaper. Just a personal opinion. The second reason is that Ian and I have planned a super fun and tropical vacation for Easter break this year and the resort has an amazing (and free!) Kids Club where you can drop the kids off…but they have to be potty trained to attend. You know I’m making sure all three of my kiddos can attend! Ha! All in all, the time had come, and we wanted to be sure that it was still warm enough out when we started potty training that Mateo could run around naked. We set the timeline for the week when the kids started school, so the focus could be all on Mateo and potty training.
If you don’t have time to go back through all of my potty training blog posts, here’s a reminder that we use THIS BOOK to potty train the kids, and have found it to be super helpful. This time, I didn’t reread it, but the process is basically the same: AKA pick a date and don’t go back no matter what. We use a pull-up at nap time and bedtime until the pull-up starts being dry upon waking (this usually takes anywhere from a month to a year). I said to Ian that because of Mateo’s intense stubbornness and independent nature, this would either be the easiest potty training experience or the absolute worst. If he was on board, it would be a breeze…but if he felt like his control was being threatened he would make our life a living hell.
Welp, I’m here to report that the first three days were a living hell. But! Then I sat and thought long and hard, used the psychology degree I don’t have, and reset the framework. I am happy and relieved to say that it turns out I AM smarter than a two-and-a-half-year-old. We did some Jedi mind tricks and everything clicked into place!
We told Mateo the day before we took the diapers that it was his last day with diapers. I had ordered potty training toilet seats and potties for the house, and some very cute training underwear for him. He was excited about having big boy underpants but seemed a little suspicious of everything else. Measured nonchalance is one of Mateo’s character cornerstones, and so I wasn’t surprised when he seemed completely unfazed and changed the subject. The next day, we woke up, took all his diapers, threw them away in front of him, told him from now on he’d be going potty in the toilet or in one of the smaller floor potties, and we started our day. Much like the other two kids had, he began to have a complete and total meltdown. He sobbed and had a full tantrum, throwing things around the room, screaming at us that he will never love us again, and finally ended up in his bed with the covers pulled up over his head. I gave him a few minutes to calm down, and then I went in quietly to his room and lay down next to him.
“I can see you’re upset about this. Can we talk?”
“No. I don’t like you anymore.”
“Why? Because I took the diapers away?”
“I get that. I know it’s really hard to feel big feelings when things change. We took the diapers away because we know you’re a big boy and you can figure out how to go pee and poop in the potty just like Marlowe and Major do.”
“NO, I CAN’T! I CAN’T DO THAT! I AM A BABY!”
“We both know you’re not a baby. And I know that’s hard because growing up is hard sometimes. But I know you can do this. I’m going to help you, and Ian, and Dad and your nanny will help you too. And Marlowe and Major will show you, too. It’s going to be ok.”
“Can I give you a hug, big boy?”
“I love you so much and I’m so proud of you. I know you’ll do great, and the most important thing is just to try your best. Ok?”
“Ok….can I have candy?”
LOLLLL. Smart little cookie! Well, the next two days, he punished us big time. He would do great at peeing in the potty, then ask us to go grab something for him, and when we came back we’d see that he had deliberately peed on the floor or on the rug. Then he’d stare at us and walk away. It was a tiny bit terrifying if I’m being perfectly honest. Then, if we’d encourage him to try the potty before we left to go in the car, or if he hadn’t gone in a while, he’d have a full meltdown. I was so overwhelmed and just thought it wasn’t going to work. I called Kyle and told him I think we’d done it too soon, and that we needed to back off. Ian encouraged me to reconsider and to take the emotion out of it. He reminded me that Bug is all about being in control of his experience and if we could get him to feel like it was all his decision, it would be way more successful.
So, instead of telling him to try to use the potty, or reminding him, we left it up to him. We kept him naked for a full week and barely left the house. We would make sure the potty was in whatever room he was playing in or sitting in, and we told him that we trust him to make the right choices. Marlowe and Major hyped him up big time, and every time Mateo would go pee in the potty, we would celebrate like our team won the world series! It was starting to work, and barring some accidents, he was already a pee on the potty expert! The biggest thing and I can’t emphasize it enough, is that he started seeing himself as one of the Big Kids in the family. He was so unbelievably proud to have the same routines that his older siblings had, and he’d often follow them into the bathroom to use the potty after them, and make it a group hang.
Poop was another story, as it usually is with potty training. Early in potty training, he pooped on the potty, but then all of a sudden he was scared to. He would wait until his pull-up was on at nap time or bedtime and poop in the diaper. Then he’d run and hide because he knew it wasn’t what he was supposed to be doing. I decided to do something I had never done with my other two kids while potty training, and offer a reward. Mateo LOVES M&M’s so I told him that starting that day, if he went poop on the potty he would get two M&Ms. It’s kind of ridiculous how easily it worked.
For the rest of the month, we worked like a family of Hype Men. We would all talk about how incredible he was doing on the potty. We’d tell everyone we came across, and Facetime friends and family to tell them. He was even going around at the library and telling strangers that he pees and poops on the potty. He was so proud! We would only run into issues when he felt like he was being forced to “try” the potty, like before hopping in the car or when a bathroom wouldn’t be available. We’ve learned to gently remind while making it seem like it’s his idea, and leaving plenty of time for him to take his time with the reminder.
So far so good! I’m so glad we decided to go for it when we did because he was definitely ready. I’d love to hear any anecdotes you guys have from potty training your last child, and let me know if you have any specific questions that I didn’t already cover!
These daytime pull-ups are great to wear during naps or if you’d prefer your little one to wear them around the house while training.
Car Seat Protector Piddle Pad
Don’t forget to protect your car seat during potty training! They are washable too!
OXO Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty
This portable potty is perfect for on-the-go potty emergencies.
Biodegradable Portable Potty Bags
If you have purchased the OXO Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty, you should buy these portable potty bags that fit on the potty.
Step Stool (2 pack)
These step stools help toddlers transition from potty training to washing hands and brushing teeth at the sink, to reaching kitchen countertops and cabinets.
Potty Training Underwear
Get your toddler underwear that they’ll love wearing. It’s always easier to get them to wear them when they have a character on them that they love!
Munchkin Sturdy Potty Seat
For the toddler that wants to go on the big potty. This potty seat fits most standard toilets and is easy to clean.
Little Chicks Easy-Clean Potty Training Toilet Chair
We use this potty chair the most with Mateo. It is easy to move from room to room to make sure he feels comfortable knowing where it is when he needs to go.
It is always a good idea to have night-time pull-ups on hand, holding it throughout the night can be difficult when you first start out.
Potty Training Pants
These Mickey Mouse training pants are a fan favorite in our house!
Easily wipes away and disinfects any accidents you may encounter.
Leave them feeling shower-fresh with these flushable wipes.
Oh Crap! Potty Training Book
10/10 recommend! It is very helpful throughout potty training.