One Gay Dad's Arduous Ascent Atop Potty Mountain
Potty training can feel like climbing a mountain with many peaks and valleys. Here are some words of wisdom from one gay dad who made the ascent and lived to tell the tale.
Anyone with kids can probably attest that potty training is literally one of the hardest things you've encountered as a parent so far. I know I sure as heck can. It really felt like we were climbing a mountain... in flip-flops! There were highs that were full of celebrations with potty treats and dancing while we cheered our girl on. But then, just as things were looking good, it takes a sharp turn for the worse. Get ready, because there are just as many lows. I am talking full of sheer and utter dread. There were days that I felt so defeated.
Just when it seemed like we had started hiking up that mountain again, we'd fall almost right back to the bottom.
But I am here to tell you, there is hope!
Be prepared for anything
Starting out on the potty training journey, I was so eager for it to begin. In hindsight, maybe I was a little too eager.
I quickly went to Costco and got a great big jug of M&M's to serve as our potty treats. And we were off to the races!
It started great! Sometimes she would tell me when she needed to go, and other times, I would ask her if she needed to go. Many times she'd say yes and other times she wouldn't and messes were made.
After about a week and half into this new journey the novelty of the whole process wore off. I didn't know what to do. I read many, many articles about what NOT to do and one really stood out. "Don't lose your cool."
REALLY!? I just wiped poop off the walls, floor, bed frame AND toy box and I am supposed to be cool as a cucumber?
Bless my baby's heart. I know she was learning. And I know that I'd get hot headed sometimes. She was still processing this.
She was really trying hard too. And as gross as some days were, it was adorable to see her effort. I did not want to come across mad at something she couldn't control or didn't understand. I absolutely do not want her to feel like she had failed.
I quickly needed to reassess my expectations. I needed to be prepared for anything. Good days are awesome... but bad days are going to happen. That's life. I needed to get over it and know that I am making memories, and one day we would laugh at this.
Think outside the box
Once the novelty wore off, I was at a loss. I didn't know how to keep it fresh, new and exciting. A fun environment is what she enjoyed. Another thing I found problematic was I would forget to remind her to go potty. Whether I was with our youngest daughter or cooking dinner, sometimes, especially if we were doing good with this potty routine, I would "drop the ball" by not keeping her on schedule. Because of that, accidents were also made.
In the midst of feeling perplexed about what to do next, a dear friend told me what she did with her daughter. She said "get a potty clock! And bring books into the bathroom." The clock will help get you there in time and the books will keep her entertained. It's funny, I knew about the books but when you are so far up this mountain you forget about helpful suggestions from others that were made in the past.
We have a grandfather clock that just so happens to chime every 15 minutes. Perfect! That was our potty clock. I grabbed some new books that she hadn't read before and I would read to her to help her relax. My dear friend's suggestions were brilliant! It was like we took off the flip-flops and put on mountain boots!
Make it fun
Those suggestions were awesome! She was pottying all the time. It got to the point where she would remember that she needed to go and I didn't have to remind her. She loved getting her potty treat and everything was great, except she stopped pooping.
I read many things about this happening. It is very common. A lot of it has to do with feeling shameful or embarrassed about this process being gross and because of that, she held it in and would not go. Something else for us to think about was that we love pasta and cheese in this house. If it were up to my husband, he'd eat pasta every night. Because of that, it could cause her difficulty to make bowel movements. Our pediatrician told us to give the girls a half dose of milk of magnesia every day and that would help with the ease of going.
We were still at a wall with going "number 2" until I had an idea.
When I was a kid, I created this game for my sister who is 10 years younger than me. I transformed my room into a place called "Rainbowland." I used my motorized disco light to cast colors all over the room with exciting disney scores playing in the background. She would walk on clouds (pillows) until she got to the door where I had a treasure box full of
Mardi Gras beads. My sister was able to pick a prize and then it was over- Quick and fun.
That's it! I needed to make it fun. If I was able to have her enjoy going to the potty, for whatever reason, I felt like I would see big results. So I recreated "Rainbowland!"
I made a ticket with her name so when she poops in the potty, she gets a ticket to "Rainbowland." I made a treasure chest and started to fill it with different things I knew she loved.
I ordered rhinestones from Amazon, I added Mardi Gras beads, dress up clothes, necklaces and bracelets.
I wanted to keep it new and exciting, so I replaced different items to keep it fun and fresh. Each time she goes, she sees something that wasn't in the treasure box before- and it worked
She is still as excited to go to "Rainbowland" now as she was in the beginning. She is thrilled when she goes to the potty and gets her ticket. To see her excited like this absolutely makes me melt. It is such a cheesy idea, but it worked for us!
The struggle is real when it comes to climbing potty mountain! I quickly found that I would use whatever tactic that could work. And for us, this has.
They get big so fast! It's easy to get caught up in the emotions of the potty training journey, but keep in mind- this too shall pass.
I cannot believe she is 3 years old already. It feels like yesterday we were trying to figure out how this tiny preemie could keep her baby formula down. Now, she is using the bathroom on her own! This stage will quickly fade into so many others, so I savor every single second. We could not be more proud of our big girl.
I would love for you to follow our family's journey!
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