As my daughter’s second birthday approached, I started to think about potty training. This wasn’t my first go around, but I found myself feeling nervous about embarking on the potty training journey with my baby girl. I felt uneasy and unprepared to help my daughter accomplish this very important milestone. When we went through this phase with my son he was in daycare which meant added support from his teachers and extra motivation so he could move to the next class. I was also pregnant at the time and did not want to have two kids in diapers. With my daughter things are different. There’s no new baby and no added pressure from daycare. Sure, I would love to see her reach this milestone (and to get rid of diapers for good), but deep down I knew I wasn’t ready to potty train. The truth is this milestone is about more than just my daughter; it’s about me too. Once she’s potty trained, we’re done with the baby stage and I will officially have two big kids. I need to let that sink in a bit.
Our Potty Training Journey
Even with all my uncertainty, I dove headfirst into potty training because that’s what we’re supposed to do at this age, right? She was showing signs of readiness and every article, book, and blog that I read said 18-24 months was the “ideal” time. We purchased pull-ups and underwear and pulled the potty seats out of storage. Before I knew it we were potty training. The only problem, I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have a solid plan in place. There was no additional support or consistency. I didn’t dedicate enough time and attention to the process.
In the beginning, we were still juggling two full-time careers and the mental capacity to potty train was just not there so we stopped trying. As the summer approached, our family dynamic shifted as I quit my job to stay home, a major transition that shook things up for all of us. In my mind, the summer felt like the perfect time to potty train because we were together all day, but in hindsight, I was in survival mode, simply trying to make our new reality feel as normal as possible. We stopped again.
Part of me still felt like I was letting my girl down so we tried again later in the summer. We kept it simple in the beginning by going potty in the morning and before bed. After a few weeks, we added more trips to the bathroom and even had some success with going potty in public restrooms (This was the worst! It’s literally impossible to stop a two-year-old from touching EVERYTHING!). Things were looking up! We were well on our way and I just knew she would be potty trained before she was two and a half. Then, our oldest started kindergarten, and our lives completely transitioned again! This time, we all lost momentum. I struggled to find the mental space to deal with potty training and my girl refused to sit on the potty. We were back to square one, changing diapers on a regular basis.
In all our starting and stopping, I knew I wasn’t ready, but we pressed on because that’s what we should do at this age, right? I was wrong! I underestimated how the shifts in our family over the last six months would impact us. I forgot how hard potty training can be and the toll that it can take, especially when we fight comparisons to the moms and kids that seem to master this potty training thing in three days.
Hindsight is 2020
I recently went back to a potty training book I read earlier in the year. The author said, “If you are attempting to potty train and you have major doubts, it will NOT go well for you…It’s okay to be a little unsure, but you must be determined…If your mind isn’t made up, your child will pick up on it and mirror being sure and unsure.” This resonated with me then and still does now. I didn’t listen to my instincts. I should have waited a bit longer.
Now that we’re settling into our school routine, I’m beginning to wonder if we are ready to try again. The truth is that I don’t know. And if I don’t know, then that probably means no. So for now, I’m working on building my confidence, developing a plan that will work for our family, and cherishing every moment with my baby girl (even the diaper changes) so that I can be as “ready” as I can. Because we all know you’re never really ready for anything parenting throws your way.