motherhood,  Parenting,  toddlers

Perhaps I’ve Been Overthinking This…

Joey is potty trained. Like, 7 months of dabbling and coaching and coaxing and then boom, yesterday, he went 24 hours sans diaper because I was feeling, oh, I don’t know, lazy? Stupid? Adventurous? And he surprised me. Blew my expectations out of the water. And speaking of water…not a single accident. Not one!

My friend Mary suggested a 100% all-or-nothing potty training blitz which, truthfully, sounded terrifying and fraught with puddles of urine. Or perhaps public displays of soggy cheeks. Her point was this: if diapers are still around some of the time, then the kid isn’t going to ‘get’ it fully. Or at least, there will be confusion and laziness because half the day it’s okay to pee in your pants, and the other half of the day it’s not.

Made perfect sense to me. Also sounded completely ridiculous because this kid still wakes up with a soggy diaper in the a.m. (probably due in no small part to the gallons of acqua frizzante he begs at bedtime), and who wants to be laundering sheets all day without a dryer? Who, I ask you?

But, partly because I have nothing better to do (read: no car to worry about getting peed in, no pressing appointments to angst over being soiled, no social life for 6 out of 7 days in the week…) we went for it. And he stepped up big time. Seriously I feel like I have a little man now instead of a toddler. And I’m so proud of him I could burst. It’s an amazing thing to have your kids surprise you with their competence. Parenting: we’re doing it.

Here’s how it broke down:

Month 1-7: picked out big boy undies, dolled out chocolate for successful performances, occassionally busted out the undies at home, but always reverted to a diaper for leaving the house/naps/bedtime/whenever mommy felt like it. Basically I felt like Joey in undies was a loaded gun. And I’m guessing that didn’t inspire a huge amount of confidence on his part.

This week we decided to get serious. I don’t really know why, except that I’m eating carbs again so my brain fog is dissipating, and I couldn’t find his size of store brand diapers on Monday, so I pulled the trigger.

Day 1: undies for long periods of the day, treats or money (we’re shameless) whenever he had a successful performance.

Day 2: Screw it. Took off the diaper in the morning and never looked back.

-Undies all day, frequent offerings of milk and water, and even 2 trips out of the house sans diaper where he informed me he had to go and then did so, in an unfamiliar and slightly disgusting Euro bathroom, no less. (Granted, I dangled his buns over the toilet and didn’t let him touch a thing…but it was still traumatic for me. Not for him. He acted like he’s been doing it for ages.)

-Undies at naptime. Now this was scary. I relish the heck out of those 2 hours of peaceful afternoon respite, but he was feeling SO confidant from his successful morning that it really didn’t make any sense to undo that confidence with a diaper. And I really felt like it would have done just that. So, we had a very serious discussion about the ‘just-in-case-big-boy-pee-towel which I doubled over his sheet, and he used the potty twice before naptime. And then I held my breath. At the two hour mark, he yelled for me “I’m peeing Mommy!” which I guess translates to “I’ve gotta go!” because he was still dry and wanting an escort to the bathroom. I couldn’t believe how much he had held in that little bladder of his when we got him in there!

-Undies all the rest of the day. And a trip to the store to pick out anything he wanted, because honestly, I would have bought him a pony. He settled on a 1 lb. bag of faux peanut M&Ms. Get after it, son.

– Bedtime. This was the part I’d been dreading. Per Mary’s instructions, I’d cut off liquids at 6pm and he had gone at least 3 times between then and 8pm, when he finally went down. Deep breath, explanation of how he could call for help if he needed to go, and … lights out.

– 10 pm dream pee (I don’t know what else to call this): It was also recommended that I lift him out of bed for one final bathroom trip about an hour into his nighttime sleep, which we acted on after much debate. This kid is not the world’s greatest sleeper, so the thought of waking him on purpose was…not pleasant. But he didn’t really fully wake up. He just kind of drunkenly giggled and watched me through slitted eyes while he performed yet another stunning potty session, and then he went right back to sleep when I lied him down. Damn, this is too good to be true.

– Morning time. I’m not gonna lie, I had a fitfull, restless night of sleep filled with dreams about urine. It was bizarre. And I woke up numerous times to listen for him and imagined he would be floating on his mattress by morning. But… 7:30 came, Dave went in at the sounds of restless natives, and there we found a dry, happy 2.5 year old waiting to be escorted to potty town.

Amazed, encouraged, enthusiastic about possibly teaching him how to read by the week’s end, etc.

And there you have it. My kid is a dry genius with a serious M&M habit. And I couldn’t be more proud.


  • Colleen

    Yay! The pediatricians I know all say nightime training can take a year longer than daytime training, so we always did underwear during the day and pullups at night. It’s not that they are trying to pee in bed on purpose, they just don’t have the control to handle it yet. Once those pullups are dry every morning for a while then we move to underwear. All 4 of my potty trained kids never had any confusion with this at all. And I’m the type of mom who would rather have less laundry and wet sheets in the middle of the night than have an underwear-wearing kid at night 🙂

  • Kris

    Awesome!! I’m going to echo Colleen, though – my boys all had “backslides” in the nighttime arena – usually when they were growing, or super tired. So don’t fret that part. I might buy one pack of pullups and keep it on hand for nighttime, but only if he starts to have any sort of repetitive issue. One accident once in a blue moon at night is nothing to worry about. It happens. And why are you back on the carbs? Do tell…..

  • KJL

    I’m totally with Colleen. Now, don’t be discouraged when he has accidents. You know he can do it, so when he has an accident it will feel defeating. But don’t let it get you down! He will have good days and bad days, and sooner or later the good days will be more and the bad days will be less. Also, as he gets older you can celebrate “entire days without accidents!!!” And I mean, celebrate. No shame in treats for that, I think. Potty training is a difficult mental and physical task for them and a reward seems perfectly legit to me.

  • Amelia

    I’ve had kids night-time potty train YEARS after day-time potty-train. Years!! We did the pull-ups at night for a long time, with two of them. I don’t think it ever confused them or did any harm.

  • Mary

    HOORAY!!! 🙂 I am so excited for you!! hahaha. I just laughed at the ‘dream pee’. LOL. I can’t believe how awesome the little man has responded!! What a stud. I’m ecstatic for you because you make it sound like it went way better than our go’round.

  • Dwija {House Unseen}

    I was actually giddy for you while reading this! My husband always had Mary’s philosophy and since he’s more stubborn than me (he won’t admit it, of course) we tried it his way. And of course, as usual, he was right. All undies all the time, baby!

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