Saturday, February 15, 2014

Potty training "in one day"

Three weeks ago I bit the bullet and started potty training Tatum. I read a few different variations of a one day method. They all admitted that there would still be accidents after day one, but that the bulk of the teaching happens that first day. It hasn't been as close to a one day training as I would have liked. Maybe that's just because I'm a rookie though. :) However, I do feel like it was successful and I will be sticking with this method for future kids so I thought I'd share. If nothing else I will have this experience documented for when it's time to do it again in two years.


1. First I tried to get Tatum psyched about the whole idea. She was definitely showing signs of being 'ready' but I really wanted her to be excited. I took her to the store to pick out underwear, thinking she would think that was awesome, and she didn't care at all. I'm sure every kid is different and some might love that part. But not Tatum.

2. Besides the underwear, I made sure to have some special treats on hand that were only for going on the potty. I also bought extra sheets and mattress covers. I made sure I had juice. I made a sticker chart and got stickers. And I also made a calling chart.

Day 1:

When Tatum first got up we had a normal breakfast. Then I took her in the bathroom with one of her baby dolls. I put a pair of Tatum's new underwear on the doll and talked to Tatum about how the baby was a big girl now, etc etc. Then I had the doll say she needed to go potty and ran her to the little potty and with a medicine syringe behind her I had her pee in the toilet. Tatum was none the wiser, I swear, it totally worked. We sang and clapped and cheered for the baby. Then the baby got to choose a sticker, get a treat, and call someone on the phone. Then I asked Tatum if she wanted to wear underwear and go in the potty so she could all those things. Of course she said yes! :) I kept her naked all day that first day, except for underwear and except for nap time. It just made it easier. After we got her underwear on we played in the bathroom for a little while and then the baby had an accident. So I said oops! And then ran the baby over to the toilet saying "we don't go pee on the floor, we go pee in the potty". I ran her back and forth from the accident to the toilet ten times while saying that. Tatum totally just laughed at me but then when I did it to her a few minutes later when she had her first accident you could almost already see it clicking. After that we just played in the kitchen all day and had lots of juice and snacks. And she peed a lot. I think that first day we had 18 successes and almost that many accidents. I set a timer and took her every 15 minutes. I put a stack of books by the toilet and we would read and sing songs while she sat there for a minute or two. And then we would go back to playing. If she peed on the potty she got a sticker, a treat and she got to call someone off her calling chart. I think the calling was her favorite part. I put pictures of cousins, aunts, uncles, grandma and papa and she loved being able to call all of them. If she had an accident we went back and forth to the potty ten times. This is supposed to help muscle memory and I really think it is key. You don't have to play in the kitchen, I was just pretty sure there would be lots of accidents and I didn't want the trouble of cleaning it off the carpet. And she was getting so much undivided attention from me she didn't seem to care. (That's another thing, if you have other kids be prepared to feel like you are neglecting them. I certainly felt that way, but we all survived. )

Day 2:

 I put Tatum back on her normal diet on day two, so there wasn't nearly as much bathrooming going on. I will definitely consider doing day 2 just like day 1 in the future. I'm not sure how I feel about it at this point. We still stuck around home. I wasn't brave enough to go out with her until the end of day 4. We pretty much stopped calling people on this day, she just got a sticker and a treat. And I still did the 10 times for every accident. I took her potty every 30 to 45 minutes. She only had 2 accidents on day 2, which sounds great, but it was an awful day. Be prepared for day 2 to be worse than day 1. The excitement from day 1 is gone, they are totally over it. And they are realizing that diapers were way easier.  Tatum fought going to sit on the potty all day long. There was a lot of bribing going on. I would let her watch a video from Frozen while she sat. And by the end of the day she was getting a sticker just for sitting and trying.

Day 3:

Tatum definitely improved from day 2. We still had one accident, still didn't leave home, and I took her every 45 min to an hour.

Day 4:

This was her first accident free day! We went out to eat with friends and I took about five changes of underwear. I was nervous. But I made her go before we left. I made her go when we first got to the restaurant, right before our food came, and right before we left to go home. She never fought it and never had an accident. She also didn't go every time I took her, not surprising.

Day 5:

Another accident free day and we took her to the mall to ride the carousel that evening as a reward for staying dry all day. A word on that, find out what makes your kid tick. For Tatum, having bigger rewards for longer goals seems to have worked well. It helped with the nap time and night time training too.

Day 6:

We had friends over for dinner and had some major regression. I think she had something like 4 or 5 accidents in the 2 or 3 hours they were here. It was incredibly stressful and frustrating. I think you should expect more trouble every time they are in a new situation at first. This was really the first time we had people over and weren't very focused on her. And by the next day she had worked it out.

Day 7:

Another accident free day. We were at church and then my parents' all day long and she even told an adult multiple times that she needed to go that day.

Since then:

We did not have an accident free day for the entire second week. It was typically one or two a day. Most often between 7 and 8 at night. I'm guessing it's harder when she is tired. Sometimes they seemed blatant, sometimes legitimately an accident. She still fights going to the potty sometimes, but we have mostly cut out all bribes for that. I just lock us in the bathroom and sit and wait for her to decide she will sit on it. It doesn't usually take more than a couple of minutes and works better than trying to reason with her. I still take her to the potty ten times in a row if she has a bad accident, like she hides to do it or has it right next to the toilet instead of getting on it, etc. If she tells me she needs to go but we don't make it in time I usually don't do the ten times thing since she kind of hates it now. :)

I definitely wouldn't use the past tense and say she is potty trainED. It is definitely still a work in progress but we are getting there. It's frustrating that I can't get inside the mind of a two year old, it really is. It is baffling that sometimes she comes up to us and tells us she needs to go and other times she stands right next to you and goes in her pants. It's hard to know why, or what she is thinking, but I am really trying to be patient. After all, she has been going in her pants for 2 years without ever having to think about it so I'm sure it will take awhile to break old habits.

We seemed to turn a corner about 4 days ago when she started to consistently tell us when she needed to go. We had about three days in a row without any accidents. Today has been harder. She had a late night last night so I'm hoping it's just because she is tired and we can get back on track tomorrow.

Night time and nap time:

We decided to do it all at once, no looking back. So Tatum is in underwear when she sleeps too. Within a week she was waking up from her naps dry and most mornings she is dry too. We have been waking her up when we go to bed to have her go potty and I think that might have been helping. We are going to probably stop doing that now because some times she is cooperative and sometimes she hates it. I'm sure she will still wet the bed with some frequency but that's why we bought extra sheets. :) She has to figure it out eventually, so we just decided she might as well figure it all out at once.

*We did completely stop waking her up to take her before we went to bed almost a week ago, and she has still been waking up dry!

Her sticker chart. We actually never even gave her a reward for filling these. Putting the stickers on ended up being reward enough for her.
 Getting her fingernails painted for staying dry all night.
On the phone with some lucky person during day 1. Notice all the toys in the kitchen. And the chemicals in the background. I'm not a horrible mom, we just had frozen pipes that morning. Fun. Her calling chart is on the bench, nothing fancy just black and white photos of people she knows.
 One day her reward was to play the Wii if she stayed dry all day. It was the first time Brennan and I have played since before I was pregnant with Tatum. She thought it was neat.
Potty training is basically awful. I'm convinced there is no real avoiding that. I'm hoping next time won't seem as bad because I will have a better idea of what to expect and hopefully that will keep me from getting too frustrated.


  1. Wow! I am just so impressed. Way to stick in there! I love the new look of the blog too!

  2. What a relief to have it well on its way! Sorry about day 6