Potty Training Bootcamp

It’s taken me over a week to write this post, so that should give you an indication as to how all-encompassing potty training can be. We’ve had Labor Day weekend circled in our calendar for months now, figuring it would be the perfect opportunity to really give this whole potty training thing a go. Several months back, we bought a little potty for each boy and a new Elmo potty book and increased the amount of time we spent talking about the bathroom and what goes on in there. Lots of awkward convos, believe me.

Based on my research I learned that kids need to feel the discomfort of being wet in order for them to try to avoid accidents in the future so we decided to bypass purchasing Pull-ups for this reason. We went with some thick cotton training underpants and on Saturday morning after breakfast, the diapers went away and the boys were prancing around in big boy underpants!

***Please note: This post is intentionally lacking photographic documentation of potty training because, well, there are a lot of creeps online, plus I’d be really  upset if someone posted pictures of me in my underwear online without my consent…. so that’s that.***

We purposefully loaded them up with salty snacks and lots of juice so we could get lots of practice. I think Wyatt had half a dozen accidents within a few hours. The poor kid couldn’t understand why he was peeing uncontrollably at first! The first load of undies were being washed by about 11:00 A.M and Shane’s poor hand was numb from the continuous spraying of Resolve carpet cleaner everywhere. It was incredible, Caleb had zero accidents but also zero success on the potty which was baffling. We were just sitting and staring at him wondering where those two huge cup-fulls of juice went exactly. Once Wyatt starting get the hang of it and was getting a sticker for each time he successfully went on the potty we were sure Caleb would be eager to earn some stickers of his own, but nope. He had no interest.

By lunch time, Caleb still hadn’t used the potty (or had an accident) and Wyatt had gone several times (with lots of accidents). Once lunch was finished and I went to grab them from their chairs and there were two HUGE puddles on my kitchen floor! Gross, I know. Wyatt was upset that he had an accident and was asking to use the potty (too late, kid!) but Caleb didn’t seem to be bothered in the least. He wasn’t uncomfortable or sad or embarrassed. He just wanted to  be done with lunch and continue playing with his toys. That attitude was a big indicator that Caleb probably isn’t ready to potty train yet. He never once asked to use the potty the rest of the day but only ended up having one more accident. He successfully went once and earned his coveted Dumbo sticker but by the end of the day we knew this was a done deal. Caleb has now returned to diapers full time until we see signs that he’s ready to give potty training another go.

Wyatt continued to get better as the weekend progressed and by Monday I think he only had one accident! We were really hopeful that daycare would pick up where we left off so we sent him with lots of underpants and extra clothes on Tuesday. I received a text message from Shane letting me know that daycare doesn’t allow underpants until the child is fully trained because accidents can attribute to an unsanitary environment, which I understand, but the problem is, Wyatt doesn’t know the difference between Pull-ups and diapers because there isn’t really a difference! One pulls down and the other doesn’t, but as far as absorbency goes, they’re essentially the same. So it’s no surprise that he had a ton of accidents and not much success last week at daycare. I feel like I’m not really getting the support I need from the teachers to be on board with helping to potty train. I understand they can’t spend all their time helping Wyatt in the bathroom but he needs to be taken to use the potty more than 3 times before lunch, especially if he doesn’t do anything when he does sit down and try! So now Wyatt is in underwear at home and pull-ups at school and diapers during naps and overnight. How confusing for the poor kid!

Needless to say, this will be an ongoing process despite my initial dreams that we’d have 2 full potty-trained kids in three days. Hey, a mom can dream right?

(PS Oh and a quick “Big Boy Bed” update: Both boys are sleeping well through the night with minimal interruptions. Well, Wyatt falls out occasionally but within minutes is back to sleep. And Caleb doesn’t fall out per se, but rather climbs out and we’ve found him all over the place. Shane found him under the bed not once, but twice and I found him playing in the bottom of his closet next to a Costco sized box of diapers in the middle of the night. During nap time yesterday, we were letting the boys chat and hope that they would fall asleep on their own. I went to take a shower and within minutes they had both gotten out of their beds and made their way next door to our bedroom and into our bathroom where I was trying to have a few minutes of peace and quiet. Admittedly, it was pretty cute to see how proud they were that the traveled so far to find me, even though they were really overdue for a nap. Never a dull moment around here!)


I'm a working mom of three fantastic boys: Caleb, Wyatt and Parker. My husband, Shane, and I live in the Washington DC suburbs where we enjoy playgrounds, pools and never getting to sleep in. This blog is a journal of our day-to-day lives as well as a chronicle of Caleb's progress after a recent spinal surgery to alleviate the effects of his cerebral palsy.

Posted in Caleb, Toddler Drama, Weekend, Wyatt
5 comments on “Potty Training Bootcamp
  1. You are on the right track with the training pants. I helped potty train all four of my grandkids and you are right there is no difference between pull ups and diapers. I found plastic pants to put overtop of the training pants ( saves a lot of time not having to clean up wet floors – plus they hold in the moisture so they feel uncomfortable. )M&Ms worked well too. 1 if they tried and 2-5 if they were successful. Lots of positive praise. Dolls that can pee also worked well for a couple of them. Lots of luck – stay strong!!

  2. Sarah Ellis says:

    Hey Al!!
    We practice something a little different then potty training called elimination communication but one recommendation you may be interested in trying is to use a strip of old washcloth in his pull up. This will heighten his awareness of the pee rather than it being all absorbed by the diaper… but the mess is still contained while he is in daycare. Just a thought & best of luck. Sounds like it is always fun in your house 😉

  3. Kelly Brown says:

    Thanks for tips. We are preparing to start potty training our 17 month old son.

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