Thanks to Pull-Ups® Training Pants for sponsoring this post.
My two-month-old just lit up her diaper with reckless abandon. She has a quiet look of confidence and satisfaction on her face. I can tell she’s already taking her frequent diaper changes for granted, as if this is how the world works: she poops, and her mommy and daddy come running. She’s clean and happy and didn’t have to lift a baby finger.
Little does she know, these days are limited. Someday she’ll have to learn to go to the potty on her own, and I’ll be the teacher.
So in preparation for this parenting phase, I wanted to get some advice from friends who have forged the poopy path. Thanks to their tips, I have a hint of what I can expect — and although I still feel slightly terrified, their words were encouraging.
“Keep a progress chart with stickers.”
Before parenthood, few think they’ll ever make a chart with poop on it. During parenthood, a chart with poop on it is just good sense. Why? Kids love being rewarded. Watching their potty successes played out with Hello Kitty stickers on a chart gives them the same rush as an Olympian waiting for the gold medal to be placed around their neck. Each successful potty gets a sticker, and most kids will stop at nothing until that cheap dollar-store sticker is theirs!
“Be aware: kids must go potty the minute you’re in the back of a store.”
It’s a universal law that can’t be explained by science: when you’re shopping and at the farthest possible point from the restrooms, your child will have a potty emergency so dire, it’s as if they chugged a bottle of laxatives. You’ll be running through the store to get to the bathroom like you’re a contestant on Supermarket Sweep. Use this knowledge to prepare you during your shopping route. Remember, knowledge is potty training power.
“Keep Gummy Bears handy for bribery at all times.”
Have you ever tried to make someone, anyone, go poopy in the potty? It ain’t easy. The stage fright alone could keep a parent and child locked away in the bathroom through an entire House Hunters marathon. The solution? Gummy Bears. Or any candy, really. Some parents may take issue with bribing their kids with a fun-sized Snickers, but potty training isn’t about integrity or ideals, it’s about keeping our white carpets clean.
“Be prepared to use frightening bathrooms you would never use otherwise.”
Childless adults can usually use discretion about where they’ll relieve themselves. Parents don’t have this freedom. When a child has to potty while sporting their new Baby GAP khakis, there aren’t choices, just desperation. There’s no “waiting until the next rest stop” or “maybe I’ll try the gas station bathroom across the street that doesn’t smell like the inside of a dumpster in July.” No, it doesn’t matter if it’s the side of the road and it doesn’t matter how many federal crimes have taken place at that 7/11 restroom. If a child has to go, it’s happening. Keep a few cans of Lysol on you, just in case.
“Keep a potty or bucket in the car.”
Speaking of going potty on the side of the road, be prepared to help your child go potty on the side of the road. This, of course, will require a portable potty. Or a bucket, if you’re desperate. While many parents are their child’s cheerleader, few realize they’ll be their child’s poop cheerleader on a grassy embankment near a busy highway. If you’re lucky, your little one will go easily and quickly. If your child is like most people who find it difficult to comfortably let it go next to traffic, you may have to incorporate the Gummy Bear tip (bribery) to get the deed done.
“There’s no such thing as, ‘They’ll be fine. It’s just a quick Target run.’”
False. They won’t be fine. They’re going to pee in the aisle, and an old lady will probably slip on it and break a hip. Cockiness has no place in the potty training game. One must prepare for the worst, no matter what. The fact that little Timmy hasn’t had an accident at home yet simply means he’s waiting to have one while you’re looking at all the cute desk lamps in aisle five. With this information as a tool, ask every three seconds if they have to go potty, don’t believe them if they say no, and always remember Tip #2.
“Bathroom rugs are useless because they’ll always be in the washing machine.”
This is a particularly useful tip for parents with boys. HGTV may have you thinking a nice, decorative bathroom rug is a good idea, but they neglect to warn you that during potty training, it will just be an absorbent pee pad. Kind of like Depends, but for your floor. Clear out anything that can be saturated — it’s just good common sense.
“For boys: Put Cheerios at the bottom of the toilet for aiming practice.”
If we want our boys to be able to live peacefully in a world with girls, their ability to aim properly is paramount. For some reason, males appear to lack an innate motivation to hit their mark in the bathroom. Without early prevention techniques, we could be raising sons unable to keep a steady relationship because they pee like a fire hose gone awry. By putting Cheerios at the bottom of the water for aiming practice, we’ve now made a training game that will have lasting social benefits.
“Keep the juices flowing.”
Normally, letting kids have their fill of apple juice is a terrible, sugary idea. However, potty training is not the time to be skimpy on fluids. It’s hard to potty train when no one has to pee. This isn’t potty pondering, this is potty training! Think like a coach and find a whistle. As they’re working over their sippy cup, they’ll have no idea they’ve just been snookered into a training ploy. The more they pee, the more they train. The sooner they master the potty, the sooner we’re on our way to diaper-less freedom.
“Let them run around naked for a while.”
This tip should be followed with caution, reserved only for parents who are about to run out of all the good underwear. In dire situations, all the underoos are soaked in Shout, piled up in the laundry room waiting for their turn in the spin cycle. This is when “naked time” may be employed. However, a child allowed to be free in the breeze should be watched like a hawk or you’ll answer the phone only to turn around and find your couch is the new potty.
I’d like to thank my friends for their tips and sage advice. Potty training isn’t for the faint of heart or the weak of gag reflexes. But, I suppose with a little grit, a dose of determination and bucket of humor, I can get through this like all the strong parents who have gone before me.