In the last couple of weeks our family has reached a goal I never thought I would see. It’s one that years ago I swore I would throw a huge party complete with a bonfire once this goal was reached. What was I planning to burn in that blazing bonfire? Our diaper pail. That’s right, people. Our diaper pail. As of about 2 weeks ago, my youngest children finally got potty-trained. And yes, if you know us or are familiar with my blog, my youngest two just turned 4 years old. My oldest actually turns 10 next week, so we were deep into diapers for nearly an entire decade. Not only that, but the last 8 of those years I have had at least 2 in diapers at a time. Actually, several of those years I had 3 in diapers and for a short while after my twins were born, I had a whopping 4 in diapers. Crazy, huh? Now you know why I thought I would never see this day arrive. Now you also know why I am doing a post strictly on potty-training.
To make things perfectly clear, I am by no means an expert on potty-training. Yes, I have trained 5 children to use the toilet and finally ditch those diapers. However, this is a parenting job I always felt mediocre and very inadequate at. In fact, you may read this blog and want to criticize the daylights out of me. On the other hand, if your kids are anything like mine were and YOU are feeling like a bad potty-trainer, this is to make you feel better. Really. You see, my kids seemed to simply not care whether they were wet or dirty. They didn’t care one iota about using the potty, as much as I would have loved them to, no matter what rewards (aka bribes) or “positive reinforcement” I was giving them. I was always a bit envious of parents whose children minded being wet or messy and all but trained themselves at a young age. (Either envious or I just wanted to slap them when they bragged about it. Not really, I’m not that mean.)
It all of course started with my oldest son, Daniel. At 3 he was a very difficult child and really could care less about the toilet. I voraciously read about and tried out the various methods listed in every parenting magazine out there. Nothing worked. It seemed as if every child within his age range was happily peeing and pooping on the potty for their proud parents. My Mom, God bless her, had read about the whole Cheerios peeing trick for boys online and really thought she was going to get him to go. Well, she dropped the Cheerios in her potty and had Daniel come in to see what a cool game Grandma had for him. Guess what? That child screamed and screamed “My Cheerios! My Cheerios!” I was completely fed up by then and vowed to give the potty training a rest for awhile. Clearly he was NOT ready to do this. At his 4 year old check-up (which, by then, he had 2 younger siblings) I was at my wits end and vented to our pediatrician. No, he didn’t scold me for not having my child potty-trained. He assured me that it would happen anytime and he would bet that it would just happen one day and that would be that. Well, guess what? That man was right. One day my son up and decided to use the toilet and that was that. One day. Done.
With my next oldest, Andrew, it was pretty much the same story. I tried a bit at 3 years old to no avail. This time around I was a bit more relaxed and didn’t push him too much. In fact, the more I pushed, the more he resisted. So again, I gave it a rest for awhile. Then I was pregnant with my twins and barely had the energy to deal with it anyway. Soon after their birth was when he, Heidi, and my newborn twins were ALL in diapers. I remember actually lining them up in a row like a little assembly line to change them. I know that sounds insane, but it really wasn’t that bad. Andrew turned 4 and did pretty much the same thing as his big brother–started using the potty in one day and that was that.
Now, my daughter was a bit easier. Out of all my kids, she is the one who cared a little more than the boys. At 3 she was not speaking much (she had a speech delay and was delayed with her gross motor skills) but did have some interest in the potty. Actually, at a little over 3, I almost had her trained while we were on vacation. The evening we came home the poor girl fell off of our front landing and broke her leg. She was placed in a full leg cast and I had to put her in diapers again. Until she was out of the cast, she was not into using the potty. So, again I had to be patient and wait for her to be a little more ready. Heidi also trained in about a day a few months before she turned 4 years old.
That brings me to the twins. Potty training twins was not as difficult as it sounded. They usually went at around the same time, so that helped. Like my other boys, they could absolutely care less what kind of nastiness was going on in their diapers or pull-ups. Also, putting cloth undies didn’t really work for any of my boys. I did try with all of them. Seriously, they would walk around with them wet or stinky and not even care. So, I took the laissez-faire approach and decided it would happen when it would happen. If they showed interest, I would be all over that. If there was major resistance, I would let things be for awhile. At my family’s Mother’s Day picnic my one grandmother completely gave me grief for not having them trained. Needless to say, I was a bit ashamed but also kind of angry too. I kindly told her that it was going to happen anytime and I wasn’t too worried about it. “I’ve been doing diapers for this long, what’s another month or so?” was my reply. So, when they up and got trained a couple of weeks ago, I did not call her and gloat. I simply gave my boys lots of encouragement for being big boys and enjoyed not buying diapers.
So, here we are, a diaper-free household. The pull-ups are still around, but I’m sure they will be by the wayside soon as well. Now, you may have read this and thought about what a terrible example I may be to the potty-training world out there. Or, like I mentioned earlier, you may be tearing your hair out in frustration and this will make you feel a little bit encouraged. You are NOT a failure if your child is not using the toilet yet. Really. I promise you, you WILL get there someday, just like us. Really, I never thought I would see this day arrive. Our diaper pail was such a given part of our household. Now, who wants to come to a bonfire party?