The first thing that comes to mind when a friend mentions that they’re thinking about potty training is the phrase “oh, crap”. It’s not because I’m worried for them- in fact, I’m excited for them. Potty training is a huge step for you and your child, and it gives you a newfound freedom and convenience in life. No, the reason I think “oh, crap” is because the one thing you need to become successful with potty training is the book “Oh, Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need To Know To Do It Once And Do It Right” by Jamie Glowacki. It’s widely referred to as the 3-day method, which it basically was for us, with some fine tuning.
This isn’t a book review. It’s a Cliffs Notes, basically. I remember it was daunting for me to actually decide to kick back and crack the spine of this bad boy, knowing that I knew nothing at all about potty training and I wished someone would just give me the basics. I’m going to do that for you here- but I’ll warn you: you still need the book. Sorry! The book is just fantastic because she approaches every “what if” situation- and there are a lot of them. But hey- you’ll get the basics here and hopefully, get inspired to potty train once you realize that it’s much easier and simpler than people make it out to be for most kids. There are exceptions to every rule. I’m not an expert, I’ve potty trained exactly one person so far- but 100% of the people in that group are 100% potty trained, so either the book’s amazing, I’m amazing, or my kid’s amazing. It’s too small of a case study to be exactly sure.
By the way, what I didn’t know before reading this book which was the standout thing to me was that the age in which the author recommends potty training is between 20 and 30 months. I didn’t read that page until Gray was about 34 months old (oops). However with Logan I’ll be doing it well within that timeframe. I’m planning on trying at 24 months because she says that’s usually the perfect age to do it, and Logan has met all of his milestones early (classic second child). With Gray, we had no issues potty training, but old habits can die hard. Training most kids older than 30 months is really hard, be cause they have learned to exercise free will. Gray did really really well, but I think he may be the exception and not the rule.
My plan with Gray was to wait until he was ready. So many times, I heard the phrase “just wait until he’s ready”. And he had shown interest in the potty by 20 months so we bought one. Then we bought the toilet insert. It wasn’t that he had an aversion to either, in fact he loved to sit on the potty and pretend he was going, but it was a game to him and we were totally inconsistent. There was no plan there, and unless he just learned on his own (I’ve heard of such mythical children but have yet to meet one), he had no hope. He needed us to teach him in a consistent way. I was kind of lazy about it (as lazy as you can be when you are raising two babies) until we visited nursery schools and they inquired about his potty habits. The school we really wanted (which is the one we just started) stressed that in order for him to attend, he’d need to be fully potty trained. I thought to myself “Oh, CRAP.” I Prime’d the book that night and got to work.
Ok, here we go. What you’ll need:
A potty. I’d say this one is the most popular and easy to use.
Though the book recommends not starting the habit of treats or rewards, we found them useful. It can’t hurt to have a tube of these around if things get dicey. For the kid, or for you (not judging). Chocolate and wine come in handy for sure- it’s a commitment. The wine, to be clear, is just for you (totally judging).
Cleaning supplies- it’s going to get a little messy. Lucky for us we only had one poop accident ever with Gray- but too many pee ones to count in that first day. I recommend cheap vinyl tablecloths lined with paper towels on your couches and rugs, and keeping the potty training to as few spaces as possible. Tuck your throw pillows in a closet. We rolled our area rug up and stored it in a corner until we were comfortable.
So here’s how it goes. The 3 days are really 3 blocks, and you don’t move onto the next block until you complete one.
Block one is an at-home, naked block. Note that this means that since some blocks take a few days to master, a dedicated adult needs to commit to staying home with the trainee during this time. The trainee needs consistency and therefore shouldn’t be challenged by car trips or walks that could throw his or her experience off. I think a lot of people are too liberal with this one, or they think the kid “gets it” and so they adjust the rules without really mastering block one. Block one is the messiest block but it’s where the child goes from basically clueless about potty training to beginning to understand that they no longer wear diapers and are now expected to go pee and poop on the potty. Basically you start the day and take all their clothes off and watch them like a hawk. Remember it’s only a few days of this, and it’s a good time to reinforce family time and eliminate distractions. Just be together. Once you resolve to that, it’s actually fun. But if you try to do all the things and answer all the texts and scroll Instagram all day, I promise you- you’ll miss pees and poops and prolong the process.
In block one, the goal is to get as much pee or poop in the potty as you can, and give them an understanding of the sensation that happens as they begin to pee. We’d run to Gray with the potty and sort of place him on it mid-pee, and even if he only got a drop in the potty, we’d celebrate like it was a huge deal. Every time. For poop in the potty, he got a mini M&M. They recommend you get them to consume as much liquids as possible so the process stays fluid (pun intended by me) and the child has a chance to really connect to the process. I’d say it took an entire day for him to consciously go to the potty to pee. But he did!
We did block one for three days before we moved onto block two, which is wearing clothes at home. It presented only a small challenge to Grayson but we were there to help him undress. Block two is just continuing what you learned in block one and preparing for block three.
Block three is leaving the house. Leaving the house presents a few challenges. We still always use the potty before we go. In my opinion it’s all about monitoring liquid intakes and bringing him to the potty frequently, whether it be a travel potty (we own this one), a public restroom (ewww, they still skeeve me and I’d always prefer the travel potty but it’s not always feasible), or just planning short outings.
Though the book recommends otherwise, we didn’t tackle night training at first. I just couldn’t handle my sleep being any more broken and dreaded the laundry issues. We got lucky with Gray (in about a billion ways) because one day he announced to us “I don’t want to wear a Pullup to bed anymore, I wanna wear underwear”- and he has ever since.
In closing, again- I recommend you get the book. Every single person I’ve recommended it to has found success with it. Do it when you’re ready, but don’t wait until you start having guilty angsty feelings about it. It’s potty training. It’s really not that bad. As an added bonus to potty training, you get to get rid of the diapers and diaper genies and changing tables and wipe warmers. Plus you get to use adorable days of the week undies and trust me, that’s pretty much the cutest thing in the world, especially when they get to be Gray’s age and that’s what teaches them what day it is. Also- and how amazing is this world of technology that we live in?- Jamie Glowacki has a very active Facebook page where she’ll respond to your questions right away if you have any!