Oh, potty training.

We've been in the "little potty" trenches with our {almost} two and half year old boy for about three months now. I can't offer any guaranteed methods for success, but since I was always eager to hear about some of your experiences, consider this a reciprocal "pat on the shoulder" to those of you in the same season of child rearing. The truth is, I can't tell you what works or what doesn't or what method is best. It's truly been a trial and error kind of process. Full of good, bad, and yes, some downright ugly. And it's not over. Praise God that His mercies are new every morning!

First thing's first; it all started with prayer- asking God each time we started {I'll explain more below} to show me if he was ready or not. And praise be to Him, He is my never failing source of guidance!
I attempted a few trial runs with our little boy when he was a little shy of two years, then in another month, then another month after that. These were occasions when I sat him on a little training potty every 30 minutes or so for a day just to see how he would respond. Each of these times, he didn't actually go on the potty once. So, thanks to God for making it clear that those weren't the times to start!

When the time came that he was ready, here's what I had on hand:
1) A little froggy potty from Target.
2) M&Ms to use as a reward.
3) A hand drawn diagram explaining the reward system. {1 M&M for trying, 2 M&Ms for going #1, 3 M&Ms for going #2}.
4) Portable potty seat that sits on regular sized toilets.
5) A pack of very flashy Star Wars underwear. {We only used these a couple of times, more explanation to come}.


We loosely followed the "Potty Training in Three Days" method.

The trial runs were really more to introduce the potty since we were in the middle of a long Army relocation and it wasn't practical to try to truly train him. But once we were settled enough to give it a real go, I set a date to start. It happened to be when my husband was out of town, so for a solid week it was just me, Asher, and the potty.

I woke up the morning of the big day and {once again} asked God to make it clear whether he was ready to start or not. At this point, Asher was about two years and three months, and this was a couple of months before we expected little Silas to arrive. One thing you hear a lot is "don't potty train your kid right before a new baby comes, they'll regress!". Or "most boys aren't ready until they're three!" But 1) I've learned not to trust everything I hear, 2) Asher was starting to outgrow his cloth diapers {he was way too active and the inserts were bunching up in weird ways}, 3) I didn't want two in diapers if I could help it. 

Anyway, back to day one- I hadn't said much {if anything} to Asher about learning to use the potty, but amazingly, the first thing he said when I got him out of his crib was "I want to use the big potty!", and ran immediately to it. {If that wasn't an answer to prayer, I don't know what is! So thank you Jesus.} When we were officially ready to start, I set the potty up in the kitchen next to the fridge and hung the reward diagram over top of it. And yes, I drew actual #1 and #2 to make the best visual aid I could, because I didn't know how to explain it to him otherwise.

After explaining the diagram to him and showing him the container of M&Ms, I had him sit down to try. Nothing happened, but he got an M&M. And from that point on, I had him roam naked from the waist down while I kept a watchful eye on him. I assumed he would eventually start to go on the floor, at which point I would scurry him to the potty in hopes that he would finish there. But- to my great surprise- about fifteen minutes after that first try, he ran into the kitchen, sat down on the potty, and went #2 all by himself. There are no words to describe how ecstatic I was- talk about instant success for him and gratification for me! Needless to say, he got a flurry of praise and three M&Ms.

For the entire first week, we continued with the naked from the waist down method and Asher did exceptionally well. {Wearing the Star Wars underwear seemed to make him think he had a diaper on, and he had a very hard time pulling them down when he needed to go so we retired them.} He had an accident with #1 from time to time, and his success rate with #2 was at about 50%. But overall, he was using the potty independently and consistently and things were looking promising! 

For the first few days we didn't dare leave the house. But when the food was out and my sanity nearly gone {after nothing but potty training with no adult interaction}, it was time to brave the store. I put loose fitting shorts on Asher with no underwear underneath. I brought his little froggy potty along and had him use it between stores. And for the sake of public restrooms, I bought a portable potty seat that sits on regular toilets. At first he refused to use it, but I kept getting him to try and eventually he got comfortable with it. And after peeing a waterfall in the middle of Walmart during that first trip out, I think he got the idea that the potty seat wasn't so bad after all. {He also seemed to learn that having wet pants wasn't great either, because since then he very rarely has accidents when we're out.}

I wasn't about to play the change-the-sheets-after-every-use game, so I put Asher to bed in pull-ups. Amazingly, he was waking up totally dry for the first few weeks, and then afterwards I think he got lazy and started going a little bit in them. So, that being said, it might have been a good thing to ditch them in the beginning and keep him in that good habit. But oh well, live and learn! One of these days I'll brave another attempt.
Then week three happened. Pee was on the couch. Poop was on the floor. My sanity was out the window. Asher decided that the novelty of the potty had worn off and that he no longer cared to use it consistently. I'm sure you can imagine my frustration and dismay after seeing him do so well those first couple of weeks... But after all of the time we'd spent learning this new skill, I wasn't about to give up and go back to diapers. And to be fair, part of this was probably my fault by being a little less consistent in our routine. So I redoubled my efforts to set him up for success in every way I could, as well as used some stricter discipline when it was clear that he was going on the floor on purpose. For example, like the time he left the kitchen where Thane and I {and the potty} were, closed both doors that lead into the rest of the house, and peed on the floor right behind the doors. Yep.

After that first month of ups and downs, things have evened out overall. Asher has demonstrated that he's capable of using the potty consistently, except for when he decides not to. Ha! So, there are very good days, and then there are days where he has an accident {or two}. We have to remind him when he's "busy" because there are certain things worth peeing his pants over, like Barney. So, needless to say, it's still a work in a progress. But the occasional accident is much more worthy {in our eyes, at least} than going back to diapers. So we're sticking with it! 

This experience has taught me a few many lessons in patience and humility. I've learned that I need to wake up every single morning and ask Jesus for His grace and guidance so that I might be the best mom to both Asher and Silas that I can be. It takes so much patience to weather the ups and downs in a way that's loving and right, and it's only by His supernatural grace that it's possible. So, I praise Him for the patience that only He can provide, and for humility too. Cleaning up potty accidents, although frustrating, is another reminder of Christ's own patience and love towards me: "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to angerand abounding in mercy." {Psalm 103:8} So before I allow myself to react in anger when Asher has an accident, I have to remember that Jesus endured so much worse at the hands of sinners like me, for me, {and for you, too}. And He did it without sin, and with a heart full of righteousness and forgiveness. I'm continually amazed by that. But I'm not perfect like He was {understatement of the century}, so there are still times when I find myself reacting out of my flesh. In other words, potty training {and motherhood in general} is a constant battle of flesh vs. Spirit, and I have to do a lot of repenting!

A few of the more infamous potty training memories...read at your own risk!

> The time I caught Asher attempting to drink out of the potty. {After I'd dumped/rinsed it out, praise God.}
> The time{s} he's handed me a rock special souvenir from his pants.
> The morning he said "Mooooooomy, went poo-poo on the potty!", and I came downstairs to discover his pull-up laying on the floor and full of #2, followed by a trail of "nuggets" leading to the bathroom, followed by #2 smeared on the bathroom sink and side of the little potty as well as some on the big potty after trying to flush it. Oh, and a wet, soiled rag that he must have used to try to clean up the mess. And the truly ironic part is that technically, that merited a reward.
> The time{s} he's been in the process of going #2 on the potty and jumps up before finishing so that he can race across the room to claim his M&Ms and ends up tracking a huge mess across the floor.
> The time he attempted to carry the potty upstairs in order to dump and flush some #1 and spilled the entire thing down the steps.

Thanks for reading!

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