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May 2, 2011

The Potty-Capades: Day 10

[Warning: This is a long post. I’m writing this to document how things have progressed over the past week…knowing it will bring a smile to reflect on this milestone one day…and hoping it might be useful to someone else, too.]

Today is Baby A’s tenth day wearing undies. And while last week was a real exercise in patience and stamina (such that I truly deserved that Dairy Queen Blizzard on Thursday!), I’m very happy to report that we’re doing pretty well!

My Methodology
Baby A has been wearing undies exclusively during the daytime. I’ve put her in a diaper for naptime and at night.

We have a potty chair in the kitchen, just adjacent to the den / playroom. While I was originally anti-potty chair, this solution ultimately made sense for us, as it keeps Baby A’s potty activities close to her sister playing in the den. That has made potty time less about “escaping” the playroom, and allows me to stay much closer to Baby B.

We have a potty ring on the upstairs toilet, which Baby A uses just before nap / bedtime, and immediately when she gets up. She uses both the potty chair and potty ring just fine, and I’m very thankful for her “flexibility”.

The first two or three days, I would ask Baby A at least every hour if she needed to sit on the potty. She rarely answered no (if ever), and each time she would at least do a little something. After a few days, I decided to play things a little more by ear to allow her to adjust to telling me if she needed to go. She has done really well with this arrangement. Now the only time I ask her is if it’s been more than an hour and a half since she last went…particularly if she’s really engaged in playing.

I dug out some lap pads from the girls’ infant days. I put one in each of their high chairs and car seats, and called them “cushions…to make them more comfortable”. We haven’t had any accidents in either place, but I thought that was a good safeguard in case we did.

The Mess
You (may) know me…I’m a germophobe! But I am pleasantly surprised – and so thankful! – to report that the mess has been nominal.

On Day 2, we had two accidents that required spot-cleaning the carpet, but it wasn’t bad at all. We’ve had a few other slip-ups, but nothing outside the confines of the undies / knit pants.

The last few accidents were of the stinky variety, but I hope I have gotten a handle on those. (We’re hoping for Day 3 of no accidents today!) I think Baby A was being impatient, not willing to see things through to the end of a given initiative. I was able to give her some extra encouragement during one of her efforts to get her to finish everything on the potty…and she’s done a great job since then.

The Marathon
I reported last week that Baby A was giving me quite the workout, breaking each potty session into six or eight “deliveries”…each of which (in her mind) warranted a trip from the potty chair to the toilet to empty the little cup.

I tried several approaches…telling her we wouldn’t empty the cup until it was full to a certain point…encouraging her to make “friends” for her stinkies. (Sorry for the visual…I was desperate!) There were a handful of times that I downright refused to empty three drops of urine from the little cup, but otherwise I basically went with it, hoping she’d eventually wear herself out.

She’s not exactly where I’d like her to be, but we’re making progress. I’d say we’re down from six or eight mini-sessions, to sometimes as few as two.

I’ve tried to remain as calm and collected as possible, being very matter-of-fact about the entire deal. I am generally upbeat and encouraging, but I only do jumping jacks for her when she makes a lot at once.

Earlier in the week I also reported that Baby A was waking up in the mornings and from her naps, screaming. That only lasted four or five days. I finally thought to tell her it’s OK if she makes tee-tee or stinkies in her diaper while she sleeps, and this seems to have done the trick. Prior to me giving her that reassurance, I am guessing she may have been upset with herself for waking up wet.

In Hindsight
I did not implement any kind of reward system, and I stand by that. Because Baby B is nowhere near ready to train, I just couldn’t see giving a reward to Baby A – whether it be a marshmallow or a sticker chart – and not give anything to her sister…or to allow her sister to share in the rewards “just because”.

I originally made a huge deal out of getting to flush the potty, positioning that as the “reward”. Of course she wanted to flush after every little tinkle, which was not a good idea (resulting in Hubby having to make a trip home from work one day to un-stop the toilet...oops!).

When I introduced the potty chair, I made a huge deal out of her getting to help Mommy empty the little cup. And I think that led to a lot of our back-and-forth challenges.

As I’ve been in wear-her-down mode, I haven’t thought precisely about what I would have done in hindsight, but I just throw these cautions out…to think through whatever kind of “reward” system you put in place (as if we can climb inside a two-year old’s mind and imagine how crafty she might get…HA!).

The Twin Factor
Honestly, I think the biggest challenge over the past couple of weeks has been juggling the very different needs of the girls. I have no choice but to respond to Baby A’s needs to sit on the potty, and this means Baby B’s wants have been pushed aside a lot.

For the most part, Baby B has been an incredible trooper. She’s played well by herself when her sister is otherwise occupied, and when she’s gotten upset, she’s gotten over it quickly.

The worst has been that she – understandably – wants to be able to see what her sister (and her mommy) are doing at all times. Having the potty chair adjacent to the den solves a big part of the equation…but Baby B has often been caught standing on the back of an armchair in order to glimpse us going down the hall to the bathroom.

It absolutely petrifies me when she does that.

Under other circumstances I would take more direct action (time-out), but I feel like I know why’s she’s doing that…and I don’t want her to somehow think I’m trying to exclude her from the goings-on in the house.

I’ve tried to strike some type of compromise, in that I told her she can sit on the back of the chair, not stand. I don’t like that, either, but it seems to have helped the situation a little bit.

Fast Food (and Usually Cold, Too)
One of the goofier challenges of the past couple of weeks is that I have to be very attune to Baby A’s needs, and be able to respond to them very quickly. While there have been a couple of times she’s had to wait for one reason or another – and she did so very well – when she says she needs to go, I want her to be able to go.

If I’m in the middle of slicing strawberries, I can drop things pretty quickly to be able to assist Baby A. But I’ve taken to preparing the girls’ breakfast ahead of them getting up…as I can’t risk an unplanned interlude while I’m cooking eggs.

It seems like Baby A often needs to potty just before supper, so we’ve all eaten a lot of lukewarm meals.

The Confinement
I’ve long read that when you potty train, you should pick a time in which you know you can stay home for a week…so I was prepared for a period of confinement.

On Tuesday, Day 4 of the Potty-Capades, I chanced a short walk in the neighborhood. I waited until Baby A had used the potty, and I quickly put on socks and ushered us out the door. She did a great job, and that fresh air never smelled so sweet!

On Thursday, Day 6, I again took the girls for a walk. We were about three blocks from home when Baby A told me she needed to sit on the potty. I told her we were heading home, and to wait as best she could. She was the one who kept stopping to look at squirrels and dogs, despite my urging, but she made it home just fine. She was content with me taking her shoes off, and then she made a beeline for the potty! (It was actually pretty cute!)

On Saturday, a full week into our training, we chanced our first trip in the car. Immediately after nap, after Baby A sat on the potty, we loaded up and went for some frozen yogurt. We were gone less than 45 minutes, and again, she did great. She didn’t even need to use the potty for another hour after we got home.

I imagine we’ll try to work in a few short outings over the next couple of weeks. I’m not sure how things will progress from there, but I am looking forward to a field trip to Target at some point!

Stay tuned tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to this post, “The Silver Lining”.


Carrie said...

Congratulations on what looks like a great week! I'm impressed with your organization and that you seemed to NOT have gone crazy with staying home for so long.
I'm going to try and put Little Pie in undies soon; I think we could make some headway with her. I'm just waiting for it to get nice outside so that we can stay close to home and be able to be out in the yard so I don't go nuts. But the way our weather has been, it'll probably be August!

Andrea said...

I am so excited for you and proud of baby A! She has done wonderfully and I am willing to bet you are probably as proud as one can get! I think it is great you didn't push baby B. Now you need to write a book because you just made this seem easy! Have a great week Mandy!

championm2000 said...

I'm impressed by your strategic potty planning. I plan to save your posts and refer to them often when that day arrives around here.

Keep up the good work!

Amanda said...

We are much the same boat as you! One of my twins had gotten to the point you are now when we went on vacation and everything fell by the wayside. I resumed about a week ago and that twin totally has regressed and is having so many accidents that I have been keeping a diaper on her, where her sister has taken off on the potty training front. At home she wears undies and I wish I could take a week at home to finish the business but alas I have 3 other kiddos in lots of activities and carpools - so into the pull-up she goes so that is hampering our efforts a little! Oh the fun of potty training!

Mandy said...

It's a bad sign that my head is already spinning...

I'm glad this hasn't been too painful. I do worry about Baby B feeling left out and having to deal with that same situation myself. It really seems that we have no control over this, and I'm a bit of a control freak. You are super mom handling this!!

Jenner said...

I haven't moved the peapod into undies even though she is doing terrific potty training. Do you think find that this really encourages them? I also don't have a reward system, but I praise her when she uses the potty and she seems terribly proud of herself.

Rebecca said...'re doing such a great job. It's've inspired me to set a date. I'm going to start over Memorial Day weekend (I haven't cleared this with Husband, but I'm in charge, right?)! You rock!!!

reanbean said...

I'm so glad to hear that the potty training efforts with A have paid off. It sounds like she's doing great. Of course, it's all because of how well you've organized and structured it for her. And it's sure to get much, much easier in the days to come. :o)