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Toddler Milestones: Birthdays and Potty Training

JD is turning 3 on Monday and I’m having two parties for him. The first is this Sunday and it’s at Funtime Junction—all of his little friends are coming. On Monday night, I’m hosting a family dinner at Positano (as seen on RHONJ/but also owned and operated by my friends). Enough about his birthday, I have MUCH BIGGER news!!!

JD did it. He did it. He really, truly did it! I’m talking about putting his pee in the potty -- SHA-ZAM!!! Sorry to brag, but you have no idea how stressed and frustrated I’ve been. See, I attempted to train him last winter because there were all those crazy blizzards that kept us home—and going stir crazy, but he was just not ready. He screamed every time I put him on the potty and when I threw Cheerios in the bowl and told him to aim, he told me he wanted a snack, i.e. the Cheerios in the bowl. Some friends and parenting experts told me to lay off for a bit, so I did, but I couldn’t help but obsess over the fact that my toddler was turning 3 in a few months and refused to pee (let alone poop) on the potty. Like, he had zero interest.

I was googling constantly and wanted to throw my computer out the window every time I came across the advice, “Little boys should watch Daddy pee when training.” Now, there is no shortage of men in JD’s life (he’s got my father and two brothers) and they’ve all shown him how to pee standing up, but we don’t live with them and we don’t see them every, single day, let alone every week. But, I didn’t let that get me down. I mean single moms of little boys are no different than married or coupled up moms of little boys—we’re all training our boys and even if there is a dad in the picture, it doesn’t mean he’s around to show his son how to pee 24/7. There are way too many modern families today, to make me feel like a failure because JD’s dad isn’t around to show him how to pee -- I taught JD how to throw a football, enough said.

I kept trying.

I’d sit him on the toilet with a cool Diego snap-on toilet seat. I’d plop him on the potty and tell him to go. I’d whip out stickers, cars, M&M’s and he’d scream, “I don’t wanna go pee-pee. I want a truck sticker.” People, there were times, when I literally cried over this and JD would say, “Don’t cry, Mama. What wrong with you?” As a single parent, I think I was crying more because I was alone with this and not exactly the peeing part. I know married moms train solo too, but you also have someone else, Dad, to help and TALK TO about why your kid isn’t peeing on the potty yet. Pillow talk is awesome. There are so many things running through my head (JD's calorie intake for the day, JD's complete discard of the #2 when he counts to 20, JD, JD, JD, bills, work, bills, bills, bills) when I fall asleep and there is no one there to vent to. I used to stress about JD not talking so much, and I just wished there was someone there to say, “He’s OK, right? He’ll talk more soon, right? RIGHT?” Of course he won’t shut-up now, but still. Then the potty training stress began to creep.

He wouldn't go come Spring. I gave up again. I bought more diapers.

Well, this past weekend something lit a fire in me. It was the calendar. We were a week away from his birthday. So, I sat on the couch last Friday night and read: Potty Training Boys The Easy Way by Caroline Fertleman, MD & Simon Cave. I’d skimmed this book before but slipped it back on the shelf when JD turned red, tears streaming down his face as he demanded a diaper. Can I tell you how much I love this book! It changed my perspective on potty training. I look at potty training like learning to read, to ride a bike, to master all of the colors – kids don’t learn these things overnight.

The book suggested I do potty training sessions. So, on Saturday morning, I took JD’s diaper off and didn’t put anything on him. He was naked on the bottom. He didn’t seem to mind. We did our morning routine of playing and watching cartoons, then eating and DRINKING. After JD downed his milk I started to tell him he didn’t have a diaper on and he needed to put his pee-pee in the potty. Then I told him I had a very cool truck for him to play with if he made pee-pee (Hi Dollar Store! I love you!!!). Within twenty-minutes of finishing his milk, I sat him on the potty that I had in the living room. “Come try and pee, bud,” I said. “You can watch Max & Ruby while you try!” He sat and watched T.V. – nothing. Fine. I didn’t put a diaper on him and he resumed play and every 10 minutes I put him on the potty and thirty minutes later, JD PEED ON THE POTTY and I went crazy!!! I cheered, I hugged him, I danced around. JD was so excited by my REACTION! I gave him his cheap plastic truck next and told him if he peed on the potty again, he’d get another cool surprise (a sticker on his hand). I concluded the session, dressed him in a Pull-Up and left the house to run errands. When we got home, I fixed lunch and he took a nap in his Pull-Up. I did another session when he woke up and I’ve been repeating this program for days. Yesterday I didn’t change one diaper!!! And he peed at school even though he was wearing a Pull-Up. On Monday, he’s starting the new school year in underpants (and I’m sending lots of spare clothing). There is a brand-spanking-new potty in the hatchback of my jeep and a portable seat for when we’re out. It’s on.

Sessions work great for working parents, because there is no pressure to train all day. Train before work and after and soon (like within days) your kid will be telling you, “I go pee!” like JD. And remember, JD wasn’t ready in the winter, but he’s ready now. Don’t push.

I know this may not work for everyone and some of you may think going from undies/naked time sessions, back to a Pull-Up or diaper is confusing, but it works for us. It’s like walking into a freezing pool, not jumping in. I recommend this program and Potty Training Boys The Easy Way by Caroline Fertleman, MD & Simon Cave. . Give it a shot if you’re struggling!

OK, enough about our potty training techniques. What are yours? Please share!

Tune in Tuesday for birthday pics and a recap.

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