Potty Training is for the Birds

I am definitely from the school of thought of “whatever works for you.” No pressure to be or keep up with baby genius celebrities bragged about on BabyCenter or in the blog o’spehere. So, when it came to potty training, I thought I would just let it all happen naturally. I thought it would be easy if I put no pressure on Norah or myself.

I was wrong.

At 18 months old, Norah was talking up a storm. She knew all her anatomical parts, could identify “pee” and “poop” and even took her dirty diaper off by herself at the gym when they didn’t notice she was dirty. I bought her a potty, explained what it was for and just asked her if she wanted to use it. She thought it was a great toy… and left it at that. She loved pretending to go potty, making her babies go potty, and pretending to flush the toilet….but would never actually go on it. At this point, I was 8 months pregnant with Jonah and my motivation of any kind was at an all time low. I decided we wouldn’t push the situation, I was totally fine changing 4 diapers a day and not cleaning up a single accident. Bliss.


After Norah turned 2, people started dropping random comments about how my very vocal 2 year old wasn’t potty trained. I’m very sure there wasn’t any ill intended, but either way I got to thinking that maybe it was time to actually “work” at potty training. We started with the basics: sitting on the potty, playing on the potty, reading on the potty… anything to keep her on the potty long enough to tinkle. NOTHING WORKED! I even nursed Jonah while sitting on the bathroom floor several times, just to keep Norah on the potty. Forty-five minutes later, we were both frustrated and claustrophobic. I would put her diaper back on and voila’ she would pee. Wonderful :(.

I gave up on potty training for the 2nd time.

At 2yrs and 3months, Norah ran up to me and said, “I have to go potty!” I got excited and helped her get to the potty, then she turned and looked at me and said, “You have to leave!” I stood outside the bathroom door and did my own happy dance as I heard her pee on the potty for the first time. I thought we were golden and it would be down hill from there. Wrong again.

She did this same pee on the potty thing 5 or 6 times that week, but even with prompting and more long sits in the bathroom she would never go #2 on the potty or consistently pee without it being her idea. I tried putting her in just underwear and even letting her go naked outside. We had countless accidents and lots of clean-up. SO frustrating! Every time we would talk about it and we would practice running to the potty. She vocalized total understanding. She knew we would do “the potty dance” and get candy, or suckers, or chocolate. She acted like that was exciting when we talked about it, but it never produced the right actions.

A month later, I had given up for the third time. Back to diapers.

In November, Norah turned 2 1/2 and Josh was home many more hours of the day so we decided it was time to “buckle-down” and get rid of diapers. Potty-training was going to actually take some major work. We put Norah on the potty every 15-30 minutes, had a “potty” alarm on our phones, and started a sticker chart. She was interested… and she finally went #2 on the potty. Triumph #1.

For 3-4 days, she LOVED getting stickers and standing proudly by her chart. By day 5, she cried when the phone alarm went off and she had to take a break from playing to go sit on the potty. We decided to extend her interval time to 1hr. The accidents started again. We had accidents in Target, in the car… even on the way to the potty. I felt like Norah was determined to never be potty trained. Never had I heard of anyone enduring this much to potty train.IMG_8555When December rolled around, I ordered the book Potty Training in Less than a Day. I was missing something major if other people were potty training in 1 day. Unfortunately, after reading parts of the book with Josh, we decided that we had messed up too many things to follow the book’s plan to a t. The main concept of the book was teaching your toddler to do everything, start to finish, by themselves. So I bought a very basic potty, that Norah could dump by herself and let her run around in a t-shirt and panties. She LOVED being in charge of everything and being praised for being so independent. We REALLY emphasized the importance of being clean and dry.

Around that time, my wise friend Vivi πŸ™‚ suggested that maybe Norah’s nonchalant attitude about potty training was a way for her to hold on to being a baby. Maybe if we started pointing out all the things that Norah could do because she was potty trained she would be more ambitious?? Having any remorse for potty-ing in her pants would have been welcomed. So, with this in mind, we started talking about all the awesome snacks big girls got to eat, how she could go to soccer practice, and I even promised to take her to gymnastics “like Dora” if she learned to go potty every time on the potty.

At some point, the culmination of these tricks WORKED! Norah’s attitude about potty-ing changed and she started telling us she had to go potty! She would even get up and run to the potty all on her own.

As of today, we are officially 1 MONTH CLEAN and DRY! WooHoo!


I wish that this crazy process left me with a long list of tips and advice for other moms; however, I think the only thing I can suggest is Potty Training in Less than a Day. When Jonah is ready to potty train we are going to follow the book and nail the process quickly.

Good luck with all your potty-training endeavors, but when the accidents keep coming… know that you are not alone! πŸ™‚

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