Here we go again! As if being locked in a house with three kids (one of which is an infant) during a pandemic while trying to do distance learning with the oldest one wasn’t enough already, I’ve now added potty training the middle child on my ‘to do’ list. It actually started the end of March as I was surveying our decreasing stash of size 5 diapers and made the decision that it was time (and I was ready) to start the process of teaching Eli how to use the potty. To be fair, he’s just over two and a half years old so it’s not like we waited an obscene amount of time or anything to start this and in fact, he really is the same age as Nathan was when we started seriously potty training him. I really had just grown tired of changing two children’s diapers during the day and what else was I going to be doing? It’s not like we can leave the house because of Covid-19 so now seemed like the right time for me, however; it maybe wasn’t the right time for Eli.
He’s always been later than Nathan was with everything. Hell, the kid didn’t even start walking until 17.5 months old! But I did notice that lately he was becoming more and more curious about toilet routines. He would try to follow Nate into the bathroom or if Kurt left the door open, he would walk in and watch him pee and he was definitely noticing if he started to pee while in the shower or bath tub. Typically, these are signs that a child is starting to show an interest in potty training so I figured why not; it couldn’t hurt to give it a go. Within a few hours on the very first day I remember why potty training is literally the worst part of parenting for me. Honestly. I HATED potty training Nathan. In fact, I would easily give a substantial amount of money to have someone potty train my kids for me. It’s stressful, frustrating, and upsetting for literally everyone involved.
I decided to use the same method with Eli that we used with Nathan; one week naked, followed by undies, then fully dressed. Those first few days were absolutely brutal. He would cry, kick, scream, or hit any time I tried to put him on the potty. If he actually sat on the potty without causing a fuss I would give him a Rocket or a Smartie as a reward. I just wanted him to realize that sitting on the potty wasn’t as scary as it maybe seemed to be. After a few days associating sitting on the potty with getting a candy, he would sit for longer periods. I still wasn’t able to get him to sit long enough to actually pee or poop but we were making progress, albeit slow, it was progress nonetheless. I swear Eli has the bladder of a nurse because he could go five or six hours at a time without peeing. I lived in stress for those first two (ish) weeks because once he realized the potty wasn’t scary, he would sit on it with the Leapfrog or a movie on for several hours and still not do anything but the moment I stood up to do something like get Nathan a drink and he followed me, his bladder would let go everywhere. And I mean everywhere!!! I would repeatedly text Kurt a running tally of how many accidents we had in a day and how many times I had tried to get him on the potty before said accident. I was actually thankful for the pee accidents after those first few weeks because the three poop accidents Eli had, were horrendous enough that I fully wanted to quit potty training right then and there. Seriously. They. Were. Awful! But we didn’t give up!
We’ve now been potty training for about a month now and although Eli hasn’t graduated to wearing pants over top of his undies just yet, I’ve definitely seen major improvement. He still naps (and loves to nap at that) so instead of stressing about accidents during the 1-3 hours he’s normally out for, we’ll put a pull-up on him and try to use the potty just before nap time. So far he’s woken up mostly dry minus a few sleep poops but for a kid that would wake up from a nap literally soaked, he’s doing really well. I’m very grateful that Nathan has been home during this time too. Seeing how excited he would get for Eli when he managed to pee or poop in the potty made Eli SO happy. It’s one thing for me to be clapping and jumping up and down telling him what a good boy he is but when his big brother does it too, it makes it even more special.
As stressful as potty training is, I keep trying to remind myself that I made it through this once before and I can do it again. It definitely seems harder this time around and I’m sure there’s multiple reasons why… stubborn child, pandemic, new baby (even though Eli was a newborn when we were potty training Nathan) but we’re getting there. We haven’t dared venture out other than a walk around the block wearing underwear but I’m sure come summer we’ll be at that point. Here’s to hoping at least!