I was lucky enough to begin my role as “potty trainer” with two girls. The ease of potty training them definitely skewed my view on what potty training means from a universal sense. It was quick, easy, and clean. They pretty much figured it out on their own, and decided when they were ready to be done with diapers forever. Then fast forward 18 months later when it was time to start the journey with my first boy. Holy Hell! What a frustrating, stinky, pee-ridden mess! And to think, I will have to go through this again with another boy in the next year. Luckily, I’ve learned a few tricks to make things a little easier….and less gross.
Both of my girls started showing interest in the potty just before they were two years old. When they first started mentioning the potty, I would ask them if they’d want to try and sit on the potty. I’d picked them up, put them on, and let them try. Whether they went or not was fine, it was about the experience. This eventually led to me creating a night time ritual of:
- sit on the potty
- wash hands
- brush teeth
- put pajamas on
This eventually led to them asking to go potty, having dry diapers, moving into pullups, and finally big girl underwear. I’d put them in a pullup at night time, but when they were waking up dry every morning, I realized that the pullup was more for my protection/fear of having to the change sheets in the middle of the night than for their actual need for one. The girls decided they did not want to wear diapers anymore, and by the time they were three years old, they were were 100% potty trained. It was easy, it was clean, and it just kind of happened.
Then, my first boy was ready to start the potty training journey. I was ready and excited to do this again! When Jacek was about 21 months old, Santa put SuperMan underwear in his stocking to help get him excited about being a big boy one day and not needing diapers. He got excited about the underwear, but it didn’t really go anywhere from there for a few months. Eventually, he would watch me or his dad use the facilities and he got more and more interested. I began to sit him on the potty when he asked, and we started the same routine as the girls when it was time for bed. That’s when I realized that potty training boys was NOT THE SAME as potty training girls.
Enter the most used phrase in our house for about six months…”PUSH YOUR PENIS DOWN!”. When girls learn to pee on the potty, it is very contained. It comes out and goes straight in. Little boys (and I’m sure many of you will say, big boys) tend to pee EVERYWHERE. Jacek would sit on the potty, and before I could remind him to push his penis down, there was pee shooting out on the floor, down his legs, on the wall, etc. I felt like I was constantly cleaning pee off the walls and floors. I could smell pee everywhere I went, and would wake up in the middle of the night in fits of terror yelling “PUSH YOUR PENIS DOWN!” Then, he decided he wanted to only pee standing up…..but did not always pay attention to where he was aiming (shocker!).
And can we talk about boys’ obsession with poop? I swear every time Jacek would actually poop on the toilet, he would make me come look at it. He’d then want to have a full discussion about what it looked like….a snake? a monster? a big daddy poop? And some how, he would get poop smeared all aver his little butt cheeks and man parts, so wiping him after he pooped was 10x grosser than when the girls learned to poop on the potty. WTF?!
I was starting to get sick and tired of constantly cleaning up pee and poop. Because I’ve been trying to transition to a nontoxic home and use chemical free products, I tried all the DIY cleaners, vinegar water, etc, but some of it was a hassle to make and none of it did the best job of actually cleaning to my satisfaction. And, I have four kids….I didn’t really have the time to be creating all these concoctions that did not work. And, I was set on chemical free cleaners. Did you know that cleaning products found in every home can cause…
- Work-at-home moms are 54% more likely to die from cancer than women who work elsewhere. (1)
- An estimated 5% of childhood cancer in the US is caused by chemical exposures. (2)
- Everyday chemicals have increased the incidence of leukemia, brain cancer, and childhood cancer in the US by more than 20% since 1975. (3)
- Breathing problems.
- Women who use traditional cleaning products have a nearly 15% loss of lung function. (4)
- Irritants in the environment including household cleaners can bring on asthma symptoms.(5)
Then I found something that changed my cleaning life…e-cloth. e-cloth is a company that creates products for chemical free cleaning that actually work. e-cloth removes dirt, grease and grime and are proven to remove over 99% of bacteria using just water. I began to use the general purpose cloth on the walls and toilet, and I keep the mini deep clean mop right in the bathroom to quickly clean up the floor. They are amazing because they work just by getting them wet, they are reusable, and you can throw the cloth and mop head in the washer and dryer. e-cloth’s average just $7.99 and last 300 washes (nearly 6 years!). I’ve got my eye on a bunch of their other products (you can get them at ACE Hardware, visit the Store Locator at www.ecloth.com
to find your local participating store) particularly the appliance cleaning set and the hooded towels for our next baby!
Once I figured out easy cleanup, and as Jacek got more comfortable with the potty and more interested in going, I thought the rest would be just as easy as with the girls. NOPE. Jacek was not interested in doing this whole potty thing consistently. Some days he’d want to cooperate and some days he refused to. We tried the M&M plan, “buddy, if you go pee pee on the potty, you will get 2 M&M’s and if you go poopy on the potty, you will get 4 M&Ms.” That backfired when he looked at me and said, “I don’t want M&M’s” and continued to poop in his pants. Ok….now what? Then we tried the sticker chart! He’d get a sticker every time he had a dry pullup and a certain amount of stickers at the end of the week would equal a certain prize/treat. That did not work very well either, and as it turns out, you kind of have to be consistent with that as a parent for it to actually be effective.
Potty training happened so easily and naturally with the girls, so we had expected that it would be the same with our boys. We figured when he was fully ready, it would just happen. That was where we fell short. One day when Jacek was about two months shy of his third birthday, his daycare teacher pulled us aside and said “Potty training. Jacek is ready. Let’s do it.” And we were like, “Yeah, we’re working on it at home and he does a good job 75% of the time.” Her response was like a swift kick in the ass mixed with angels singing at the same time…”Take the weekend, only put him in underwear and sweatpants. Ask him to go potty every hour, then bring him in on Monday and we’ll do the same thing.” So we did, and he was 100% potty trained by Monday.
We realized that boys and girls are different, and really, every kid is different. The girls got potty training on their own, and Jacek needed a little more structure and a plan. We also had to be 100% committed to potty training as parents. We got lazy and expected things to just happen, but having a plan and sticking to it is what got him trained before he was 3…just like his sisters. It was a messier ride, but we did it!
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1 Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons study
4 American Lung Association