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Potty Training

Kids are gross.

There really is no other way to put it. Little children have no concerns about picking their noses and putting it anywhere. They will put anything in their mouths from cat food to whatever that thing is they found on the floor. And, somehow they manage to get dinner in their hair, ears, and just about anywhere but their mouths. But, there is nothing more disgusting than having to change diapers.

Sure, babies are adorable and when they are that tiny wiping their butts is not so bad. Then they get a little older, start eating more solid foods, and things get a little more messy. I am sure we have all had one of those moments where the diaper just cannot hold on to everything the kid can let out, and it inevitably explodes up their back and gets everywhere. … Yeah, kids are gross. They just keep getting bigger and so does the poop.

Besides all the messy business there are a lot of practical reasons why changing diapers gets old fast. We all know the financial burden that diapers can cause. What I always disliked the most was the extra 15-pound bag that you have to carry with you everywhere you go. And, when baby says its time to change the diaper, it is time. There is no messing around, it’s an emergency every single time. No matter what situation you are in it becomes a mad dash to find an appropriate bathroom.

There comes a time in every kid's life when enough is enough. It’s potty training time!

As disgusting as I made those cute little kids sound earlier, things are about to get much worse. So much worse.

Children are ready to be potty trained between 18 months and 3-years-old, with most prepared when they are about two-and-a-half. You know what’s crappy (pun intended) about that? Kids are at their craziest at 18 months to 3-years-old! They are called the ‘terrible twos’ for a reason. Getting a two-year-old to do anything can be nearly impossible, and giving them their first real responsibility at the same time seems like a punishment from mother nature.

I have had a lot of experience with potty training. From being a babysitter to being an uncle, in fact, one of my nephews is just reaching the tail end of potty training season. But, the worst by far was training my own son. When he was two-and-a-half, we were forced to leave his mother, for reasons that can wait for a different article. The point is, I was fresh into being a full-time single father and with all the hurdles that came along with that, it was also time to potty train. I did give him a few months to settle into our new life, which I would recommend waiting if there are any outside stresses that would make this extra difficult for a child. Eventually, though, you gotta put an end to the diaper train.

Thankfully my son was pretty great. But, you have to expect a few accidents. I remember the frustration of carrying a child-size potty in a backpack to the mall only to have him pee his pants anyways. Or, making sure to pack up extra pants and underwear for daycare just for him to go through it all and being handed a bag of dirty clothes at the end of the day. The worst I had to experience by far was when I thought things were good. He was at the point where he would go in the bathroom himself and could manage on his own for the most part. Well, one day he couldn’t manage. He had a problem with the toilet paper and ended up with… stuff… all over his hands. By the time I walked into the bathroom to check on him, it was much too late. Imagine my face when I had to clean every surface of the restroom that evening.

Well, with the horror stories and the poopy talk aside, we can start looking at ways to make this time easier for you, the kid, and everyone else involved. I will preface this by saying this won’t be a step-by-step, scientific guide. There are plenty of those. And, as most parents know, our kids never fit into the guides. We will all have different challenges with potty training, and every child’s experience is going to be different. These tips are more to make sure dad is ready for what’s about to come.

First off, preparation is key. Of course, you will need a potty, preferably one that doesn’t scare the wee-baby. It will also be beneficial for you to have some sort of portable potty option as well. I liked the ones that fit over a regular toilet seat but added padding and made sure they didn’t fall in and get flushed away. The most exciting for the kids is the big kid underwear. Buy more than you think you’ll need, trust me, sometimes it is easier to just throw out the messy ones. Finally, you will want to get some books, music, or videos all about potty training. There are so many resources that children learn from these days, and they can all be helpful tools while trying to teach something as crucial as wiping your butt.

Next, you will need to get everybody on board. Sitting down with your toddler to explain what is happening is one thing. It is more important that all the adults and any older siblings are on the same page too. Whether your kid goes to daycare, spends time at grammas house, or whoever may be watching them, everyone should know when it is potty training time and what the plan is. If your kid wants to read “Everybody Poops” every time they try to use the potty, then you better make sure every caregiver knows how important that book is right now.

Now, get your patience ready. Now that I am through the potty training game I think it is funny to look back and think of how much of that time I sat in the bathroom wondering if my son would ever go. It takes a lot of calm patience to get that first poo to hit the toilet, so maybe pack yourself a book in the bathroom. Perhaps even some snacks. The patience continues further as you will be annoying yourself with the number of times you will be saying “do you have to go to the potty?” It may get old fast, but it is better to ask every minute because the one minute you don’t, it’s too late.

Don’t forget to take the critical lesson out of my previous horror story. When you think that you are in the clear, you’re not. Accidents will continue to happen well after you think things are okay. And, just because you taught them how to wipe a hundred times doesn’t mean they will do it right every time if they even do it at all. My daughter is six-years-old and will still not wipe her butt out of pure laziness. So, remember that the battle for the potty goes on long after the war.

With anything this heavy, where every parent is trying to find the best practices and the perfect solutions, I generally like to remind everyone of the most important rule of parenting: don’t forget to make it fun. Even if your child struggles through the process, just know that they will have to be potty trained eventually. It’s not like you’re going to have a thirteen-year-old still in diapers. All the dominoes will fall in line at some point, relax and allow for the process to go at its own pace. If they are having fun things will go a lot smoother for everyone involved.

Potty training is the first big moment in your child’s life. Up until now, it has been all about food and fun. Now you are asking this little baby to take on its first responsibilities in life – even if that responsibility is something we have to do multiple times per day. With that said, it is also a major test for the parents. The first test which is out of your hands. Instead of providing, you are now into the role of guiding. Good luck with guiding that pee down the drain.

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