Early last month I ran out of excuses and finally decided to try again - potty training Audrey, that is. We had started talking to her a bit about it, and when we asked if she wanted to be a 'Big girl', wear panties, and pee in the potty, she occasionally responded positively, which was an improvement over her responses last fall when we had begun our first disastrous attempt with her.
We had been spoiled by Clara, back in 2012, who had potty trained quickly and easily. I had read about the 3-day method which made a lot of sense to me, and I prepared myself fully for three days of constant vigilance. The method suggests being at your child's side for 3 days straight - no babysitters or even swapping parents - giving them snacks and drinks frequently to encourage peeing as often as possible - and repeating the same phrase 'Tell Mommy when you need to pee' over and over and over... In the end, I had to swap babysitters because I was teaching piano and couldn't find a 3-day stretch where I could abandon everything else. I was also babysitting another toddler each morning, and so my time was a bit divided between the two girls. It worked beautifully anyway, though, and I had it in my head that the method demanded a level of vigilance that maybe wasn't completely necessary.
Then came Audrey.
I was convinced that because Clara's experience was so easy, that it was a sign of the effectiveness of the method, and that Audrey was certain to catch on just as quickly. Don't get me wrong - I do still think the 3-day method is a good one, for parents who resonate with it and for kids who are willing. Some friends of ours began their process with their daughter and it started off similarly to Audrey's first attempt - but they stuck with it - for weeks. This little girl had accident after accident and wasn't reliable for probably months but they didn't let go once they had begun. They were diaper free long before we were, but it required a lot of stubbornness on their part. I'm sure we could have done the same, but I got through 4 days with no improvement and decided that life had to go on - and Audrey wasn't even two yet, so it wasn't something we needed to do right then. It was at that point that I got rid of all of our cloth diapers - mentally I was so done with diapers - and I set potty training on the shelf until nearly a year later.
We arrived at the beginning of June, and I was no longer teaching piano or babysitting. We were also running out of time, if she was going to meet the potty training requirements for Awana in September. Three months is plenty of time, but I couldn't wait too long. And although I was hopeful that things would be easier this time - I knew that if she was reluctant again, this time we had to just pull through until it was done.
So we started with Day 1 saying 'Goodbye to diapers!' and spending the day outside so the accidents weren't all over my house. I was relaxed again - not spending every moment by her side - in case this was going to take weeks, I needed to preserve my sanity. The first day was hopeful - she hit the potty once or twice on purpose, which was leagues above where she was last time on Day 4.
By Day 2, she seemed nearly potty trained completely.
We then had a few days of one or two accidents a day, but by Day 4 or 5 she was keeping her panties dry for most of the day.
I was stunned. Shocked, even. And extremely grateful. She got it!
And she cared this time, which was so different from last September.
Almost one month later, we have had a few setbacks. She spent about a week with every poop coming out in her panties, and after her first two weeks of waking to a dry bed most of the time, she started wetting the bed routinely and we have now been putting her in diapers for night. She still won't pee in the diaper once she's gotten out of bed, and makes a beeline for the potty, but so far she hasn't woken to a dry diaper. I'll give this some time - her mattress, and my laundry routine, couldn't handle much more!
I've been following a blog called Growing a Jeweled Rose for inspiration on activities to do with my girls. She has two daughters as well, and they are each a few months older than my girls, so I feel like her activities have all been 'tried and tested' for little girls like mine, and I can see a few months ahead into what kinds of activities will be appropriate for my girls' ages. Here is her post on the Squirty Sidewalk Chalk that we attempted a few weeks ago.
I used only 3 colours because I had 6 bottles and wanted each colour in baking soda paint AND vinegar paint, for mixing. Also, my girls haven't done a lot of primary colour learning, so this seemed like a good opportunity to do that.
Ingredients: Baking Soda, Corn Starch, Paint/Food Colouring/Liquid Watercolours, Vinegar, Water.
You also need some squirt bottles and a sidewalk or driveway on which to squirt the paint!
The first three bottles I filled about 1/3 with corn starch, and 1/3 with baking soda, then added a splooch of paint and filled the rest with water. Then I put my finger on the tip of the squirt lid and shook them until everything was mixed together. Once the dry ingredients had started to dissolve in the water, I was able to add quite a bit more water to fill the bottles. This was the squirty chalk paint, and I made one each of red, blue and yellow. I labelled the bottles with a big 'R', 'B' and 'Y' also, since I couldn't see the colours through the bottles.
Next, I divided the vinegar I had into the remaining three bottles and added another splooch of each colour paint and shook those until they were mixed and started foaming out the top of the bottles.
Made a mess of my deck.
I gave the girls the three chalk bottles and let them make designs all over our driveway. The concrete is in really bad shape, but it did what we needed it to. They were less interested in drawing pictures (or, squirting pictures, as I suppose they would be doing) and more interested in watching the liquid run down the slope of the driveway. They had fun squirting the colours together and watching them blend into one big puddle.
When they had emptied the chalk bottles, we walked around a bit and talked about the different colours. I noticed that the thinnest layers of paint had dried very quickly, and they looked just like chalk!
Then I let them loose with the vinegar. The vinegar reacted with the chalk paint - even the spots that had already dried - and fizzed up into a new colour (unless they squirted blue on blue, etc. which they did often because they seemed to be kind of missing the point). They again were less interested in the point of the experiment - colour mixing - or the fact that it fizzed - than creating more giant 'oceans' of puddle together. I let it be and decided that the entertainment was worth it anyway, and we could try it again later in the year - or next year - and it would certainly still be fun!
The paint in the vinegar didn't quite mix perfectly, although it worked well enough. I think liquid food colouring, or liquid watercolour would have worked a lot better. Next time.
This was where the blue and yellow paint had overflowed on my deck. The girls had fun making paint footprints. It's an old deck that is scheduled for demolition as soon as possible, so I definitely didn't care about the mess. As it happens, a few weeks later the deck is completely clean - everything washed away perfectly, in case you were worried!
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