Working Mommyhood: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I think I can almost see the light at the end of the potty training tunnel. It’s a journey that started around the holidays last December. I had read potty train your child in four days instructions and tips on several websites and I was determined that my child would be done by New Year’s Day (silly me).

I took off several days after Christmas so we’d have a good four to five days to work on it. She had already been using the restroom several times during the day at daycare so she was comfortable with toilets and potty training seats. The day after Christmas, I put a pair of “Big Girl Panties” on her and told her we had to keep them dry. I took her to the restroom every one to two hours and we made it through that first day without any accidents.

Day two, I alternated between telling her to go and asking her if she had to go to see if she could sense when it was time. She had one accident. Day three, I transitioned to just asking her if she had to go. She had multiple accidents. By day four, I was pulling my hair out. She wouldn’t tell me when she had to go and I was getting tired of cleaning up accidents so back into the disposable training pants she went.

It took four days of frustration to realize she just wasn’t ready. My new approach was to offer praise and rewards when she kept her training pants dry. By February, she was consistently keeping her training pants dry as long as she went to the bathroom every two hours. I was anxious to transition her to preschool, which we did a few weeks before her third birthday at the end of March. By this time, she was able to change her training pants on her own and usually only went in them during nap time.

She already had tons of panties but a few weeks later, I offered her the ability to go to the store and pick out new panties if she kept her training pants dry for an entire week. By the end of April, we were able to make our trip to the store where she decided she wanted Disney’s Tangled panties.

Once she started wearing panties when she was awake, the next challenge was nap time and overnight. At the end of August, she started going the entire day in panties and only using training pants overnight. The first week she didn’t have any accidents. I was so proud of her. I took her out for an ice cream date at the end of the week. The next two weeks, she had two accidents a week. The first week, I determined the accidents were due to transitioning to a new class in preschool with older children who didn’t use the bathroom as much. The second week, who knows – kids will have accidents. I was hopeful the next week would go better.

After weeks of keeping her training pants dry overnight, we started allowing her to sleep in her panties overnight. It’s only been three days but so far she hasn’t had an accident. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I’m crossing my fingers that this is it. Aside from an accident here or there (I anticipate this will be a possibility for a few years), I really don’t want to buy any more training pants. We’ll see if this happens.

When I talk to other moms, they share similar stories. One mom told me she started potty training her son when he was 14 months old. He didn’t get it until just before he turned three. Another mom shared she spent a few days at home with a bare bottom child and she was done by the weekend. Another mom said she wakes her daughter up twice a night to keep her bed dry.

Potty training is definitely challenging and not for the faint at heart. Some parents have an easier time than others but I’ve learned not to compare or get down on myself. Each child matures at his or her own pace. Some kids get it in days while others take months. Plus, when you think you’re done, they may decide for a few days they don’t feel like doing it. Stay encouraged. Your day will come.


Serena SmithSerena Smith is a senior marketing communications specialist at ProMedica. She is responsible for facilitating media coverage of ProMedica and writes health articles for ProMedica HealthConnect. Her passion is health and wellness. She’s an avid runner and enjoys competing in half marathons. She loves to read, watch television and spend time with her husband and daughter.

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