When you first start potty training her, she willingly uses the potty. She’ll be excited about washing her hands. She’ll race to the kitchen to collect her M&M’s. You’ll think potty training is going to be a breeze.
But eventually, the potty will lose its appeal. She’ll scream, “I don’t want to use the potty! I don’t want to wash my hands!” And even, “I don’t want M&M’s!”
Whatever you do to keep the excitement going, don’t wait until your second kid begins potty training before you finish training your first. Like I did.
Six months after I began potty training my oldest, I kept telling myself that she was making good progress, that she only has occasional accidents, and that her pull-ups are dry most of the time. I told myself that if I fed her less grapes, she might make it to the potty in time to poop. But all of this was wishful thinking.
My husband had another idea. He bought a collection of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Little People” to put on the bathroom sink as an incentive for our oldest to poop in the potty. At first, I was skeptical. I thought her expectations for prizes would get so high that we wouldn’t be able to keep up. But then again, if she didn’t actually poop on the potty, she wouldn’t get anything.
Every time she went into the bathroom, she pleaded, “I want Sleepy.” And then said it again, and again, and again because that’s what two-year-olds do until you give them what they want. I reminded her that all she had to do is poop in the potty and Sleepy would be hers. When she turned three a few months later, all the Little People were still in the box. Clearly, this experiment was not working.
We had an ongoing potty routine that was chaotic, to say the least. When my three-year-old said, “I need to go potty,” and ran toward the bathroom door, her sister would frantically race after her, practically foaming at the mouth. Clearly, the bathroom was the most exciting place to be. But three’s a crowd, so I would open the door for my older daughter and myself, and tell my other daughter to wait a few minutes outside, as I closed the door in her face. My younger daughter would pound on the door as though her life depended on getting inside, expressing her right to use the potty immediately with a high-pitched scream.
I know that seems harsh, but an outnumbered mother with two toddlers in the bathroom is an experience I knew all too well. Turning my back to my two-year-old for a few minutes to help my three-year-old get on the big toilet (the miniature potty was no longer cool) meant I would find mounds of toilet paper on the floor and hand lotion squirted all over the bathroom as soon as I turned around.
Peeing in the potty was still fairly new for my younger daughter, who was very happy to have her very own frog potty. Why did I need another miniature potty if her sister had already graduated to the big toilet? Because we’re talking about toddlers here. They don’t share even when they outgrow something. They can’t even use the same sippy cups.
One day, my girls and I were in the bathroom together. I’d given up on their taking turns. I was reviewing the rules with my eldest for being awarded one of the Little People. After explaining to her for the umpteenth time that the only way she could have Sleepy was if she pooped in the potty, her sister jumped on her frog potty fully clothed.
After I helped my younger daughter undress, she was back on the frog potty, clenching the side handles on it until her fists started to shake. She strained and strained until her face was bright red. Then, she relaxed her grip and let out a sigh, and screamed, “Done!” She looked at me and grinned.
I lifted her off the potty and saw a pea-sized turd. I asked her if she had to go more, and she shook her head no. I insisted that she try, but she insisted that she was all done, pointing to the Little People on the sink. Well, at least she could poop on command, even if my oldest wasn’t ready for that. I imagined her wearing a t-shirt that reads, “Will poop for Little People.”
Surprisingly, my three-year-old did not have a tantrum when her sister paraded around the house with Snow White in tow. For her sake, I was happy that Snow White – and not Sleepy – was the first to go. Watching the movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” repeatedly helped keep the excitement going. I could tolerate hearing them sing “Heigh-Ho” and “Whistle While You Work” non-stop, if all the enthusiasm meant more pooping on the potty.
A few months later, Snow White and all of the dwarfs had been claimed. We’ve also added pretty much anything from Little People superheroes to Little People farmers to our toy box. But my girls no longer need diapers and those little plastic toys were worth every penny.
As for my third child, the fun has just begun. We will probably own the whole collection of Little People, and every other toy ever invented, by the time he’s fully potty-trained.