Chances are, you’re reading this because you feel like a complete failure as a parent. A loser, a deadbeat, a complete waste of space. Or, you’re here because you Googled “pictures of old man’s balls” or “fat men in Speedos” and are now furiously trying to hit the ‘back’ button. I see you out there. Stop being creepy.
Anyhoo, I don’t mean to brag but after successfully potty training two little kids I consider myself the unparallelled expert of the world. When I tell people my middle daughter is now potty trained (a year before my eldest was) the first thing people say is, “Oh! It’s always easier with the second one because they learn by watching the older one!”
And I call bullshit. If left to their own devices I promise you kids would still be wearing diapers to job interviews. And I can’t say I blame them. But my daughter is now potty trained because of my mad, piping hot, bad ass Mom skills. Because of the thirteen months I spent trying to learn how to potty train her sister when I read every single book, every single internet article, and asked every person I saw in the grocery store with kids for potty training advice. All of that combined with my own superior intellect, obviously.
Which I will share with you now.
1. Before you even think about beginning… if you take mood altering medications (and who doesn’t these days), make sure you have enough on hand to take about five times your normal amount for a few weeks. If you drink, stock way up on your alcohol of choice.
2. If you don’t drink, start.
3. Look for signs that they are ready. Do they understand the value of a dollar? Know what the word ‘bribe’ means? And, if things start going south and you have to use negative reinforcement, do they understand what it’s really like to live in an orphanage?
4. Come to peace with the knowledge that everything in your house will be covered in what was previously safely contained in a diaper. Your stuff’s gonna get gross. REAL GROSS. And sometimes it’s going to touch your fingers or your arm. Once I walked downstairs to find my 3-year-old stranded on the kitchen counter, unable to move, crouched in a pool of her own urine. Did I mention it was ON MY KITCHEN COUNTER? You know, the place where I prepare food, ON MY KITCHEN COUNTER?
5. Incentives like M&Ms are really helpful in getting your toddler to sit on the toilet. So are handcuffs.
6. Don’t get discouraged if, after sitting on the toilet long enough to have a permanent rainbow indentation across her butt cheeks, your child immediately pees and/or poops on the floor outside the bathroom. Don’t worry – she has actually been possessed by a demon. It’s totally normal. Remember as you strap her to her potty chair and throw holy water on her that it’s not your child – it’s the dark lord. Cast it out, and cast it out good.
7. Abandon all dignity and put a toilet in your mini van. Actually, I wish I would have thought of this years ago. Gas station bathrooms are nasty. Rest stops are filled with kidnappers. Go on your own terms, in your own mini van. Then toss it out the window and let it be someone else’s problem.
8. I read several articles where people suggested putting Cheerios in the toilet and making a game out of trying to hit them with urine. But after a few attempts on my own I realized this only works for boys. Or girls who have a tough road ahead of them in the junior high locker room.
9. Screaming, “For the love of god! What is your problem? Just pee in the toilet. Please. I’m begging you. From the bottom of my soul. Just once. It’s been seven days and I die a little on the inside every time I scrub urine out of the carpet. Please. Please.” does not help.
10. If all else fails, send her to school and let her teachers deal with it. That’s why they get paid the big bucks.
Good luck to you and just remember – if you screw this up, they’ll probably be scarred for life.