Potty Training with Big Little Feelings

Day 1. Enzo was excited to be sitting on his potty next to the Christmas tree. Frites was confused why E is allowed to go to the bathroom in the living room when he has to go outside.

Months before we were going to start the Potty Training process, I was looking into different methods and courses. One that kept standing out to me was “Potty Training Made Simple” by Big Little Feelings. I knew of a few moms who used the course with success and I’ve followed the Instagram page for quite some time as well (and always love their tips and suggestions on all things toddlers,) so it seemed like a good fit.

The Pre-Potty Training Training

I obviously knew I was purchasing videos to help teach me how to do this somewhat daunting task with ease, but I have to say, I did not expect there to be as much upfront time needing to be invested in that training. Nonetheless, the modules are broken down into smaller categories and even within each module there’s shorter videos, so it isn’t too difficult to get through them in bite size pieces (I want to say the longest video was around 8 minutes… but don’t quote me on that.) You also do not have to actually watch the videos unless you are more of a visual learner, so for the most part I listened while doing house work, on walks, or even in the car. Sometimes, I did find it useful to take notes on handy phrases and things I thought would be useful to share with my husband. Each section also has some helpful downloads to be used as cheat sheets later, but I did find that there were some cheat sheets I expected to find that were not there (mainly about verbiage to use with your little one.)

The Potty Training

So, while I was in it, I actually said to a few people that this was indeed the hardest thing I have ever done as a parent. And, at the time I felt entirely justified in that dramatic response… but you have to understand, Baby E had a really difficult time learning to listen to his body so while he never fought using the potty, he was just as surprised EVERY SINGLE TIME he had an accident as if it was the first time it happened. When I tell you I spent hours cleaning up pee and poop for the first week, I’m not exaggerating.

Let me back up. I followed everything in the course exactly. We did all the pre-potty training stuff where we practiced pulling his pants down, we talked about what happens when you go potty in excruciatingly mind-numbing detail, we got excited about getting rid of diapers, etc. We did it all. Then in Stage 1 your child is naked all day so they can just get used to feeling the need to go and then making it to the potty and actually going. Well, Enzo stayed in Stage 1 for six days. Mind you, I later found out (after emailing Big Little Feelings) that we could have moved from Stage 1 to Stage 2 even if E was having trouble connecting the dots, but in hindsight, I’m actually glad we stayed in Stage 1 as long as we did. The reason being that he truly was having a hard time feeling when he had to go SO I would have done even more laundry and had to change a million more outfits if we moved to Stage 2 any sooner. Stage 2 you add loose clothing (we did that on day seven.) Stage 3 you take short trips out of the house (with access to their potty still) and gradually increase the time (we did that on day eight and stayed in Stage 3 for two days.) In theory, at that point your child is fully potty trained with the understanding that even up until age seven, it is hard for kids to control peeing in their sleep so that doesn’t count as an accident, and different life “things” can create situations where they may revert a bit and have accidents.

While I thought we would be more or less done and potty trained by day 3, it actually took until day 10 for us to achieve that status where he will go days without any type of accident and for the most part, an “accident” will really be him just not sitting straight on his potty and therefore not aiming properly… an issue only a boy parent would be dealing with, or sometimes having to poop a second or third time will come as a surprise and he will think he’s just farting… but alas, no.

The Night of Day 9

In the training, you learn that pull-ups should be used for times when kids are sleeping, but just then with very few exceptions. We did that… until day ten. I’m not saying this is right or wrong, but this is what we did differently and it has worked for our family. 

I was exhausted after over a week of Potty Training and following exactly the steps I learned, but one thing about toddlers is that learning new things can also mean their brains are working overtime so they sleep horribly… E is no exception. He literally was waking up every 45 – 60 minutes through the entire night, and I was as tired as I had been since he was born. So my husband and I had a conversation about what it would look like to stop and/or adjust what we were doing. I was not okay with stopping because I’d already put so much time into it, but I was okay with adjusting our expectations and allowing Enzo to wear his pull-ups whenever we were out as well as at home if he wanted to/we were upstairs which is fully carpeted.

Maybe it was an energy shift in us that he picked up on (we really decided we didn’t need to force it, he would get it in his own time), or maybe it would have naturally clicked on his own that same day, or maybe being open to him wearing pull-ups gave him a sense of security that somehow empowered him? I’m really not sure. But I can say that the next day, he wore no pull-ups in the first half and he had no accidents, listened to his body, etc., and the second half he did wear pull-ups but had no accidents. And we’ve been basically smooth sailing ever since.

E let’s us know when he has to go, it is rare that it is a scramble when he needs to go because he seems to have good control of holding it for a period of time, he rarely pees in his sleep, etc. He is potty trained. BUT, we still have him wear pull-ups at this point. Why? Because we have them and because he’s still new to it all so if he does have an accident, we are covered.

Would I recommend the Potty Training Made Simple course?

Yes. I learned a lot of great things from this relatively inexpensive course. The biggest? Potty Training should really be called Potty Learning… like learning the ABCs, your kid might get through the first 10 letters and then start to stumble but you don’t throw in the towel because they’ve failed one piece, you tell them the next letters and help them continue learning. Potty Training is actually a ton of steps your child has to learn and execute, and if they make some of them but struggle with others, you just keep working on the difficult parts until they get it.

The course also teaches really good phrasing to use with your child and maybe more importantly, phrases (and reactions) not to use that can be confusing to your kid. Not to mention, the explanations of why certain things are helpful and others aren’t is very necessary for someone like me who always wants — needs — to understand the why!

And while I may disagree a bit with when to introduce different stages (although I truly misunderstood what meant you should or shouldn’t move forward when I took the course), the stages were good and necessary for E’s learning.

Should you keep a log?

I did… in a spreadsheet of course. Haha.  I just like spreadsheets BUT you can write it down on a piece of paper or keep a note in your phone. It helped show me patterns for E’s frequency in needing to pee or poo; and how many accidents, kind-of-accidents, or successful potty sessions he was having. I also noted if he went prompted or unprompted because knowing if they’re able to go just because you ask them to vs when they feel it is important.

I’d also like to note that I kept my log going for two more days past when he seemed to be Potty Trained just to ensure we really had achieved that “trained” status.

Throughout this blog post you’ll find snippets of my log from each stage of Potty Training… starting with the earliest stage at the beginning of the post, all the way until his first fully successful day. 

Was Potty Training really that bad?

At the end of a long day in Stage 1. Enzo and I were both getting tired from lack of sleep and frustrating accidents.

Looking back, the short answer is no. It was a rough nearly two weeks, with very little sleep and an ungodly amount of repetition, but now that we are past it, it wasn’t that bad.

It will be significantly easier if you remove any expectations of what the process will look like for your family… as hard as it is to go with the flow when pee and sh*t is literally flowing… maybe even on your carpet, try and do just that. I would also make sure that you aren’t dealing with other big life things at the time (like moves, new daycare, etc.) if possible, that could make the process more difficult for you or your child; I assure you Potty Training can already be hard enough… even with the brightest of children. You have to dedicate uninterrupted time to Potty Training… at least 3 days but more if you can swing it. And lastly, realize that being over a certain age doesn’t necessarily mean that your child is fully ready to Potty Train… on the night of the 9th day, I found an article that — despite every other article I read — indicated that perhaps Enzo was on the cusp of being ready but just not quite there yet. Ultimately, he obviously was ready enough because he is potty trained, but I can only assume that the more your child is showing readiness signals on their own, the easier it will be. And in true Potty Training fashion, let me repeat — same idea but said another way — once that lightbulb goes off and they “get it,” it really does seem that easy, but there’s no way to know if that’ll happen in three days or 10.

Alright, that’s all the potty wisdom I’ve got. Good luck, parents! You got this!

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