I’d originally planned on potty training Annie after we got back from Thanksgiving with Mike’s family. But even though Annie was ready (and has been for a while), I just wasn’t. I knew it had the potential to be kind of gross, and I didn’t want to tax my already-stretched gag reflex. But with the holidays over and Annie asking every day if she could wear underwear, I knew I couldn’t put it off anymore. I looked at our calendar for a three-day period when Mike and I were both available, and it was this past weekend.

We did the three-day method that a few of my friends swear by. I liked it because it emphasizes the child’s importance in the whole potty-training thing. She “threw away” her diapers (into an empty trash bag, so we could then donate them), and then picked out and put on her own pair of underwear. Mike and I would say to her, “let us know when you need to use the potty, okay?” We had to say it a lot – probably one hundred times the first day. But that emphasized that she had to let us know when she needed to use the toilet. There wasn’t any sitting on the toilet every fifteen minutes, or walking around naked, or putting the princess potty in front of the TV (in fact, we didn’t use the princess potty at all! Just the regular ol’ toilet.). I wanted it to be as close to normal circumstances as possible, because that’s what she will have to live with.

Annie did great. She had an accident right away, but that was to be expected and was actually welcomed, because then she understood what she was feeling and all of that. Mike and I were on her like hawks for the rest of the first day, looking for non-verbal cues that she needed to use the bathroom, but she always verbally told us when she needed to go. On the second day we stepped back the “tell us when you have to go” bit because we realized she was sometimes responding to our prompt with “I have to go,” and we wanted to make sure she was realizing it on her own – but we still were all over her. She never left our sight all day. By yesterday, we eased up on just about everything. I could tell Annie was getting irritated with us always being all up in her grill. She likes playing with us, but she likes her solo play, too. We were still staring at her, but from a distance.

This method also does overnight training at the same time, which I was super-down for. I just wanted to do everything at once. My friend Nanette suggested putting a layer of puppy training pads on Annie’s mattress, then a fitted sheet, then another layer of training pads covered by another sheet. That way if Annie had an accident overnight, I could just strip the bed and pads and there’d be a fresh sheet right below. Freaking genius! Luckily, Annie only had one accident and it was right in the morning when she was waking up. I think it might have had something to do with the fact that she slept fourteen hours that night. Apparently potty training is tiring.

My kid is kind of crazy for stickers, so I knew a sticker chart would be a good motivator:

Proud of her potty chart

dis is belle.

When she fills the whole thing up, she gets the princess doll of her choice. Which will be an Ariel doll, because I already bought her one for her birthday. So, I will be strongly influencing that choice.

Potty training…it’s intense. Like I said, I was expecting a certain level of icky-ness (which it luckily wasn’t), but I was not prepared at all for how tiring it would be for me and Mike. It reminded me of when Annie was freshly crawling and getting into things. After three full days, I wouldn’t venture to say that she’s fully potty trained, but we’re venturing out of the house this week, back to our regular routines, and I feel good about it. It clicked with her. So fingers crossed!