So here is our Potty Tale.
I have alluded on this blog a few times to my attempts to potty train Valerie, but not in very much detail. This was partly to protect her privacy and partly because it was such a Big Huge Deal in my mind, that I didn't quite know how to write about it without getting my proverbial knickers all in a twist myself. Now that we're at the point where she is, for all intents and purposes, DONE with diapers (can I hear a Halleluja, Amen?!?) I thought I'd reflect back on the process. Some things can really only be seen in hindsight, am I right?
The actual potty learning time (which, I realize, is still ongoing although the bulk of the work is done) still feels to me like a miraculous journey. After my first two attempts, which involved much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth (mostly on Valerie's part), I realized I was completely unable to envision success. Like, I couldn't even picture V calmly and successfully using the potty. Even despite many, many occasions of practice (see photo above) during which she would walk through and narrate the entire process - but ONLY if she could keep her pants and diaper on.
But then she started asking to see Elmo's Potty Time DVD again, and was very intent on a little girl in the video who takes off her own diaper and sits on her own little potty in the middle of a party with lots of balloons. So I decided we should have a potty party. I made a count-down calendar, and we talked about it every day - how we would have balloons and ice cream and pizza - and then I got sick. Throwing up all night, flat out in bed sick. And then Valerie got sick. So I had to abandon the count-down - but a couple days later, we were both better, she was ready, so we did it.
I had bought a little blue potty (see photo below) with a picture of a duck on it, and decided to use a timer and have her sit on it every 20 minutes. Funnily enough, our iTouch has a duck-quack option for the alarm/timer so I chose that setting, and it seemed to really tickle her fancy - "When you hear the duck, time to sit on the duck potty!" she would say every time. It worked great, and upon her first success I jumped up and down and cheered, blew up a balloon, gave her a bite of ice cream to eat, and I think gave her a little gift even (I forget now; the point it, it was a big deal and I was beyond excited!).
From that point on, she little by little got better and better at it. There were some mishaps, and it was a little tough for her to deal with the trip to Ohrid in the middle of potty training month, but overall it just went soooooo much better than I expected. After a few days she got tired of using the duck timer, so we just went to verbal reminders. Then she got tired of being reminded all the time and showed that she was able to tell us on her own when she needed to go. She also very quickly decided that she much prefers making #2 on the potty than in her pants, so that's been a much easier transition than I expected. We also used some great padded underpants and special pull-ups that Dot brought from the States (and it was wonderful having so much extra help in those early weeks for the constant vigilance and reminders!). The thinner pull-ups actually helped, because after she had a major overflow spill in them once, she decided to treat them like underpants instead of diapers and not pee in them anymore either - even when I tell her she can (like when we're out and there's no toilet nearby).
In the past two weeks, she's had exactly two accidents, both while sleeping (pull-up overflow).
I can't tell you how happy I am not to be buying diapers for V anymore!!! If I'd known it was going to take this long I would have used cloth diapers with her from the get-go. I calculate we've spent around $2,000 on diapers for her over the three years. Even at $18 each, we would not have spent that much on cloth diapers.
Gabriel has been very, very interested in the proceedings - so much so I wonder if I should start him too? I think I'll wait until closer to 18 months but I definitely think I'll start sooner with him rather than later. He's so precocious in other ways, I think it's reasonable to expect he'll be trained by the time he's 2.
(The other potty in the photo above was one I bought last year in November; the middle piece comes out, and I wasn't sure whether or not it was pinching her legs when she sat down in it. Now I know it doesn't - but that's why we have two. The blue ring in the top photo has generally worked very well too.)