MomsWe’ve all been there.  That moment when diaper changing becomes a huge acrobatic feat – you need one hand to change the diaper, one hand to keep the rapidly squirming, wriggling baby from rolling onto his belly for the five millionth time in a row, plus one more hand to keep him from grabbing and knocking down everything within arms reach – and all you can think about is the glorious day when you won’t have to change any more diapers.  Ever.

Ah yes, potty training.  Quite possibly the most highly-anticpated parental rite of passage.  There are countless books, theories, and articles available as to the best ways to potty train your kids, “signs of readiness,” do’s and don’ts, charts, treats, and so.much.more.

But however you go about potty training, may I please present to you three facts I’ve learned through our potty training journey:

1. It’s Going to Take Time

As the great George Harrison said, “It’s gonna to take time.  A whole lot of precious time.  It’s gonna to take patience and time, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it right, child.”  There are people who are able to potty train their kids over the course of a weekend, and to them I say “I hate you.”   Just kidding.  (Sort of).

The truth is, for most people it will take a while to potty train.  It just does.  It’s a new skill with lots of moving parts, and although it comes naturally to us now, it’s a lot for someone who has spent all of their lives not having to think about their bodily functions to suddenly take in.  Even if your child is in underwear during the day, it can still be a year or so later that they’re finally ready to go to bed without a diaper.  So when you settle in to begin this process, keep in mind it’s not about instant gratification – you’re in it for the long haul.

2. It’s Not a Straight Line

As my wise Dad said to me when I first brought up potty training: “potty training is not a straight line.  It’s a zig zag pattern.”  And he’s absolutely right.  Potty training isn’t a magical “OK, you went all day without an accident, we’re in the clear” process.  It’s a constant back and forth dance.  You can go a week without an accident and suddenly you’ll catch a whiff…and your child has gone to the bathroom in their pants for some undetermined reason.  Or they’ll be accident-free for weeks, and will suddenly start wetting themselves again. It happens.  Just keep moving.

3. Get Ready to Familiarize Yourself with Every Public Restroom in the Charlotte Metropolitan Area

Oh yes, the most frequently overlooked step in this process is this: when your kid says they have to go, you must drop everything you’re doing and run them to a toilet.  Where ever you are.  Grocery store?  Playground?  Library?  Gas station?  Believe me when I say you’ll be seeing the inside of all of those facilities – and more!  It helps to locate the bathroom as soon as you arrive somewhere, and bring with you a portable toilet seat, like this one.  For kids who are scared of the automatic flushing toilets, my friend wisely suggested carrying post-it notes in your diaper bag, and affixing one to the toilet before your kid sits down, covering the auto flush sensor.  Also: your kid will almost inevitably have to go when you’ve got a cart full of groceries, or are at the very end of the store, in the farthest corner from the bathrooms.  It’s extra fun to do when you have more than one kid!  And – kids are picky and won’t necessarily use the toilet you bring them to.  Have fun with all that.

At the end of the day, remember: your kid is who your kid is.  It’s not helpful – or beneficial – to hold them up to the standards set by other kids.  Some potty train early; some are a bit later.  Some grasp it within a few days, some take longer.  Find what works for your family and stick with it.  I’m pretty sure most kids don’t graduate high school in diapers; it’ll happen, just hang in there.

Do you have any potty training advice to share?  We love to hear from our readers!