Last year I potty-trained my son. He was 2 years and 2 months at the time. I would have preferred to wait until he was a little older, but the school he attended last year required that he be potty-trained, so three months before school started we started potty-training. On the recommendation of several friends who had success with the 3 Day Potty Training Method, we gave it a whirl.
Basic overview of method:
For the 3 Day Method, you train your children to recognize the signs of readiness in their own bodies. Rather than plopping them on the toilet every few minutes, you tell them to let you know if they need to use the bathroom. Then you reward them when they have successes. After a lot of accidents, they start to understand what it feels like to need to use the bathroom and go on their own. At night, you are instructed to wake your children after an hour of sleeping to use the bathroom and to sleep in their rooms so you can listen for cues that they need to use the bathroom and prevent them from having accidents.
This method is mentally and physically exhausting. You spend a lot of time on your knees cleaning up pee. You spend a lot of time in the laundry room. You spend a lot of time picking up your kid and running to the bathroom, leaving behind a trail of pee. Your life revolves around your children’s bathroom habits. Every moment is spent encouraging them to go to the bathroom and cheering when they do. Night time is the hardest because you are tired from being alert all day and it’s sad having to wake your slumbering babies to make them use the bathroom. And, since you are supposed to sleep in their room to listen for cues that they need to go to the bathroom, you don’t get a very good night’s sleep.
I must admit that after a week of waking up throughout the night to clean up accidents, I gave up on overnight potty-training. I was six months pregnant and wanted to enjoy my last few months of sleeping through the night. Because of this, my son is nap-trained but not overnight sleep-trained yet.
- Start making changes a while before your start the method. My son was used to drinking milk at dinner time and a full sippy cup of milk before bedtime. Since you are (supposed to be) sleep training your child, the method suggests that you do not allow liquids 2-3 hours before bedtime. If I use this method again, I will make my child give up liquids near bedtime at least a month before starting the method. Otherwise, they are losing diapers and milk at the same time. Talk about traumatic!
- Layer sheets and waterproof mattress covers on your child’s crib/bed. You will be grateful that you did this when your child wakes up wet at 2:00 am. I had three sets of waterproof pads and sheets to layer. I wish I had had twice as many during training.
- Don’t skimp on underwear. The book recommends having about twenty pairs of underwear on hand. I ordered 14 pairs of underwear, thinking that I would just do laundry if I needed more. Well, I had to do laundry twice in one day because my son went through over 28 pairs of underwear.
- Cover your surfaces. I am not one of those toddler moms who thinks getting pee and poop on furniture and rugs is just part of the deal. Um, no. Gross. In order for me not to panic throughout the day, I rolled up our area rug and put it in the den. I also covered our sectional couch with multiple king size waterproof mattress covers. My son was limited to the living room, bathroom, and kitchen for the first couple of weeks after training.
- Schedule reinforcements. Three days is a very long time when you are sitting in your house waiting for your child to use the bathroom. You will need a break. I am a stay at home mom. We started training over the weekend so my husband could participate and then, on Monday, I arranged for my Mom to stay with my son for a couple of hours so I could have a break.
Was the method successful? Um, sort of. I think this method is similar to cramming for a test. You get the basic information down, but everything doesn’t quite stick with you for the long run. It’s a nice starter kit, but we definitely spent a lot of time over the past year dealing with accidents. And, although my son recognized the signs of needing to go to the bathroom, he often did so without much warning. When my daughter was born five months after we started potty-training, he regressed. A year after the 3 Day Potty-Training Method we finally have it down…mostly.