Potty Training: a waste-reducing milestone

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This year we have saved 339 pounds of food scraps from entering landfills by composting with CompostNow,  changed our purchasing habits to avoid most plastic packaging and started recycling what plastic we do accumulate through TerraCycle. But with 20 billion disposable diapers dumped into landfills each year (EPA), accounting for more than 3.5 million tons of waste, we might have accomplished our most waste-free change yet… potty training our 2.5 year old! 

Potty training is no easy feat, so following someone’s sage advice is wise. When I potty trained our oldest, I devoured Brandi Bruck’s book, Potty Training in 3 Days and followed her method to a tee. I had my in laws take Joseph for the weekend so I could give my full attention to Wil. We packed up our diapers to say goodbye and didn’t watch television or any screens for three days. I made the perfect potty chart for him (see below) with presents purchased for every eight stickers on his chart, and we gave him a treat for every time he went pee pee or poo poo. It was very organized and worked perfectly. He was potty trained in 3 days. 

Wil with his potty training chart when he was 2.5 years old.

Wil with his potty training chart when he was 2.5 years old.

I’m embarrassed how low-grade this looks compared to Wil’s. Like I said, this was last minute!

I’m embarrassed how low-grade this looks compared to Wil’s. Like I said, this was last minute!

Poor middle-child Joseph did not get the same treatment. I decided day of to start the training while our nanny was on vacation. It was me, Joseph, Isabel, and Wil in the house in the middle of the hot North Carolina summer. We were probably going to be inside all day anyways, so I was determined to accomplish something useful. I used Bruck’s method in my own revised, realistic way, and with what I already had in the house. I ripped out a sheet of paper from “The Secret Life of Pets 2” coloring book to use as his potty chart (it also had stickers in it). I threw some underwear on him with a short shirt. You want a short shirt so you can easily see if they start peeing. We already had the Baby Bjorn seat insert and Baby Bjorn step stool, so I took him to the bathroom and showed him how to pull down his pants, sit, and go potty on the toilet. 

We modified Bucks’ rules of potty training and allowed him to watch TV (Mama was in survival mode)!

We modified Bucks’ rules of potty training and allowed him to watch TV (Mama was in survival mode)!

I told him Thomas on the underwear he was wearing did not want to get wet. I also said, “Let me know when you need to go pee pee or poo poo and then you can get a treat and sticker” about a hundred times the first day. Brucks recommends giving one treat for pee and two treats for poop and a sticker on the chart for every time the child successfully gets something in the toilet. He got really excited about getting so many treats and stickers so  he was regularly going in the toilet when he was thinking about it, but he also had many accidents ( especially poop accidents). Because I was alone with all three kids all day, I ended up letting him watch a lot of TV for my own survival (seen in pic). I think that slowed down his initial training because he would get distracted by the screen. The first days were MESSY, but finally by the fourth day he really started to get it and would go on his own without me asking. He was even successful on our first outing to a birthday party (seen below). Bucks recommends not going on any outings until at least 3 days into potty training.

First outing post potty training. A birthday party at a local farm.

First outing post potty training. A birthday party at a local farm.

It’s fun to see your child’s personality come out during the potty training process. Joseph is a very exuberant, determined, and independent little boy. He now refuses to have me help him in the bathroom and says, “NO, me!” and closes the door when I try to help. After he goes I can always hear him applaud himself with a “Yay!”. I am so proud of him and know that he feels proud of himself. Because I decided last minute to do the potty training, I wasn’t prepared with toys for every eight times he successfully went potty. I think this was fine because he remained excited enough about the stickers and treats. I had told him when he filled the coloring page full of stickers, then he would get a new toy. We chose a fire station by Green Toys that he LOVED, and knew he got because of his hard work!

Joseph and Isabel playing with his new fire station.

Joseph and Isabel playing with his new fire station.

Two down… now only one to go (maybe in a year or so!).

our Potty training essentials


I am no expert, but please comment if you have any questions about potty training!

x,

Amy