Q: Can you give me advice on potty training my very ready 22 month old girl while, juggling my five month old? We tried and she likes it, but the baby is always needing something when she wants to go, or she wants to sit forever and the baby starts to cry. Help!
A: This is one of the first of many Baby Bunching lessons you will have to master. Everyone always suddently needs something when you're dealing with the other. Always. Our kids, collectively, have gone through many 'windows' of being potty ready, and I think you have to take one of those and go with it. So if it's 22 months and you want to brave it, we applaud you! My kids never showed the typical signs like being dry all night long. But there was a point when they were dry for long periods of time. But generally I knew they were ready when they started talking about it more and more.
But if you do the math, most of us are doing the potty training when our oldest kids are 2 ½ to 3 years old. Where does that put your little one? Crawling and/or walking around in the lovely he’s-into-everything-phase. So while you’re trying to cajole one to pee pee on the potty, the other one is probably emptying the trash, taking the TP off the roll or in the kitchen eating from something in the pantry.
You can’t be in two places at once at any point in this process. So whether it's now when your baby is 5 months old, it will be equally (if not more) difficult when baby is 14 months old.
When I potty trained my son, he was just about two-and-a-half. My daughter was 15 months and hated to be left alone for longer than half a second. I was trying to spend all my time in the bathroom with him and she was crying because I couldn’t spend the time with her. If he hadn’t been ready for the potty, I probably would have just waited 6 months, and trained them both at the same time. Although I imagine that’s not easy either.
Here are some general thoughts to consider before/during potty training your first born:
Be realistic. If you’ve just had a new baby and your toddler show signs of wanting to use the potty, know that this probably is not the best time to tackle this. I tried this with Alex at 18 months. (Anna was 2 months old) Yeah, it didn’t work. I missed that window of opportunity. [Hint to you who haven’t gone this route: There will be another one.] Each of my kids had about 3-4 ‘windows’ where they showed interest in it. As a new mom, the first time we hit one, I went out and bought the potty and tried to go forth. Little did I know potty training is about both child AND mom being ready. Do it when you’re in the right mental state to do it. Cuz it ain't easy. They don’t call it training for nothing!
Do it fast. Don’t drag out the training process. It’s better to dedicate a weekend or a weekend plus a few days to just doing this and being done. You have another little one who needs you too. If it’s not working after a few days. Back off and try again another time.
This will change up your outing routine. Nothing says nightmarish fun like having a great time on the playground with your kids, and your oldest--who you’re potty training--decides he has to pee RIGHT NOW! That means you have to go right now, too. Even if you just spread out lunch on the blanket. Even if you just sat down at McDonalds to eat. You have to go right now. I have fond memories of us loading our Happy Meal into the stroller so Alex could pee….Anna still chowing down on the hamburger in the bathroom. Gross, huh? (See, at 5 months, your baby is still happy to just hang out!)
The good news is your little one is little and doesn’t mind a sprint or change of venue to dash to the bathroom. The tables will be turned—in probably a year or so—when you’re doing this dash for your younger one. Your older child will be the disappointed one at that point.
Potty Training is a full-time job. Potty training is an all-day affair. Call in reinforcements when you do it. Have your spouse around to take the younger child off your hands or to give you a break from cleaning up pee. Grandma? Great. Have her come in and befriend the wee one. No one should do it alone.
The bottom line is everyone in the house needs to be in this together. And once you decide it’s the right time, just go for it. Rip it off like a Bandaid. It will go much faster and in the end a weekend of madness is worth it if you’re done.