Damien vs the Potty

IMG 4054

We began potty training Damien mid-way through November. He picked up on the pee part of potty training within a few days, but the other half was much more difficult than I expected. And it got worse for quite a while before it got better. Damien periodically dropped his nap and got sick during the process, making it so much more stressful as well.

Damien was a withholder. He became so afraid to go that he would simply refuse to go, for hours on end,until his body just wouldn’t let him hold it in any longer. This experience was very stressful for him, and for us, and tended to make him more scared, instead of less. At the time, I didn’t see how we were going to get out of it. I even considered putting him back in diapers, though it quickly became apparent that he wanted nothing to do with them anymore (and it was the wrong decision anyway!).

Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in the process. Following the advice of Dawnn Whittaker, of Cheekychops Consulting, we had laid a strong foundation in potty training and, when problems like this came up, I was able to ask for advice. And, following her advice, and giving it time, things did get better. 

While going through the crazy stressful time of a child withholding, I admit to Googling and asking around for advice, but mountains of opinions can’t help you make the right decision. If anything, they just make you more uncertain of the path to take. It is so nice to have someone you can bounce questions off of, and get honest and simple answers in return. I’ve been working with Dawnn for years, ever since Aiden was a baby, and was so happy to have the opportunity to try her Potty Training Services with Damien.

For example, during the process of potty training, I was inadvertently preferring the toilet to the potty for the more dirty business of the day (since less cleanup!), but this was probably a more scary prospect for Damien. Dawnn was able to show me how I was trying to teach him, in sleep perspectives, to sleep in a bed before learning to sleep in a crib. Just too much, too quickly. I had a lot of questions along the way, about how to deal with a child who seemed to pee more frequently just to get a reward, to the withholding, to when to drop diapers at night. Thankfully, the answers were always there and very easy to stick with. 

Ok, most of the time. I wasn’t supposed to take him out of the house as early as I did in the potty training process, but I was stir crazy and in my defence he adjusted quite quickly. Just call me a rule breaker!

So, how did the withholding resolve? First, by dealing with the resulting constipation (with pears, and prune juice and even some Lax-A-Day) as soon as it showed up. I know first-hand as a parent how many issues can come out of constipation. We are still dealing with those. And I didn’t need a repeat. Next, we focused on key phrases that Dawnn suggested if he had an accident, and focused on not putting too much pressure on him to go, even if he looked like he was going to go. Damien’s turning point seemed to be when we took the pressure of him to sit and instead focused on the word squat, which he is very proud to do. I hold him about an inch off the seat, but he retains complete muscle focus on what he’s trying to do and that makes all the difference. Squatting is a much more natural position, so who can blame him?

No more accidents. No more withholding. No more complaining. Potty training is complete! One day he’ll sit, but until then I’m completely happy with the outcome. 

Disclosure: I have worked with Cheekychops Consulting for several years, assisting in marketing. I received Dawnn’s potty training services in exchange for this post, though all opinions expressed are my own.

At Least There Was Cake?

It was my birthday on Tuesday. I turned 33. It was not quite the birthday I had expected. 

IMG 2967

I love birthdays. Mine, the kids, other people: doesn’t matter. I. LOVE. Birthdays. A chance to celebrate, to get together, to share your love for someone? PERFECT. So, typically I’m one of those people who always has a birthday party. Sometime after kids, I skipped one because, well, kids. And one I skipped because I felt bad that I was one of the only people still having birthday get together. And then I figured SCREW IT birthdays are awesome and we don’t see people we care about often enough anyway. 

So, I was determined to have a party this year. For Ianiv too, actually, who had his 35th in October. Well. Life happened. We bought a cottage (crazy, stressful, amazing). Aiden started school (amazing, so great, an adjustment on our schedule). We had weekends packed with events (which I love, but still crazy). I had a lot of ups and downs with work (mostly ups). Damien started potty training. And dropping his nap. And both kids were sleeping like crap. Put it all together and my birthday just crept up too quickly and I never did get around to planning something. 

The day of my birthday involved a feverish 5-year-old and a potty trained 2.5 year old who withholds for painful periods of time, with much stress and tears and anxiety along the way. 

But at least there was cake? And beer advent calendars? 

As Aiden’s teacher kindly reminded me, moms and celebrations don’t often mix! ;)

The Dreaded Potty Training

Today I decided to start potty training Damien. He’s shown some signs of readiness for a couple of months… but not all of them. The thing is, I don’t think he’s the kid who is going to say “Hey, I’m having a pee!” while wearing his diaper. That’s just not like him. So, for us it was more about timing. When did we have approximately a week that wasn’t filled with a crazy number of activities and things? Well, that was this week. Well, from today onward anyway. 

IMG 2448

Staying at home was not easy for either of us. Damien was desperate to go somewhere. Anywhere. He played really well at home, but he’s not used to so many sedentary activities. He’s used to much more active play and a lot of walking for school pick-ups!! We took him to a cafe in the morning before we began potty training, but I won’t do that tomorrow. It will be diaper free from the moment he’s awake. I do hope, however, to possibly get him into underwear in the afternoon to take a walk or something close by. 

The morning involved a lot of me cleaning the floor, but this afternoon saw greater success. He was initiating more trips to the potty and only had 1 accident. Let’s see what tomorrow brings!

I hate potty training. 

Aiden is Potty Trained

Aiden is potty trained!! I’m glad to report, it was really easy too. Though Aiden first showed an interest in potty training at 28 months when one of his best friends was potty training, his body wasn’t quite ready for it. His bladder capacity then was only about an hour, he could still have accidents even right after a success, and he began to fear the potty for the ‘other’ reason. So, we backed off. It was a hard decision at the time, but I’m glad that’s what we did (for him and for the pregnant / postpartum period for me).

Big boy underwear

About a week and half ago, he asked again to start wearing underwear after he had a big success on the potty. He’d been going pee on the potty on and off for a while (particularly at preschool, where they have 2 scheduled breaks), but we didn’t think he was ready for the ‘other’ part – both emotionally and physically he was having issues.

I’m glad to say, my fears over that are gone. We gave him lots of bran for the first week (new cereal made it interesting for him again) and I’d say he’s even more regular now, even without the bran. It’s possible he’s properly listening to his body now, which is interesting. We’ll see how that progresses.

As far as the potty training method, it wasn’t hard. He already had the skills from our previous attempt, it was more about understanding what his body was telling him and actually being willing to listen to it. He resisted the latter part for 2 days, having a few accidents, but then has been nearly accident free since then. He’s only had 2 accidents from not listening to his body’s cues and no accidents aside from that for a whole week – yay!

We gave Aiden candy for his successes until the bowl of it ran out. He forgot we had candy when we were out of the house and I didn’t take any to Victoria – that has mostly nipped the candy-request to a minimum. I gave Aiden a new book after 3 days of no accidents and that was a great motivator for him to stay dry – he was really looking forward to his present.

I know that potty training kind of snuck up on us once again (I was planning on waiting until Damien could sit), but I am beyond proud of Aiden. He has done SO well in mastering this new skill and in listening to his body, even when he really doesn’t want to stop what he’s doing. I think the fact that we could take him on vacation just one week into potty training was really quite amazing.

The bonus of Aiden being closer to 3 is definitely the improvement in undressing skills, the ability to hold himself on the toilet, the lack of fear of public toilets and a reduced fear in the whole process. He’s even able to nap (when he does nap) and not have accidents!

Aiden is Getting ‘Bigger and Bigger’ at 29 Months


To borrow one of Aiden’s favourite phrases, he’s getting “bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger,” which is true in oh so many ways (except his weight). As Aiden puts it, he’s getting “like a man like Daddy,” but for now he’s not a man, he’s a “big boy.”

I haven’t posted much this past month – it’s been a busy one. I haven’t enjoyed being pregnant with what is apparently a big baby, and it’s made for a stressful month.

Here’s a snapshot of Aiden at 29 months:

  • Weight: 28lbs. Still.
  • Favourite foods: carrots, apples, corn, sausages, pizza, crackers, applesauce in squeeze containers, Oat bran cereal
  • Is very developed, emotionally. Able to express things such as “I’m getting tired” or “I’m upset”, though also has an active imagination, telling us he’s hurt, tired or sick to get attention, Advil or more tv time
  • Asked to stop wearing his sleep sack at night. Uses a toddler blanket, sometimes.
  • Can recognize the whole alphabet, mostly without mistakes. Is learning lower-case letters. Can sing the whole alphabet song (though only if nobody notices – he’s shy about singing)
  • Is very excited to meet his baby brother. Talks a lot about the baby and is very curious about how he’s growing. We’ve had to explain some details of how the baby is born, as he thought it would ‘break Mommy’s tummy’.
  • Has been throwing more tantrums. Age and household anxiety likely play a part (when Mommy has to say ‘no’ to many things, it makes it hard on him)
  • Was potty training excitedly for one week and making great progress. Started to develop major anxiety over any mention of the potty. Likely me getting hurt and sick in one week added to his general anxiety. Back in diapers.
  • Has a very active imagination. Loves to pretend to be dinosaurs, in particular. Knows many dinosaurs by type, with T-Rex being his favourite.
  • Aiden’s favourite phrases: No way, poor Aiden, roar, Mommy want to read a book?, where are we going?, wait a minute, I’m sick, want some?, steam on you! (with trains), I need it
  • My favourite Aiden phrases: I love you mommy, I’m taking a break, Where’s Mommy’s baby?, that’s funny, that’s strange