Potty training.

It’s the first time in my parenthood career where I have felt fully and completely stumped, although as of late, we seem to be making progress—it’s just taking a little longer.

For those who managed to pull off potty training relatively early, I applaud you and think it takes a special kind of parent to get it done, and likely your little one was just ready.

For the rest of us who feel challenged with making the commitment that modern-day training tells us to do, I’m here to remind you that life can still carry on as usual, and training can still be successful, albeit a slower wavering of periodic regression.

Those who have read Oh Crap! , the potty training book, and did the whole stay-at-home-for-days-with-your-naked-little-one will tell you, it’s the only way to go if you want to see results. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Once you take away the diapers, just never bring them back.” (Do Pull-Ups count?)

I’m not saying that we’re incapable of forfeiting three to four days of our lives to stay home and do nothing but chase after a naked bum and clean up accidents, but what I can conclude is that we have come a long way as potty-training parents without obliging to those rigid guidelines for success. And perhaps our little guy just isn’t ready to make the full commitment yet either.

Maybe it’s because I have a boy and, rumour has it, they take a bit longer (he’s only just turned three). But dealing with number two’s is still challenging in our household invoking fear, constipation, many accidents, and occasionally, some long-awaited success. Pees have been nearly mastered for months due to consistency of a reward system and of us being cognizant of his bladder at all times. That means physically taking him to the potty systematically (first thing in the morning and in between daily transitions) rather than only waiting for him to give us the cue. As for a reward system, small treats like Smarties, Rockets, real-fruit gummies and stickers are readily available beside every bathroom in the house. One of the most important things to reinforce, I find, is genuine excitement for every successful go. Now, he seems to look forward to impressing us with pees, and I can’t wait for the day where he can freely excuse himself for number twos, too.

We have for the most part gone about our days without diapers or Pull-Ups, and I would agree that in order for healthy progression, children need to feel the discomfort of accidents without the protection of a familiar diaper, however, I do believe that life should carry on as usual for the parents, and if that means putting on pull-ups intermittently to avoid the risk of a public accident, or to simply allow them to relieve themselves comfortably, then that sounds preferable to me. Over the long weekends, we have spent a good amount of time attempting the “cold-turkey” technique, where he is naked all day and we race him to the potty quickly, with some success here and there. These times have mostly resulted in extreme soiling down bare pant legs, in and around the toilet and tub, and truth be told, cleaning up after these episodes have been some of the foulest and most frustrating moments of Mom-Life to date. I’m talking up to five baths and no clean clothes in one given day. Frustrating because these Littles can be so advanced in some ways, talking full sentences and smart as a whip, yet unable to make a successful trip to potty to relieve themselves.

Nevertheless, I still prefer the inconsistency of accidents over the longer-term than sacrificing the ability to leave the house for days and to expedite a course that just might not be compatible for every little one. And honestly, based on the feedback he’s given us, maybe he’s just not ready for the intensity of cold-turkey training. But he’s getting closer every day and we’ve done it our way, and that to me is just A-okay!

Natasha Mills, an Islander of 25 years now, enjoys sharing the journey of parenthood and all Vancouver Island has to offer on her lifestyle blog. @mommamillsblog and mommamillsblog.com