FAQ Friday: Leaving the House

You’ve gotten through Block One. Your kid can wear pants. Congratulations!

But maybe your kid goes potty every twenty minutes. Or maybe he needs to pee every time you sit him down. And she really only has about seven seconds to get from “I need to pee” to “I’m peeing.”

Maybe you live in a suburb and it takes fifteen minutes just to exit your neighborhood.

You started this potty training thing to free your child for independence and now you are all chained to a little plastic chair sitting on a towel in your living room (tip alert! I can’t believe how often those things splash over!). That doesn’t feel very freeing, does it? Will you ever be able to leave the house again?

Well. Eventually you’ll have to take him to preschool.

I kid. Mostly.

Now you get to enter the next stage of motherhood. This is where you enter every public building and say, “Where is the restroom, please?” Or perhaps, simply, “Potty?! Now!!!” Plan, Mama. It will save you. Here is how I grocery shopped for the first six months of my child’s new potty-trained life. We entered the store. We went to the potty. We shopped the back of the store, then the center of the store, and then the front deli section. My child ate a slice of cheese. Then we went to the potty. Then we checked out. Please, Mama, go potty before you check out. No matter how long you think she can hold it. The fear in your eyes will not speed the cashier when your child whispers, “Mommy, potty?”. You will have to look across at him and say, “Ahem, I’m sorry, but uh… my child had an accident here in the line.” And you and he will look at the puddle. And you will be sorry. So… plan. If in doubt, stop by the potty. As my son and I happily remind each other, “If nothing comes out, nothing comes out.” It’s always better to have tried.

Or you get to carry your child’s pooper around with you. Actually this is the best. I lugged this thing around for…let’s not talk about it. We might still have it back there in the car. Plan. It’s brilliant. Get the whole big potty. Jamie’s “red solo cup” is perfect for boys until somebody needs to poop. Carry the cup in the door for quick pull overs and the travel potty in the trunk for, well, longer sitting times. Let her get comfy back there. Bring a book too.

Does this seem silly? Ask yourself, “would I rather look silly reading my child a book in the back of my car in the mall parking lot or would I rather pick poop out of the car seat. Which would you rather? Mama, be not afraid to look silly.

I also bring an extra roll of my dog poop bags. You know why.

You can leave the house! Just prep in your mind. Prep in your car. And try to have humor. I spent so much “early potty training” being stressed and trying to get it exactly right. Let that go. It takes time. Before you go to dinner, tell yourself (and maybe your husband…): “We will get up from the table a lot. We will stop on the way there. But we will have tacos.”

And laugh. How fun is it to be learning new things with your own little person?