Because I have four kids people like to think I'm some sort of expert parent and can give them all sorts of magical advice about everything from baths to sleeping habits to discipline and everything in between. I can certainly pass on tips about what worked for us (and usually do) but the simple fact of the matter is that all kids are different and it's all basically a crap shoot. Add in the fact that I'm a firm believer in letting kids figure out things for themselves as much as possible, because that leads to a greater mastery of whatever it is, and you've got the makings of one hell of a slacker parent. I was taught this through the one topic I get asked most about: potty training.
And the answer is quite simple: I don't potty train. I just wait until they do it themselves.
When Trout was little I obviously didn't have a clue what I was doing or even where to begin. My own mother died so I didn't have that source of information, and my grandmother could only advise that all her kids were of course potty trained by 2 months old or somesuch nonsense. And we had the arbitrary deadline of preschool, which she started at 2 years 10 months. So we pushed. And cajoled. And rewarded. And Happy Danced. And she potty trained, sort of, and had accidents until she was 8 years old. YEARS, people.
And then there was Little Man, who proceeded to teach me a lesson. He refused to use the potty. ReFused. No interest whatsoever. He didn't want to use the potty. I despaired of him ever using the potty, and not being allowed to start kindergarten due to wearing pullups. He got caught on a late birthday cutoff, so we didn't have the arbitrary deadline of preschool to shoot for, though at 3 1/2 I was seriously beginning to think my dire predictions would come true. But we did the drill with the little potty and naked time and encouraging him to sit on it but not pushing, etc. To no avail. Then, one day when he was about 3 years 9 months, he woke up and said "I'm going to use the potty today." And he did. And he never had an accident, unless he was sick.
The light bulb went off. That was the end of my potty training career.
With Sunny, we got all the stuff out when Trout found the little potty in the basement and thought it would be fun for her little sister to use it. So I half heartedly put it in the bathroom and told her what it was for, but I didn't have any hopes or expectations. She thought it great fun to sit on it, but nothing ever happened. At around 2 1/2, she was showing some signs of readiness, but I was heavily pregnant with my fourth kid while chasing around a grade schooler, a preschooler, and a toddler. I had no intention of potty training, and I figured she'd regress once the baby was born. So I did nothing. And she (or Trout) taught herself to use the potty. With only minor "help" from her siblings.
This weekend, we worked on cleaning out our self-storage unit in preparation to save ourselves a buttload of money each month, and we found the potty. So we cleaned it out and put it in the bathroom, and everyone is on notice that Nemo is allowed to come to the bathroom when they go and sit on the little potty. But we aren't potty training. I refuse to do that. I'll happily change diapers til kindergarten, if that's what it takes, but somehow I don't think it will.