I’ve learned an incredible lesson on mindset recently and it’s from the silliest of life circumstances. I almost find it comical that I’m going to share from this perspective on mommying, but I hope you’ll stick with me. Because this is a life lesson that will apply to any life.

I have to go back to the beginning, so you understand the angst. The real anxiety that I’ve experienced.

I really screwed it up with my first two kids.

When they were two and three, I started to potty train my son (3) and my daughter moseyed in and used the potty all on her own. This was exciting to me! I took all of my friends’ advice. I put them on the potty first thing in the morning and made them wait till they could go. I gave them books and we sang songs. It was intended to be fun… and upbeat, not to feel like it was punishment.

Preston peed on the Walmart floor and in the car and we had to constantly pull over the car ‘cause his was always an emergency. Peyton (2) wouldn’t go in the potty most of the time. She would get up and walk into the living room and go there. It was as if she literally waited for me to put clothes on her. She went on the carpet every 5-30 minutes. At first, I was patient. Then I was impatient. Then I started yelling. I knew she could use the potty! Why was she just continuing to go on the floor!?

By preschool, she was still having accidents when she felt stressed. I learned she had an anxious bladder. Anxiety ramped up her accidents. She just held it in. Refused to go. Then it was too late. For years she had wet underwear. I had to check her every hour because she’d get horrible rashes if I didn’t keep her dry. This is all embarrassing to admit.

Around four years old it hit me. I didn’t want her coming home at sixteen, pregnant, and afraid to tell me. I wanted her to know she could trust me with her “mistakes.” I hadn’t shown her that. Up until now, she could only expect frustration. Sure, I was gracious. I didn’t jump on her EVERY time but it was obvious I was at my wit’s end and didn’t know how to help her get past it.

My tactic changed immediately. Now my words were “oh no, you got wet. Let me help you clean up.” I talked to her a lot about taking care of her body and not hiding while she was wet, that I’d always be there to help her.

She got a little older and more independent and did it herself and eventually, she stopped having accidents.

Fast forward and my two-year-old boy (number 3) wants to potty train. He even used the potty by himself. I went and got him underwear, reluctantly. I had a TON of anxiety. I just couldn’t deal with cleaning up all the pee and poop. We tried for a day. He didn’t have a single success so I quit. Right after that, I had baby number four so I waited six months to try again. SO MUCH ANXIETY. It was weird. A heightened level of unrealistic anxiety over this whole process. We tried for a day and quit. Tried again when he turned 3, and again three months later. He didn’t have a single success. At this point, I had tried quite a few different things.

A friend sent me a book that had a completely different method. I read it and started setting my mindset for this because I knew it was all me and the longer I waited the harder it was going to be.

I did her method as best I could with very little compromise. The magic to this story isn’t about the method though.

She said, “stay positive.” Don’t let them see any frustration in your face or tone or anything because it could tank your whole process and make it take a lot longer. (ha! If she only knew what I did to Peyton.)

So here I am with this kid 48 hours in and we haven’t had a success. No diapers, no pull-ups… just a wet floor and blankets and clothes and towels…

Every moment of every hour I was intentional about my thoughts. Every time the words “I hate potty training” started to pop in my head I’d squash them. “Nope. That’s not my thought process here! He’s going to get this. He has to. It’s going to be great.”

And when I couldn’t muster a positive response I just refused to think anything. I kept my words intentionally positive though! “I’m so proud of you! You’ve got this! You have to keep your underwear dry. Just tell mommy if you have to pee or poop.” Over and over and over again.

Her method is that you have to watch them. Like…literally don’t take your eyes off of them so you can catch them in the act and swoop them up so it trains their brain what to do when that sensation comes. I learned how hard it is for me to NOT multi-task. I spent a lot of intentional time with him and the others because I couldn’t wander far from him.

I seriously grew over those three days. I was pretty weary halfway through day three because we hadn’t had a single success yet and now, he had been holding it for 15 hours!!!!!

Then we called dad, dad said he’d bring him home a toy if he’d go in the potty, and suddenly he was going… IN THE TOILET.

So, here’s the moral. Cause I know you didn’t stick around for potty training advice. Mindset matters. I had to control my thought process. I had to pick and choose what I was going to allow myself to think on because all I had was bad experiences with this particular thing and if I hadn’t chosen to have a different outlook, I would not have had a different outcome.

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The best compliment you can ever pay me is to share this with someone you think it’ll encourage. 

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