Last Friday I decided it was time to toilet-train Aspen. She's been using the big-girl bathroom very casually since May, so it's not like it's completely foreign to her. I just never had the gumption to go ahead and commit to a regime of some sort.
When she woke up Friday morning I told her it was TIME TO GO POTTY ON THE TOILET WEE!! Every 20 minutes I set a timer to remind us to take a break from whatever we were doing and sit in the bathroom to try.
It was a rocky start, but after a couple of hours I psyched her up with a trip to the store to pick out real underwear together. We settled on a couple of her favorite characters and then headed home to try some more.
I know this is a good time for her because she's doing so well. Yes, she occasionally throws a tantrum about putting down her toys and going to the bathroom for a minute, and she had a handful of accidents. But she's usually really in to it.
What worked for us was a two-part motivation system. Initially, Aspen would just receive a piece of candy (M&M being the big hit) every time she successfully used the bathroom. And of course, there was always lots of cheering and dancing whenever she even tried to use the toilet. When the thrill of the candy started to wane, I implemented a sticker chart. Regardless of the outcome of a trip to the bathroom, Aspen got to put a sticker on her chart just for trying. So, sometimes she'd immediately get an M&M for going, and then once she got done she would always get to put a sticker on the chart.
At the end of something like 20 sticker spots, Kev and I offered Aspen a thank-you present for being so committed. When we went to the store to get underwear, she asked for a necklace that she found on the floor. I told her I was going to put it back and buy underwear instead, but I secretly bought the necklace (it was actually a set of two) and decided to use it for her thank-you gift. After spending TWO ENTIRE DAYS going to the bathroom every 20 minutes, she was very excited to get a Tinkerbell necklace. And she totally deserved it.
Since we started on a Friday, I was hopeful that by Sunday we'd both have a good awareness of her needs and church wouldn't be too difficult. We got to Sacrament early enough to take a superfluous visit to the bathroom just so Aspen could get acclimated. She's extremely terrified of automatic hand dryers, so I needed some time to convince her the bathroom at church isn't loud at all. Once she saw there are only quiet paper towel dispensers (and quiet toilets) she was good to go. We kind of stuck to our every-twenty-minutes schedule and she did great. Kev and I took turns excusing her from Nursery for two bathroom breaks, and it was perfect.
During naps and nighttime Aspen is still wearing a diaper or a pull-up (her choice varies) and we'll see how long it takes for us to cut her off from that bedtime sippy cup of water.
For me, the hardest part about toilet training is the current layout of our rental. We took this option in West Jordan because we were allowed to have a dog, and there was an extra half bath downstairs. We couldn't afford other places because of the extra pet rent as well as the cost of having a second bathroom (thanks to having a mortgage to pay on top of rent!). However, we've been without a toilet in the second bath for MONTHS (our landlord was going to get us an upgrade but the one he was planning on didn't pan out so...). Since Aspen and I spend the majority of our day downstairs playing/eating, it means I have to drag her upstairs every time our toilet timer goes off. It's really frustrating.
But whatever. All that really matters is that Aspen feels comfortable using the bathroom now. And once she gets over her reluctance to go #2 (heeellllllp) on a regular basis, we'll be even better off.