I thought I may have been opening a can of worms when I brought up potty training yesterday. It involves our children, we want to do it right, and we all have opinions about what works and what doesn't. When our first two were "ready" I tried just about any rational suggestion given to me. We started on their 2nd birthday (exactly) and it seemed they were both very interested, and at times lucky, but it was really stressful trying to maintain sanity amidst the accidents, floor scrubbing, additional laundry, etc. Little Sam had just turned one so just keeping him out of it all was another factor. Anyhow, I gave up after a couple weeks, thinking I was a complete failure, but later learned that when a child is truly "ready," complete potty training takes just days, not weeks or months. When I say complete, I mean dry most nights, no accidents during the day, and able to go without constant reminders (i.e. putting them on the pot every 1-2 hours.) There seems to be a "window" of curiosity/interest at a younger age (nearer to 2 than 3) but it all boils down to how much time and energy we as parents want to expend on the training. Does waiting longer, or starting early make us better parents, or mean our kids are smarter, probably not. When done with a sense of charity, humility and love the timing is always right. My point is, we do what works for our family in any given situation. In most cases, all my kids were potty-trained with nursing newborns at home, so an every-hour potty schedule just wasn't in the cards even though I am a stay-at-home mom. Instead, we opted here to wait till closer to three when things just click a little faster. I'll admit, for the boys (all of them, and probably Frank too) it was right at their 3rd birthday. I literally made the transition by explaining that they would not be wearing diapers anymore, and I quit buying them. (Period.) We had a day or two of accidents, and by day three all of them were nearly trained, with no more accidents by weeks end. We've only used pull-ups with one of the kids who after several months of being a "big-kid" started having accidents again at night. We kept the pull-ups on at night for a couple months, at which point he was managing to wake up on his own and go without accidents. I did however, use up leftover diapers at night during first nights of training, by putting diapers on top of underwear. This allowed the kids to know they needed to stay dry (and could feel if they'd wet) but also kept beds dry, to prevent middle of the night linen changes. This never lasted more than the first week or so. The girls were all closer to 2 1/2, but otherwise no major differences.
Overall we've been incredibly blessed with "easy" potty experiences. I know whatever age, or whatever techniques you've used for your kids were right for you, and you'd probably recommend them to your best friend (or at least share with them what didn't work for you.) But again, it's all about doing what works within your situation, and providing a loving healthy atmosphere while doing so. In hind sight, it always seems easier than when we were in the trenches, washing out dirty panties and sitting on the edge of the tub, just begging them to "pee a little bit."
I have found myself to be much more laid back with #'s 8 and 9, and think that rather than giving advice, I'll just cast aunderstanding glance to mom's with toddlers racing thru Walmart aisles looking for the potty, and nod an "I've been there, I can appreciate what your feeling" your direction. Honestly, we will look back on this and laugh one day. It's all good, and led by God. Many prayers...many prayers.