The end of a decade of diapers

by DaniGirl on August 8, 2011 · 9 comments

in Mothering without a licence

With the exception of a brief and glorious six month break in late 2007, we’ve been changing diapers in this house for a rather astonishing nine and a half year block. Assuming a reasonable five diapers a day, and nearly two years of double diaper duty while Tristan was a toddler and Simon a newborn, that’s conservatively just a little shy of TWENTY THOUSAND diapers.

*pause for thoughtful consideration of the mountain of time, money and mess that comprises 20,000 dirty diapers*

And so, we embark upon our last potty training voyage. I have to admit, we’ve been a little laissez-faire about the whole thing. The idea had been that we’d approach potty training while we were both home on vacation this summer (the other boys were successfully potty trained in the summer around age 3.5 as well, so we really haven’t even thought about trying before now) except with the French test and the photography and everything else, we sort of forgot to get around to it. So with just a few days of vacation left, I decided rather abruptly this week that it was time — no fanfare, no breathless bloggy updates, and no frantic googling of tips and tricks. I bought a pack of underwear, and dug out a bag of skittles from the treat box. We were good to go.

It was my friend UberGeek, also father to three boys and just far enough ahead of us on the parenting curve to be full of great advice, who suggested the disposable underwear idea. Given that the first few days and weeks would inevitably lead to accidents, he suggested when we were potty training Tristan way back in the day that we acquire the biggest bag of cheap underwear we could find for the training period, and save the fancy Sponge Bob and Spiderman licensed stuff for the longer term. Sometimes, it’s easier to toss a mess than to deal with it. Hey, it’s cotton, it will biodegrade far quicker than those 20,000 disposable diapers!

Lucas did great for the first day. I sat him on the potty a few times and nothing happened, but to our great surprise and delight, late in the afternoon he rushed frantically into the bathroom saying, “I gotta go! I gotta go!” and he did – in the toilet. That’s one clear advantage of big boys who potty train well past the toddler years — we’ve never bothered with an actual potty and for the last two boys didn’t even bother with special seats for the regular toilet. I’m all about the convenience and path of least resistance, and this definitely qualifies!

The next day, we had mixed success. He did well all day until the big boys reported he was hiding shortly before dinner, his telltale sign that he was busy filling his diaper — except he wasn’t wearing one. So we’re down one pair of underwear but more importantly, I was abruptly and unpleasantly reminded of my least-favourite aspect of this whole potty training deal: the wiping. I seem to manage to erase the ugly details from child to child, but it seems to me in retrospect that the period between graduation from diapers to potty and the ability to wipe one’s own tucus is interminable. It’s actually way easier to wipe a prone butt with a diaper wipe than an upright butt with toilet paper. Way easier. #357 on the list of things they forgot to put in the parenting manual.

And now here I am at the point of this long and rambly potty post. There is one key difference between potty training this child and his two older brothers — a septic system. The potty training part doesn’t worry me at all, but in my less enlightened pre-septic years, I found those so-called “flushable wipes” a godsend. Butt! (ha!) Consumer Reports found that while TP disintegrated in a mere 7 seconds, a flushable wipe did not even start to break down even after 30 minutes of agitation. Do a quick search on “flushable wipes septic system” and you’ll never flush one down again, I promise you.

So, enlightened bloggy peeps, any ideas to make the interminable stretch of butt-wiping a little more bearable? I’m thinking maybe dampening the TP first? Using the wipes but bagging them and throwing them out? Is there something simpler that I’m overlooking?

Feel free to share your potty training travails and successes as well. I think I may need the inspiration in the days, weeks and *whimper* months to come…

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rebecca August 8, 2011 at 7:45 am

Personally I’d use wipes and throw them out. In fact, that was my first thought before you even mentioned it. It’d definitely be gentler on his hiney, plastic grocery bags close up easily and contain odor pretty well, OR you could use zipper sandwich/gallon bags. Okay so they’re all plastic and not the most sound environmentally, but in the battle of the butt, there’s gonna be some mess.

Good luck!

2 liz August 8, 2011 at 8:10 am

Wipes and throw away; or use soft baby wash cloths, and wash in the machine w/ bleach.

3 solemom August 8, 2011 at 8:38 am

My 3 year old is currently almost potty trained (except night), and I feel your tucus-wiping pain!!

I’ve been doing a preliminary swipe with TP, then a follow-up with a non-flushable wipe (way cheaper!), and putting it in the garbage. With the prelim cleaning done by the TP, I don’t find that they are too smelly – I just take the bathroom garbage out 2x a week, rather than the usual 1x, which means lots of wipes in only one plastic bag.

I also sometimes use baby wash cloths, but I’m incredibly lazy, and I never have enough other bleach-able laundry, so that method doesn’t work wonderfully in our house.

4 Marianne August 8, 2011 at 9:18 am

I just use toilet paper. But I have my daughter bend over to touch her toes while I wipe and combined with the fact that she has a super-skinny bum, that seems to do the trick. Otherwise, I’d go with wipes (but the regular baby kind, whatever you can buy that’s the cheapest) and throw them out.

Maya has been toilet-trained since this time last year, but still needs wiping for poops and often asks us to do it for pees too. Her reasoning? She doesn’t want to get pee on her hands. But it’s ok if I do, becuase I’m a Mommy. Kindergarten starts in a few weeks and I;m really hoping that will push her into doing it herself. In the meantime, daughter #2 is only 9 months old so I have at least 3 or 4 more years of wiping backsides ahead of me.

5 coffee with julie August 8, 2011 at 10:09 am

I’d go for wipes and then throw them into a garbage bag. Wet TP isn’t so great.

6 Carly August 8, 2011 at 11:00 am

Yay – potty training! I did the same with the Little Man and just woke up one day and said, “todays’s the day” and then never looked back. The first few days, I actually let him run around starkers while we were at home. He never had the inclination to just squat and go with nothing on his butt, so there were no accidents. A few days we did the underwear thing and he transitioned to that really well.

I did the first swipe with TP, then followed up with a wipe (the flushable ones actually gave him a rash so I stuck with the same non-flushable ones we’d used pre-potty training) and just tossed them in the garbage.

We did stickers as a “reward” but he was so easy with it and we kept forgetting to put up a sticker, that in the end, it was all done without bribery – not that I’m against it AT. ALL! πŸ™‚

7 Fawn August 8, 2011 at 11:19 am

I echo Marianne’s suggestion to have Lucas bend over. I say to my kids, “Bum up!” and they stick flop over with their bums in the air – the important parts are much more accessible. πŸ™‚

8 DaniGirl August 8, 2011 at 11:54 am

Great feedback, everyone. Thanks for your comments! We’re on to day 3, and while #2 seems to be a bit of a challenge, he’s been dry for days. πŸ™‚

Fawn, I had to mention that the juxtapositioning of your “bum up” comment and the link to your recent post called “perspective” is one of those happy Internet accidents that make me smile! : )))

9 Donna August 10, 2011 at 2:43 pm

We say “plie toi” and over they go. We just use toilet paper but there are children’s face clothes in a basket on the back of the toilet that I resort to as needed. We used cloth diapers and never used disposable wipes unless out of the house so this practice has carried on over. My almost 5 year old still hollers for help from time to time. Ready for that to be over!

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