Friday, March 13, 2009

March 13, 2009: The Secrets of Potty Training

March 13, 2009:  Wow.  When it hits you, it hits you.  You know what I am talking about... a GREAT idea just comes to mind when you are on the El, driving in traffic, getting your hair done, buying mulch, skiing down the slopes or even while waiting for the doctor to come into the room. An epiphany!  Well I had such a moment this morning.  My special moment occurred while I was dropping the twins off in their classroom and their teacher handed me a 5 pound bag of soiled bed linens and clothing.  It just goes to show you that epiphany's have no rules, they can happen anywhere!  So about this bag of clothes - Grace had wet her cot/bed during nap time yesterday.  They had forgotten to send them home last evening so I was to take them home and wash them and bring them back in time for today's nap time.  Just to set the tone - there was no animosity here - the teacher was sincerely just asking me to wash them because they don't have washing facilities at the school.  And I get that so no problem.  But you can imagine my excitement at the little solution I had waiting to tell the teacher about in Grace's backpack.  Not sure how to say it in French, I pulled out a Pull-Up and said with a big smile, "Voila!  A Pull-Up!  Elle dort avec une Pull-Up! Donc, elle ne fait pipi dans sa lit!"  Translated, it means, "Here, a Pull-Up!  She sleeps with a Pull-Up and then she will not go potty in her bed!"  To my astonishment, I got a very bad reaction to this novel idea.  A frown and a quick finger tisk-tisk.  I picked up from what she said that the kids at this school do not wear diapers.  Ever.  There are too many children to tend to diapers and diapers will not be condoned or used.  I didn't need translation, I understood what she was saying.  But she told another mother who spoke English and asked her to explain to me the problem.  Surely, when I tell the teacher that all three of my daughters pee the bed often when they sleeping because they are such sound sleepers, she will nod her head and feel my pain with me, work with me.  But, no, not so much.  It's a school rule. No diapers.  So I told her I understand and that Grace has many changes of clothes in her backpack if she happens to have another accident today (which is about 95% sure to happen).  The English-speaking mother and the Teacher said this was the best solution - just to always have extra changes of clothes.  So I left it at that but in my mind, which tends to be a machine of efficiency-seeking opportunities, I did the following cost/benefit analysis (obviously, you can take the girl out of Hewitt but you can't take Hewitt out of the girl...):

A) Time taken to put on pull-up before nap + time taken to take off pull-up after nap =  1 minute and a pat on the back.

B) Time taken to change bedding, take off wet clothes, put on dry clothes, clean up soiled student and console the ashamed student who had peed her bed in front of all the other kids = 10 minutes and 75 hugs.

I wasn't a math major, but I am no dummy.  Choice A seems logical. So why isn't Choice A the Choice for the Teacher?  The answer is because it is a school rule and I am pretty sure I would have to buy the school to get this century year old rule changed.  The next question for me is how did this ever become a school rule?  Surely, not all 3 and 4 year olds are potty trained in France...right?  Surely, other children are wetting their beds occasionally in Grace and Mia's classroom...right?  Well, I have been doing some research this morning, just to see if my perceptions of this French potty-free world can be supported with data.  It has been surprisingly difficult to find any info about this in English.  But I did manage to find a reference on that talks about how a well-Known French Pediatrician from the 70's started a movement where children are potty trained from the age of 4 months in France. Babies and toddlers also carry around their own little potty's as young children to help them.  

So...where does this all take me?  It takes me to this: If there is a school rule that no diapers are allowed and that all children must be potty trained, and children from 3 years old must attend school, but Grace needs a diaper for sleeping and she is 4 years old, the only solution for the school is to kick her out of school.  I can't imagine they are going to keep cleaning her up each day after nap time.  The whole walk home, I tried to think of what I could do to help Grace not pee in her sleep since that seems to be the only solution for me to keep her in school.  If Grace doesn't magically cease the pees in the next week or so, I will have to either find a school that allows peeing or home school her myself.  Neither option sounds good.  So I am at a loss for now.  Ella is almost 6 years old and she still pees while she is sleeping.  If I can't conquer this with a 6 year old,  I am not sure a 3 year old will be any easier.

BUT....this leads me to the epiphany I had today: The Secrets to Potty Training.  After three children, tons of pull-ups and lots of dirty bed linens, I have the secrets.  Now I never said these were insightful, inexpensive and easy so don't expect any of those.  No, these secrets are more like, given the fact that potty training is absolutely required and will never be a skipped step in raising a child, these are the ways to cushion the financial blow and possibly expedite the potty training process.

Here are the Secrets and they are in sequential order:

1.  Move to France.  This is a crucial step.  If you want to skip most of potty training and diapers, you absolutely need to pack up the family and/or give birth to your children in France and do as the French do-do (he he).

2. Buy stock in Pampers and Huggies.  If you can't get yourselves to France, which probably applies to 99.99% of my blog readers, then you must buy stock in diapers. Let's think about this.  Even if you use cloth diapers most of your babies life (and kudos if you do, what a great way to help the environment), there will always be a segment of time where Pull-Ups have to be purchased and worn.  I mean, please show me a picture of a 3 year old changing their own cloth diaper, safety pins and all.  With all the babies born each and every day and the amount of diapers we must use, this seems like a reliable way to make some money on the stock market and soften the blow to your wallet. OK, so maybe you can't just invest in "diapers" since big corporations make more than just diapers. But if diapers were listed as a US Commodity like Corn and Soybeans, maybe have their own Diapers Index this would be a great way to invest your money.  You could buy short and sell long or whatever the heck it is people do and hedge it against the number of babies turning 2 that day : ) 

3. Subscribe to Prime and order in bulk.  And this is a serious secret, no sarcasm here.  After three children simultaneously wearing diapers, I can honestly say one of the best decisions I ever made was paying the $60 annual fee and getting two day shipping from  I would be two days away from running out of diapers and would log onto Amazon to order and they would arrive the next day.  Three huge boxes that I didn't have to lug home from the store and in quantities that allowed me not to even have to think about buying diapers again until the next month or so.   And at the same time I would order my laundry detergent, baby formula and tons of other heavy, bulky stuff that I hated lugging home from the store.  $60 well spent in my book.

OK, so I may have oversold my Secrets to Potty Training.  But like I said, I never promised they would be cheap, easy or insightful.  But in all seriousness, I do envy the French.  Potty training children at such a young age and achieving success is so awesome - and the money saved on Pull-Ups is probably the way they can afford to dress their children so fashionably!  Not know the language is difficult, but workable.  Eating new foods is difficult, but workable.  Not looking the same as all the other kids is difficult but workable.  But not being potty trained in a potty trained society, well that is just plain difficult.  I'll keep you all posted on how this plays out. 

Tonight the family is heading to Mont-St-Michel ( after Andrew leaves work and we are staying until Sunday.  So the next post will likely be Sunday evening.  Can't wait to tell you all about our adventures!

Pictured above:  A picture I truly never thought would have any place in our world or on our computer; a big pile of diapers that Andrew found just lying on the sidewalk in Caen.


  1. Hardly know what to say!!! Grace will make it as will mia and Ella - hang in and make friends with the other mother - she may become a friend! Have fun this weekend

  2. Well, Gracie got kicked out today! Actually, they asked that I pick her up after lunch and bring her home for the rest of the day until she learns not to pee during nap time - she did it again today. So now you know my goal for next week...potty training. If it's not one thing, it's your bladder!

  3. Are you sure those are used diapers? I still believe they are salt water taffy balls. Mmmm.

  4. Kate, I am amazed at a few things that surround this pre-school potty situation! First of all, the pile of diapers...evidence that there are many French super-mommies struggling with potty training. Second, I can't believe the kids actaully sleep at naptime, I don't recall any of the kids actually sleeping during naptime at Kylie's preschool, so maybe you can find out how they manage to get a room full of toddlers to sleep at the same time as you are figuring out the secrets of potty training! Finally, I think you have no choice but to not let Grace drink or eat until after naptime (this means no lunch, the logical choice) AND if you are having a hard time teaching her not to pee in her sleep (I've tried to teach myself not to grind my teeth for years with no luck!) maybe you can change your goal to teacher her how to NOT sleep during naptime! I have a friend who was trying to night train her child and used an alarm clock watch, the kid eventually trained himself to sleep through the alarm. My other friend wanted her daughter to stop night wetting and to help with the wet sheet-towel mess she used those disposable doggie wetting pads and taped one to her sheets and put her to sleep w/o pull-up. She still had the wet pajamas to deal with but would not have to change the bed multiple times a day! I know this ended up working for her...I wish you guys luck! Give little Grace a big hug and assure her that she is NOT the only kid in this big mean world that can't keep their cot dry!! XOXO

  5. Wow - I guess you can send Gracie back to live with us until she can control her almost 4-year-old bladder. The basement is closer to finished . . . But I do like the idea of skipping naps.

    I feel your frustration; but appreciate your humor.

  6. Well, one thing is for sure. It's a tough crowd here in France when it comes to wet pants! I picked Gracie up today after lunch today and had her nap at home. She was successful in NOT wetting her bed. It's so hard to know if kids do this because they can't help it or because they want to come home and hand with mommy. We'll see what happens tomorrow. Humph. I wish I could get her to not nap, but she really does need it - she crashes so hard at nap time. It it from all that freaking out that she and Mia do all day - it's probably exhausting! Thanks to all of you for your advice. I'll keep you posted on the pee...

  7. Jessica RutherfordMarch 25, 2009 at 1:59 PM

    Geez... that's hard core!! Wish I could be so selective. Poor Grace. I hope it works out for you