Potty training rookie reminds dad that diapers make certain situations simpler
I’ve been so focused on potty training my three-year-old son that I forgot the many ways diapers make life easier.
Peter’s made serious progress on the potty. He spends all of his waking hours in underwear, switching back to diapers only for naps and overnight. I’m proud of my boy. The once-reluctant Petey is quickly catching on.
That being said, he’s still a rookie. I often reminisced last week on my diaper changing days. Diapers are expensive, messy and bulky to carry around. Disposables are environmentally disastrous. And yet, there are benefits to having a toddler in diapers over underwear. Here are a few:
Quick change: After four years of changing diapers, I’ve become rather skilled. I can change a diaper in 10 seconds, with a bit of give or take depending on the contents. I can also smell a dirty diaper from across the room. I’m like a drug-sniffing dog, only my sinuses are trained pick up even the faintest smell of poop.
These skills are useless now. Instead, I hurry my toddler into the bathroom. Since tasting a bit of independence, Pete insists on taking down his own pants and propping himself on the toilet. Afterwards, this painfully slow process is reversed. Oh, and don’t forget to wash those hands.
The whole ordeal can take upwards of 5 minutes, which seems like an eternity compared to a 10-second quick change.
Babysitters: Leaving a potty-training newbie with a babysitter is a recipe for disaster. I’m basically setting both of them up for an accident. Then, I feel obligated to make up this by overpaying the sitter.
Dressed in layers: Bundle up your tot in long underwear, insulated jeans, snow pants, coat, hat, mittens and scarf. Minutes later, you’re sure to hear these dreaded words – “I have to go potty!”
Public toilets: Potty-training rookies go from feeling the urge to giving into that same urge within seconds. This often forces parents into some gnarly public toilets. Thankfully, my toddlers can’t read. If they could, they’d certainly have questions about what’s etched or scribbled on the walls.
I’ve also had to beg convenience store clerks, barbers and mechanics for access to their private bathrooms. You may have been in these employee restrooms before. It’s usually just a toilet, a shelf with stocked with decades-old cleaning supplies and a laundry sink. Not a place you want to hang out with a three-year-old boy who touches everything and then puts his fingers in his mouth.
Car trips: Just as you drive pass a rest area, a tiny voice from the backseat inevitably requests a potty break. Your choices are to drive 100 mph to the next exit, pull over and let your toddler sprinkle the weeds along the roadside or get one of those travel toilets. None of these options are as easy as strapping junior into a diaper and setting the cruise control slightly over the speed limit.
Skids: Throwing away a disposable diaper is easy. Washing a cloth diaper is expected, but scrubbing stinky stains from Diego or Dora the Explorer undies is gross.
Tepeed: Little kids are lousy wipers, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. We’ve gone through a roll of toilet paper every day since Peter started using the potty. Back in the diaper days, I could clean his butt with only two pre-moistened wipes.
Again, I don’t want to go back to diapers. I’m proud of Peter’s potty progress. He’s only going to get better. Eventually, he’ll be able to hold it until we find a suitable toilet, wipe his own bottom and get in and out of the bathroom in seconds rather than minutes.
I’ve heard parents say that kids grow up too fast. That may be true. But when it comes to potty training, I’m all for speeding up the process.
Howard Ludwig is a former business writer who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.