July 8, 2014 -- Call her the potty whisperer. New York City moms in the know already do.
Joining the ranks of weekend nannies, sleep consultants and baby nurses is the latest in outsourced parenting: the potty trainer.
NYC Potty Training Inc., believed to be the city’s first professional potty-training service, just launched late last month. And according to Samantha Allen, its founder, the phone has been “ringing off the hook.”
And it’s no wonder. With everything from books to videos to the ipotty to sticker charts and rewards systems, there’s no shortage of so-called experts weighing in on the best way to get this messy job done. But Allen said much of achieving this milestone really just boils down to behavior.
She should know. Allen may have only recently incorporated her business, but she’s not new to other peoples' kids’ poop. Far from it. She has spent more than a decade as an applied behavioral analysis teacher for children with special needs, and potty training was one of her specialties, often being completed in just a few short days. Working with typically developing children – something she was being asked to do on the side by parents who saw her work her magic on other people’s kids – she said the process can be completed in as little as one day.
One-day potty training? That’s music to the ears of parents whose children are about to head off to camp this summer or school come September and have either no time or no desire to potty train their kids themselves.
This was the case for Molly Goldberg, a working mom of two from Roslyn, New York, who needed to get her 3-year-old Sam potty trained for camp, stat. She admitted to “not having a lot of patience” and being “frustrated” with the potty-training process. Her daughter had potty trained easily, after all. She saw Allen’s post in a moms’ group on Facebook and called her immediately.
“He would not ever stand near the potty, he would not go near the bathroom,” Goldberg said.
Allen, Goldberg said, “came prepared” with all sorts of toys and activities to coax Sam to the toilet and keep him amused as they gave him water and juice and even his pizza lunch while they sat and waited. And waited.It took two-and-a-half-hours, but it worked. From then on, when Allen and Goldberg took him to the potty every 30 minutes, he was much less apprehensive.
Goldberg hired Allen for one day. The next day she continued with every 30 minutes , then every 45 minutes to the bathroom. Then she became less stringent, and Sam started telling her when he has to go, even when he was swimming at a pool party just a few days after his session with Allen. Goldberg said he has woken up dry every morning since Allen’s visit.
But all this speed and convenience comes at a steep price. The two-day training session, which Allen recommends, costs $1,750. One-day sessions are also available for $925. And Allen is in the process of hiring and training a team of potty trainers who will be less expensive than Allen herself.
The cost alone is enough to deter many would-be clients. But as Goldberg put it, “people spend money on all sorts of things, going out, personal trainers."
There’s also a feeling among some parents that this is a job that’s a parent’s alone. A nonscientific survey conducted for ABC News by parenting website BabyCenter found just 13 percent of nearly 1,700 respondents would pay for a similar service. Others would outsource if it took place at day care or school, or by grandparents. But 48 percent said potty training was their job alone.
But that doesn't mean they have any fun doing it. “While parents enjoy many milestones with their children, potty training is not among the favorites,” said Rebecca Michals, director of BabyCenter’s Global Community.
Indeed. But Goldberg’s not the only parent willing to pay for the potty whisperer. She said her friends are already inquiring about how they can hire Allen, too: “This was a good experience and I got to be there for this milestone without getting frustrated.” And as for little Sam? "When Samantha was leaving he said, 'Thanks for pottying me,'" Goldberg said.