** Disclaimer – this is definitely not a ‘how to potty train your toddler post’ This is more of an opportunity to laugh at myself and allow you to laugh along with me! **
I should start by saying that Hannah has been using a potty since she was seven months old – she had constipation issues and we introduced the potty in the hope she could comfortably go on it and she did. She has been using it morning, evening and after nap time since then and often at other nappy changes so she was familiar with it and happy to use it. It certainly was a help when it came to actual potty training.
Lots of people ask about potty training and the dos and don’ts and what worked and what didn’t, these are such hard questions to answer as every child is so different and they train at different ages and over different time frames. But I thought I would share a few thoughts about what I learnt along the way, we really do learn so much from our children!
Timing. If the timing is wrong it will be an uphill struggle, there’s lots of info out there about signs of readiness, this is a pretty good list, but remember every child is different. The first time I tried we had 17 wee wees in the first day resulting in 12 pair of wet pants, I struggled on for another two days before deciding she definitely wasn’t ready!
Never underestimate the determination of a toddler. OK so she knows what the potty is for and knows how her pants get wet but when she decides she’s not using the potty, she’s not using the potty!! Then you are just about to get in the car and she announces she has to go, and lo and behold she does go! Proving that she really did have to go when she said no and also proving she can hold when she wants to!
Patience, patience, patience. What seems like a simple task to us is probably a very daunting experience for them, be patient with them and yourself. I read somewhere, (but I can’t quite remember where) that when your child is learning to walk you don’t scold them when they fall over, you pick them up and keep on trying, this is a great attitude to take to potty training. When you’re ready to tear your hair out remember they are only little and this is a huge thing for them. Lots of praise and dancing around when we had success was key for us and we had stars for her reward chart and of course chocolate, let’s face it we often need a little persuasion ourselves when we don’t want to do something!
Be prepared to laugh (or you’ll only cry). I am often left dumbfounded by Hannah’s answers so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I would get a few choice answers while potty training! When the wee wee was running off the kitchen chair onto the floor like a waterfall and she is saying ‘splash mummy’ as she gets herself off the chair to jump in the puddle! ‘Are you listening to me?’ Answered with an extremely deadpan ‘No mummy’. The conversation in the cubicle when out shopping when she feels the need to ask is ‘mummy doing a poo?’ All in a day’s potty training antics!
Regression. At three weeks in we hit a phase of regression, I believe this was partly my fault for using nappy pants when we were out to help avoid full blown accidents and wet car seats. She treated these as a nappy and never said if she had to go. Potty, toilet, wee wees never got a mention so we just kept on bringing her to the toilet and changing her pants so after three (very long) days of her completely ignoring the fact that she was supposed to be using the toilet we got back on track and have had four brilliant days and its like she never had a blip, just hoping I haven’t spoken too soon!!
Don’t give up. I have to say this has been my most difficult parenting task to date. We did three full days in the house at the start and we both had cabin fever, Hannah loves to get out, as do I so it was tough going. Being brave enough to get out and about was another hurdle, I visited the toilet in our local shopping centre eight times one afternoon and went home without getting the messages I went for!
Don’t be hard on yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back for making it through the first day/week of potty training. Congratulate yourself on developing the patience of a saint! And I would highly recommend filling the fridge with your favourite wine, the freezer with a bucket load of ice cream and the cupboard with huge bars of chocolate, all in aid of keeping yourself sane!
Thanks for reading and please feel free to share your funny stories!