I suppose there are lots of people that call themselves experts when it comes to doling out parenting advice. I’m about to become one of those people!
I’ve smashed potty training 3 times now so don’t mind me while I toot my own horn, I suppose the kids put in SOME of the hard work but under my stellar direction…of course.
Potty training marks the end of babyhood, the only thing left is for them to get dressed by themselves and go to school. But before I start crying about not having babies to look after anymore, I’ll share a little of what I’ve learnt about this huge milestone.
Trust Your Instincts
My first piece of advice, and this relates to anything to do with parenting, is trust your instincts. Do what works for you and your family. Take in the advice that people give you, but ultimately, trust yourself to make the decision, YOU GOT THIS!
Get Some Guidance
First time round, I followed the Gina Ford “Potty Training in One Week” as recommended by our old childminder. I know I said trust your instincts but if it’s your first time doing this, you have no idea what you’re doing! You can hardly draw on your own personal experience, I don’t think anyone’s memory is that good.
You need a little bit of knowledge before you go all maverick and navigate this messy part of parenting on your own. I know, confusing right? Trust your instincts but do what someone else says you should!
But I honestly did not know where to start – to use pull ups or not, to use the potty or straight to the toilet, to know when it’s even time to start. It’s a minefield. I found this particular book super useful. I’m well aware this may not work for you (also if you follow all of the steps in this book, the total time is longer than a week due to prep time). We decided to go straight for big boy/ big girl pants. We felt pull-ups give them a false safety net because in my opinion, no matter how you frame it, a pull up is just a nappy but one that can be easily pulled up and down by you (or them which can be a nightmare in itself).
Basically, whatever you decide, you need a plan of action that everyone involved (partner, parents, friends, childcare providers etc.) can follow. Your child needs consistency, no matter how you plan on doing this.
By child number 2, I skimmed the book for advice. By child number 3, I didn’t even pick it up!
Follow Their Lead
It might seem crazy to give over any control to a 2,3 or 4 year old but if they ain’t ready, you’ll know pretty soon. There are some classic signs that they want to get into the “Toilet Game.” Are they asking a lot about using the toilet? Are they going for longer and longer periods with a dry nappy? Do they not like being in a wet or dirty one anymore? Are they telling you what they’re about to do in their nappy or have just done?
This isn’t even close to an exhaustive list as my youngest displayed very few of these signs and probably cottoned onto potty training the quickest. My children have been trained at 28, 40 and 38 months respectively. You might start because it’s clear they need to but alternatively, you might start because you need them too!
All Parents Talk About Poo
It’s weird, and I’m one of these people now, but parents are very comfortable with talking about bodily fluids. Maybe it’s because you spend so much time covered in them or cleaning them up. It is gross, but it’s true. This means that if you’re struggling with any aspect of potty training you can easily broach the subject with your parenting friends. But as I’ve said, trust your instincts. Don’t take anyone else’s advice as gospel.What they come out with might make you raise an eyebrow but work like a dream or it can just be a batshit crazy idea.
You may think this refers to the child. I’m talking about you, the caregiver, the adult in charge of this process. I’ve found that the greatest success, especially in the very early days, comes from being able to watch your child like an episode of The Real Housewives – you can’t pull your eyes away in case you miss the drama. In this case, you need to watch out for any signs that they’re not aiming for the potty. It’s almost intrusive how much attention you have to pay.
To try and avoid any accidents, I used to set a timer of every 15 minutes to sit the kids on the toilet/potty until they got into the swing of things and then increased or decreased the interval depending on success (or the last time they had an accident!) It allows you to get on with other things. You can pay attention to your other children. Or even your partner (if you have one) and not allowing you to leave it too long before the Spanish Inquisition starts. Asking if they need to go, if they know where to go, are they sure, are they definitely sure, are they definitely sure they’re sure?
Have A Bucket At The Ready (At All Times)
Okay, so this image may be a little bit over the top but I don’t know how squeamish you are!
As a parent, if you’re at the point of potty training, you’ve dealt with a few years of dirty nappies. This is nothing! The things we’ve seen, the things we’ve smelt up until this point have prepared you for this!
Accidents are inevitable, without a doubt. My youngest had 7 accidents in his first week and 5 of them where on day 1. That was pretty impressive but most certainly not the case with number 1 and number 2 (ha!).
And just having the bucket ready to go saves so much time. A clean cloth/ towel and a bucket full of water with disinfectant or multi purpose cleaner at hand can literally save the day. Also, it’s a good idea to have a few clean outfits ready to wear so you don’t have to rummage around for clean clothes while your half naked toddler is wreaking havoc in the living room!
Heap On The Praise
Who doesn’t like a compliment or a little reassurance? I most certainly do and so does your child. Especially in the early days, every success was met with a chorus of cheers from whoever was nearby. Tell them you’re proud, tell them well done, thank the Lord that it’s one less mess to clean up. Definitely avoid telling them they’re naughty or bad if they don’t get it right. This can be hard because accidents always seem to happen when you’ve finally thought you’ve got a few minutes to do something else.
Don’t Go Anywhere And Don’t Give Up
It may sound like a nightmare to some but I always made sure that we had minimal trips out of the house in the week we started training. It’s one less stress to worry about. Accidents in public for some can be embarrassing. Some of us just accept them for what they are but either way cleaning up in the aisles of your favourite supermarket could be quite tricky. Or now I think about it, kind of genius.
Clean up in aisle 4!
But if you are brave enough to get out and about, make sure you have more supplies than you need. There is nothing worse than being caught short (pun intended).
There may be times when you feel like it’s never going to work, that you’ve made a mistake in starting when you have (and perhaps it was too soon) but you have to potty train your kid. Ultimately, there is no way around it. So get stuck in and persevere. You’ll feel so proud of your little person as you see them taking their first real steps to becoming a big kid. This is a big deal, messy and stressful but amazing and rewarding at the same time.
So have I given you any practical tips on how to potty train your kid? Maybe not because it’s not that hard – put a kid that needs to pee on the potty! But seriously, it’s something every parent has gone through. Considering how unqualified we all are for this parenting lark, you’ll do fine. Even if you suck a little at it, your kid’s a superstar and they’ll figure it out!
Let’s keep peeing together! (Or not…)
xx Lee xx
What parenting challenges are you currently facing?
Featured Image Source: Pixabay