The eve before.
I’m sat at what feels like the bottom of a huge mountain the eve before I am told to climb it with very little preparation. In reality I have been thinking about how I am going to tackle potty training my 2 years 9 month old. I am having to force her into potty training for various reasons that I will not bore you with, but believe me the week before Christmas would not be my ideal week to start. However, my husband will be off for a week and two pairs of hands seems a better idea, especially with a 3 month old in tow.
I have read the NHS advice, Eric website and various other sources, I’ve bought and read books with my daughter, bought what feels like 100 pairs of pretty knickers and have set aside three days where I will be completely based at home. In some ways I fear I have thoroughly over thought every little detail. I am bracing myself for 20 pairs of soiled knickers, numerous damp patches and a little girl who stands there and just says “oh” as she urinates on my carpet for the umpteenth time. Maybe I’m a pessimist, maybe this is rather optimistic, either way tomorrow is the big day!
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The day started like most others, my 3 month old waking at 6:00am (not for the 1st time I hasten to add) for her second feed of the day, closely followed by my toddler. She seemed to have forgotten that today was the big day! I took off her nappy and again tried to explain to her that today she was going to wear knickers. Elaborately, I showed her the array of knickers I had, some she had chosen and some I had bought in a desperate attempt to have enough pairs to get through the day. Surprisingly, she went straight to a pair I had bought for her – which left me wondering why I had spent so long in various supermarkets waiting for a two year old to decide between Frozen, Pepper Pig and princesses!
Breakfast was the first hurdle, she didn’t want any! Wanting to keep her calm, I let her play with her toys rather than eating, mission accomplished, she stayed calm. Then came the time for her first accident, my daughter had pooed in her knickers, despite constant reminding to sit on the potty. Recalling all that I had read I put it in to her potty. She was horrified! Thinking it was because she had gone to the toilet in her knickers I reassured her that it was fine, that I wasn’t cross and went to choose another pair of knickers (again from the ones I had just bought). Back to playing and calm was restored. The next hour was a repeat of this but with wet knickers instead of dirty ones. Finally, I worked out what the problem with me putting her on the potty was and nothing I had read had even mentioned it as a potential problem. She didn’t want the potty to get dirty! My suggestion of using the toilet with her “special” seat on it was the life line I needed. To say the rest of the day was a breeze is quite the understatement but it was certainly the turning point. It became a bit of a game, how many times can I get my mother to run full pelt to the toilet with me in tow! It’s the sort of game that grandparents sit and watch with that “it’s pay back time” smile on their faces. This pattern of playing, constant reminding, mad dash to the toilet continued for the rest of the day.
The main thing I have taken away from today is that the books miss out a lot! Not one of the things I read even mentioned about what to do with a 3 month old. While I was busy taking my two year old back and forwards from the toilet, what was I supposed to do with her sister? She certainly did not approve – my usually placid, smiley baby was replaced by a clingy, needy, whining horror. Of all the things I planned, bought, read and prepared not once had I given a thought to my poor baby! As the day continued, calm was restored with the help of Sleeping Beauty, a bottle of milk and a nap (again none of which are suggestions I found from my various sources of reading).
Bed time was my next hurdle. I discussed with my toddler about what to do if she needed to go to the toilet during the night. Her aversion to the potty certainly made it more difficult for her do anything independently as she couldn’t get on and off the toilet unaided, but we had our plan. Basically call mum! I’ve always been very lucky with my eldest, she has always loved her sleep (something I’m only becoming aware of as number two is not so keen) so I wasn’t surprised when she calmly went to bed. However, nothing prepared me for the next game of the day – I need the toilet night time dash. It is very similar to the day time version of the game except it leaves you glued to the monitor which is usually discarded after the first few minutes and the dash up the stairs is more exhausting than running across the lounge to get to the toilet.
As the day drew to a close I was able to reflect on day one. It went better than expected – with several lessons learnt for tomorrow.
1. Toilets are better than potties.
2. Get someone to help you if you have a 3 month old.
3. Have a bank of DVDs ready and waiting for when things get too much.
4. Get ready for the “I need to go to the toilet” bedtime avoidance technique.
Learning from the lessons of yesterday we started off well. My toddler was dry all night but did wake up two hours earlier than normal. Ordinarily, she would have gone back to sleep but after a trip to the toilet she was not going to go back to sleep. So our day started 2 hours earlier than normal! This did result in a very tired toddler and all the joys that accompany them. The rest of the day passed with numerous trips to the toilet, most of which didn’t result in her actually going. Unfortunately for my poor baby this meant being dropped at a seconds notice mid feed, cuddle or anything else we happened to be doing and having a mad rush to the toilet. My youngest was highly unimpressed by this and loudly vocalised her protests. Luckily, by the afternoon reinforcements had arrived in the form of good friends who where able to cuddle a baby or take a toddler to the toilet as the need arose.
By the time evening came I was completely fed up with the inside of my toilet but we had had no accidents! Rather too confidently I put my daughter to bed feeling sure she would go through the night again. Of course the inevitable happened – 3 o’clock in the morning comes round and I hear the district shrill of “Mum, I need the toilet.” Quicker than anyone should have to move at that time in the morning, I jumped out of bed and ran to my daughter’s bedroom and rushed her to the toilet. It was all in vain – the second I touched her pjs I realised that I was too late. So for the first time (and certainly not the last) I was stripping the bed, finding clean pjs and vowing to google ways to make the whole process quicker in the morning.
Day 3 and beyond
Toilet training (can’t be called potty training due to my daughter refusing to use the potty) during the day has been much easier than I first thought. We still have accidents but these are becoming fewer and so long as we have our portable toilet seat we are set to go. Over the Christmas period we have been to various houses, on long drives and away from the house all day, with gentle reminding and plenty of spare knickers and leggings we have survived. My only confession has been to using “night time knickers” during the night. It was not so much the changing the bed or getting the sheets dry without a tumble drier that was putting me off continuing, it was my daughter’s mood after the third night of reduced sleep! At the moment we are much happier, night and day, with our special princess night time knickers and I think it might be a little while until I crack that particular nut.
So my advice to anyone attempting potty training.
Read the books and then ignore them.
Just get loads of pairs of underwear and don’t worry about getting your toddler to choose them.
Stickers are a great incentive but when they fail so are chocolate buttons.
Sometimes only a toilet will do!