Toilet Training Memoirs..
I remember one time, in the grocery store, hearing a small voice beside me saying, “Toilet!” in that high-pitched tone you know is serious.
When you decide to risk taking a child out in undies during the toilet training process, you don’t say, “Can you just wait?” No. You run, RUN I tell you, to the nearest toilet. Picture this: a slightly frazzled looking woman, trying to push around a mountain of groceries as she navigates a trolley with a bung wheel, a child hanging off one leg and a toddler just about to wet themselves on the other side. I left the trolley where it was in a desperate attempt to find a nearby toilet. This time, I, no we, made it. Phew!
My experiences of toilet training each of my four children has been varied, from one who was toilet trained at an early age, and done within a week, to another that was still having accidents at five. Give me strength and an extra portion of patience!
Here are moments I remember about toilet training:
Potty in the car boot.
Stopping on the side of the road.
10 undies in the spare bag.
Spare clothes. Just in case.
Soaking underwear in buckets.
Throwing out unredeemable underwear.
Giving out little dinosaur figurines as a reward.
Crouching on the toilet floor reading book after book hoping for a number two.
Ringing aunties and grandparents in excitement after a success. (Amazing what moral support is needed during these times)
Talking about wees and poos in normal conversation. All day.
Wee on the floor.
Wee on the grass.
Wee on the couch.
Wee on clothes.
Wee. Wee. Wee.
If I could go back to my younger-mother self, there are a few things I would say about toilet training.
1. Don’t hold your child to the expectation of other children.
It can be easy to be caught up in the “right age” to toilet change. However, children learn things at different times and in different ways. As I mentioned, my experiences were very different for each of my children. It’s beneficial to watch for signs of readiness as an indicator and go from there.
2. Be relaxed about it
I remember toilet training my first child and being completely daunted by the task. I mean, where do you start? Do you just go cold turkey? They key is not to be overwhelmed. It’s better to approach toilet training without too much expectation. As a parent, I found it helpful to realise in my mind, that it’s simply another learning step in the childhood process.
3. Be prepared
One way to be relaxed about the process of toilet training is to have a flexible plan, and I place emphasis on the flexible. There’s more than likely there WILL be accidents and set backs, but it does all come together in the end. Huggies have a helpful toilet training guide you can download. Chatting to other parents about their experiences can help too.
4. Do what suits you and your family
I know some parents who used training pants during the training process and some who put their children straight into underwear. Be confident about doing (and working out) what is best for you.
Personally, in the training process, I used a combination of both training pants and regular underwear. For example, during summer when we spent time outside in the afternoons, I would put my child in regular underwear because it was easy to remove and accidents weren’t a big deal. And I particularly found training pants helpful when going out in the early stages of toilet training. I found training pants to be a huge stress saver in certain situations! You can even grab a FREE sample of Huggies Pull-Ups to try.
5. Be patient
I’m not going to lie here. Sometimes I felt very impatient during the toilet training process, especially on those days when I was extra tired. However, I found it helpful to see the issue from my child’s perspective and the importance of choosing to be a patient constant during the process.
5. Be positive
Celebrate small achievements and be encouraging. When there was an accident, I tried not to make a big deal of it, and instead reminded them that they could go to the toilet or potty for next time.
6. It will happen
When you’re in the midst of it, sometimes it can feel like it may never happen! But I can tell you all my children are at school now and they all are toilet trained. It will happen, and sometimes quicker than you expect!
A few little tips I found helpful:
• Allow your child to go shopping with you to pick out their underwear and find a special place to put them in their room. I kept training pants in with the underwear too.
• Try sitting your child on a potty before bath time from 15-18 months (but don’t worry if nothing happens). I found normalising using the potty to be helpful.
• Use rewards and celebrate success. This doesn’t have to be food; it can be a reward and “stickers chart”:toddler/toilet-training/tools/chart/ balloons or little figurines.
• Read children’s books about potty training
If I could go back to myself in toilet training stages, I would say:
Be prepared but flexible.
Chat to others about their experiences but be confident about what works for your family.
Drop expectations and be positive.
Choose to be relaxed; be patient.
It will happen in good time.