Potty training is the pits. It ranks right up there with cleaning your waste bin or finding your babies old half filled milk bottle in the car three months later. The only difference is that you usually get someone else (AKA hubby) to clean the bin and if you are like me you always, ALWAYS throw a bottle out if you find it by the time the milk has curdled enough to resemble cottage cheese. Potty training on the other hand always falls on the mom. It’s like it’s our duty or something, making us feel like we are war heroes being called to serve and protect our country. In some ways we are.
Here’s why potty training sucks:
- You always think you are prepared and ready for all the poop but in reality you are not. Nothing can prepare you for finding pooh smeared all over the playroom floor or worse, your child using his blocks to smear it all over the walls. Prepare yourselves. It WILL get ugly.
- You either have to stay home for three days straight or kart a potty with you WHEREVER you go! And I mean everywhere. The park, the shops, the birthday party, the neighbors braai, the play dates. And take it from me, the child will still manage to shit his pants at least 70% of time, usually when you’ve just sat down for a cup of tea or made it to the checkout, after asking them several times you need to go potty?
- You go through more clothes in one day than you usually go through during a three-week farm holiday.
- You end up going mad asking them every five seconds if they need to pooh or wee. It just so happens that by the time they understand the concept they tell you YES and then you will start the clock. The sitting endlessly on the potty waiting for something, anything to happen. You migrate the entire playroom to the middle of the lounge (where the potty just happened to be) and read books and talk about being a big boy/girl. After 15 minutes they get up to reveal nothing has come out of either end. Exactly 30 seconds later they pooh on your new rug.
- Everything smells of pooh, the washing basket, the bathroom, the laundry room/kitchen. The little person. You.
- Wee, unlike pooh can go undetected for days before you start to wonder if you have a cat with a serious urinating problem in the house. The smell of 3 day old wee is almost as bad as fresh poop.
- Boys will usually insist of weeing standing up. Some girls with bigger brothers will too. Be prepared for them using their willies as water guns, whether intentionally or otherwise.
On the bright side here are some reasons why a potty trained human is AWESOME.
- No more nappies. Need I say more?
- No more smells wafting through your home at any given time. (Unless they are like my four-year old and still manage to stink out the bathroom) No more nappy bins or nappies by the back door.
- A newfound sense of pride and independence. Seeing them adjust to becoming an independent, self-asserted little person, is a truly remarkable thing. And they did it with your help and coaching. You can give yourself a pat on the back now.
I myself am about to embark on this challenge and so I have spent much time reflecting on what worked best with my eldest. While I’m no expert on the subject (as is evident above) here are some tips that may help you as you step up to the challenge yourself.
1. Boys and girls are different and they develop at different rates. While girls usually more ready when it comes to this sort of thing, boys tend to take a little longer to catch on. That’s OK.
2. The same goes for age. Like with everything, every child is different. I know of some babies who were potty trained at 15 months and some who are three and still in nappies. As their mom you need to trust your gut and read your child closely for when you think they are showing signs of readiness. But please don’t let them still be in a nappy when they are five. NO.
3. For the love of sanity, begin your potty training in the summer/warmer months when they are able to walk around starker’s and where soiling their clothes every 3 hours isn’t going to be a problem. It also just makes getting on and off potties all day that much easier without having to take off several layers of clothing.
4. In my opinion, staying home for three days just makes everything s much easier. Plan some fun stuff to do at home to keep the kids busy, have friends over at your place and prepare to batten down the hatches. I realized with my eldest that the minute he made an â€˜oopsie’ when we were out, it took a knock on his confidence and he tented to regress a bit. While it’s not always possible for all moms, try putting a weekend aside to get it all done and dusted as quickly as possible.
5. They will still wear a night-time nappy for a good length of time after they are potty trained. They are not old enough to master the skill of holding it in while sleeping, so don’t expect them to.
6.Do it when things are calm and there isn’t anything else disruptive going on. For example, if you are in the middle of a big move or they are staying with grandparents for a few nights in the coming weeks, hold out till when things are more settled and consistent. If there are some other more serious issues at hand, like parents getting divorced or trouble at crÃ¨che, make sure their emotional needs are being seen to so that this doesn’t negatively impact their progress.
7.Be kind and gentle and always give them loads of positive affirmation when they get it right. When they get it wrong, and they will, keep your voice loving and gently explain what is required of them. You will sound like as stuck record yes, but it will eventually stick.
It’s something that has to be done and they will eventually get there. Like my mom always told me with my first child at the start of every milestone, You don’t see any adults crawling around or pooping in their pants do you?
Take a breath (Or hold it ) and know that it will soon be over with.