Thursday, 4 March 2010

This Too Shall Pass: Potty Training - a Retrospective

It's not like I'm rid of it forever (we're expecting baby #3 in August), but potty training seems like a dim and distant memory...of a time filled with anxiety and stress; a time of struggle. I think that for Baby Bunchers, getting the elder child to pee in the potty or on the toilet needs its own rule book!

I did make a rod for my own back with child #1, Sophie. I decided she needed to start pre-school at the age of 2 and a half & at the time, the rules required that she be 'dry'. Looking back (and I know mums that have their kids trained early on and the whole 'elimination communication' thing), Soph simply wasn't ready. But I waded in anyway, at 22 months. Armed with reward chart and treats. With a mop and bucket. With carpet shampoo. (And armed is a specific choice of word - it literally WAS a battle.)

And actually, Sophie was dry quite quickly. But the anxiety of never knowing when - or where! - I was going to find her creating puddles was like something I'd never experienced. It took me back to the newborn days, when I had no understanding of what I was meant to be doing, and just stressed about it. Having read somewhere that pull-ups sent mixed signals, I insisted she stayed in knickers despite our disasters. And we got there over a period of a few days - despite my attention being 'diverted' by child #2, Imogen, who was by now at 9 months old very mobile, and very accomplished at wandering into piles of wee! But I spent a lot of time out and about with both of them, and rarely found a cubicle large enough (or near enough!) for me to deal with this easily by myself.

This wasn't the end of it, of course. Sophie might be dry, but it was almost 3 months before she was able to poop regularly on the potty. And having, then as now, a very fruity diet, she used to soil herself liberally 3 times a day - mainly in her pants. I became an expert in cleaning her off with a baby in tow. (And sometimes in tears.)

The good news was - by the time it came to potty train child #2, I had learned lessons & was ready to wait until Imogen was at least 3 to tackle the issue. In fact, she herself 'told' me she was ready by persisting in taking her bottoms down and taking her nappy off wherever she happened to be! (She had previously 'told' us she was ready for a bed by climbing out of her high-sided cot.) And I used pull-ups this time, particularly if we were going out, which did not set us back one bit. Above all, I knew we would get there in the end and there was no need to stress about it.

And that's the only advice I can give, really. Yes, it's great if you can find someone to look after the baby while you focus on potty training the toddler. Washable car seat covers (and a homemade waterproof cushion) come in very handy. Having a portable potty & child toilet seat may be a must. But the main thing is - don't panic! This too shall pass.

1 comment:

  1. As our American friends might say: 'Yikes'. I've seen my sisters cope with their youngsters, and my wife is pretty much up to speed in this department, but for us childless males, this is a corridor down which we fear to tread.

    I wrote about how childless couples deal with children once and if you're interested you can find it here.

    if you'd like