My 5½ year old was just coming up to two when I fell pregnant with her sister, and one of the things I was hellbent on doing was potty training well before the new baby came along. For reasons I now find absurd, I got it into my head that changing two sets of nappies would be horrendous, and I was adamant that I would have her out of them shortly after her second birthday. Looking back I also put pressure on myself because the people I was spending the most time with then had potty trained early.
We had two failed attempts – one the week after her birthday in July, where she peed and pood over the floor eight times in five hours and did absolutely nothing whatsoever on the loo or potty. Needless to say I cut my losses there and then, and decided to have another crack a few months later. Second time around was during a week in September that hubby and I had both taken off work – an ideal opportunity – but our strong willed girl had other ideas. No amount of bribery was going to coerce her into doing anything she didn’t want to do! At that point I put the potty and training seat away and decided to have another attempt when I went on maternity leave after the Christmas. Then out of no-where in the October she asked to use the potty, and from that day onwards (aged 2y3m) she wore knickers. She ‘got it’ quite quickly, had the odd accident here and there but was mainly dry after the first couple of weeks. Unfortunately (and rather ironically) when her sister came along a few months later she massively regressed. She would pee herself three or four times a day and I thought it would have been easier to have kept her in nappies.
Second time around, determined to not make the same mistakes again, I wanted the potty training experience to be more child led. I was naively hoping that our almost three year old would just wake up one day and announce she was a big girl and wanted to wear knickers. That did not happen, and the odd occasions that she roamed around without a nappy on resulted in a puddle on the floor. Wanting her trained before starting pre-school next month I decided to just take the nappies away last week. Here’s how we got on.
I cleaned up a LOT of wee from the floor. The toddler was so anti-knickers she wasn’t having a bar of it, I think I put six pairs in the wash and two in the bin. Just after lunchtime I was completely exasperated and put her back in a nappy. I announced to hubby that I was ‘really worried in case there was a problem’, and he laughed. His response calmed me down ‘she isn’t even three yet, she’s trying to stake her place in the world in the only way she knows how: by peeing on the floor’.
I kept her in a nappy because she had a full scale meltdown when I tried to put her in knickers.
This was a work/nanny day and when I asked if she wanted to wear knickers she said she did. So I put her in them. It was a mixed bag, with a couple of successes and a couple of accidents, but a great improvement from where we were on day one!
Another work/nanny day. She did a few wees with her training seat on the toilet in the morning, and I had a text from the nanny at midday saying she had used the loo and not had any accidents. I thought woo hoo we’re getting somewhere now. Then when she came home a few hours later she wasn’t wearing anything on her bottom half, because she’d had four accidents, including a poo. I became seriously disheartened but knew we had to keep going, if we put her back into nappies it would have confused the hell out of her.
She had been going to the loo all morning without any fuss, then around midday I smelt a smell. Checked baby’s bottom and it wasn’t him. Checked toddler’s pants and it was her. Cue clean up operation, and giving her a shower which she absolutely hates (don’t know why, but she has never liked the shower). We learned a big lesson at that point, and decided we’d take her to the toilet every hour whether she said she wanted to go or not.
Huge success, not a single accident. Ditto Day Seven
For what it’s worth I have two pieces of advice for people approaching potty training. Do not use pull ups, it’s too confusing for them. Every kid I know that has been put into pull ups takes longer to train than the kids that haven’t. Also, when you choose your day to start potty training, providing you are sure your child is ready, stick to your guns and don’t turn back. Even if you spend a week cleaning up accidents it’ll be over in a flash. I really should have persevered on Day One and not put her back into a nappy, but I’m glad I stayed strong on Days Three, Four and Five.
Now, a week and a half in, things are going really well. Do I wish we’d have taken the nappies away sooner? No, not really, because it might have taken longer for her to ‘get it’. Or she may have regressed anyway just like her sister did. I think at 2y11m we pitched it perfectly.
I’m glad that box has been ticked! Two kids down, one to go, but fortunately not for a while yet!