I never wanted to write about potty training as, quite frankly, motherhood involves being covered in enough of other people’s bodily fluids in real life as it is*, so in your precious moments of down-time you probably want to read something glossy and escapist, not mumsy and ever-so-slightly icky.
And let’s be honest, it’s a pretty shitty subject, really, isn’t it? Literally.
So here’s a post about potty training!
Why? First time round I very nearly did lose my mind (see below). It started with a pretty pants shopping trip and was a bumpy ride that was an actual bumpy ride considering I was pregnant with baby two.
But second time round? It’s been much easier and we’ve sailed through with my sanity pretty much intact. TOUCH WOOD.
So for everyone who’s dreading it, unhappily in the midst or putting it off for the second time, I wanted to write about how to potty train without losing your mind, take two. Let’s all learn from my mistakes!
(No great or gross detail about bodily fluids in this post, I promise).
Don’t do it when you’re pregnant: Last time I potty trained our toddler when I was pregnant purely so I wouldn’t have to change two sets of nappies once the baby was here. As everyone said to me ‘Do it before the baby gets here so you don’t have to change two sets of nappies‘ in *that* kind of voice that put the fear of God in me and put me into a constant panic about getting it done ASAP before the baby arrived.
It is undoubtedly a Good Thing to get it done before Baby Two arrives and makes life a lot easier. However, it meant potty training when I was balancing precariously on the high hormonal tightrope of pregnancy where all my emotions were magnified by ten million and it nearly finished me off. I have strong memories of sitting on the stairs, sobbing, because it wasn’t going well. On Day One. I’ll let you be the judge of how well it went from that point.
Wait till they are ready: Actually, I’m not telling the whole truth about the baby deadline being my main motivator first-time -round. I mainly did it because nursery shamed me into it by sending home notes saying ‘We think she’s ready!’ which I read while stuffing my fingers in my ears and shouting ‘la la la’ as it sounded confusing and complicated and aren’t nappies loads easier?
Second time there was no baby deadline or nursery nudging – so we were in no rush to get it done. F was also dead against it for ages; I knew she’d get it quickly but it was pretty clear it would have to be on her own terms. Once she decided to go for it she really did get it, really quickly. Is it different babies or different situations? I’m not sure, but it has been so much easier.
Don’t believe all the ‘done in two days’ people: The internet is awash with baby ‘experts’ claiming it’s possible to potty train in two hours / two days / half a second at six months old and so on. Really…? I think they just exist to make most mothers feel woefully inadequate. While I’m sure it might be possible, for many people it’s not. And also while some children may get the fundamentals early on as they claim, the likelihood of them having an accident** at some point is very, very high, which they forget to mention.
Basically, forget about it: The best advice I was given last time was to leave the potty in the room but never ask if they need it. Did I take this advice? No. But this time, yes. Accidentally….
Last time I had nothing else to think about at the time so potty training was all I thought about, at all times, meaning millions of constant questions of ‘Do you need the potty? DO YOU?’ Whereas now I’m thinking about a million other things (like will today be the day I forget the school run? Will it?) and as with most things to do with the second child there’s less time to spend less attention on it. Which has meant I have actually forgotten about it and she’s just got on with it.
Focus on the destination, not the journey: No more nappies! It’s so much easier than remembering to buy nappies, cursing yourself when you’ve forgotten to buy nappies, washing the disposable nappies, changing nappies and so on. It’s SO MUCH EASIER when it’s done so just think about how good it’ll be when it’s done, however long that takes or however quickly it seems that all the other children do it and so on. Stock up on wine (unless you’re pregnant), stock up on pants, do lots of deep breathing and, yep, stock up on wine.
* No smirking at the back there, people.
** This will totally happen, probably at the worst possible point. If you’re feeling blah about it, message me about the Waitrose dairy aisle ‘incident’. Or the Science Museum. All fine but oh, boy.