If you had asked me 4 weeks ago how I was finding potty training, i’d have told you that 1) it was what I perceived to be the hardest thing about parenting 2)i’d already tried 3 times to potty train A&R and was getting nowhere 3)I couldn’t hand on heart say i’d given it a proper go – I wasn’t fully committed to the cause 4)I felt ashamed and embarrassed that my boys were still in nappies and much much older than their peers when they had cracked it. And I had felt this way for at least 2 years and 5)I felt that when I said ‘they aren’t ready’ that I was just making excuses.
Well let me set this record straight.
They weren’t ready.
How do I know that they weren’t ready?
Because we cracked it in 3 days – day and night, and it was the easiest milestone we have ever achieved. And as it stands we have gone a week without one accident.
I need to point out at this stage I am only referring to Austin. Rory is still in pull-ups and that’s ok. His time will come. He has a circumstantial communication barrier due to his tracheostomy and this will make toilet training more difficult for him.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it is easy for everyone, I am only writing about my own experience with Austin, but it is actually unbelievable how easy it was once he was ready himself.
Previous attempts, he just had no idea what was going on, and the last time we overkilled the question and his anxiety set in, and he wouldn’t even entertain sitting on the potty and in the end ignored us when we asked.
This time, we thought about what the reward could be. We bought 50 Thomas mini’s and 3 tracks from a selling site for £45. We put the tracks out and gave the boys one engine each. We put the remaining engines above the potty and we explained to Austin that every time he did a wee / poo on the potty, he would get a new engine.
We kept him in pull-ups but took his trousers off and we stayed in.
At first he wasn’t doing every single wee on the potty, or poo, but when he remembered (we tried not to ask at all, but just remind him about the choo choo if he did one) and he got a choo choo, it spurred him on to do it again. By the end of the first day, he was doing 90% of the wee’s on the potty.
The next day we asked him if he wanted to wear big boy pants and he said yes, chose a pair and put them on. He continued to do every single wee on the potty.
He did a wee when Uncle Craig and Uncle Calum came to visit but I think he just forgot in the moment and he did a wee when we went to McD’s but it was our first outing. Both times, we made no big deal, cleaned him up, gave him a cuddle and said discreetly, ‘don’t forget to wee on the potty and then you can have a choo choo’.
For the first few days of pants, poo’s were a bit of a struggle. He would say ‘i need a poo’ and then go to the potty, but it wouldn’t come, so he would put the pants back on and continue to play, and then the urge would arrive and he wouldn’t get his pants down in time. This happened 3 days in a row and then he cracked it. I think it was just getting used to the urges. He haggled with us that he should get two choo choo’s for a poo.
Night time we initially put him in a pull-up after bath for the night time and he would choose his pants first thing in the morning, but after two nights, he was waking up in the night because he needed a wee. The first night was 3:35am, then 4:30am then 5:30 and then 6:05 which is roughly when we get up anyway. And this is where we are at. He may or may not wake up in the night for a wee, but he has been dry every night for a week. He hasn’t had any accidents for a week. I know this doesn’t mean that he won’t because it is completely normal for an accident from time to time, but I am so proud of him.
He will tell us, go on his own, he will even empty it in the toilet, flush, wash his hands and clean up any spills. Both nursery settings have commented at how well he is doing, completely independent at both settings with his toileting.
I think for Austin it was about;
- Waiting until he was ready
- Finding the right reward that was worth it to him
- Letting it be led by him as opposed to asking him all of the time
- Not making a big deal either way – too much praise or shaming any accidents
- Finding a potty he was happy with (we spent about £120 on pottys / stick on the wall urinals, toilet seats, travel potty’s) I will link up the ones that we bought. Of course we bought two of each.
- Taking the potty into the downstairs toilet rather than the playroom for privacy.
For me it was about;
- Letting go of control and trusting him. Rather than asking and asking and asking, I just had to trust him and have a back up for any accidents because I was causing him anxiety.
- Preparing for accidents; I bought puppy pads for him to sit on in the car, I put a bag of spare pants, trousers, socks and shoes in the boot, along with wipes, blankets and nappy sacks for any wet clothes. I also bought anti-bac spray and wipes and carpet cleaner ready for clean-ups.
- Having the confidence to go out – If i’m honest, that first outing to McD’s was meant to be a drive-thru but Austin asked to go inside and off the cuff – we did. In the chaos of it all, Austin had a little accident and I just had to deal with it. And once you have survived your first public ‘accident’ you pretty much have the confidence to just get on with it. Having the supplies in the car made it fairly easy.
- It was also about letting go of the guilt and the pressure as a twin mum to train them both at the same time, or to feel like they should both be ready at the same time.
Our plan for Rory is to give him a little more time. Allow him to watch Austin lead the way, go with any signs but plan to try again at Christmas time when both me and Ash will be home for two weeks and we will no doubt be stuck home, which in my opinion helps. It may be that the communication barrier is still just that – a barrier, it may be that he still isn’t ready. And i’m ok with that. Every child is different. We shouldn’t feel a pressure because little Sam down the road was potty trained by 2, it doesn’t mean that i’m a failed Mother or my child is a failure because they are in pull-ups.
If every star shone at the same time, the sky would be a dark place.