Potty Training Reflections

potty training

Everyone has a potty story to curl the toes of most child-free persons and not a small amount of card-carrying parents. In the next few weeks and months, I am going to embark on another potty training adventure with Luciole and I am not particularly relishing the thought, considering how long-winded an affair it was with her sister. At the moment, 2.7 yrs old Luciole is well aware of what she’s doing, but has no interest whatsoever in telling me about it until after the event. Instead, she waits until she has a brand new nappy on to use it as clean canvas for her little jobs. She sometimes even gives me 5 minutes respite before I have to change her again.

When we were first helping Little Girl to use the toilet a year ago, I once lay in bed and listened to the joyful shouts and exclamations emanating from downstairs ‘you did a poo in the potty, well done! Woohoo!’, which was one of those ‘what is my life?’ moments that you get every so often as a parent. The reality of parenting is that our successes are as random as they are dependent on the child, their personality, the circumstance, hell even the time of day, and there’s only so much mitigation you can do to steer them one way or another.

I have a friend whose eldest self-trained early, and whose second also self-trained before she was even 2. I would not have believed it possible had I not seen it with my own eyes. And despite her early difficulties with the toileting process, Little Girl took to being clean at night like a fish to water. No amount of reading, prep or training could have predicted this outcome, it’s just something she did (can I hear a hallelujah!).

potty training toddler

I’m being a bit lax this time and am just waiting for the summer holidays before actively steering Luciole to be clean. We have carpets everywhere downstairs and I just can’t face it. Potty training is still my parenting nemesis, the one thing that is just pure pain for me from start to finish. She has a potty, knickers that she loves to put on top of her nappy-pants, a potty training book, access to poo-themed YouTube videos (yes they exist, and she found them on her own), and generally she has an endless fascination with pee, poo and body parts so surely it is bound to happen at some point in the next six months.

Potty Training is my personal parenting hell

Potty training parenting hell

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

All parents face one or more challenges that present more of a problem to them than others for completely obscure reasons. For me, potty training is that seemingly insurmountable hurdle.

Breastfeeding was bone-achingly hard at first but I had a good handle on how it worked, why I was having problems and what I wanted to achieve; with perseverance and stubbornness, it has been a success story with both my girls. Weaning came much sooner than expected but we settled into baby-led weaning with incredible ease. Sleep training was a slow process purely because we didn’t ‘train’ at all but went with the flow like the attachment parents that we are, and it hasn’t been a cause of stress, just tiring, because, well, kids.

Potty training though, I am finding so hard, not because it’s more difficult than any of these other things but because I feel completely out of my depth. I really feel like I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing in a !PANIC! sort of way and it has taken me ages not to feel overwhelmed by the task, let alone figure out a plan for how we were going to do it. So here’s my confession: Little Girl is going to be three years old in two weeks’ time and she is not potty trained.

Most of her friends have been going to the toilet for months. But no amount of ‘you can be a big girl like xyz‘ has made any difference. After three failed attempts, I now think it’s purely down to Little Girl not being ready but how can you really tell? How do I know it’s not just because I’ve been utterly crap at it? She showed all the signs of being interested; we bought the potties and the knickers with her and drew a chart and used stickers. She did a few pees in there and even a poo (the drama!) and then I put knickers on her and she peed all over the place. It was as if she was wearing nappies, and she can spend all day in her dirty nappies without it bothering her. As soon as the knickers went on, it was as if she lost all awareness of needing to use the potty and she would use them like a nappy; just horrific. As we live in rented accommodation and there’s carpet in nearly every room (carpet, how I loathe thee), it just wasn’t an option to keep on doing this or to let her go bare-bummed in March weather. So the nappies went back on. I tried another couple of times and couldn’t face walking into pee-smelling rooms anymore.

Only in the last week has it looked like she might finally be getting it. We started again by accident last week when we left the house in a hurry and I only realised at our destination that she was wearing nothing under her dress (no comment on this particular parenting fail…). We’ve kept on going on and off since then and it’s been two days straight now that she has been consistently using the potty. Only one thing though, she is still not wearing knickers. I’ve decided that, as the weather is much better and she has lots of long summer dresses, we’re just going to go commando everywhere until we’ve cracked it and then we’ll try the knickers again (on my parents’ wooden floor whilst on holiday, hopefully). And it’s working. She is using a pink Peppa Pig potty that she proudly empties herself whilst declaring ‘I’m a big girl now!’.

It still feels that this success has absolutely nothing to do with me and that I’m just a lucky bystander. If it wasn’t working now, I would literally have no idea what to do, and I don’t like this feeling at all but what can I do?