Toilet training your toddler is a massive milestone, and it’s usually one we look forward to, at least the first time around. By the time you get to this stage, you’ve probably changed a gazillion nappies and are ready for the big kid pants and the freedom that comes with them.
But while there’s a lot of toilet training tips out there for the uninitiated, there’s a lot they don’t warn you about toilet training, and a few of these might take you by surprise when your time comes.
Here are some toilet training realities to prepare for:
1. It’s awful… but worth it
The first few days of toilet training mean you have to stay close to home and keep them close to the potty. In short, it means that life for you becomes reduced to constantly asking your child if they need a wee, sitting around waiting for them to wee on the pot, and mopping up the wee accidents when they don’t quite make it. I got through this twice with my first two kids, but needless to say, when it came to my twins, I put it off as long as possible. The only thing that got me there in the end was the thought of the cash I could be saving on nappies, and you should keep this front of mind too.
2. Poos are not always straightforward
Your child will probably get the hang of wees on the potty soon enough, but poos can be another story. Some kids just can’t go without their nappy on, meaning you’ll end up trying all sorts of things to coax something out of that end while they’re on the toilet, including extravagant bribes, holes in nappies and putting the potty in different places so your toddler can *ahem* relax. Don’t worry, your child will learn to poo like the rest of us in their own time.
3. Supermarket angst
The supermarket is a stress-fest when your toddler is still toilet training. It’s one of those places where the toilet will always be impossibly hard to make an emergency dash to, especially if you’re lining up at the checkout with your arms full of stuff, willing the queue to move faster and eyeing off your toddler for any signs of an impending wee. Hint: they never tell you when they need to go, only when they’ve ‘gone’. My advice is to stick to online shopping until you’re completely confident about your toddler’s bladder habits and can rely on the window to get in and out of the shops intact.
4. The pain of car seat soiling
You should know that wee can get into every crevice of a car seat and will take you a week to get rid of the smell. Not only this, but wherever you have tried to travel, your toddler will need a full change of clothes and a shower when you get there. You’ll probably want one too. Here are two tips for you: use a pull-up for the journey to give you peace of mind and keep a bucket stashed in your car for emergency wee stops.
5. There is NO holding on
Further to point #2, no one tells you that your toddler is not, and won’t be, equipped to ‘hold on’ until you drive down the road/get to the toilet/get out of the cafe, so just assume that every toileting urge is an emergency in those early days. Sometimes just staying home as much as possible is easiest while you get through the hardest part.
6. Toilet splash-back
Once your child has learnt to do their number twos in the potty, you will need to dispose of them in the big toilet, where you’ll become accustomed with ‘poo splash-back’, which has a funny way of hitting you in the face in a way that isn’t funny in the slightest. Don’t worry, you’ll soon figure out the angle you need to use in order to avoid the splash-back, or you might even get really savvy and put your toddler on the toilet for all future poos.
7. It can be joyous
I’ll never forget the immense relief, joy and sense of achievement I felt when my daughter suddenly felt ready to poo on the toilet. It was as though she had been working on it mentally for weeks and all of a sudden was ready to make it a reality. The whole toilet training experience can become pretty consuming and obsessive, so catching a glimpse of that light at the end of the tunnel can be reward enough to see it all the way through.