5 Reasons Why Potty Training Is Hard

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Some day the sun will shine again, and this will all be a distant memory

As of a couple of weeks ago, we have begun Potty Training in our house. With Heidi being our eldest, we have zero experience at this. And having begun in a somewhat spontaneous manner, we haven’t looked at any resources, or even had many conversations with all-knowing friends about the details of Potty Training. So it’s safe to say that we are finding ourselves on a steep learning curve! 

I only decided to begin Potty Training because of a little accident that Heidi had. She was meant to be having her daytime nap. Instead she was playing in her cot, which was fine. Suddenly she started yelling “Mummy! Mummy!” and so I quickly went in to see what was wrong. And I was glad I did. Sort of. You see, lately she is in the habit of taking her nappy off. Especially when she is in her cot. And it became quite clear to me that she had indeed taken her nappy off, and then deliberately “made a mess” in the corner of the cot. Only it wasn’t very messy. It was neat. It was deliberate. (And OK, after the initial shock, it was kind of funny too.) And so I thought to myself that perhaps we could try going nappy free seeings as she was so able to be deliberate about her toilet habits. Combined with the heat wave here in Melbourne (which has now just ended), Potty Training began.

So far we have had good days and bad days, with good days now outweighing the bad (but not convincingly). When we are at home now she isn’t wearing nappies – except for nap times. We are not aiming for Potty Training to be finished in 3 days. Heidi is not yet 2, and so we are letting her take her time and do what she is comfortable with. A couple of times we have gone out, and I have taken the Potty, with Heidi just in her little (very cute!) knickers. But it is still too stressful for her to do that. Potty Training was becoming a battle and very difficult. So for now we will simply master using the Potty at home, and some time in the future we will progress to using the Potty when we go out. 

Potty Training takes a lot of TIME

Heidi takes a long time to ‘go’ on the P. She is happy enough to sit there, but it can take a good 15 minutes before anything happens. And I have to be there with her. Holding her hand, reading a story, singing a song. I am currently hoping that “Old MacDonald” will become a cue for her to use the Potty much like Pavlov’s Dogs and the ringing bell. Then there is the changing of pants and knickers that are just a little bit wet. OK. A lot of the time she has been running around without anything on, but now the weather has become cooler very suddenly, that won’t work so well. And the cleaning, wiping, washing, rinsing of clothes, bodies, the Potty, the floor, and every now and then, me. I am beginning to understand why people say that you should pick a time in life where you can simply stay at home for a week or so and focus on Potty Training. Smart cookies!

Potty Training takes a lot of PATIENCE

A big part of this is the time it is taking. But it is also because I want it to be done yesterday! If she has an accident, or won’t sit on the Potty when I know she has to, and then has an accident – oh wow, that can be very testing of my patience. Or sitting down, standing up, getting a book, sitting down, playing with her doll just out of reach, getting up, sitting down again. It’s like a dance that doesn’t end until someone does a wee. Sometimes I have not had a lot of patience, and these moments have been hard. Not just for me though, because I know the effect that can have on Heidi. The temptation just to put her in a nappy is very high sometimes, even though she is doing pretty well. Patience, please don’t leave me. I need you just as much as I want to throw you off some of the time.

Potty Training is MESSY

As mentioned earlier, Potty Training requires more cleaning, washing and wiping than you may have ever thought. You thought you were busy with the family’s dirty washing and slimy floors before? Well, things have just gone up a level. And not up in a good way. Up in an amount way. Yep – it is possible that you could have more washing than you do already. But just think, sooner or later you won’t have to change any more nappies! Unless of course, like me, you already have a baby in nappies… But it will be an improvement!

It’s hard not to place PRESSURE on your toddler

When I so desperately want Heidi to go on the Potty it is hard not to inadvertently make her feel pressured to do so. It’s a little bit of a Catch-22. Wanting her to do it, but trying my hardest to act like I couldn’t really be bothered what happened with the Potty. I attempt an attitude reminiscent of “What, that ol’ thing?” as I feign my disinterest, while secretly jumping for crazed, inward joy. And how do you encourage an active toddler to sit still long enough for something to happen without feeling like you are forcing them to sit on the Potty? I’m not entirely sure how to work that bit out just yet. 

POSITIVITY is of the utmost importance

It can be hard to be positive when you are standing in a puddle of wee. And yet this is what is required of parents who have little ones on the road to independent bladder movements. We have to be cheery, bright, encouraging and excited when things are going really well, without being dejected or annoyed when things don’t go well. The number of times I have held in a “But we told you to sit on the Potty!” and instead said, “Oops! Wees go in the potty, not on the floor” while maintaining a steady kind-yet-firm attitude in close to uncountable. But all in all, Potty Training is positive because one wee on the Potty is one less nappy change, and one step closer to being completely done with nappies. We must press on with smiles on our faces, jumping around doing “The Potty Dance” and hopefully with not too much wee on our hands.

For now though, enjoy the way that life is changing and that your little person is growing. It is a big thing to master how our bodies work, and one that is a big step towards being able to live well in the world. All the best to Potty Training parents out there!

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4 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Potty Training Is Hard

  1. From a friend who’s just survived this…I totally understand ALL the washing. Natalie instigated wearing undies when Stephen was just 8 weeks old. DISASTER! We persevered for 5 weeks, with up to 5 accidents a day it was eroding her confidence so we gave it away. Discussed it with Natalie and decided to to wear nappies until she was “a little bit bigger”. fast forward a few months and she got it in 3 days! So my advice, if after a 2 weeks she’s still not instigating using the potty on her own “press pause”, go back to nappies for a while and wait for her to initiate. When they’re ready it’ll be sooooo much easier!

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  3. Hi Kathryn, well done Natalie! I have seen a lot of those “Potty Trained in 1 day/3 days” type things, but think if the child isn’t ready than it just won’t happen. Natalie is a perfect example! Although those 5 weeks must have been really tough! Heidi is actually doing quite well – she is nappy free at home, only having an accident here or there when she has just not made it quite in time. She just undressed herself, took her nappy off and went on the potty twice after going to bed…a little annoying but good! 🙂 But I’m still not quite game to let her go nappy-free overnight, and as for going out – we have to take a potty as the toilet is too scary, so still using nappies for that. But we are using much less nappies now! Yay!

  4. yay for less nappies! As a negotiating tool when out nappy pants can be handy (Aldi have some cheapish ones). Then you can reinforce the independence skills of using the potty without the stress (and possible loss of confidence) of having an accident when out or for long car rides. wee in the car seat is terrible 😦

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