Monthly Archives: February 2012

Day Three: The Potty Excursion

Since becoming a mum there have been many times I have contemplated how exactly I got here. One of them has to be the day I crouched over my half-naked daughter in a train corridor begging her to “wee in the potty!” How did I get to this point? I went against the advice of both Gina Ford and Jo Frost. Let this be a lesson learned. They both advise you to stay at home for the first few days of potty training and now I know why. The problem was a craft fayre had my name on it and after buying a travel potty I wanted to use it. This would have been fine had Freya been at a more advanced stage with her use of the potty. But, deep down, I knew all along I was trying to achieve the downright impossible.

Throughout the morning Freya stayed completely dry, but at 11.25am she admitted, knees together, she did really need to do a wee. But (and I’m sure you could have already told me this) if she didn’t want to do a wee in the comfort of her own bathroom she sure as hell didn’t want to do one in the corridor of a train. Nor did she an hour later in the carpark of the craft fayre, or in the portaloo. By lunchtime we had used her three spare sets of clothes and I had to admit defeat. Once at home she was still panicking and crying at the thought of weeing in the potty and it became apparent that this was turning into too much of a battle. I started to wonder if perhaps by forcing Freya to use her potty I might be doing more harm than good. So, with visions of her growing up with a life-hindering toilet phobia, I decided it was time to give Freya a break. She is a child who embraces learning new things and she desperately wants to be a big girl so I have absolute confidence potty training will be easy, but only when she is ready. And the best advice and prettiest potty in the world won’t change that. I’m going to try again in a couple of weeks and I’m wondering who will be more relieved…

Day Two: It’s all gone to potty

Freya and I began the day discussing her favourite knickers over breakfast, commenting on how well Princess Polly (now a firm friend) has been doing with her own potty training, and talking about the importance of weeing in a potty over, say, knickers. But within a couple of hours we’ve already had two small accidents. The first happened when I answered the door to a delivery, the second when I answered the phone to my mum. I’m learning that potty training involves full and continuous concentration. I took Jo frost’s advice, and while I avoided being at all negative I did take the time to point out how uncomfortable it must feel before I changed her into a dry pair of knickers. At 12.45pm, just after her lunch, Freya did her first wee in her potty! Just a tiny, tinkle, but a definite wee. Now this would have been a more positive event had it not been so obviously painful to her. Holding her hand, she cried when she realised she was going to do a wee wee and asked for teddy. The three of us sat there together, me offering words of support when she got upset (it’s almost like I’m a birth-partner but actually I’m a potty-partner) Just as I wondered whether this was all too painful, she did a big, long wee wee! As I cheered and clapped, she turned to me and said, “I’m tired.” And I led her off to bed. A double-first.

At 3pm, after her nap and a snack, Freya sat on the potty for fifteen minutes, then stood up and said “knickers on.” Moments later it’s apparent she has had an accident. We decided to try another tip from Jo Frost and move the potty into the bathroom, I ran the tap and she sat on the potty. But again she panicked just as she was about to do her wee wee, jumping up from the potty and making another puddle. Poor Freya hates making a “mess” but again at 5.30pm we had a similar incident. By now we were both exhausted in a Dettol fume haze so I decided to run a bath before dinner, nappy and bed. Is it meant to be this hard? I’m starting to wonder whether she is ready after all…

Potty Training Day One

Over the last few weeks the Princess potty has been used as; a hat (Freya), a bath (dolly) and a carry-case (crayons). But crucially it has not been used as a toilet. That is, ever since Freya accidentally did a poo in it before Christmas. We’d put her on the potty one evening after bath time to give her a chance to get used to it and incredibly she did a poo straight away. But when she saw what she’d done she was mortified exclaiming, “oh no! Freya made mess!” We quickly applauded and encouraged her, thinking we had a potty-training genius on our hands, and while she did eventually clap her hands she wasn’t at all sold on the concept. So, we began day one with a small mountain to climb.

Gina Ford suggests starting to train after breakfast by introducing the concept of knickers over nappies and to begin encouraging your toddler to sit on the potty every fifteen minutes for five to ten minutes at a time. She also suggests using books and cassette tapes to stop them getting bored. Jo Frost suggests again giving her knickers, but also pressing gently below her belly button to show her that when she needs the wee she will feel it there. She also suggests monitoring how much she drinks, and prompting her to go to the potty when you feel the time is right. Apparently the key is to be casual, sit her on the potty and tell her to wee wee, avoid any distractions bar perhaps a running tap and make sure not to watch so she doesn’t feel too pressurised.

I feel well-armed with varied advice but first I need Freya to sit on the potty. We begin by reading the Princess Polly book, which has already become a firm favourite. Then we discuss how Freya is a big girl and that she can now wear knickers! She picks out which shade of pink she’d like to wear, but we agree that she will need to sit on the potty if she wants to wear them. Amazingly she agrees to sit on her potty with her knickers on, but refuses to lower them. Next we emptied the pack of knickers and put them on all her dolls and teddies, and when I sat teddy on our spare potty and took her knickers down, amazingly Freya did the same! I found I couldn’t keep her on the potty without encouraging her to stay there by watching her favourite television programmes and reading books. In the end we spent the whole day on and off the potty, we had four accidents on the floor and one poo in her knickers, but nothing in her potty. Still, I feel like we have come a long way, even though the potties still haven’t been christened…

Can you potty train in one week?

Ever since Freya turned two the thought of potty training has been looming like a dark Dettol cloud on our horizon. I’ve heard the horror stories and I have an inkling they’re just the tip of a wee wee iceberg for my little family. My daughter is one for routine; she knows how she likes things to be done and she doesn’t like change. From pureed to proper dinners, formula milk to cow’s milk, bottle to sippy cup – each small stage of progression has been met with protest. So I decided this time my technique would be full-proof, well-researched and…confident. I turned to Gina Ford and Jo Frost. Both promise we can do this in one week. And one week we shall! Plus or minus a few. Because before Christmas I sat down to read their books, Potty Training In One Week by Gina Ford (Vermillion, £6.99) and Jo Frost’s Confident Toddler Care (Orion, £16.99) and realised that although perhaps potty training can potentially be done in one week, you have to do your prep first.

Here’s my shopping list:
8 pairs of knickers – I bought pink briefs from Mothercare
2 identical potties – I bought the Princess Potty from John Lewis
Child’s toilet-seat/booster step – John Lewis Soft Trainer Seat
A cushion for travelling – (Gina’s tip is to remove the inner and put a carrier bag around it for accidents)
Story books – I’ve bought Princess Polly’s Potty by Andrea Pinnington – Chris Evans famously raved about the boy version (Pirate Pete’s Potty) and caused it to sell out.
Travel Potty – Babyway travel Potty
Star chart for progress
A bucket filled with detergent for wet knickers to be popped in.
Clothes which are easily removed – no dungarees!
And a bumper sized bottle of disinfectant for the floor…

But the most important thing, according to the experts, is for your toddler to be ready. The biggest reason for us postponing potty training in December was that I just didn’t feel Freya was able to understand the concept of being a big girl and how she is growing up and developing and that it’s a good thing. Now she does, she also knows when she has done a poo or a wee, she goes for several hours at a time with a dry nappy and she understands and (some of the time) listens to me when I explain things to her. She now sits and looks through a book, plays a game or watches television for between five and ten minutes at a time. Gina Ford says all of these are signs that she is ready.

For the last couple of weeks we’ve been talking Freya through our own toilet activity, helping her to understand the concepts of wet and dry (Gina’s tip is to offer her both wet and dry hand towels so she learns the difference). And now, Dettol in hand and rugs rolled up, I prepare for Potty Training Day One!