During the summer I wrote about our potty training journey so far which was actually going surprisingly well. I wouldn´t say we had potty training down in a few days, but the basics were definitely there in the first week. But, that´s when the fun started…. Obviously, being more or less potty trained at home was relatively easy but when we started travelling for the summer holidays and staying at different places (= different potties) we sometimes felt we went straight back to square one.
The first days in the Netherlands were a complete disaster, where he missed the potty more often than he made it. And living out of a suitcase, we were washing like crazy to have clean clothes ready every time he missed. Also, home sweet home in the Netherlands is a big farm with a huge garden so even when he started to realize he needed to tell us when he had to go, we often were not close enough to the potty. But after a few weeks, he started getting back to good potty rhythms. Until we left again to a new destination (a week on the beach in Menorca) and since there he was half of the time in swim diapers (even with good potty training habits I wouldn´t dare to let him without these in the pool, for all our sakes :)) he went back a few steps again.
At that point, we were like two months into this potty training journey so yeah, I can safely say potty training in a weekend is a complete myth. Let´s be realistic, potty training takes months and every time you feel like you´re getting close to the finish line of this crazy marathon, you will go 6 miles back. Right now we are at a point, where most days go by with (if we´re lucky) 1 accident. Yes, months further and still daily accidents, some days more than 1, that´s the reality of potty training. Usually, he has a perfect day but when he comes back from daycare and we play in the garden downstairs he forgets to think about it and accidentally wets his pants because he´s too busy playing.
So if you´re at the beginning of this journey, don´t get your hopes up by “potty trained in a weekend” or “potty training in 3 days” promises, it´s usually not that easy! What helped me through it was the following:
- Expect nothing and celebrate every little success
Set your expectations to 0 and just see what the day brings. Don´t get disappointed by accidents, and don´t get pissed about them. Encouragement is a lot of times the most successful motivator. As long as accidents don´t happen on purpose (there was once where he thought it was fun to pee in his pants, then I did get pissed!), treat them as the most normal things in the world. After three months, we are still celebrating every time he goes on the potty with a high five and a big kiss (and sometimes he wants to call the parent that is not home to tell about it, we always do this as well, and do a virtual high five and kiss) and his proud face says it all! Praising really works in this house and keeps him motivated.
- Upscale your washing frequency and always have clean underwear ready
I am not a laundry fan but have just made peace with the fact that right now it needs to be done more frequently. As in, daily. My main objective is to always have clean underwear ready and with me (so yep, I have already had the occasional underwear dropping out of my bag at work as well… oops!). I love training undies because they have a thicker layer so they are ideal for these moments of distraction when playing a lot or when you might be a little far away to make the potty.
- Do use diapers when necessary
When I started reading about potty training, every expert advice was all about “when the diapers are off, they are off, so don´t put them on again no matter what”. Yeah right, great advice, but what about when you´re travelling or going to be outside for a long time without a toilet near? Although at first, I thought we shouldn´t, after a few weeks I realized it´s fine to use diapers occasionally when necessary to avoid too many accidents in a row. So on the plane when travelling or when we know we will be outside for quite a long time without proper bathrooms close (e.g. yesterday we were at a food truck festival and we put a diaper on for a few hours) we go against that expert advice. And you know? It´s completely fine, we don´t have a fallback after that or anything.
- Keep putting them on the potty every now and then, especially when they´re playing
Even after all these months, we force the little man to sit down once in a while, even if he says he doesn´t need to go. He mostly lets us know when he needs to go but if long time spans go by without any news from his side, we still put him on the potty when we think he should go. Sometimes he goes, sometimes he doesn´t, but that´s fine, even if it only serves as a reminder of the potty.
Next up: nighttime potty trained, but let´s face it, that´s still very far away