Disclaimer: a lot of talk of pee peeing and pooping!
As Phoebe is the first and only baby on both sides of our family, I ventured into toilet training completely clueless and with the aim to take it one day at a time. I was never really concerned about getting Phoebe out of nappies before this summer as the thought of toilet training during a school term was just all a bit much! The plan was to tackle it head on at the very beginning of the summer holidays and typical as it is with a little one, the plan did not go as planned!! Poor Phoebe started her summer holidays with what I suspect was slapped cheek so we held off with the training until she was back to her normal wee self.
Our toilet training journey began on the 12th of July and armed with copious pairs of ‘knickies’ and a bagful of treats, we whipped the nappy off and put nice new knickies on. Being a two and a half year old meant that Phoebe was well aware of what a toilet was and that big girls used a toilet instead of a nappy. Whether she would successfully make the transition to ‘big girl using the toilet’ was anyone’s guess!
Day One: The sun was out so Phoebe spent the morning outside playing in and out of the paddling pool and kitchen. I felt relatively content as any accidents could be easily cleaned on the patio and kitchen tiles, and her wee spot to lie on the sofa was ‘pee-proofed’ with some bin bags and a blanket! I found myself continually asking Phoebe if she needed to pee and that we would be going to the toilet, ‘no pee pee’s in our knickies!’ It wasn’t long before she was starting to look like she needed to go and when she declared ‘NAPPY ON!’ we headed for the downstairs toilet (very handy for toilet training!) The closer we got to the bathroom, the more she pulled the other way, and as I lifted her towards the toilet she clung to me like a monkey, screaming blue murder! Could I get her to sit on the toilet? Not a chance. It was clear she was scared and rightly so. That big hole, ready to suck you in as soon as you get near, never mind actually sitting on it!! Okay, what next?
Thankfully my husband Matt was at home that day too so we deliberated about going to town for a toddler toilet seat or a potty, but decided we’d give her a bit more time. I liked the idea of training straight onto the big toilet for so many reasons, but if it was going to be too much of a leap, that would be ok too. I knew what I had to do … I Googled ‘toilet training girls.’ I’d avoided reading up on toilet training beforehand. I fell into this trap when I was pregnant and promised myself I didn’t need information overload; that I could trust myself, and my own motherly instincts. It only took one failed attempt at sitting on the toilet for Phoebe and I was straight on Google – what am I doing wrong?! Am I a bad mum?! How do I do this?! I bet everyone else is doing it better than me … blah blah blah … you know the score. Pathetic, I know. Yet, sometimes I just can’t help myself. Former American President Theodore Roosevelt speaks so much truth that “comparison is the thief of joy.” I consciously have to stop myself, especially in my weak moments. It doesn’t help. It will never help.
I allowed myself just 5 minutes to scroll. I saw one comment that sparked something for me; something about using a toy to role-play the toileting scenario. So, out came ‘Princess’ and I role-played ‘Princess needing to pee’ with Phoebe. She seemed more than happy to bring Princess into the bathroom, propped her up on the toilet seat and we mimicked a ‘peeing sound’ and practiced wiping and washing her hands. We clapped our hands and told Princess she was a “brilliant girl” and I asked Phoebe if she could pee in the toilet just like ‘Princess’? A resounding … ‘NO.’
Great. What now?
By now I was in need of a pee myself so I asked Phoebe if she’d like to watch how mummy ‘pee pee’s’ in the big toilet and she was keen … a bit too keen. While I peed in the toilet, Phoebe peed on the floor ...
I inform Phoebe that we don’t like to pee in our pants and suggest that maybe we could use the toilet next time!
For her afternoon nap we put on some pull up pants (‘sleepy nappy’) and aim to get her sitting on the toilet when she wakes up! Matt’s ‘genius’ idea to encourage Phoebe to sit on the toilet is to do it ‘with mummy.’ This involved me straddling the toilet seat behind Phoebe and praying that she didn’t suddenly feel the urge to do a poo! And there we sat, several times during the course of the afternoon waiting and wishing for that elusive pee pee to come.
At one stage I heard a call from outside while I was in the kitchen but I couldn’t hear properly and by the time I got out, Phoebe had peed on the patio! I was so cross at myself for not hearing her and vowed to pay even closer attention to her to ensure if she did say she had to go, I’d be right there. The next goal was to get her sitting on the toilet herself, so little bags of sweeties became the bribing tool! The rest of the day consisted of Phoebe successfully sitting on the toilet all by herself, eating bags of sweets from Lidl – hygienic, I know! But, my little girl was sitting on the big toilet, quite happily now in fact, and I was the proudest mum in the world.
Oh! And if you're wondering, Phoebe's only pee on Day One was in her nappy at nap-time and as soon as she got into the bath before bed – sneaky sneaky!!
TBC – Day Two and that first pee!