How to survive potty training: a REAL parents’ guide

Potty training is a pain in the arse. Everyone knows that. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know I take particular umbrage with it. But the good news is, we’ve finally cracked it and emerged through the other side relatively unscathed. Having struggled before I found my feet, I thought it only fair to pass on the wisdom of my experience. I’m not going to tell you all that practical ‘when to start, where to place your potty, how to praise your child’ stuff. There’s already far too much of that about. No. This is about YOU and how YOU survive one of the shittiest parts of being a parent (literally!)

aquarium1. Get creative.

Unless you’re willing to get on your hands and knees in public to clear up out urine from the deepest recesses of the soft play, you’re going to be stuck indoors for a good few days (or weeks!). You need some stuff to do. Stock up on paper, glue and glitter and make sure you have a really good internet connection to get some ideas. I’m no Neil Buchanan, but it’s amazing what you can achieve when cabin fever sets in.

2. Embrace technology.

You may be a bit of a control freak with the remote, determined to limit ‘screen time’ for your kids, but if you’re going to survive a whole week indoors you need to chill out and embrace the screen! Regular CBeebies breaks may well be the only way you get any ‘me time’, so learn to love Mr Tumble for the sake of your sanity.

3. Get a good book.

Wee and poo will quickly become your world, but no matter how proud you are of the day’s achievements, no one else gives a s**t. Even your partner will only feign interest as you describe each success and accident in detail. Sneak off with a good book, newspaper or podcast during those CBeebies breaks. You need some intellectual stimulation so you have something to talk when you finally regain contact with the adult world.

4. Have a reward system.rewards

Not for the kid. Surely being able to live without defecating in your own clothes is enough of a reward in itself?! You’re the one putting in the hard work, you deserve the treats. Stock up on wine, sweets and chocolate and reward yourself for a solid day’s hard work as soon as the critter is in bed (or during the day if you can sneak away from prying eyes!).

5. Plan and prepare all you want; know that the kid is always The Boss!

You’ll be tempted to read up on potty training and gather advice (you’re reading this blog after all!), but little good ever comes of listening to other people – it generally only serves to panic you or make you feel you’re doing a crap job. If only I had stuck to my own parenting mantra (never read parenting advice: trust only the NHS and my mum) perhaps I wouldn’t have found myself nearly in tears on the floor of a public park toilet all those months ago, convinced I was failing where everyone else had succeeded. Fate intervened and I was forced to ignore the ‘NEVER go back to nappies once you’ve introduced pants, especially with boys’ rule (can’t remember where I read this but, like most things on the internet, it’s RUBBISH!) and give up on potty training completely. Forced to wait until much later, I discovered that there is only one potty training expert in our lives – the boy himself. As soon as he wanted to and he could be bothered, he started using the potty. No fuss, no bother and no crying on the toilet floor.

I should have remembered: he is always the one in charge, he just lets me think I am.

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