Updated: Mar 4, 2020
It's not hard to see that here at Martha Loves we're all about pants, so, for our first blog post it seemed only right to tackle the dreaded world of potty training. I'm a Mom of 5 with my eldest 23 and my youngest 4. I've potty trained pre social media, I've potty trained post social media, I've potty trained in my 20's, I've potty trained in my 40's, I've potty trained girls, I've potty trained boys...I've done my fair share! And although each little one is different, I've gained some tricks and knowledge along the way that will hopefully help anyone who needs a bit of advice on how to tackle potty training!
When should I start?
Straightforward question with a not so straightforward answer. All of my kids have had different potty training experiences...different ages and different success stories! If I had to say anything, my girls have been much quicker than my boys. My mum always said it's because boys are lazy...my sons didn't help disprove her theory. But still, all very different. A single regimented method starting at the exact same age for each child, although we can dream, just isn't realistic and wasn't the case (for me anyway).
First time lucky?
With my first, Molly, I was a young mum of one and, honestly, finance was the thing that made me decide to start potty training at 20 months. Until I had money to buy anymore, I literally had 1 nappy per night. I purposed to put her in knickers during the day and encouraged her to use the potty. TIP...make friends with the potty! I'm sure I always kept the potty in clear view for sometime, just so Mol could get familiar with it and sit on it when she wanted to. We, like a lot of parents, did the big girl pep talk; we told her she was a big girl going on her potty and talked about how grown up it is to wear 'big girl' pants. Half an hour or so after food she sat on the potty, she was so pleased with herself that that was enough for her to get the idea. Et voila...Mol was potty trained! She came out of nappies day and night more or less the same time. But please remember, she was the only child in the house and Mummy had lots of time to give her and her potty training needs.
Here come the boys!
Spoiler alert...potty training the boys was VERY different to training Mol. For anyone who thinks I may have had it easy with my first, hang tight.
With the success of the first, I thought I'd just mirror the process when my first son Jack came along. I followed the same procedure but had a very different outcome. He was very hit and miss (literally) and it did become frustrating. I started asking myself a lot of, what I guess, are quite common questions if you aren't having an easy ride. What was I doing wrong? Why isn't he picking it up as easy as my first? Honestly, I was disappointed he didn't get it like his sister, and having to take spare outfits, spare pants, cleaning wet car seats and wet prams all became a chore. Perseverance was key though and we got there. Night time took a little longer and we had to bring in a 'no drinks after 7pm' rule, because Jack always drank quite a lot before bed, and eventually we were dry all day and all night! A couple years later came along the most laid back, relaxed little boy you can imagine, and it showed in every way. I really don't think it bothered Harry if he was wet; he never gave that 'ok I'm wet and uncomfortable' signal that other kids seem to show. Rallying the troops before an outing, I always asked the standard 'does anybody need the toilet?' Harry would always say no...'are you sure? Do you want to just try for Mummy?' 'no...' I said 'I'm not stopping the car if you do'. And lo and behold five minutes into a journey he'd need to go. And here comes the laid back attitude, because sometimes he wouldn't even bother to say and we'd get to where we were going and you'd find him wet in his seat. WHY was he so different? When is potty training going to click? It did eventually, just like with Jack, it just took a lot of perseverance, encouragement and patience. Grace came along in 2004 and just like her big sister, she was a star and restored the faith in my tried and tested potty training method.
One thing I wish I had taken notice of more is that each child is different and it really doesn't matter when it happens. Why did I put so much pressure on myself to have them potty trained by an age that some people thought was right? Looking back it really makes no sense, but I did...When my four children were younger, I had friends with children similar ages. We'd go to mums' & toddler groups, have play dates etc etc and although there didn't seem to be an outward pressure I think I put pressure on myself. I didn't want to be seen as a failure or a bad mum if my child was the one that was still having accidents. I gave myself a hard time, and what for? To anyone trying to potty train, be kind to yourself, you're doing your best and IT WILL happen!
You thought I was done at 4?
Wrong! Whilst writing this blog I was thinking to myself 'thank goodness I had mine before all this social media pressure' then I remembered I had Martha four years ago, right in the middle of the social media buzz. From reading this, you'll see the pressure I felt during potty training and so many other stages of parenthood. If I had this pressure and was easily able to see the 'perfect mums' and their 'perfect journeys' I think my experience of being a young mum of four would've been a lot different. The reason I didn't feel the pressure this time was that I'm much older and probably a lot more laid back in my approach to things. I've been able to see in hindsight and then put it into practice. Plus none of my friends had little ones anymore.
Did I do anything different with Martha?
Not a thing. Apart from she had a little extra encouragement because she got to wear 'big girl pants' made especially for her by me. Side note... little did I know, this is where our Martha Loves journey would begin (blog post to come!). I was surprised that Martha was so easy to train because she'd shown no interest in the potty at all. But it just clicked with her, as it had done with her sisters.
How to potty train at night
You'll to notice that your child will start waking up in a nappy that is dry or nearly dry and this is when to take the plunge. Minimise early evening drinks and encourage a good bathroom/bedtime routine;teeth and toilet in our house! Then I would always lift my sleeping child as I went to bed, put them on the loo and whisper 'do wee wee's for mummy' as they had their head asleep on my shoulder. I could probably count on my hands how many times they didn't comply. Wet beds in our house have been a rarity, apart from no. 3 who I'm pleased to say, is completely potty trained now...he's 18.
Yes our pants our PERFECT for potty training
I think with our pants and boxers people will have two opinions: they are going to be perfect for to kick start potty training my baby will want to wear them OR they're £6.50, they're too nice and will get ruined during potty training. I started making Martha's pants out of scraps of fabric, I had left over, once I'd made an outfit for her. I wanted them to match her little dresses and outfits, and 5th time around, after a 10 year break of potty training, I was still so underwhelmed and disappointed in what was available on the high street. From potty training, up to now, I have never had to bin a pair of pants I've made because they've come apart, or because they've faded or shrunk, or the stains won't come out. Even the first sets I made at home, way before we started Martha Loves, held up perfectly. Martha has simply just outgrown her pants. The encouragement and excitement she had to put on her unique 'big girl' pants and start potty training helped make the process of potty training my new baby, 12 years after my last child, so much easier. And we hand make all our underwear with durability and value for money in mind always. A bit of encouragement and the occasional bribe never hurt anyone, and whether you're putting them in egg boxers or bunny pants, they'll want to get out of nappies that much more.
And that's it really, isn't it? A short end to a long post but however old they are, however long it takes, it will happen...