Day 1 – Starting today!
Yes, today’s the day. While I’ve been happy to ignore friends and even my mum saying ‘Isn’t it time?’, the deciding factor in having to potty train now is Ben’s nursery teacher who thinks he’s ready. He’s in a class with several older children and has been following them to the bathroom and doing a wee too.
Nursery says it’s my decision, but if I leave it, we might miss the ‘window of opportunity’. It seems I might have more trouble if I leave it any longer. So, here we go…
First, I swot up. Just remember to be really encouraging, upbeat and relaxed, says the advice. Second, stock up. So we go on a family trip to buy a potty, reward stickers (which mums swear by) and ‘big boy’ pants, which Ben insists on changing into as soon as we get home.
"If you want a wee, ask mummy, daddy or me," says Ben’s brother Tom, 4, helpfully. "I need a wee!" shouts Ben. He pulls his pants down, sits on the potty and performs successfully. We praise him repeatedly and give him a sticker.
Every time I ask him if he wants a wee he says yes. In total he has six wees on the potty, no poos (unusually for him) and only two ‘wee’ accidents. It’s a great start and I’m delighted.
What I learnt today: Ben responds really well to praise and encouragement and it’s important not to make a fuss when things go wrong.
Day 2 – Ups and downs
It’s nursery today and I’m nervous as I strap Ben into his car seat. I feel like I’ve got a ticking time bomb on my hands. "I’ve packed six changes of pants and trousers – I hope that’s enough," I say to his teacher. "Sounds about right!" she laughs. "We’ll take him every hour, don’t worry". At home time, his teacher is very pleased. "He’s done lots of wees and two poos and only had two ‘wee’ accidents," she says.
It’s not so straightforward back home, though. I ask Ben if he wants a wee and he says no – then wees on the floor five minutes later. Half an hour later, during dinner, he does the same thing. As I load up the washing machine I can’t help but feel frustrated.
What I learnt today: Nursery’s technique of taking him to the toilet every hour is better than my rather haphazard approach
Day 3 – Wimping Out
The boys are at home with me today and Ben wees on the floor soon after getting up, then does the same all over the sofa an hour later. Before lunch, I ask if he needs a wee and he says no, then immediately wets his pants.
In the afternoon we go to a friend’s house. I’ve read that the right way to do it is whatever feels right for me. So I put him in a pair of nappy pants so I can relax without worrying he’s going to ruin their carpet. I feel like I’ve wimped out but he’s quite happy wearing them and I wonder if I should leave the potty training for a while.
What I learnt today: Ben has most accidents when he’s engrossed in something else
Day 4 – Soldiering on
I’m told that potty training can be three steps forward and three steps back and not to get disheartened by accidents. With this in mind, I vow to soldier on. I’m worried I may have ruined everything by putting Ben in a nappy yesterday, especially as he has an accident before we leave the house.
However, we persevere, and when I collect him from nursery he’s only had one accident all day – he’s weed in his wellies in the garden! "Other than that he’s been fine, including two poos," says his teacher. "Can I have a Thomas sticker?" asks Ben hopefully while I’m busy wondering if his wellies will smell.
What I learnt today: These reward stickers really work
Day 5 – Turning a corner
Once I’ve packed the spares into his nursery bag, the only trousers left in Ben’s drawer are a pair of bright red jogging bottoms, which clash horribly with his T-shirt. ‘Never mind, he won’t be wearing them for long!’ I think to myself.
But when I go to pick them up he’s got the same pair on and I can’t believe it. All in all it’s a very good day with only one accident at home. I feel like we’ve really turned a corner and the first two days’ disappointment is a distant memory.
What I learnt today: Having older children in his nursery group who use the toilet has really helped him
Day 6 – Synchronised potty – a new sport?
I’ve decided to do the same as nursery, and take him to the potty every hour rather than asking him if he needs to go. His older brother Tom agrees to sit on the toilet when Ben’s on the potty, as Ben loves copying his big brother. They wee contentedly in unison and I take a picture, feeling proud.
No wee accidents today but there are two unscheduled poos. It’s disappointing – and very messy when Ben puts his hands down his pants. Delightful. I decide this isn’t time to take another picture as we head to the bathroom to clean up.
What I learnt today: Potty training is much easier when there’s a sibling to copy
Day 7 – Prize time
Ben’s nappy was dry this morning; so I took him to the potty where he did an enormous wee. I insist on him using the potty before we go to the park and he manages three hours without an accident.
Back home he insists on sitting on the potty in the lounge and sadly most of it splashes on the carpet. But it’s the only accident of the day. Ben's earned enough stickers this week for a prize – a Peppa Pig puzzle. I’ve bought it out of the money I saved on nappies.
I’m surprised at how quickly Ben’s taken to potty training and I’d say he’s using the potty 90% of the time – not bad in just one week. I’ve realised most accidents happen when he’s concentrating on something else. I’m still not quite sure what we’ll do when we go out for a whole day though – I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
What I learnt today: Taking him for a wee first thing avoids breakfast time accident