The End

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Toilet Training: How It Eventually Happened

I never wrote about this because the timing of it all clashed with the move to Dubai, but I owe it to Emily to document the event before I forget it completely. 

Some of you might recall reading this some time ago...

Potty Training

I wish I didn't have to do this.

Shall I leave it at that? Says it all really, doesn't it? I hate it. It is the worst part of parenting there could possibly be. Worse than sleepless nights (ok maybe not that).

Then again, I say we're potty training but in reality I've done three (not consecutive) days of potty training, while living in denial and hoping it all magically happens on it's own to have me wake up one morning and find that Emily is comfortably in underpants and there is no need to have that bucket of water and Dettol handy.


I really did hate it and I didn't want to have to do it. I wanted to wake up one morning and it'd all be done. I kept trying every few weeks, while reminding her that she could be using panties if she really wanted to. And nothing got through to her. When she turned three on 28th January 2014, she was still very firmly in nappies, and I'd pretty much given up on that ever changing.

There was so much advice, and all of it so different. Several people told me it would just happen, just like the way I hoped it would. Yet that seemed too good to be true - they were obviously not telling me some important part of the story. Then there was the advice that said put her on the toilet at regular intervals (which in my opinion isn't toilet training, it's catching an accident before it happens). There was the "leave the potty in the middle of the room" advice... but we'd tried that and she still couldn't be bothered. Treats didn't work, promises of stickers didn't work, dancing with ridiculous levels of joy didn't work.

It boiled down to one thing ultimately: she didn't want to. Physically she was ready (she'd been dry at night for weeks by the time she turned three), but mentally, something wasn't clicking. She just wasn't ready.

Then the Clothy and Dummy incident happened, and at that point I knew the advice I so wanted to believe might be right. When she was ready, she'd let me know. So I decided to back off a bit and change tactics.

I left a little carrot. We'd promised her a bike once we moved to Dubai. But there was a catch... she would only get it if she was no longer wearing nappies.

I felt horrible. Was I blackmailing my own daughter? I suppose I was, but I did it kindly and only because I knew she could do it and obviously needed the push.

I also told her that since she was being so good at not wetting her nappies overnight, she could do her morning wee on the toilet. She did that every day for a few weeks (with lots of clapping and dancing and hugs and the tiniest chocolates known to man). Then we told her she could also sit on the loo before bed, and that became a habit too. I told her that I knew she wanted to stop wearing nappies and this was a good way to do it: we'd become experts at doing morning and evening wee on the loo, and once we're really great at that, we can do some others on the loo too.

I know my daughter, she works well in stages. But she was also close to being mentally ready to let go of those wretched nappies, and she really, desperately wanted that bike!

Less than two weeks after she turned three, on the 11th February, she woke up and told me she wanted to go to school in panties.

This was what I'd dreamed about and yet there I was trying to convince her otherwise. She wouldn't have it. She was going to school in panties that day. I quickly put together a bag with a change of clothes for her to take with her to school... there was not a shred of doubt that it would be used that day.

But when I picked her up after school, she was still in her uniform. Cue gobsmacked me. However, her teachers told me, she had been to the loo and hadn't done anything. She had last gone to the loo at 7am. This was 1pm. I had to get home FAST.

We didn't make it. Remember the smashed sunglasses incident? Yeah, the "distraction" was me hearing Emily go "uh-oh" as she let it all go on the pavement beside the car (thankfully not IN the car!)

The problem had been obvious. She used a toilet training seat at home, but there was no training seat at school. She was terrified she would fall in. So we got home and I made the training seat disappear. I showed her what needed to be done and I had to help hold her up at first, but by the evening she was sitting on the toilet alone without assistance.

She went to school in underpants again the next day and there were no accidents at all. Nor were there the next day or the next or the days after that. Her first accident was two weeks later in the middle of an indoor play area as I sat and told Maureen (of Island Fairy) how in awe I was of Emily for doing exactly what I'd dreamed she'd do. And to add insult to injury, I'd forgotten to pack socks into her change of clothes bag so Maureen had to let us have Robin's!

But there haven't really been any accidents since and two weeks after we moved to Dubai, she even stopped using pull-ups at night (which she was only using because I was worried about her wetting the hotel bed).

So there you have it. When people (and now I) tell you it can happen overnight, that they just need to be ready, just wait for them to decide they want to do it.... believe it. It's pretty incredible. As with so many other things, be firm, guide them, but let them lead the way.


She got her bike the day after we landed in Dubai. I was still so jetlagged, I barely remember it happening.


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