Lockdown parenting and potty training

I’ve been meaning to do a little life update. Honestly it doesn’t seem like there’s that much news but actually it feels like I’ve been busy because we have been… (cue atmospheric music) potty training!

Warning: if you aren’t interested in our potty training achievements that this post is mainly about that so you may want to skip it!

Spoiler alert: It really wasn’t half as bad as I had anticipated. We waited until the early May bank holiday (an extra day of the weekend) so we could have 3 straight days of doing it. I’d heard so many horror stories from friends so I was thinking it would be awful. Also I read two books, both of which were fairly pessimistic about the process. (Lots of strict instructions about what you can and can’t do.)

Also for context B is 3 and a bit, and a lot of people we know (like his cousin 7 months younger) had already potty trained at 2. So I was worried he was somehow behind. Note we had bought a potty months previously and also a toilet seat so it’s not like he didn’t know what he was supposed to do, he just didn’t want to! He is not developmentally delayed as far as I can tell, but he’s definitely stubborn just like mama!

Day 1 was not that optimistic about our chances of success. B wore pants (little trunks like Papa’s) for the first time – we told him that there were no more nappies. It was so cute but the poor kid had absolutely no idea what he was doing. He was upset about not having nappies and we went through about 8 pairs of pants that got wet before he finally – at around 8pm – did a wee in the potty!

At which point the reward system kicked in. We had told him but that is when it became tangible for him. We had a big pot of m&ms that have his name and face on. We got them ages ago at m&m world and forgot about them but during lockdown we’ve been clearing out (well, T has, I’m useless) so we decided they’d be ideal for the potty training rewards.

Note that previous attempts with reward charts have not worked at all as he’s not at all motivated by intangible future rewards and just wants them now! (Just like me as a child.) Also he has chocolate daily as we don’t restrict it so it had to be something new he hadn’t had before. So he really liked the m&ms.

The little sod managed to negotiate the price upwards so instead of 1 m&m per “go” he gets 3 for a wee… although very sweetly it’s because he wants to “share with mama and papa” so that means we each get a m&m when he manages to do a wee on the potty.

Toilet wise he has eschewed the toilet seat and uses a mini toilet/potty (looks like a loo with a flush and everything – borrowed from one of his nursery friends who’s now trained) downstairs (as our downstairs loo is not in the main room and would take a while to get to) and that’s where he mainly goes. And upstairs he uses his original potty.

Well really once he’d cracked it on day 1 he just pretty much had it. On subsequent days (we are now day 4) he only had 1-2 accidents a day and they were mainly because we couldn’t get him there quick enough. It took him a couple of days to understand he might need the toilet before he started doing it, and today and yesterday he even went there by himself a few times, so it was a really quick learning curve. I’m honestly amazed.

For poos he wasn’t keen at all and still cried and wanted a nappy but he managed to do a few. And was motivated as you get 5 m&ms for a poo! But think he’s still not too keen. I’m sure that’s because it’s a totally new sensation but I really want to be done with the poo nappies as I can’t stand them!

We put a nappy back on him overnight as we bedshare and didn’t want to wake up covered in wee! But as far as I can tell he’s generally dry when he wakes up and he has been happy to get his nappy off and go on the potty straight away, so that’s been really good.

So really I’m just amazed it’s been so much easier than I anticipated. I think the anticipation was worse than what the experience actually was. A bit like most things! Like returning to work…

Also. All this has brought home to me how our situation has largely benefited from lockdown. And I’m aware it’s something that makes us really lucky and privileged, and I’m very grateful. We are so lucky that we are able to work from home, that my work isn’t too busy so I can do the bulk of childcare, that we both still get paid, that we have only one child who’s happy to stay in (and a dog – likewise), and we are all healthy.

For us it’s really been mostly great to have this family time. (Frayed tempers aside!) And it definitely would have been more stressful to try and do potty training outside of lockdown when we weren’t together 24/7.

In particular I’m so grateful we have some outside space as I think that makes a huge amount of difference mentally under lockdown. B hasn’t even left our flat for weeks. In the beginning he wanted to and we took him out a few times a week but now he’s happy just to be on our terrace. (It’s a quite large one that’s about the size of a small garden. Big for London!) We’ve had some nice weather lately so we got a little paddling pool (it’s actually a dog pool! But Dog isn’t so into it!) and we also take his climbing frame out there so he gets to spend time outside.

Really I’m wondering what it will be like to go back to normal life. I miss friends and family but apart from that I think lockdown life suits us. I love being able to spend uninterrupted time with my child for the first time since he was 4 months old. It is such a joy to be able to do that.

There is speculation it will start up again at the beginning of June and I wonder how it will work. Because we are quite settled for the moment in our little bubble.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. In Montessori world, we are trained to avoid any kind of rewards system. The idea is that it kills the natural instinct in children to learn new things. (That is basically all they do all day, everyday, anyway, in the early years.) But in your case it seemed to work out. Congrats on your diaperless future! 🙂
    I can completely understand your feelings about the benefits of lockdown. I have been feeling guilty about enjoying these weeks with my whole family around me and all sense of time passing being thrown out the window. You are right that privilege is a key ingredient in being able to feel this way.

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    1. Nara says:

      Ooh that’s interesting, thanks. Actually we are now on day 5 and from day 3 he stopped really being bothered about the rewards. He doesn’t even ask for the m&ms any more! And had no accidents today! So I think as a short term thing it was fine. Almost more as a consolation for having to do it, haha!

      Re lockdown I think it’s very different for different families. I know a lot of my friends with kids are going a bit crazy and even feeling depressed and stressed. I have noticed it’s more for school age kids and those with multiples. I’m lucky because I don’t have that or any school needs really so we can just have fun! Also I do believe that screen time is fine – I work in tech and he’s quite tech literate and I think that’s a good thing. We do lots of other stuff too. So I think just being easier on myself than some of my friends are doing (putting immense pressure on themselves), a bit of screen time and a bit of allowing him to be bored / find ways to entertain himself has been generally quite a decent balance. I definitely have days where he’s a bit more neglected for attention though (due to work stuff) but because there’s two of us we can generally balance it out. Honestly I’m not looking forward to going back to real life!

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  2. kimi says:

    Oh man, potty training for boys is harder than girls I hear. Ours went well and we did the three day thing as well. I hope it just keeps getting better for you! It would be an ideal time while on quarantine to do it, when you can’t really go anywhere anyway.

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    1. Nara says:

      Yeah we actually managed a full day with no accidents today! Day 5. Days 2-4 only had 1-2 per day. It’s been much easier than we thought! Definitely the ideal time to do it!

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  3. Wait! potty training is actually a thing? hehehe

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  4. Some of Mini’s friends are already potty trained already (she’s 2.5). Sometimes in the morning when I notice her nappy is dry I encourage her to sit on the potty and then praise when she does a wee. But the rest of the day she’s not bothered! I think I’m going to wait and see in a few months. It seems like most kids are ready around age three.
    Yeah, I have enjoyed the little family life bubble aspect of the lockdown and getting to spend more time with my daughter has been a real bonus. The main stress has been trying to keep on top of work as my job can still be very stressful at times. x

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