Toilet training was never going to be one of the highlights of parenting but, having written about and researched the topic at length, as well as having toilet trained one whole child before, I figured the second time around would be a breeze. A slightly pungent breeze, but a breeze nonetheless.
Foolishly, I forgot to factor my stubborn and eccentric daughter into the equation. The “experts” told me that girls were easier to toilet train but they had not met Sugarpuff, a child who I am convinced will one day become the benevolent dictator of a small unsuspecting nation we happen across in our travels. Mind you, that may come in handy because I was beginning to think she’d be requiring some poor minion to wipe her bottom when she’s 34… and it ain’t gonna be me.
It’s not that she isn’t interested. She loves talking about it and her imaginative uses for the potty thus far border on the surreal. It’s a step, a seat for watching TV, a piano stool, a bowl for making imaginary cake and a stable for her My Little Ponies.
And, yeehah, a cowboy hat.
In fact, about the only thing she hasn’t used it for is a toilet.
Nor is it that she doesn’t understand what it’s supposed to be used for. Her grandma gave her a cuddly Winnie the Pooh which she immediately fell in love with. Until we told her his name and, taking us at our word, proceeded to shove “Pooh” face first into the toilet. Sugarpuff would make a great toilet trainer herself such is her knowledge in the art of ablution. She steadfastly lectures every stuffed animal in the house on acceptable usage of the commode.
I’ve seen an entire packet of baby wipes scattered in screwed up piles on my lounge room floor, “because Dancing Dora did a poo!”
Of course she did. “My most humble of apologies daughter of mine, have another packet of wipes and don’t give a second thought to the forest you’ve just wiped out.”
I’ve watched on as she practically mummified her brother’s Buzz Lightyear in disposable nappies, “In case he has an accident, mama.”
Great thinking, honey! You can never be too careful with those inanimate intergalactic space rangers flitting about dropping their filthy space nuggets all over the place.
I’ve observed with horrified fascination as she carefully holds a My Little Pony over a tea cup and patiently explains that it needs to wee in the cup… whilst she casually takes a dump in her own pants.
And then there’s poor Peppa Pig, who I’m pretty sure didn’t have this in mind when she said she liked jumping in “muddy” puddles.
We’ve read all the books on the subject and decided that, for all the use they’ve been, the pages should come in handy to wipe her arse once she does get her head around this whole toilet shebang. But then, just when we thought there was no light at the end of the cistern and without her even once having attempted to fertilise a potty, Sugarpuff announced, “I’m never wearing nappies again.”
One day before we were due to leave on a five hour road-trip. Seriously, was she taking the piss?
From previous experience we knew that adding moving vehicles, strange bathrooms and dodgy public amenities to what is already a frustrating task is enough to drive any sane person potty. But, to our amazement Sugarpuff, a decisive child if there ever was one, literally toilet trained herself at that moment and has been in undies, or embracing her inner nudist, ever since – without a single accident.
So our road trip remained delightfully dry, though a tad nude, and was the shiz… in the best kind of way!
However I had prepared myself for our holiday to be anything but… so for those of you with children not destined to be tyrannical despots I’d like to share the scoop on poop with my top 10 tips for toilet training in transit.
Top 10 tips for toilet training in transit
- The majority of parenting experts agree that if your little one has only recently started toilet training or is having any issues, stopping temporarily is a far less stressful solution for everyone involved than persevering in strange environments.
- If things are progressing ok, investing in a travel potty is a great idea. Raffles and Sugarpuff both loved the idea of their BYO bog! A foldable toilet seat cover is another great idea, especially if you’re flying, because the privies in planes can be a little scary to toddlers.
- It may sound obvious but dress your toddlers in easy to remove clothes, carry a few spare sets and at least several million wipes… something no smart parent leaves home without anyway.
- Pull up training nappies are a toilet training traveller’s best friend. They may be a little pricey but, if there is an accident in transit, it won’t be awkward or cause embarrassment to your little lovely, something that can cause setbacks.
- If you are planning on travelling with a toilet training child, get them accustomed to using public toilets first and you can plan a toilet friendly route with The National Public Toilet Map, which provides information on over 16,000 publicly available toilets across Australia, including accessibility, opening hours and baby change facilities.
- Plan on taking a long time to get where you are going because you will need to take plenty of breaks to visit the toilet even if your child claims they don’t need to go.
- Teach your littlies to recognise toilet signs and to remind you when they need to stop.
- Check in with them every thirty minutes or so, anyway.
- Be sure to keep them hydrated but do keep an eye on their fluid intake so you can have an idea when they’ll next need to go.
- Most important of all, try to be understanding and don’t make a fuss over any accidents. This is tricky stuff to learn.