She ran through the front door & into the lobby at full speed, hardly slowing as she turned the corner into her classroom. She walked right up to her teacher and happily exclaimed “I’m a BIG girl!”
Then she slowly looked toward the floor & let out a sob. She looked up at me with confusion; tears streaming down her cheeks.
Immediately I realized my mistake. In the hustle & bustle of our morning, I had forgotten to ask if she needed to stop to potty. I had rushed her right along, not wanting to be late to work, & she was embarrassed by having an accident in front of her new class.
Have you ever been so wrapped up in your routine that you forgot to stop & reassess your family’s needs? Without intentionally taking a step back and evaluating the need for change regularly, you may find yourself exactly where I was that morning.
- Stop for a moment & think about where you can integrate potty breaks into your routine. I decided to make it a habit to encourage a trip to the bathroom before we leave the house & whenever we arrive at a new destination. This works well for our family because we stop at the Elementary school in between home & daycare.
Never having dealt with this particular laundry monster before, I threw her clothes in the wash with the rest of our laundry after adding a quick spray of stain remover. After carefully laundering everything we needed to be ready to run out the door bright & early (a.k.a. I remembered to throw it all in the dryer before I went to bed), I thought we were well prepared to get dressed the best day.
I thought wrong.
When I opened the dryer door, I realized I had done nothing but infuse all of our clothes with eau de potty training. I cannot stress enough that detergent alone will not yield the desired results!
But after a bit of experimentation, I found an easy & inexpensive way to ensure the smell won’t stick around.
- Invest in a large bottle of white vinegar & a spray bottle. As soon as you are able, rinse the soiled garments in cool water & wring dry. Lightly spritz the white vinegar on all surfaces & tie up in a plastic bag until time to launder. I wash these in a small load on their own in cold water & opt for a second rinse.
After carrying around a diaper bag for a few years, we are all pretty used to packing an extra set of clothes & undergarments. But that day in the classroom I learned about one more item that should be considered indispensable as part of an “extra set of clothes.”
As I started to help her change clothes & clean up the mess, she asked me to take off her shoes. Then her socks. They were soaked.
I had to ask her teacher to wash them & set them out to dry, & my already embarrassed little girl had to go barefoot for the first half of the day.
- Shoes. One more time- SHOES! Please make sure that you always pack an extra pair of shoes (& socks if you are an overachiever) along with a change of clothes. Your future self will thank you.
- Assess your routine to build in cues for potty breaks.
- Spray soiled garments with white vinegar prior to washing.
- Carry an extra pair of shoes along with a change of clothes for accidents.
Don’t forget to find humor where you can, & remember that this too shall pass! We always hear about the challenges kids have when potty training, but as parents we have lessons to learn as well. Building time into your schedule to account for any surprises along the way will take the pressure off of you & your kids so everyone will have a better experience.
Let me know what other quick tips you have for first time potty training parents!