Once upon a time there was a toddler. And by midnight of his 18th month, his wise mother had shown him the way to becoming a noble knight. The toddler shunned the ways of his diaper, and used the glistening potty that the benevolent fairies had bestowed upon him on the night of his quick and pain-free birth.
Uh, yeah right. I hope you all know that every bit of that is a fairy tale. Not one bit is true. Okay? No matter what your parents or grandparents, or that random old lady you met at Waitrose said, most children are not potty-trained at 18 months. There are always going to be some exceptions, of course. But do not feel like you have to compete with those people.
Since my children are aged 6 1/2 and 2 1/2, friends with younger children often ask for advice. And regular readers of my blog will know that I am more than happy to offer advice. When Moozles was two, we tried to potty train her. The kid held her wee in all frickin' day. She still drank normally, but her tummy would become distended until she relieved herself in her evening bath. After a couple of days, and much discussion, I knew that she wasn't mentally ready to stop using nappies (though there were no physical issues).
When Moozles turned three, I told her she could wear nail polish if she used the potty. She used the toilet from that moment on. She was still quite anxious about the thought of doing poos in the toilet so we let her use a nappy when she slept at night (and this is when she would poo). She continued in her nighttime nappy until she was almost four. We then took away the nappy and spent a lot of time trying to ease her fears (we had to eventually give her some child-friendly laxatives as she refused to poo for over a week). It really taught me how emotional potty training can be for a child.
So here are some things to contemplate if you are feeling the pressure to potty-train:
1. The Signs - Yes, there are signs that tell you when your child is ready to use the potty. But some children exhibit all these signs and still aren't ready. Potty training is physical and mental.
2. Genius - Your child's ability to use a toilet early is not an indicator for future membership to MENSA. So if he/she is potty trained at two, don't expect your child to be the next Steve Jobs.
3. The Elderly - You will get pressure from the older generation, be they health visitors, grandparents or random people you meet on the high street. Let's be honest, they're kinda old and forgetful. And they certainly don't know your child as well as you do.
4. Wiping Wee - For me, my child being potty-trained doesn't mean that I am cleaning up wee off the floor every day for months. I like my furniture urine-free. And changing sheets in the middle of the night isn't my idea of fun. If you potty change too early, then there is a lot of wee clean-up. We potty-trained Moozles right after her third birthday. Apart from one accident at the nursery, her wee remained in the toilet.
5. Poo to Poo - Same as number four. Enough said.
6. Fancy Potty - There are a lot of potties to choose from. Moozles used the potty for about three days then went straight to a toilet training seat. Don't be too caught up in finding the right potty, or buying a potty for every room. Again, if you want until your child is ready then it isn't such a big deal.
And remember, you know your child better than anyone else. Do what is right for them. And if someone asks why your toddler isn't potty trained, send them to me.