I think I read somewhere that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you plan to go far while potty training… yeah, I definitely read that on babycenter.com, my go-to guide to tell me I’m not losing my mind as I figure out how to parent!
It was a beautiful, sunny day in Columbus, Ohio one mid-August afternoon and my sweet, always-obeying child turned to me and said “mommy, I want to wear panties, not diapers.” I of course got on the bandwagon and went with it, but inside I was screaming because we were 6 days from leaving for a mini-vacation. How in the world could I possibly potty train in 6 days?
The first two days there were what you would expect- I will spare you the details but let’s just say there was a lot of laundry that needed to get done and again, I kept asking myself how could I possibly survive a 5-day vacation without doing laundry? We were going to be staying at a hotel… we had a 2 1/2 hour drive to the hotel from home… we had a child that refused to wear pull-ups or diapers.
By the third day she had figured out she needed to tell me when she needed to “go” and she wore pull-ups for nap time and bedtime, phew! She was as tired as I was which does not promote a “successful” potty training.
Let’s skip ahead to DAY 7… leaving for our trip:
Many parents had mentioned bringing the potty with me and having it ready for use in the car if we needed to make a quick stop. This is not what I had in mind when I signed up for “easy travel” with kids! Of course I always listen to advice given so we brought it. Luckily, Jolie preferred to get out of the car and use a public bathroom. SCORE FOR MOM and DAD! I was really not looking forward to her peeing in a potty in the car at a rest stop.
At one point, we had napkins underneath our daughter on the seat of the car seat just in case she could not wait… again, the no-laundry factor to consider. (Note, I realize there are public laundry mats but again, this was not what I wanted to spend my time doing ON VACATION!)
We survived the trip to the hotel with no accidents. Phew, another disaster diverted.
We were accompanying my husband on a business trip, so our first “vacation” day he went to work while Jolie and I went out. I kept telling myself “I can do this!” (really I think I should have told Jolie “you can do this!, but whatever.)
Guess what, she was great. Like her mom, she is just all around better when we are out-and-about exploring the world! In this case, “the world” was Akron, Ohio but she’s only 2 so everything is exciting to her. And that first day we went for a little mini-hike.
The issue was always when we were back at the hotel. It’s like she knew I could just change her and it would not be a big deal. This is how the next 5 days went while we were traveling. And to be honest, even now -6 months later- when she has an accident it is almost always at home!
There is a lot of information out there about potty training, and a lot of parents that have a lot of advice. If I had to do it all over again, I don’t think I would change a thing. I did not let her “need to wear panties” interfere with our plans to take a trip. After many months of potty training now… because really, it never ends, I do feel I can give some Easy Travel Mom advice that will help you:
1. Listen well to your child and go with the flow. I can say that I quickly figured out her “patterns” and made sure to ask her at those times about using the potty. Some parents have to make the child sit on the toilet for hours to go – we did this the first two days but then my patience wore. Plus, on vacation we were exploring so this was not an option for us.
2. Visual aides do help. Most sites recommend buying toddler-sized toilets and even underwear so that your kids get used to seeing it available which we did do, but this is also why she wanted to start potty training. She just could not resist the Dora underwear! Keep this in mind if you have an upcoming trip, meaning hide the underwear!
3. When they are ready, go for it! Don’t push your child unless they have expressed an interest in potty training. I read that the earlier you start, the longer it takes. I had always thought we would wait until the end of the year when we would be home (4-5 months later than we actually did) to potty train but clearly my daughter had something different in mind.
4. Encourage use of the “big” potty shortly after they are used to the little one! If you are like me, I was not inclined to have my kid use a toddler-sized potty for too long. We bought one that the top of the small potty could come off and be placed on the big potty. The idea of carrying any potty around did not float well with me and our trip actually forced her to use the big potty. After all, that’s what mommy and daddy use, right?! So she switched back and forth for a while before eventually mommy saying “let’s just use the little potty as a step to get to the big potty” (it’s also a stool). This may not work for your kid but it’s always worth a try!
5. Know where you are going and watch for Restroom Stops along the highway, especially the signs that say “the next stop isn’t for another XX miles”. You may just want to stop anyway if it’s been a while and run around a bit, then have your child use the potty before leaving.
6. Make it a rule from the beginning “every stop we try to go potty” and enforce the rule for the parents too. The child will learn by example.
7. Stop every 2 hours on road trips. This may seem excessive if you’ve got an 8+ hour drive but it’s a necessary evil and trust me, you will be happier than cleaning up a mess.
8. Pack an extra set of clothes to specifically leave in the car and even a changing pad – this could come in handy if something happens to the car seat cover.
9. Bribery was my friend. Yes, I know, as parents we are not supposed to bribe our children but they need some sort of “incentive” to sit on the toilet to begin with. We started with stickers as I knew this would work well for my child. Later, when she had a relapse (it happens), we switched to gummi bears.
10. Remember, every potty training experience is different. This is just my story. I will always refer to babycenter.com for all their useful tips in how to read the signs of your own kid.
Good luck, and remember – their milestone is yours too! Reward yourself with that extra money you would have spent on diapers!