Travelling and toilet training

Just to recap from my last toilet training blog, as of the time of our recent family holiday, our girls were almost 100% day trained. It came to light just before our trip that daycare was occasionally putting the girls in nappies when they asked or looked uncomfortable. One of the girls still wasn’t 100% comfortable doing her poo on the toilet and would ask for a nappy. So I packed enough nappy pants to do us for night time, the flight there and back and the three long (1-2 hours) car trips that we were scheduled to make – about 26 nappies total that included a few spares for those times when we get a post-bath night time poo.

We got to the airport to leave and as it was approaching time to go to our gate, I took the girls to the toilet. 50% success rate, well 66.66% if you factor in that I went too I guess.

So, here we are on the plane and on our way. One of the girls declares that she needs to go to the toilet not long after the seatbelt sign went off. The other chimes in that she needs to go too. The baby was with me feeding, so I asked my husband if was comfortable taking them one at a time to the toilet – he was. As is the case sometimes, we had a 50% success rate with one of the girls refusing to even sit on the strange “new toilet”. I don’t blame her, I don’t particularly like plane toilets either and as a new experience and one that would be loud and smelly – I was OK with that response.

It was at this point that I probably started to see the realities of the complications in travelling with toilet training toddlers. I had considered the theoretical situation, but that was all it was, a theory. In amongst every other “new” experience they were going to have, was having to adjust to new toilets, new routines and new homes so to speak. So I caved and put a nappy on Miss B as the last thing I wanted for her toilet training journey was to be humiliated on a plane when it should be an exciting experience for everyone.

All was well and good as we were coming in to land until Miss A declared that she needed to go to the toilet. We’re talking, seatbelt on, “prepare the cabin for landing” announcement had played, ear pressure is adjusting to the descent. So I quickly hand the baby over to my husband. Then I scoot Miss B over to the aisle seat, seatbelt on her (she of course insisted on doing it herself), then seatbelt on me. Grab a pair of nappy pants.

I had deliberately gotten the Huggies brand because they can still be put on and off like a normal nappy or pulled on and off like knickers. This ended up being a smart move as we were coming in to land, I couldn’t exactly start stripping a child off on the plane – so I loosened her seatbelt leaving it on, scooted her into a half laying down half sitting position, pulled down her knickers and leggings and put the nappy on her. It was crude by anyones definition of a correctly fitting nappy, but it would do the job if she had to go. Again, I wasn’t interested in taking chances with either my children’s confidence in toilet training or my stress levels wondering if she would actually make it to the toilet once we were landed.

Once the kids had their bath and were ready for bed, their normal bedtime nappy went on and it was business as usual for that day.

We woke up the next day and it was to be the day we spent at the theme park. So, confident that we had the time and toilets available to us to continue with knickers, I made the decision to try to persevere with our knickers only toilet training. Breakfast time we had three trips to the toilet between them with only one wee. Before we left on the hotel tour to the theme park there was another two visits. Throughout the day from 8:30am until 1:30pm we journeyed to the toilet a number of times. Some of the time Miss A asked to go and then on getting to the toilet refused to so much as sit on it. Some of the time I just took them as I needed to go anyway, but not much success. Miss B did do a wee or two when we were at Seaworld, but it was a very stressful situation for all of us to be in.

So it was once we were back in the hotel and settled that I said to my husband that I think we can have a toilet training holiday and go with nappy pants for the remaining four days of our trip. I reassured the girls that they could still sit on the toilet if they wanted, that they just needed to ask and we could do that for them. Miss B took me up on that once during the whole time.

I think a combination of being constantly at new places, visiting or receiving visitors and experiencing the joys of a holiday just meant that toileting wasn’t a priority for the girls and I realised that it was OK to relent on this one thing because the bottom line is that they just weren’t that advanced in their toilet training to be confident with new places and new toilets. You know what though? That’s OK by me.

Toilet training shouldn’t be about forcing the issue or trying to coerce toddlers to conform to some expectation of what they should be doing. I was already proud that they had gotten this far so quickly with their toilet training. I wasn’t entirely confident myself in the whole travelling toilet training situation – so I couldn’t possibly expect them to be too.

I will admit that I had reservations about making the decision and how selfish I was being. My husband kept declaring that they were “broken” when it came to toilet training and I was correcting him constantly saying that we’re just taking a holiday from it all while we’re on holidays as that was also how I was selling it to the girls so that they knew this change was just temporary. This was also mostly because I saw the absolute reasoning behind why we couldn’t persist through holidays trying to toilet train and travel around all over the countryside. But most of all it was because it would have been heartbreaking to think that by reverting to nappy pants for holidays, that I had irrevocably broken their toilet training and all of the hard work that I’d invested into it!

As a parent, we have KPI’s that we hold ourselves accountable to and for me it was to have toilet trained three year olds. To regress as far back to nappies full-time would have been a major hit to my parenting confidence. But I am happy to report that although we had a rough start to the week after arriving back late last Monday, that are back to normal and with only one minor accident over this last weekend, maybe we’re doing better than every before. We still haven’t had success when it comes to Miss A and her number 2’s – but I’m using mini M&Ms as bribes (still hasn’t worked yet but I’ll keep you updated).

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