Potty Training Regression

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Olivia was potty trained before she was 2 years 9 months old. If I’m honest, I actually delayed the date a bit, as I kept her in nappies longer than necessary to avoid any night-time accidents. This potty-trained celebration picture was taken after she had been wee-free through the night for over a month. To the moms in the thick of potty-training hell, I do apologise, but my daughter was easy-peasy to potty train. It took virtually no time at all, and even though I left it mostly up to her, she was using the big toilet exclusively after only a few days.

So why is there a mountain of urine-soaked clothes lying on the floor of my bathroom right now? In less than 24 hours, my almost 3-year-old has had 3 wee accidents. Unheard of for my daughter. The first was in the early hours of this morning, the second after her afternoon nap, and the third while jumping on her trampoline. Now FOMO is a serious issue for Olivia (as it is for most toddlers) and one of the reasons we have come close to accidents before. I’ve had her jumping from foot to foot in desperation for a bathroom break only to sit on the toilet without a drip before bouncing out the bathroom again to continue whatever wild activity she had previously been engaged in. Of course, within 10 or 15 minutes she’s running back to the bathroom for a more successful toilet visit, however begrudgingly. These toddlers do not want to miss out on any of the fun! Yet despite this, the accidents have been incredibly rare and few and far between.

So after today, hubby and I have been trawling the internets to try and find a reason for Olivia’s sudden bladder problems.

First and foremost it is very clear that accidents (even in fully potty-trained kids) are completely normal *que sigh of relief*. Then there are other possibilities. A UTI was one of the reasons given which we did look into. Olivia has had thrush recently which manifested in rashes under her arm and in the creases of her thighs (again totally normal given the extreme heat of our area) but through the worst bouts of the infection she never had any accidents and the rashes have completely cleared. She has also never complained of any discomfort in her vaginal area, or any discomfort while urinating, she has no fever or pain and she’s been her perfectly happy self, so while I will keep an eye on this, I nixed a UTI as a reason for the accidents.

A second option was the possibility that she had been motivated by us to potty train, and not by herself. Meaning that she was using the toilet because we wanted her to and not because she wanted to. I was interested to read that often children in this situation would potty-train perfectly, and then suddenly regress into frequent accidents once the hoopla around the potty died down. While this made total sense to me, it didn’t fit my daughter, who basically potty-trained herself. If she had an accident in the early days, she would bawl her eyes out until I had her cleaned up and in dry clothes, because she hated it so much. Back to the drawing board.

The third, and slightly more intimidating option, was emotional. That the child (MY child) had been through a traumatic event or dramatic routine change recently which had caused stress and therefore toilet accidents. No, surely not. Not MY baby! And then I thought about it a bit more.

Back in the days when things were ‘normal’, Daddy would get up and go to work for most of the day while Olivia was home with me. I answered emails and telephone calls now and then, but mostly my attention was focused on her. In walked COVID-19 and our travel business ground to a screeching halt, meaning her dad was suddenly home 24 hours a day with nothing to do but shower her with attention (mommy also got in on that love and affection because I didn’t want to miss out on any family time).

This is how it continued for 3 months, when it slowly became clear that the travel industry in South Africa would not be coming back for a while, and our savings were dwindling to the point of non-existence. This led us to start 3 new companies in the space of just a few weeks, and as you can imagine, family time went from frequent to being almost scheduled 1-hour sessions. How could a child under 3 understand that? In her sweet, innocent little mind, we had gone from being with her every minute of the day, to suddenly taking shifts and expecting her to spend more time playing by herself.

We felt horrible. But the alternative was the possibility of a future where we would be unable to feed her. And this was wholly more terrifying than her having to play alone for a few minutes at a time or having more screen-time than we would have liked on a daily basis. Being the little miracle that she is, Olivia hardly acted up at all. She asked for her dummy more often, but I chalked it up to the fact that she was also cutting 4 molars at once. Until the accidents started, and my little girl gave me the awakening I had so desperately needed.

Yes, we need money, and we need an income in order to support and provide for our little family. But I would rather spend an extra hour with her and work an hour later tonight when she is in bed, then have her feel in any way like she has done anything wrong.

So, here’s my plan for the coming days. Nappies have unfortunately made an appearance, just for the night-time and only because we are in a horrific cold-front so I don’t want her soaking herself in the middle of the night. I don’t mind extra laundry if she has an accident in the day-time, that’s how we helped potty-train her in the beginning and it worked wonders then so why not now? I’m also going to treat it as the first days of her potty-training foray – by asking regularly if she needs to go and being a bit more strict on actually taking the time to go (not ignoring a full bladder because the game we are playing is too fun!)

We never used rewards to teach her to use the big toilet, though I did do a little song-and-dance every now and then which she enjoyed thoroughly, so I won’t implement rewards now. What I will do, is be very sympathetic and gentle with her. There will be a lot more cuddles and a lot more conversations about how much we love her even though we have to work a bit more often. And while she adjusts to this new, new, new normal, I’ll sleep a bit less and play a bit more.

Have you had any trouble with potty training or even potty training regression? I’d love to hear your stories and even your advice, tips or tricks! It’s a tough road this, motherhood, and I can use all the help I can get!

All my love,

Candi

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