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  • Stephanie Lemmo

MAKING THE MOST OF SOCIAL DISTANCING: Potty training in the time of coronavirus.

Updated: Mar 15, 2020

(The Prince Ali Potty Cabana, Location: Arabian Desert)

Spoiler Alert: This post is about potty training my third and youngest child and about making the most of this strange new reality that we are finding ourselves in. It's not about coronavirus, COVID-19 or downplaying the devastation that is going on around the world right now.


If you are anything like me, you’ve completely forgotten how to potty train. With two older children, just 4 and 7, I've already done it a few times which should technically make me a pro. One thing I've realized, however, is that apart from cuddling a newborn, do we ever really know what we are doing? Each precious, unique child goes out of their way to make you question your methodologies and reinvent your techniques, because honestly, being the same is boring!

Also, if you are anything like me, you just didn’t have the energy to follow through when your two year old began showing a keen interest in the potty and, believe it or not, started teaching himself. Wait, that’s even possible?! What should have been music to my ears, was dread at the thought of spending endless hours at home, limiting our outings and cleaning up messes for weeks, because as they say, boys tend to be trickier than girls at potty mastery. Besides, it was too close to the Christmas season for my liking, so we soldiered on with diapers. I’ve been procrastinating this major human milestone since then - my little guy is turning 3 in a few months, so I was making the most of one less kid telling me they have to pee. The origins of my hesitation could stem from that time I thought it a genius idea to get a puppy when he was only 3 months old- he was the perfect baby after all, how hard could it possibly be? Well, we managed with three kids, a teething puppy, pens, crates, puppy pads, pee and all, but I did end up getting bronchitis from taking the dog out at all hours of the night. (Happy ending- of course, we adore our dog, she’s one of the tribe, and wouldn't have changed a thing! If you are curious about raising a puppy or introducing a dog into your young family, let me know). So is there really a perfect time to put life on hold and potty train? With both of my girls I was working full-time, so we did the juggle with daycare and care-givers. I felt truly blessed to have others in our lives that supported us with consistency and dedication. I also know many parents look to summer vacation as the golden time with warm weather, sunshine and diaper free days... but the last thing I want to do after this never-ending winter is hunker down with three stir-crazy kids at home when there are so many wonderful activities to do in our gorgeous yet fleeting Vancouver summers. Last week, I decided enough is enough, I'm done with diapers- not to mention my husband (who works in health care), has resigned from his duty of changing number 2 due to a sudden onset of ‘severe gag reflex’. Um, ok. I finally declared to my household that it's time to go all in and get it done. I've realized it truly does take a declaration, because until you draw the line in the sand, will you really commit to it? Not me. So on Monday morning, I took off my son's diaper, looked him in the eyes and told him he doesn't wear diapers during the day anymore. Boom. There it is. I'm also not the type of parent to backtrack on what I say, even though I was instantly regretting our new commitment. With the escalating global COVID-19 situation updated moment by moment in real time and the bombardment of advisories from every touchpoint of life (from our children's activities, to schools, businesses, levels of government), the time to slow down has never been more perfect or imperative. It's our call now to avoid the chaos of the outside world, protect the vulnerable among our communities, appreciate life's simplicty, let go of excess and make the best of a truly paralyzing situation.

To all the parents with toddlers in diapers - if you can make this a potty training quarantine, then do it. One of the great things I’ve realized about potty training the third and having his sisters around for it, is that they delight in being his teachers and cheering him on all the way. His sisters play a more significant role in his learning than I do. They motivate him through creative games, that only 4 and 7 year old minds could dream up, and have encouraged him to enjoy sitting on the potty with great enthusiasm. He is the Prince Ali to their Jasmins (a favourite movie and soundtrack on repeat in our house). And as you can see from the photo above, one of his favourite escapes is the Prince Ali Potty Cabana in the Arabian Desert, a private oasis where his sisters bring him toys, books, snacks, games (and have even brushed his teeth - lol), while he concentrates on his business. Such a lucky little guy!

A few nuggets I've picked up this last week:

- Commit to getting it done!

- Involve older siblings, they love to be the teachers

- Birthday suit is the only way to be

- Gradually introduce clothing layer by layer

- Fun "big kid underwear" can be an incentive

- Use a child-size potty and have it available wherever the star of the show is

- Sometimes a little tv goes a long way to help sit and concentrate

- Treats such as marshmallows are great motivators in the beginning

- Don't rush the process, you have time.

I wish you all good health, enough food, and much luck on your potty training journey. Happy Sunday, Xo Stephanie

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Well done Stephanie. What a great idea. This blog is going to be a hit. Congratulations!!!

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