Toilet training on the road.
I’ve been asked about it a few times and I’ve sorta dodged the topic as I’m most certainly not an expert and also, every parent that has come before me knows as much or more about it than I do!
In saying that, I figure it’s true that it can’t hurt to share what worked for us and how being on the road for a fair chunk of it affected the whole process.
I’ve gotta say before you start though, don’t panic! It wasn’t nearly as much of a nightmare as I thought it was going to be.
I decided I’d start with some gear that made things a bit easier for me when we went through this whole toilet training on the road thing.
Again, I am by no means an expert in this field. I’m just a mum sharing what worked for me 🙂
These are perfect for storing dirty clothes in until you can do the washing.
Shove the evidence of every disaster in the bag, tie it up tight and deal with it at the next stop.
You can turn the bags inside out and chuck them in the wash with the clothes so they don’t stay stinky which is cool.
It’s just a handy way to make sure you don’t contaminate anything else in the car/van in the meantime. Including the air.
I must have bought about four different fancy pants potties that did all sorts of cool stuff from folding up to sitting on a normal toilet seat to holding disposable bags.
A total waste of money in the end.
Both of our kids ended up using the cheapest most simple potty available, about five bucks at Kmart, the one with the high back so they can lean back.
Check them out here.
The thing is, it’s comfy to sit on. For ages. Which apparently is what you wanna do when you’re a toddler.
All the fancy ones ended up being uncomfortable, or the plastic bag felt weird or was too noisy or the one that sat on a toilet was too wobbly.
The other cool thing about the simple one is its super easy to clean.
Take the potty EVERYWHERE. Now is not the time to worry about looking foolish, haha, there’s no avoiding that I fear.
These are awesome.
They came into play for me when one of our kids was out of nappies during the day but still needed some back up overnight.
I stick the mat on top of the sheet, it’s soft enough to be comfy and sticky enough to stay in place.
No more washing a million sheets on the road or carrying ten spare sets with you.
I get these from Coles, they are about ten bucks for seven but I reuse them if there wasn’t an accident overnight. I find you get at least two or three days out of them before they crinkle up too much and start moving.
Check them out and get current Coles pricing here.
You can also use these to put under the kids in their seats but to be honest, the mats are a bit big and I think it’s easier to use a disposable nappy under their bum.
Perfect for when you have a little one who is just out of nappies and things are still a bit hit and miss and you still have the odd accident in the car seat.
Also good for babies who tend to have the odd nappy explosion, cos that sucks so bad too!
Ok, you’re thinking derr, of course. But hold on a sec….
When you have the kids out of day nappies but you still have a few accidents and you don’t want a car seat that is gonna smell like pee for the rest of it’s lifetime the trusty disposable becomes super handy.
You can put a nappy underneath the kid in the seat. That way, you’re not taking a step back and putting them in a nappy but you are saving your carseats.
It also still lets them feel wet so it ties in with the whole toilet training gig and is still letting them learn the whole feel wet consequence of going in your pants.
The other thing I’ve used nappies for is to turn inside out and pop them into the potty to absorb wee when we have been somewhere where I can’t dispose of it like normal. (The last one I recall was the carpark of a shopping centre for instance)
The nappy will absorb all the wee from the potty and can then be chucked in a plastic bag and binned.
Underpants that fit well
I know you all have undies for the kids but I realised something that hadn’t occurred to me until we were toilet training.
Undies will buy you time. Valuable time. Like, there’s been an accident and things could get really crappy (literally) right now time.
A good pair of fitted knickers give you time to bolt, somewhere, anywhere, to deal with stuff before public humiliation kicks in. So make sure they fit!
I found that the little shorts weren’t so flash and fitted speedo style underwear was heaps better.
I used to get a couple of cheap multi packs from Big W as they are pretty cheap per pair and you know you’re gonna end up throwing a pair or two in the bin on the side of the road at some stage.
Yep, you heard me right.
I think the song “On the toilet” by the The Teeny Tiny Stevies is actually more responsible for toilet training our 2 year than any of the other stuff I did!
I put it on in the car every single time we got in and it got them both super excited about the whole thing.
They have a couple of albums now and they are all super useful.
Lots. Of. Wipes
Yes, I’m cringing a little from an environmental point of view but I haven’t worked out any other way to get through this particular stage.
No more needs to be said here really except don’t run out!
I kept a bag with spare undies, pants, wipes and a dry bag on the passenger floor so I could grab it easily when I needed it.
It sounds like overkill but if I was heading off for the day I’d take about 5 changes of pants per kid.
Put the kids in clothes that they can get off by themselves, quickly.
And, same as the underwear, if you can, use pants that you aren’t too attached to. I had a few clothes in the bin moments when we were caught out on the go.
I know, I know, that’s a terrible waste. But I swore I’d be honest about how I got through!
The how to’s of toilet training on the road are pretty much the same as toilet training anywhere else so I won’t go into a huge amount of detail in that area as there is a wealth of info out there by the experts.
What I wanted to share with you though are the things that really worked for me both times…
Don’t ask them if they need to go to the toilet
Seriously, don’t ask. Just take them.
I reckon 9 times outta 10 the kid is going to be doing something much more interesting than going to the toilet and will say no straight up. Then you are left with nothing up your sleeve as a next step.
I’d tell the kids it was time to go to the loo, and I’d just make sure I was chirpy and made it sound fun. I’d let them know that even if they didn’t actually do anything it was totally fine, we were just going to stop anyway. The thing is, they actually went pretty much every time.
I did that every twenty minutes which sounds nuts I know but it seriously worked. I kept it up for the first three or four days. Every twenty minutes. I set an alarm.
This is where the potty comes into play. I was pulling over the whole way up the pacific highway at one point. Truck stops, rest areas, service stations, you name it, we stopped there.
Just make sure you keep giving them the opportunity wherever you are.
Then I just stretched the time between stops out further and further until they could easily do the two and an half hour stretches while we were driving.
Wait until they are ready
Someone offered up this advice to me early on and I reckon there’s a lot to be said for waiting till the kid is ready.
She said that I could go early and spend 6 moths trying to get it all sorted or wait and have it take a week which is pretty much how it panned out for us.
Our son was 2.5 and our daughter was 2 and it was about five days of really tough (like what have I done, I’ve gone too early tough), another four of a bit hit and miss and then we were pretty sorted by about the 10th day both times.
Once you start you’ve gotta stay the course!
Don’t go back and forth. Once you have decided to go for it you gotta stick to it.
It just ends up being confusing for the kid and it stretches the whole thing out if you don’t I reckon.
It’s tough, it’s inconvenient, it’s bloody embarrassing sometimes but you may as well just smash it out and get it done in one go rather than draw it out.
When I say stay the course I mean don’t do the old, well, we’ll just put a nappy on for the car. Or at Grandma’s place. Or while we are waiting in the line at the RTA. Or while I do the grocery shop.
Once they are out of nappies in the day, leave them out of nappies in the day permamantly.
People are going to disagree with me on this one but I really think it speeds the process up. The whole point is learning that when you go you feel wet. If that is sometimes the result and other times not then the dots are going to take longer to connect.
I should mention that this is completely separate to what goes on at night. I’ve still got one in nappies at night and, while I’m not an expert on this at all, my understanding it that being dry at night is a whole different ball game and can be a bit of a waiting game.
Don’t put them on the big toilet too soon
This was another bit of advice gold offered up to me by a friend who learnt the hard way.
Just be aware that if you pop them up on the big toilet too soon and they feel a bit wobbly and unstable they can end up afraid and then it can be a really long road to come back from there.
Especially when you are on the road and you are stopping at dodgy roadside toilets or different caravan parks or camp grounds with drop toilets.
I just took the potty everywhere.
That way I could take it into the rest rooms and go into the cubicle but get the kids to sit on the potty in there and take their time without me having to hold them up.
Try and time it for warmer weather
It’s sooooo much easier when you can just let them get around pantless for a week and it’s tricky to do that in the cold.
Also, washing and the amount you save yourself doing by waiting till summer is a massive win.
I hand wash everything until we are at a caravan park so not only is less washing a good thing, the other added bonus of going in summer is that everything dries quicker.
Make sure you are in the right place before you start
If you are traveling and you are staying somewhere with wall to wall carpet then I reckon hold off.
If you are at a caravan park where it’s not gonna be cool to let the kids run around with no pants or you are miles from the toilet then maybe hold off.
If you’re visiting family and your MIL is a bit of a clean freak. Hold. Off.
Wooden floors, remote campsites, sites in van parks near the toilets, your own house and parks are going to be the best place to start.
And, if you can stay in one spot for the first week or so then do it for sure, just while you get the trickiest bit over and done with.
It’s not the sort of thing you want to be doing whilst also worrying about what the people around you are thinking so I’m all for getting off the beaten track in warm weather and letting them get around without pants for a week.
Just be prepared for the potty to photo bomb most of your holiday snaps for a little while as we discovered when we looked back over our photos…
So, what are the big ticket items for doing all this while you are on the move?
- Make sure you have the right gear.
- Try and time it with warm weather.
- Carry a potty everywhere, even at the risk of looking like a total dill.
- Stay the course and remind yourself that you will probably have it done in a week or so if you stick with it.
- If you can stay in one spot for the first week then do it for sure.
Well there you go, good luck!
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