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7 potty training tips for the clean freak parent

Full disclosure: I am a clean freak. I am the type of person who gets up from the sofa to organize the pillows or the frames on the wall. I cover bathroom doorknobs with paper towels. I hate the hot air dryer machine in public bathrooms. I don’t touch the railings on any escalator — the list could go on. When I had my first child, I sterilized all bottles, pumping equipment, and pacifiers after each use to make sure everything was clean for my baby. I even sterilized the freezable teethers (don’t do this, by the way — all of the stuff inside oozes out, and you end up with a shriveled teether).

When she was getting close to the potty training age, I began to ask my friends with daughters how to do this. I was more nervous about this part of her development than anything else. I remember when we somewhat mastered the in-home potty training at around 20 months, and we started going out with her for small bits of time, dreading that she would need to use the bathroom. Whenever she had to go, I would start with “Don’t touch anything! Not the walls, the floor, the doors, the toilet seat. Nothing.” I would put 3,000 pounds of toilet paper over the seat and break into a sweat trying to hold her so that she wouldn’t fall inside. I literally broke into a sweat from preparation and alas: she wouldn’t go. So, I would get frustrated, and we would leave, or I would put a diaper on her and move on.

One day, we were out with my sister-in-law, and she took her to the bathroom. Quickly, cheery, cleanly, they went and came back, holding hands, singing songs, like nothing traumatic had happened. I asked my sister-in-law how it went, and she said, “Yes, she just went. No drama.”

“But what about the germs? She touches everything!” I said. And her answer was so simple, yet so profound: “You can always wash her hands afterwards.” And from that moment on, it hit me — I can always clean her up afterwards. Why hadn’t I thought of that?

Are you the clean freak parent getting ready to potty train? Here are a few tips for when you embark on the potty training roller coaster ride:

1. Keep expectations realistic. Most kids aren’t potty trained in three days like many professionals would have you believe. It takes time, many accidents, and practice to really get it.

2. Have a roll of paper towels, disinfectant spray, and baby wipes in the bathroom.

3. When traveling, put a towel on the car seat part in case of an accident; it won’t seep through the towel.

4. If your child watches television, try covering the sofa cushions with a garbage bag and a towel or sheet over it before your child sits on it. You can also buy washable seat cushion covers to use instead. The garbage bag acts as a barrier so that the actual cushion does not get soiled.

5. Invest in a portable potty, preferably one that grows with your child.

6. Have an extra change of clothes for your child in the car.

7. In the car, have toilet seat covers or a toilet paper roll that you can separate and take with you on your outings.

 

What are your potty training musts? Share in the comments.

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About Dr. Eva Benmeleh, Bundoo Child Psychologist

Dr. Eva Benmeleh Roditi is a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialization in the 0-5 age range. She is also a certified lactation educator and helps mothers with breastfeeding issues in pediatric practices. She currently works in private practice in North Miami Beach, Florida.

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