I can’t help but feeling that our home hygiene is not what it used to be at the moment. Anyone who has ever been potty-training probably knows the feeling.

The other day I was making pancakes when the little one started screaming “caca is coming, caca is coming”. I rushed to her, pulled down her trousers and placed her on the potty, which at that moment was situated in the sitting room, close to where she was playing. But it was too late. Some of the poop had already landed in her underwear and the rest smeared around the potty, luckily nothing on the floor this time.

After tiding up the potty and the little bum I washed my hand several times with antibacterial soap, but somehow they still felt hopelessly unclean and I had no desire to continue with my pancakes.

Potty training takes patience and time. And we only have a few days left before the little one is supposed to start school. This is the challenge in Belgium; school starts at a very young age. Most schools do not accept children in nappies, so they have to be potty trained at the age of two and a half years old. Of course you can keep your kids in the crèche longer, but that has not seemed like a good idea with any of our daughters. I think being the oldest in the crèche might not be very stimulating, especially as our little one is in a “mini garderi” with only seven kids in total, ours being by far the oldest. So I really want her to start school, and she is very eager herself.

Since the age of about two years old I have showed her the potty and made her sit on it, but she didn’t really accept it. She would sit on it for a few seconds, and then run away. Sometimes she would even run away as soon as I talked about the potty.

My conclusion was that she simply was not ready for it so I stopped trying for a while. But the clock kept ticking and suddenly there were not many weeks left until the anticipated school start. Although she had not once managed to wee on the potty, I decided to remove her nappies, but always keeping the potty nearby. We talked a lot about it and eventually we told her that she can’t start school before she does “pipi and caca” on the potty. That seemed to make her try harder. She sat longer on the potty and she even sat down on it without me telling her to do so. She really did try, but always ended up saying “it is not coming”.

But then, one day, she finally did her first wee on the potty. She was very surprised herself and kept shouting “it is coming out, it is coming out!” Me, my husband and the big sister cheered and clapped our hands of delight. The little one then just simply stood up from the potty and did a graceful bow.

After that first time things became a little easier and she clearly knows what is expected of her. We have a few more days of “intensive” practising before school starts and if she really pulls it off I will be very pleased. So perhaps potty-training does not have to start at a very young age, a few weeks of intensive training at the right time might just be enough. I will explore this topic further in the next issue of Small Talk.