Potty training while traveling isn’t always easy: sometimes it involves going with the flow in more ways than one. But it’s a necessary element: unless you plan to keep your child inside the house until they’re out of diapers, odds are you’ll eventually find yourself in a public place with a potential code brown on your hands. So, what do you do? Or, more accurately, what do you doo-doo?
There’s no guaranteed way to avoid incidents, but the following tips will help:
1. Have your child go before you leave
It’s an inevitability that your child will have to use the bathroom the instant you find yourself in bumper to bumper gridiron traffic. That’s why going beforehand is essential. Even if your child assures you that they don’t need to tinkle, ask them to try again. You – and your leather car seats – will be glad you did.
2. Have a potty plan
A potty plan is a plan that prepares you for when your child must go in the middle of the mall or at a restaurant (right as the waiter brings out your food, of course). The most important factor in this plan is knowing where the bathrooms are – know before the urge arrives. You should also accompany your child to the restroom – most experts encourage parents to at least wait outside the door until their children are preteens.
3. Be Respectful of Gender
If possible, fathers should escort sons to the bathroom and mothers should escort daughters. When the opposite occurs, you can help perpetuate privacy by being respectful of others. If you’re a dad taking your daughter to the bathroom, consider looking into the men’s room to see if anyone is there before letting your child inside while you stand guard.
4. Know the flushing toilet is scary
Sure, a toilet flush isn’t enough to suck you or your child into the plumbing, but your kid might not be convinced. Toilets that flush automatically are even scarier – they tend to leave children rattled, making them less likely to use the toilet the next time. Beware of this and warn your kiddo that a flush is imminent.
5. Practice hand washing
While hand washing is vital whenever your child uses the potty, it’s of particular importance inside public restrooms. Simply, in these bathrooms, the germs have germs. But don’t just let your child run their hands under the faucet and call it a day: it takes between 15 and 30 seconds of constant friction to properly cleanse.
6. Use diapers when needed
Going back to diapers may seem counterintuitive – you’re past this, right? Still, there is a time and place for diapers. If you’re taking a long road trip with bathrooms few and far between, boarding a plane, or riding a train, consider diapers as an alternative. Reinforce that they’re temporary and let your child know not to get too comfortable with the convenience of going whenever they want.
7. Prepare for accidents
Accidents happen in the home when toilets are mere feet away; you can all but bet they’ll happen outside of the home too. For this reason, carry supplies: wipes, a change of clothes, a plastic bag to seal the contaminated materials, and sanitizer. And don’t overreact: accidents are accidents for a reason.
Potty training is one of life’s more frustrating events – attempting to do potty training on the go is that much more difficult. Even so, the above steps will help make the transition easier: it might not be as smooth as possible, but it’ll be as dry as possible.