My daughter had her first day at a Knoxville area preschool this week, but we have been preparing for it for a long time. I read the school handbook, bought her school supplies during the TN tax free holiday, and even purchased a “Little People” school house toy so we could play at lining up for lunch and other school related tasks. What I didn’t think twice about was her level of potty preparedness. I was told when we first toured the school that, like many area programs, children entering preschool have to be potty trained. Not a problem. I had been warned in advance of this requirement by friends. I brushed off any further discussion of the schools requirements with the assurance that my child, at that point two an a half and completely off of diapers and pull-ups, was already a potty professional.
Parenting tip: When your child’s care giver mentions a rule, shut up and listen for the details!
I am sure you can imagine where this is headed. A few days before preschool begins, I finally hear the fine print. “Preschool potty trained”, at this program and probably many others in the Knoxville area, involves not simply being able and willing to use a potty instead of a diaper. To be successful at preschool, my daughter, at age three, with only a few days’ notice, needed to be able to undress herself, use the facilities, clean herself, and get dressed again by herself. Panic set in, ideas for adorable back to school outfits vanished, and I set about formulating a plan to get my “potty trained” child “clothing-trained” as soon as possible.
First, I put away all the summer shorts that are now, at the end of the summer, snug enough that unbuttoning, unsnapping, or unzipping would be required to visit the restroom. I hated the idea of buying new summer clothing so late in the season, but then I got an idea. I purchased a few pairs of adjustable waist shorts (the kind with elastic to tighten or loosen) one to two sizes too big. I tightened the adjustable waist to fit her now, making them function as elastic shorts that don’t have to be unbuttoned. Because they are shorts, the length being too big isn’t really an issue. The best news is, I didn’t mind spending the extra money on new summer clothing because by next year they will fit normally and she will wear them again.
Because my child is a girl, I also have the option of sending her to school in skirts, many of which are also elastic waist. If a skirt has a difficult closure, she doesn’t necessarily have to pull a skirt down to visit the facilities. This option does mean that she will be flashing her big girl underthings on occasion on the playground, but she’s three and I like that option better than having potty problems!
Finally, I added one more new toy to our collection of preschool preparation play things. I made my daughter a fabric “busy book” full of pages encouraging her to button, snap, and zip to her hearts content. I have been bringing this book to church, in the car, to appointments where my daughter will have to wait quietly. She loves it and doesn’t realize it is a learning activity. If you aren’t a sewer, similar books or toys teaching dressing skills can be found in Knoxville area stores and online.
Want to see a few pages from the “busy book” I made to help my daughter learn to dress and undress herself? You can find it on my personal blog, Liddy B and Me.