I am the mother of two. I do know that my kids are not clones of one another (not by a long stretch!) but my parenting reasoning hasn’t really caught on to the fact. I constantly assume that if something worked for the first, it will work for the second. Frustrating but true; most of what I have learned parenting my daughter, has been unhelpful with my son. Is it gender difference? Maybe. More likely it is DNA difference. They are individuals and everything they do is unique to them.
For the purposes of privacy, I would like to interrupt myself to assert that any children referred to in this piece show resemblance by pure chance to my own. They are in fact fictitious characters!* Right. In our house we have a wee problem. We have had this wee problem for the six years that boy wonder has been alive. It started when he was a newborn and he weed on my face. Then giggled. Hmmm. For my lad and for many little boys, weeing, for the most part, is a fun pastime. Weeing in non-wee environments seems to have become a comedic delight. There is the tree-wee. Handy. There is the trying-to-reach-the-window-wee. Rarely successful. The trying-to-miss-the-toilet-wee. Always successful! And despite years of attempts, we still sometimes have the in-the-midst-of-sleep-wee. In the last year, despite reassurances and positive encouragement, these slip ups have started causing him distress. It is so heartbreaking when his little hand pats my cheek in the middle of the night, his little whisper hot in my ear “Mum. I weed the bed”. His voice is full of remorse, not because I make him feel bad about it. No, it’s because he’s a ‘big’ boy now and he doesn’t want to wet the bed. Sometimes, after all the sheets and jarmies have been sorted, he’ll crawl into my lap and cry. I hold my baby and rub his back. It will improve, sweets I whisper. It will happen less often, then one day, we’ll notice that the bed has been dry for weeks. I know it will happen. My cousin used to wet his bed, right up until he was ten*. My nephew until he was nine*. Mothers everywhere reassure me that it resolves, all by itself, eventually.
If you are embarking on the Small Person Years; the post-nappy, ‘I’m a big kid now’ era, take heart. You may have a child like my first, who announced that she didn’t want to wear night nappies anymore. “OK,”I reasoned, “If you can go for a week with a dry night nappy, you won’t have to wear them anymore”. And so it was. Just like that, bless her little cottons. Or your child might be in night nappies or pull-ups for a good deal of their childhood. Or somewhere in between the two. It is a truth universally understood that they won’t be wearing them by the time they are at University. Exhale. My son recently had a whole class sleepover at school. I was so nervous about the bed wet thing. I brought it up with the teacher who said that it was very normal for kids this age to need pull ups. Many would be sending their child’s pull-ups in with their jarmies. It was so reassuring to hear that my kid wasn’t the only one. If he was my only child, I think I would be quick to blame my parenting failings. But he’s not, so I know that this is less about what you do as a parent than about the individual child’s development. It’s a big relief to know that. Maybe you needed to read that today. It’s not about you.
So aside from acceptance, and giving yourself a break, there are some things you can do to ease the stress of bed wetting.
Manage the Bed Situation:
My sister, a veteran night wee mumma, swears by making the bed up with up to three ‘sets’of waterproof protectors and sheets. Layering them. waterproof sheet+fitted sheet, then another waterproof sheet+fitted sheet, then another. If an incident occurs, you need only peel off the top layer of sheets and protector; the clean and dry set is already on the bed. It’s a little stroke of genius that one! For me, having a clean set of sheets and protector handy in the bedroom was the thing. Umbrella sheets might be your thing. These are short tuck-in protectors that save you having to change the whole bed.
Use a waterproof Pillow case protector on the pillow, too. I haven’t figured out how to waterproof the doona yet…that would be a brilliant product.
The body’s pee system is pretty straightforward. What goes in must come out. But When it goes can be a bit crucial! We always have more incidents when my son is busy during the day and forgets to keep up his fluids. It makes him thirsty in the afternoon and evening, so he drinks more in the later part of the day. Try to increase hydration earlier in the day and reduce the amount of liquid drunk in the evening. If your child is thirsty at bedtime it is because they haven’t had enough water during the day. If their wees are dark yellow it is because they haven’t had enough water during the day. Carry drink bottles with you so that hydration can be a steady process not a fast gasping gulping affair
Toilet time before bedtime! Cripes, sometimes you just want those kids in bed so badly that it is easy to forget to remind them to go to the lav. Pays dividends though. And another idea…not all mums like this approach, but I know a bunch of mums that wake their child before they themselves turn in for the night. If you wake the child fully (important for the brain association) they can have a quick wee and then go straight back to sleep; they learn that they must wake to wee. When it was getting really upsetting for our lad we tried this and it made a real difference for his confidence. It was awful waking him, but small pain in comparison to his distress waking up wet. Every night we did this he was dry. After a few weeks of it we petered off and he managed most nights.
Kids always respond to positive language more than negative. It is un-productive to criticise a child for something they are still learning to control. So catch the best bits of their night and praise them for it. Notice the time bed wetting incidents occur, maybe it is getting longer between bedtime and wetting? Have they had a dry night? Remember that shame just isn’t productive or self-esteem producing. Acceptance and encouragement will go a lot further. Remind yourself occasionally what a great job you are doing, too. It’s not easy to keep up with the night waking, you are a nocturnal hero.
Night nappies and pull ups are expensive. Changing beds and doing laundry is exhausting, who wouldn’t want this phase to be over? Try not to rush them. I am a big believer that these issues resolve when a child’s brain and body reach the capability of control. They are learning and assimilating so many things in so many areas of their development. Rushing and pressuring children may only lead to frustration, anxiety and exacerbating the issue. Which ultimately leads to longer with night nappies and pull ups
*Privacy and Pee:
It’s okay, even healthy, to discuss wee issues with other mums, family members or friends, but never in front of your child (note to self: and probably best if not in a blog). Even very young children can find this distressing. I remember my Mum talking about my menarche with other women in front of me. Oh, crippling! The shame! On this note I would just like to say that unequivocally, any persons in this piece resembling characters real or unreal who might or might not truly exist in my real life is not intentional, merely illustrative. 😉