It is a universal problem – mothers never get time alone in the bathroom. I was talking to a group of mothers the other day and as soon as I mentioned this problem, there was a groan all around the table – every mum with a child who can walk and talk knew this problem first hand!
Everything is humming along, kids are all occupied so you take a quick minute to go to the bathroom – suddenly there are knocks on the door and someone wants a snack or a drink, or someone hit someone else, or someone can’t find their book, or… the list goes on. As soon as mum is in the bathroom the kids need her – apparently.
Many years ago, I had taken myself off to the bathroom, and the same old started with a knock on the door and I suddenly realised why this happened. This was a light-bulb moment.
They come and talk to me because I talk back!
It is as simple as that. They keep doing it because it works.
I realised in that moment that I needed to teach my kids that sometimes I’m just not available, sometimes they have to wait. It is an issue of respecting my needs.
So I started training them to respect my bathroom times.
Going to the Bathroom alone Training Tips
— I talked to them about respecting other people’s needs – and very specifically that bathroom visits were private times. I also talked to them about interrupting and waiting and that sometimes they need to wait to get my attention. These are broad ideas that I started to talk about – they are heart issues; they touch on what my children believe about living in this world. Are they the center of this family, or are there other people to consider.
— When I needed to go to the bathroom I told them I was leaving the room and I made sure they had everything they would need for the next 3 minutes. I knew they were okay – they knew they were okay.
— When they knocked on the door I changed what I said. This is the key. Instead of answering with a ‘yes?’ (which invites them to ask for something) I answered with a ‘Can it wait?’ Taught them to think before interrupting me.
— When they said it couldn’t wait I invited them to tell me their problem. This was with the door still closed. If it was truly an emergency, I’d deal with it. But more than likely it was something that could have waited, they just made the wrong call. In that case I’d reply ‘no, that can wait.’ and I’d leave it at that. When I came out we’d talk about what makes for an emergency and what was really just selfish impatience. As they progressed through training in this area if they make a selfish impatient choice there would have been a consequence to teach them to think before knocking!
— When I came out, I’d touch base with everyone with a quick ‘everyone okay?’ and we’d all keep moving on with our day. I found it important that the kids, especially between 1-5 years of age, knew that I was going and that I was back. This helped them learn that mummy will be available again, she’s just gone for a short moment.
So if you struggle with not getting 3 minutes to yourself a couple of times during the day start changing your words and use the situation to teach your kids to respect your needs, and to have patience.
Actually a spin off was that if they knocked, and I asked them if it could wait, and they mumbled yes (knowing they shouldn’t have knocked in the first place) when I came out and checked on them, asking them what their problem was in many situations they had sorted it out themselves. So that was a double-whammy for my training – it taught them to problem solve as well!
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