My baby got flushed on! Raise your hand if you hate the autoflush sensor, especially when it goes off before you’re done with your business.
And every parent knows, it’s even MORE damaging for our child when the public toilet prematurely flushes. It can totally traumatize our poor babies, not to mention completely derail our elimination communication or potty training efforts!
Tune in to today’s episode to learn about the full impact of this nightmare problem… plus a sneak peek into a game-changing solution!
You Will Hear:
- 8+ ways the autoflush sensor can totally derail your EC practice or potty training efforts
- What makes being flushed on so traumatizing for our babies and toddlers
- The challenges with popular sensor-blocking solutions
- A sneak peek - listen to find out!
Links and other resources mentioned today:
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
EPISODE 246: Public Toilet Trauma
All right, you guys. Have you ever had the auto flush go off on your bottom when you're sitting on a public toilet? Yeah, me too. It's disgusting. It's humiliating. And for our children, it is scary! Public toilets can traumatize our children, especially when we're doing elimination communication or infant potty training with them, with little babies. They're so small the sensor can't see them. And also, when we're trying to wrap up potty training with our toddlers, it is super hard to have backslid because of a public toilet trauma situation.
If you look it up in the Urban Dictionary, it is called poopus interruptus, when you are going to the bathroom on a public toilet toilet and it flushes on your butt! Or you're getting up, and it's a very small space anyway, and you're trying to wipe and trying to finish all that jazz up, if it's just you, the adult, and it flushes before you're even done. So then you have to figure out where the little button is and flush it again. It's a problem.
And for our kids, it's more of a problem. This can seriously derail your efforts at toileting in public and out and about, and really wrapping up the whole process of toilet independence for your child or your baby. So, today we're going to talk about this. I'm Andrea Olson with the Go Diaper Free Podcast. I'm the author of Go Diaper Free, and I am here as a guest on my own podcast because I haven't done any in quite a while. I just really want to share this problem, commiserate about it, and then if you stay till the end of this episode, I'm going to give you a little sneak peek into a solution that I've developed for it. And no, it is not toilet paper, and it is not a sticky note. It is completely brand new. And if you're listening to this podcast, well after its launch date, then please visit the show notes because there will be a link to this special something that I am not really going to reveal, but I'm going to reveal a little bit about it at the very end. And then in the future, we will also replace the end of this podcast recording with the actual solution once it is out there.
So I hope you're as excited as I am because this is a problem. It's a problem. If your child's been traumatized by a public toilet, then you know that it's a problem. The auto flush is the enemy. It is terrible. That and the auto hand dryers. Those are so loud, they scare me. So, if you're with me on that, we're in agreement that it doesn't work for us all, and we're in agreement that it doesn't work for our children. We need to look at the problem and really dissect it. Why and how does this happen? Our children are being traumatized by it. And then we'll talk about the solution at the end.
So first of all, they're too small for the eye on the auto flush sensor to see them, right? So covering it would make a lot of sense, but it's very hard to do when you're trying to hold a baby onto a public toilet using a toilet seat reducer, using a top hat potty in the stall while you're squatting, and maybe the flusher goes off and you're just in there. Or you have them on it and they're older, maybe three or four, and the auto flush goes off. All it takes is one time and your child can be traumatized. Some of my children have not used, and still will not use, the toilets in public because of the auto flusher, because it went off once on them. What goes through their mind at that time, you can only imagine is, "I'm going to get sucked in. It's very loud. I'm scared. What is happening underneath me?" And then maybe they also get splashed, and that's kind of gross, right?
By the way, the toilets that we sit on anyway are kind of not really ergonomic anyhow, so it's already a stretch to teach them how to sit on a toilet. We should be squatting to go to the bathroom, right? But we live in the modern world, and that includes toilets and clothing and things like that. We've talked a lot about this in my book and on my podcast. So since we have to deal with public toilets, and since a lot of us will still use diapers for a really long time in public because we don't know how to toilet in public, we want to understand why this traumatizes them in this podcast. Let's talk about this problem, because nobody really talks about this problem until you're in the bathroom and you're having a freakout meltdown. You or your child!
So first of all, public toilets going off on them prematurely can be very scary and can cause your child to refuse the toilet. This can cause refusal at home, even though that's what we call a manual auto flush, and in public with a manual or an auto flush. I would have to teach my kids, "No, this is manual. Look, it's got a handle. It's not going to go off on your bottom." And they're just so terrified after one time, or just standing next to it and it just goes off erratically. They don't even have to be sitting on it to be traumatized about it, right?
The second thing that can happen is accidents. So your child might say, "Oh, no, no, no, no, I don't need to go because that's an auto flush sensor. It can see me and I'm scared of it." They're going to hold it, and they're going to wait. And then in a store you're going to have an accident, or in the car you're going to have an accident on the way home, or at home. And this is also painful for them to have to hold their pee or poop because they're so afraid of this toilet. It's traumatizing.
The third way it's just wreaking havoc on our families, these public toilet auto flushers, is that it breaks the potty training momentum. So you've had some level of success with potty training at home, and then you start to integrate outings, and then all of a sudden this happens. It flushes while they're in the stall or just nearby, or you're on it and it flushes. It is going to break your potty training or you're wrapping it up momentum, 100%.
The other thing is, let's just talk about how embarrassing it is. First of all, we are not in the norm because we are early potty training. Doing pottying with our babies, this is already counter cultural. We're already raising eyebrows if anybody's even paying attention enough away from their phones to see that we're pottying a baby. Sometimes people will ask me, "Oh, can I hold your baby while you go to the bathroom?" And I'm like, "No, actually, I'm pottying the baby." And they're like, "What? You can do that?" Or they'll look at me like I'm weird or bad or whatever. We already have enough notoriety, right? And we try to do it on the down low.
But if a child or baby freaks out with a public toilet because they've been flushed on once, or they just don't like the sound, or all the things, we're going to have drama. And drama is embarrassing for us. It causes us to act not instinctively, to mistrust our instincts, to feel embarrassed, and to try to contain the drama, which causes our kids to freak out even more. It's a vicious cycle with me. This is a real thing.
We also can have massive tantrums that happen in the public toilet. You know they need to go and they won't go because they're terrified, and you don't know what to do, and there is no convincing them. And then trying to hang a piece of toilet paper on it is precarious, and sometimes it doesn't work. Our kids don't actually even trust the toilet paper because it could fall off.
When my daughter, who's nine now, who's still afraid of public toilets, and she still doesn't flush the toilet at home either because of this whole thing, but she was entering kindergarten. Her very first day, they can't go into the bathroom stall with them, but they had a bathroom in their classroom behind a locked door. So you open the door, go in, and use the bathroom by herself. Now, she had been out of diapers since 13 months old, totally independent since 15 months old, with the exception of her clothing. Super early, no accidents from 15 months on. She was a dream boat to do EC with. So I was really surprised when she came home from her first day at kindergarten in these white tennis shoes that I didn't send her in. And I was like, "Why are you wearing different shoes?" And she was so embarrassed. She goes, "Well, they gave them to me because I had an accident." So she told me the story.
Basically, she had gone into the public toilet and there was an air vent below it that was blowing air up. So every time she would try to put a piece of toilet paper on top of the sensor so it couldn't flush on her and she could go, the air vent would blow air on the toilet paper and make it fly off.
And I cried when she told me this story because I was imagining my little five-year-old in this toilet, her first day at school and just already just so… It's a scary and new and exciting thing, and then she peed her pants standing up because she couldn't hold it any longer trying to get this toilet paper to hang on the public toilet. You guys, it broke my heart. It was so terrifying for her. She couldn't tell anybody to help her, and it just wouldn't stay. And that's what we'd always done was the toilet paper thing, right?
So anyway, this was the beginning of me seeing this as a super big problem, besides having my babies be flushed on before. This was also just a problem. Anyway, the next day I sent her with Post-it notes and I walked her in there and I said, “Stick the Post-it note over the sensor.” And that ended up working for her. But the thing is, from that moment on, that was a traumatic experience that has taken years to heal and hasn't fully healed.
If we can prevent this problem from happening, this will be great. And at the end of this episode, I'm going to give you a little sneak peek into the solution that I've developed. Whoever invented the auto flush, kudos, yes, I get it. But it also, for me personally, it causes me to have to flush this toilet three more times. It just doesn't really end up solving the problem that it was probably invented for.
It can cause embarrassment for our children, just like the story with Isadora. I mean, how heartbreaking is that? It can also cause embarrassment for us. I don't even like it when my child screams and throws things in a restaurant. I just won't go to a restaurant if they're in that kind of a stage. So we want to contain that and try to control them when we feel embarrassed as a parent. And then it backfires, right?
And then also the stress. Even when you walk into a public toilet, you're just expecting the worst to happen, and it becomes stressful. Your baby picks up on the stress, your toddler picks up on the stress, and everyone is stressed, and it just doesn't help the pee or the poop come out. It doesn't help them want to sit. It doesn't help with any of it. It just makes it this compounding problem that multiplies every time you try it.
So of course, the option is to potty in your car, use the top hat potty, use the mini potty. I've got all those things at Tiny Undies. We definitely should bring those things with us and use the car before shopping and the car after shopping. But sometimes you're in a blizzard, sometimes you're in a downpour. Sometimes you just don't have a big enough car to do it in, or it just doesn't work for you to do that, and you need to use the public toilet. We need to be able to use these without fear and without stress.
The biggest reason why this is so traumatizing for our children, just put yourself in their shoes. They have literally no control over the environment, or the situation, or this giant big scary toilet that might suck them in and swallow them whole. So it's all out of their control, right? Then us as the parent, everything's out of our control. It's like, "What?" Literally, the only thing I can do is put toilet paper on it or put a sticky note over it. And other than that, there's no real understanding. There's no way to communicate that not all public toilets are the same, and it just becomes this very arduous, stressful, long-drawn-out thing.
So if you agree to all the things we just said, you're not alone. We are in this together and I have got solutions. Besides the ones that I mentioned, I will be leaking this to my email list from the moment that this podcast has posted for the next few days. So if you're not on my email list, please sign up. Go to the show notes at godiaperfree.com/246, and we'll have an email newsletter sign up right there. If you're on my email list for anything else, if you've gotten my free easy start guide, if you've gotten my potty training primer, if you've bought anything from me, you will get these emails. But if you don't and you haven't and you aren't, then definitely get on the list so you can hear and I can walk you through the solution and how I developed it. It's going to be super fun, super exciting, super interesting, so dive into that.
And if you're listening to this podcast or watching this video a long time after it's launched, or even weeks after it's launched, the thing will already have been released. And the thing is amazing. So we will update the recording on this podcast, so for perpetuity, everyone can listen to what the solution is. But I just wanted to sneak peek it out there that I have been dealing with this for my children. I have six children, a new baby who's five months old right now. We've been dealing with public toilet freakouts for 12 years. And I am done. No, 13 years. Very soon. He's about to turn 13. I am done. I'm done with hundreds of thousands of people that I've helped having this issue of like, "Oh my gosh, everything was going great until we had a public toilet traumatization experience, and the poopus interruptus happened."
So I'm going to keep you posted. I'm so excited for this only because I know it is going to change your entire life, and I want you to share it with all your mom and dad friends once this thing is out. I hope I've gotten you super excited. I'm very sorry. It's a cliffhanger, like all the TV shows that make you wait for the answer and, “What is it?” I'm sorry, but I am going to make you wait just a little bit longer. Definitely check out the show notes and we will definitely add on to the end of this recording as soon as this thing is released with a direct link where you can check it out and see if it's something that might solve this problem for you too.
And by the way, it's not just for your kids, it's also for you! If you don't like to be flushed on, which totally happened to me at a business conference two years ago, which is why I developed a solution. If you don't like it, then you should also carry one with you too, because we need to regain control in the public toilet situation. It is out of control, and I've had enough. And definitely, if you're having issues, if you have other solutions, whatever, please go over to show notes at godiaperfree.com/246. I'll see you there. And thank you so much for tuning in. Bye!
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 12 yo) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)