Bedwetting training and the Working Mum
Posted by Karen Radford on
As if you don’t already have enough to cope with... being the working Mum of a bedwetter can make life even more hectic and sleep deprived. Dame Washalot from Enid Blyton’s novel The Magic Faraway Tree has nothing on you... and you don’t even get the dubious pleasure of throwing dirty wash-water over unsuspecting forest dwellers!
So, how can a busy working woman like you fit bedwetting training into an already overfull schedule? The real answer is it’s difficult, but by preparing well and sticking to a routine it becomes manageable. In the end, achieving dry nights for your child will be well worth it.
Before using the alarm
- Understand your child’s bedwetting habits. Is she or he a very deep sleeper and have trouble waking from sleep or become overly anxious or agitated when woken? If so, prepare your child for alarm training (use the Priming and Recall strategies below) and be ready to assist your child for as long as it takes for them to start responding to the alarm on their own;
- Develop a Reward Programme to keep your child engaged in the process;
- Develop a check list of the things you need to do every night to make the bedwetting training as quick and smooth as possible.
When to start using the alarm
A good time to start alarm training is during a weekend or non-working day to give you and your child a bit of leeway to sort out any issues and get the routine bedded in. School holidays can also be a good time to start alarm training.
If you can manage it, put in place an earlier-than-usual bedtime regime for your bedwetter (and yourself) to make up for the sleep disruption that will occur during alarm training.
For the first few nights of alarm training familiarise your child with what they will need to do when the alarm triggers during the night. This is called Priming and involves practising the routine in advance so your child’s prospective memory (something the brain has to remember in the future) is activated. A classic example of prospective memory is telling yourself that you need to wake at 6:30 a.m. in the morning and setting the alarm. Invariably you will wake before the alarm because your brain has been primed to wake at that time.
So, before your child settles down to go to sleep have him or her lie in bed pretending to be asleep. Take the alarm and trigger it by putting something metal (a stainless steel knife) across the sensor. Ask your child to get up, de-activate the alarm, go to the toilet, pretend to change out of any wet bedclothes (have a laundry bucket or plastic bag ready in the bathroom for them to do this) and rinse and dry the sensor. When they have done this get them to return to bed and re-activate the alarm. Practice this three or four times a night over the first few nights so that your child is more ready to respond when they hear the alarm.
At the outset, if your child is a deep sleeper, you will need to get up when the alarm sounds to wake them and ensure this procedure is followed. Try using a cold damp cloth over the forehead and cheeks to rouse your child.
It is important your child remembers getting up in the night when the alarm triggers as recall is a vital step in activating the connection between the bladder and the brain. We suggest the following strategy to help with this:
Tell your child you will them a code word when you wake them during the night and that they need to remember this the next morning and repeat it to you (a different code will be given each night). This gets your child to concentrate on what they are doing when they have wet the bed.
You could make a game out of it and mark on a chart how many nights he or she remembers the code and maybe a reward could be offered if they remember it each night for a week (see Reward Programme below).
To make things run quickly and smoothly during the night prepare the following before your child goes to sleep each night:
- Damp flannel to rouse child if alarm does not initially wake them.
- Additional bed linen to replace wet sheets: a waterproof bottom sheet (we recommend Brolly Sheets) and, if necessary, a dry top sheet (if using pull-ups these may not be necessary).
- Dry night clothes.
- Dry undies prepared for use with the sensor.
- Bucket to store wet bedding and clothing –or put them straight in washing machine and wash overnight.
- De-odourised wet wipes to quickly clean child’s wet areas –or flannel at ready in bathroom.
Reward Programme: engagement
A simple reward system such as a sticker chart can be a very effective way to engage your child in treating their bedwetting. Night-time toilet training is a process and not all children go from starting to use the alarm to being dry straight away; it usually happens in stages.
If you set achievable goals your child is less likely to become disillusioned or disheartened if things don’t go perfectly to plan. For example, rewards can be set for the following milestones:
- Wet nights when you had to wake your child and they got up straight away and went to the toilet.
- When your child remembered the code-word you gave them during the night.
- Wet nights when the child woke to the sound of the alarm on their own.
- Wet nights when child woke to the sound of the alarm and got up and went straight to the toilet.
- Wet nights when the child helped with the clean-up and was back in bed ASAP.
- Dry nights.
- 14 Consecutive dry nights - becoming a DRI Sleeper!
And…don’t forget a Reward System for yourself too... you’re worth it!