Potty-Training: Not For the Faint of Heart

Our potty-training adventure started on a random Sunday, which is convenient since I had this whole plan to start on a Thursday afternoon after preschool so we could spend the following four days hunkered down at home becoming best friends with the potty. But, just as most things do when it comes to parenting, my plan was overruled by my tiny dictator wanting to crash my party. So, I did what any parent would do and seized the opportunity and dove in head-first. That is what any parent would do, right? Or am I the only one that let my toddler talk me into potty-training him before I was ready. Yes, I said “I” as in me, the adult. I had wine, chocolate and toddler underwear so I figured I better just get it over with.


If I am being honest days one through three were a breeze. There were minimal accidents (one a day) and one poop in the potty.  For me, I counted those as a win. Days four and five were when potty-training became what I truly envisioned it being: accidents every fifteen to thirty minutes and zero communication from my son when he needed to go. It was a complete regression. My husband came home from work on night five and I told him that maybe our son wasn’t quite ready; I might stop trying and pick it back up in a couple weeks. We discussed it and since it was Thursday we agreed to try through the weekend as a team, giving potty-training a full week, and see how it goes. If nothing improved by Monday then we would throw in the towel and admit defeat.

On day six my son woke up ready to be the perfect pottier that I knew he could be. He was letting us know when he needed to go, whether verbally or by going into the bathroom himself. I also started incentivizing him. Every time he peed on the potty he got one sour patch kid.

Eat your heart out, mom judgers, because yes, I have been giving my son sugary sour patch kids each time he pees.

I pick my battles and I chose to win the potty-training battle, not the healthy reward one. He also brushes his teeth twice a day so I feel zero guilt.

I am not sure if it was a special case with my son but he did so much better not having accidents when we were out in public. I am not sure if it is because he knows he wasn’t at home and he knew he did not have an endless supply of underwear and clothes to change into, but he had more accidents when he was at home than he did when we were out. Once I realized this I started going out more and more during the process. I had always heard that you have to stay home while potty-training but that definitely was not the case for us, and I am glad it wasn’t because I was going stir crazy.

From day six on, things improved daily. He was going longer without having to pee and he was making it through nap times without peeing in his pull-up. I have faith that if I was to put him down for a nap without a pull-up on he wouldn’t pee. However, I just don’t feel like taking that chance and giving myself that much more laundry to do. I already do one to two loads a day so for now, we are in pull-ups during nap and bedtime. He is also making it through preschool without accidents, always telling his teacher when he needs to go and is starting to poop on the potty more regularly.

Any parent that has potty-trained will tell you that the pooping side of potty-training takes much longer than the peeing side. Poop in the potty during potty-training is like winning the lottery. If you think about it, your small child has spent the better part of two (or three, depending on when you start P.T.) years pooping in a diaper, typically never laying eyes on what comes out of their backside. Move to the toilet and they are much more aware of and instantly terrified by what is coming out of their body. It is both extremely sad and somewhat hysterical to witness. There have been a couple times where I could tell my son was crying because he was constipated and scared to poop on the potty that I ended up putting a pull-up on him so he would go. That was solely for health reasons; being backed up is not good for you. Luckily we haven’t had to do that in over two weeks and he is now going regularly on the potty.

Overall our experience with potty-training has been 125% easier and more tolerable than I ever thought it could or was going to be. I was prepared for days upon days of pee and poop all over our floors. Luckily that only happened for two and it was only pee.  Every once in a while (maybe once a week) he has an accident here or there, but I think that is to be expected. It mostly happens when he gets distracted and is concentrating hard on something that he forgets about going to the bathroom. Or it could be when we go out to run errands and I completely forget that he isn’t in diapers anymore and we’ve been out for almost two hours and I didn’t take him to potty at Target before we left and he pees in his car seat. That is my fault and I absolutely cannot hold that against him. I also felt terrible. I did not win the mom award that day. Either way,  if he does have an accident in his underwear he comes and tells me immediately, so I guess there is that?

If you are on the fence about potty-training hopefully my experience gives you a better outlook since all I ever heard from friends was what a nightmare it was.

Yes, it takes a lot of patience and you must give your child constant undivided attention to catch them before they have an accident but in the end, it is absolutely worth it.

Having your child be potty-trained is extremely freeing, both emotionally and financially. To know you are finished changing and buying diapers (at least during non-sleeping times) is something to celebrate!


My Tips for Successful Potty-Training

  1. Mentally prepare yourself for the worst possible scenario so that you’re pleasantly surprised when it turns out better.
  2. Have a lot of underwear (and laundry detergent!) on hand.
  3. Take your little to the bathroom every 10-15 minutes at first then gradually move it out to every 20 then 30 and so on. If you find that more accidents start happening as you move out the time, scale it back by 5 minutes.
  4. Keep reminiding your little to let you know when they need to go potty and ask them every now and then, too.
  5. Pick out an incentive that you know they will want to help “sweeten” the deal of going to the bathroom on the potty.

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