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Potty Training Survival Tips

(This post originally appeared at Mama's Organized Chaos on June 9, 2016)

Listen yall, after potty training three of my four scouts, I have quickly figured out that NOTHING makes me lose my sanity faster than potty training. So far, there is nothing I hate worse in the little years. It trumps teething and weaning. It’s the worst.
To make matters even *better*, each of my three were so different in how they trained (true to their personalities). I used the same method for all three (the one mentioned in “On Becoming Preschoolwise”) but how they responded was very different.
For my oldest, my girl, it took a solid two weeks. We trained for day time and night time at the same time. She was just ready for both so we did it. I thought those two weeks felt like two years. I thought I wasn’t going to survive. I thought I was going to lose my ever-loving mind. It takes NOTHING for me to draw up those miserable memories. And then, after two weeks, something clicked in her little brain and we were COMPLETELY accident free. Save for a couple middle of the night accidents the next year. I thought I had survived the apocalypse. I thought I had it bad. Ha! Little did I know….
It took my second, a boy, NINE MONTHS…. NINE EVERLOVING MONTHS to be completely trained. I’m not just talking nights (though by month nine of going at it he was ready for night training as well). It just took longer for the pieces to click in his brain than it did his older sister. We tried everything. We boot camped three times. Even though he had reached every “readiness marker” he just was not ready. The will is strong with this one.
For my third, also a boy, we were feeling the time clock with him to get him ready for the three year old class at preschool. I STRESSED about it. I didn’t not want to have to hold him back from this class since he was academically and socially ready. I mean I STRESSED (especially after the nine month nightmare I had experienced the year before).But he surprised us all. He was night trained before day trained and it only took him a week and half to really get the hang of it. The hardest part for him was pulling up and down his pants.
Throughout these experiences, I have learned a few things about how to keep your sanity *somewhat* in tact, regardless of what method you choose.
- Try your very best not to stress about it. The kids can smell fear. If you are stressed and anxious about it, they will be too, or it will trigger their strong will to defy you. Remember that it is HIGHLY unlikely that they will go college wearing a diaper.
- Rewards! I’m not talking about just for them. Find a way to reward yourself in the process just for surviving the day.
- Don’t overcommit to other things while potty training. Potty training unfortunately almost always involves staying near the potty. If you are trying to do other things at the same time, it’s not likely to work out. You have to be able to focus on it.
- Utilize your devices and stock up on good books! Download fun apps to play in the bathroom while you are “waiting”. Keep a stack of books in the bathroom for easy use. Throw a couple in there for you too!
- Know how to clean your furniture and carpets BEFORE the accidents happen. Know what products best remove stains from your rugs and find out if your couch cushions can be washed or not. Knowing how to deal with the clean-up before the accidents and mess happens can help you keep your cool in the moment. (Remember, they can smell fear.)
- Find the humor in it. My husband is SO GOOD at this! He makes the kids laugh and always has more success with the kids than I do. I really attribute a lot of that to his ability to laugh at things like the silly noises you hear in the bathroom. Humor breaks the tension and stress for everyone involved.
- Prepare several “accident bags” to carry with you. I put in a gallon ziplock: a change of undies, a change of pants or shorts, and a smaller ziplock with a few baby wipes in it. If you prepare several of these ahead of time for when you get out and about, it is FAR less stressful to deal with an accident.
If you are in the trenches right now, I FEEL YOUR PAIN. I don’t have to know the details. I get it. Hopefully these tips can help you trudge on. Remember… college! One day they will be diaper free and fleeing the nest! March on soldier, and may the odds be ever in your favor!!

1 comment

  1. Thanks for this tips! We haven't touched potty training yet, but I'm reading every method and peice of advice under the sun so that when we get there, we can pick the right way for us. I think your advice about not getting too busy and not stressing are universal, no matter what method.