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Potty Training in Three Days… Or Not

I think it’s safe to say (I really really really hope it’s safe to say) we’re reaching the end of the potty training journey with our first child. I think it’s also safe to say it didn’t really go how I expected it to. I heard a parent with teens recently say that the two biggest challenges for parenting in their experience were potty training and teaching their kids to drive. I don’t doubt the truth to those words.

Can potty training one kid make you an experienced potty trainer? I think not. But I did learn a few things that I thought would be good to pass along to help you in your journey. Or maybe just to give you someone to laugh with over shared experiences. Yeah, probably more that.

So, let’s get to it. Six lessons I learned in my vast (kiiiiding) experience of potty training.

1. Length of the Journey

Here’s the thing. I did my research. I did my homework. I put in the leg work and compared the methods. But Pinterest lied. Or all the blog moms lied. Okay, they probably didn’t. But I read A LOT of posts explaining how to potty train in three days. THREE days! I’m not doubting that it really worked like that for them (okay, just sometimes), but it took us 14 months, you guys. They said three days. FOURTEEN MONTHS. Trust me, I checked for all the readiness signs, I got the special seat, we ditched his pants, stayed home all week, got out lots of rags for cleaning. I did all the things.

potty training chart

It just didn’t work for us. That’s all I’m trying to say. Just want to be a friendly voice of reality to remind you that all kids are different, and sometimes the three day promises don’t hold up. No biggie, just be prepared to do a lot of extra laundry for the next fourteen months. ‘Cause that’s my next point. LAUNDRY!

2. Laundry

Husbands who do electrical work in dirty warehouses produce a lot of laundry. Babies who spit up a lot produce a lot of laundry. Little girls that like to sit in mud puddles produce a lot of laundry. You know who produces more? Potty training toddlers! I’m not trying to complain. It’s part of my job as mom and I’m good with that. I just need to tell you, your laundry load might go up a little (a lot!) when you’re encountering, ahem, dirtied clothes multiple times a day (possibly for fourteen months).

The flip side of this, and the good news, is that once your child achieves potty trained status, you’ll suddenly wonder why your water bill went down and you can do seven fewer loads each week. I mean, unless you just had a baby and all the spit-up laden clothes replaces the other. Or so I would assume.

3. Words

In the past year, I’ve found myself asking questions and saying sentences to my three year old about the bathroom and what goes on there that I never would have thought would ever need to come out of my mouth. I’ve also apologized to repeatedly to anyone who happened to be at our house over the past year about said sentences. I also said I would never use the word potty with my own kids like my mom did with me (sorry, Mom!). We can just add it to the list of things we all say we won’t do when we have our own kids and… well, you know how that goes.

Potty training

4. Rewards

I think most people get this one wrong. We get out a big jar, fill it with chocolate, and tell the kid they get one when they use the toilet. I’m all for that. We did lots of mnm’s and chocolate chips and stickers. I just think the parents need a jar too, that’s all I’m saying.  And maybe it should be filled with dark chocolate. Or cheesecake.

5. Celebration

I get excited about a lot of things – ice cream, traveling, dates with my husband, babies giggling, naps, my kids singing Amazing Grace, a new season of The Great British Baking Show. Never did I think I would feel the genuine elation I have felt repeatedly over the words, “I pooped in the toilet by myself!” coming from my three year old. #theseareafewofmyfavoritethings

potty training

6. Going Out

I like to think of myself as a prepared person. When I was in junior high, I would take a purse filled with everything I thought I might possibly need everywhere I went. When my first kid was born, I hauled the stuffed full diaper bag everywhere. Did I really need two extra blankets, 7 diapers, 5 pacifiers, and 3 changes of clothes to go to the grocery store with the baby? No, no I didn’t. But I was prepared! Well, when that same kid started potty training, there was a whole new level of preparedness that I should have been all over based on my history of over packing.

But then one day we went to IKEA. Things must have been going pretty well in the potty training realm because we had let our guards down, left the backpack with the extra underwear and shorts and wipes in the car, and failed to visit the bathrooms upon first arrival. This is beginner stuff, guys. We should have known better. And I’ll spare the details of the whole story, but we’ll just say there’s one section of the IKEA showroom I can’t visit anymore without shuddering and hurrying past.

Lesson learned? Always bring the backpack with the change of clothes and wipes into the store with you. Always. And always visit the bathroom upon first arriving. Always!

potty training chart

So if you’ve already walked the potty training road, hope you could laugh and relate to some of this (unless you potty trained in three days :D). If not, grab yourself a big ol’ jar of chocolate and buy an extra jug of laundry detergent. You got this!


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