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In the Potty Training Trenches

The only books I read on the subject…

Potty training toddlers is not for the faint of heart. I’d rather go to the dentist every day for a month to get my teeth drilled, without Novacane, than attempt to potty train another toddler. There is nothing fun about dealing with human feces and urine 20+ times a day. Oh but think of the freedom of not having to change diapers anymore! HA! I’d rather change 1 billion more diapers than wrangle my two toddlers to sit still and not touch anything in a public restroom. And don’t even get me started on my plea for them to NOT unlock the door while Mommy is still using the toilet…I’ve never considered myself helpless until I was abandoned by my daughters mid-pee in the Target bathroom and I had to beg for them to “Please come back to mommy’s stall!”

Pre-kids I had heard that potty training wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. I knew about the potty charts, the rewards, the potential accidents. But I had a puppy. I was able to potty train that tiny beast in like a week, no big deal. What’s a little pee stain to dab up? I always picked up his poo with zero issue!


Fast forward to my 2, two-and-a-half year old toddler tornadoes who are fascinated with everything bathroom related. Sure I gave up my bathroom privacy a long time ago; I kind of like the constant company while I do my business…*cough* NOT *cough*. And since they were increasingly interested, and I read online that that is a sign of readiness to start potty training, we gave it a go. I had two potty chairs and we switched out the toilet seat for one that has a kid-sized seat already attached, so they could also go on the ‘big potty’. I had picked up some M&M’s and stickers for rewards; I was more prepared for this than I was for my college finals!

To get the girls excited, we took them to Target to pick out their own ‘big girl underpants’. Can we talk about the price of toddler underpants for a second? In what universe does a pack of five cotton underpants that are the size of my knee, cost $15? I’m pretty sure Minnie Mouse is pulling a Scrooge McDuck as she jumps into her pile of cash from all the licensing royalties she collects. The girls each picked a pack of big girl undies, and we were on our way.

Eye-twitch anxiety

To be honest, the first four days weren’t that bad. I had the potty chairs ready and available wherever we were in case they couldn’t make it to the ‘big potty’. I made sure to get into a routine with going potty every hour or so. We only had two accidents! Was it fun or easy? No! I developed an eye twitch that I still have today from the anxiety of taking toddlers out of the house without the safety net of a diaper! I was sighing a huge sigh of relief and getting ready to pat myself on my back that we were officially potty trained, when we woke up on a Tuesday and my little darlings refused to use the potty. I’m not sure if there was a full moon or a shift in the tides that day, but everything was a battle.

When I said they needed to try to sit on the potty, I was met with a whole new level of sass and stubbornness. I’m pretty sure I got my first eye roll from both of them as they so lovingly replied with “NO! I don’t WANT to!” Fine, maybe an accident would help them will see that having wet pants isn’t nearly as fun as being in control, right? WRONG! Those little tornadoes didn’t care!

They each had four accidents before 1 p.m. and they just didn’t even care! So now both of my eyes are twitching, I have a pounding headache and I had quadrupled my laundry for the day, but I wasn’t giving up…until right before naps…I was pleading with one kid to stay sitting on the potty because she had just pooped her pants. I was trying to get her dirty undies off without making a giant mess, when her sister realized she also pooped her pants. Instead of waiting for my help, she went ahead and took her own poop filled undies off and disposed of them…dirty side down…on the air vent of my bathroom.

Potty nightmare

You can probably imagine my reaction. I was cool, calm, and collected as I lovingly said, “It’s okay hunny, accidents happen” as I gently cleaned her up and put her to bed for a sweet nap…HA! Not even close, I lost it! Thank god my husband works from home and was able to help get our daughters cleaned up and to bed without my head exploding. As I was cleaning human feces out of my air vent and rinsing out those tiny pink undies with Minnie Mouse mocking me with her overpriced smile, I gave up.

Sure I could have stayed strong, stuck to my guns and continued down the messy road of potty training. But I didn’t. I gave up. I didn’t need that kind of stress in my life, and frankly diapers give you a new level of freedom you didn’t realize you had until they’re gone. I was ready to come to terms that both of my girls would be heading to college in adult diapers. My eye twitch was slowly getting better when both of my girls decided that diapers were just not for them anymore. I definitely went to battle, and tried my best to convince them that diapers were cool, but no such luck. Six weeks after our potty training failure, both of my daughters picked up using the ‘big potty’ like it was nothing. Seriously, somehow during our hiatus they matured and were able to communicate perfectly their need to use the bathroom!  

What I learned

I’d say we’ve been fully potty trained for about five weeks. In that time, we’ve had only a handful of accidents and most of them were at night. What’s my secret? Honestly I have no idea, except letting your kid decide when the time is right, making sure they can communicate with you, and if it’s not working out, there is no shame in giving up and taking a break. Seriously, I’ve never seen a question on any job application asking what age you were potty trained. It’ll happen when the time is right, it won’t be fun, it’s going to be messy and disgusting, but it’ll happen. And in the meantime, there is always wine…or your kids’ potty reward chocolate.

Dry erase markers on the back of the toilet to pass the time…just make sure they erase…



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