A Potty-Training Pep Talk

It’s that time again.

I am not new at this. John David is my fourth boy, my fourth go-round. This is nothing new for me. I should not be intimidated by this at all.


Wrong. There are some things in life that you dread more with experience. As a first-time mom, I had no idea the things that can happen during potty training. How could anyone know these things? I was just stumped as to where to even begin.

Now that I’ve had a few toddlers, I know so many of the best case scenarios and the worst case scenarios. I roll my eyes at the trendy theories. I do. I’m sorry. I can’t help it. I’m completely puzzled as to why they say that running a 4 month-old to the toilet every 30 minutes is easier than strapping a diaper on them. And no, I’m sorry, I do not do 24-hour naked toddlers in my house. I have carpet, and enough pee will end up where it shouldn’t as it is. Why tempt fate? Underwear works just as well. No one wants to walk around in wet pants.

This is one of the few things we usually do pretty well. The last two boys were completely potty trained by 2 1/2. (But with one of them it felt like he was ‘training’ for a year!)

So here’s my pep talk:

To myself, or to any of you sharing this phase of life with me, whether it’s your first kid or your 10th, or whatever. I’m not saying I’m an expert. This will be a job, but let’s face it. It HAS to be done.


1. Your son is READY. He keeps telling you he’s ready. He keeps asking to visit that potty. It is TIME. You can do this!

Side note to first-timers: Your kid may never ask to use the potty. This is something only my subsequent children did. Unless they see other small children using the potty, the thought may not occur to them until you push it.

2. It really does only take a couple of days of the hard-core training to get the BASICS down. Accidents will seem like they keep randomly happening for months, but the basics will be mastered in just a couple of days.

3. We have tons of fluids ready to pump into the toddler. This will make it easier.

4. Toddlers are easy to please. You can do rewards, but you can also just throw a happy, jumping up and down, whoo-hoo, Wow! You did it! party, and they will feel greatly rewarded.

5. I have the other boys to help me. They are more than willing to coach and demonstrate for little bro.

6. UNDERWEAR. Pull-ups are a no-no for week 1. Save those for long car trips and night-time. Yes, I have unashamedly asked a toddler, “Can’t you just pee in your pull-up?” on a long car trip before. I’m not going for some trophy here. They know what’s going on. Unfortunately, they usually say no.

7. Get ready to do some laundry. The underwear and pants keep a lot of pee off the floor, but lots of laundry will be required.

And here’s the ugly truth about some things that might happen.

1. Even the best potty-trained kid will randomly poop in their pants, two years AFTER you potty trained them. We all have troubles.

2. Poop playdoh. It could happen to you. Steam cleaners work wonders.

3. Poop crammed into helicopters. I don’t even remember which boy that was.

4. Emergency peeing in public.

5. Discovering your child naked in someone’s yard on a playdate, peeing. It will probably happen.

6. Peeing on the trampoline. Just one of them did that.

7. It may be mastered overnight, or it may not feel like they are truly, completely, accident free for a solid 6 months. Don’t let it bother you. If you start potty training early, that is totally normal.

Make sure you aren’t just potty training yourself. If you set a timer, and run that kid to the bathroom every fifteen minutes, he will only learn that Mom is a little neurotic. The first few days, you may need timers. Past that, you have to let it go. Let the fear of wet underwear work its magic. Let them fail. We learn from failing.

Don’t despair if your kid doesn’t “Potty train in 3 days” even after you use the trendiest method on the market. Kids have plenty of their own developmental stuff going on, and they deserve lots of grace when learning new things.

I just pump in the fluids, put a stool at every potty in the house, take away the diapers, tell the toddler what to do, escort them to the potty often, and go with it.

We can do this…..as soon as we run to Target because I actually forgot to buy toddler-sized underwear.


Go, JD!!

Let’s hope this is less eventful than potty-training Daniel. You can read about that here: Toddler Fits and Potty Training and here: Potty Training: Guest Post by Daniel, age 2








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