Toddler Years

Tips and Advice From Potty Training Moms

Potty training has pretty much consumed my life as a mom for the past year and a half. To say that I am doing a happy dance because I am about to have NO MORE DIAPERS in this house is a vast understatement. I got a little weepy throwing away the bottles and selling the Mamaroo, but there is not a single ounce of my being that will miss the diapers and giant pack ‘n play filled with changing necessities taking up space in my living room.
When I started the potty training journey, I was clueless where to start. I had so much mixed advice and tried several methods until I found out what worked for us. As with most things parenting, there is no one size fits all for toilet training but here are my three biggest takeaways from my son and daughter’s experience.
  1. Pull-ups are glorified diapers…well at least in the beginning they are. When Jackson hit about two and a half, I decided I would start sending him to daycare in pull-ups instead of diapers because I figured this would be the first step to getting him trained. He showed no interest at all in peeing in the potty while he was in pull-ups because he could just go in them like a diaper. By the time he hit three, I felt the pressure from his teachers that we had to do something. I bit the bullet, put him in actual underwear only for him to find that he hated the wet sensation. This is when he started holding his pee because he decided he was scared of the toilet. We caved a couple of times and the minute we put him back in a pull-up he would pee in it. It came to the point where we had to get mean and physically make him sit on the potty until he couldn’t hold it anymore. After the first time he went pee in the potty, he realized there was nothing scary about it and there was no looking back. The only time we ever used pull-ups was at night and during naps but he quickly became night time trained. With our daughter, we put her in underwear first and it has been so much more successful. Her school requires pull-ups until she is fully trained, but she knows the sensation of when to go pee. The amount of accidents are becoming less and less.

  2. Every Child is Different   Just because your first child was easy or hard to train does not mean it will be the same for the others. My experience with Jackson and Sawyer have been day and night. I have always been told that girls are easier to potty train than boys and this has been the reality for us, although I think a lot of it has to do with how she idolizes her big brother and wants to be just like him. Sawyer is two and a half now but she started showing readiness signs awhile ago. Honestly, I was not ready because I had just trained Jackson and wanted a few months of not dealing with it. She has been a breeze and we are *fingers crossed* there.

  3. It’s a season. Just as bottles, breastfeeding, baby proofing and sleep training are. The thought that kept me going during our bad days filled with accidents and Clorox wipes was, “Well, they won’t be going off to college in diapers”. Even though #pottytrainingsucks, it is a very small part of parenting. I have only been a mom for four short years but as Jackson gets older, the “issues” are becoming more complicated. The thought of them being in middle and high school terrifies me. Little kids can be annoying but they still have their innocence. One day when they are ungrateful teenagers, I will probably wish to go back to the days of butt wiping.


     There is nothing like becoming a parent to knock you off your high horse. Prior to having a child, I had many misconceptions about what my child would and wouldn’t do, what was an acceptable time frame for “milestones”, and how I would be as a parent. Totally laughable, right?! Not that I was judgmental, but I had an idea of how I wanted my family to run. Again- you’re welcome to laugh at me! Now, as an actual mother, my heart goes out to the parent in the grocery store with a toddlerzilla in mid meltdown, to the disheartened parent with the screaming child at dinner, and, currently, to the mother talking through clenched teeth  in the bathroom for her child to just get on the damn toilet…all because I feel ya sista.

    The physical act of potty training (once he was ready) wasn’t the hard part for Sawyer and I. He actually did very well, but the 12,000 trips to the bathroom just because he wants to get up from dinner, or stopping on the side of the road because he refused to get out of the car at the gas station after screaming he has to pee, or, my favorite part, cleaning the wall constantly because he gets distracted and pees all of over it. I’m not a professional by any means, but I’ll share the top 3 things that has helped us survive potty training.

    1.  Wait until they show signs of being ready.

    Otherwise, you will just end up frustrated and spinning your wheels. One of my pre-child delusions was at 18 months my child would be potty trained. Well, that went over about as well as you could imagine. Sawyer had zero interest and ran screaming out of the bathroom. So, I digressed and tried again at 2 1/2 with a much better result.


    2. Set a timer and give lots of incentives!

    Once we dove into this endeavor, I picked a weekend to stay home so he had 3 solid days of running around in just his big boy undies. I set a timer every 30 minutes and would take him to the potty. Most of the time he would pee because at this point they don’t have much bladder retention as they haven’t learned to control the muscles. Even doing this there were a few accidents in between, but that’s ok! This may seem strange, but it worked for us- I left his training potty in the living room for a couple of reasons. It was easily accessible to him for when he realized he had to go that very second, the tv was a great distraction that kept him sitting on it long enough to poop, and he had everyone’s attention. Prior to starting that weekend, I bought tons of little toys and treats from the Dollar Store and made a prize bucket. Each time he peed in the potty, he could choose one prize and for pooping, he was allowed two prizes. This was super effective for Sawyer.


    3. Buy stock in Clorox wipes! Kidding- number 3, Praise them and pat yourself on the back!

    #PottyTrainingSucks, but so did sleep training, leaving them for the first time, and disciplining. However, they are all things we must do to help our children succeed at this thing called toddlerhood! We are always in a rush to push through their current “phase”, because, well, it can be awful sometimes. But, they are always going to be in a phase, they are constantly going to be learning something new, and it is continually going to drive us crazy! However, take a step back and appreciate the progress you’ve made together. They will be even more excited to sit on the potty knowing they will get praises! And you will be satisfied knowing you’ve earned that glass of wine at the end of the day 🙂

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