Potty Training from the Trenches

Why yes, I am going to bore you with a post about potty training since I have potty trained a grand total of two kids now.  There is so much advice out there on potty training already, I figured I’d add to the noise. Because you can never have too much advice on potty training, am I right? 

Right. So, I do have to disclose that this will probably only pertain to girls, as little girls are the only thing I have experienced. I’m like that song from Annie. “Some women are drippin in diamonds. Some women are drippin in pearls. Lucky me, lucky me, look at what I’m drippin in, little girls!” 

I promise I’ll get to the point some day.

Anyway, here is our potty training routine:

Day 1: 

  1. Run around in thin panties only. I don’t do naked because I am too afraid of them getting urinary tract infections.
  2. Watch them closely and every time they start to have an accident, you take them to the potty and tell them they need to pee pee or poo poo on the potty.
  3. They get a chocolate chip (or marshmallow, or M&M, or whatever) for sitting on the potty. They get a chocolate chip for pee, if any makes it into the toilet at all, they get two chocolate chips for poop in the toilet.
  4. Around the time they usually have their daily poop, I sit them on the potty with the iPad on their laps playing their favorite 20 minute show to see if anything happens. If anything does, cheers and treats abound.

I’ve tried using a timer and having them go sit on the potty every 20 minutes or so with both girls, and both times it was an unmitigated disaster. They seemed to only be going pee when they weren’t on the toilet, and it was an epic battle to get them to sit on the toilet Every. Time. And then once I wrestled them onto the toilet nothing would happen except both of us panting and glaring at each other. Day 1 is all about them realizing they can no longer count on a diaper to catch all of their pee and poo. So I pretty much just wait for an accident to start happening and then rush them into the bathroom. 

Day 2 and all days after:

  1. Good luck.
  2. Just kidding. I will try and have them sit on the potty every hour or so, then push it back to two hours or whenever I think of it after a few weeks. If they are running to the potty as they start peeing, you are making progress. 
  3. I usually introduce the potty chart. They get to put stars on it for when they sit on the potty, pee in the potty, and poop on the potty. I have just bought them on Amazon as I am craft challenged. I still use the chocolate chips too and eventually phase both of them out.
  4. Siblings come in and cheer for potty success and everybody gets chocolate chips.
  5. There will be accidents. For several weeks afterward. But they will eventually diminish to no accidents. Just keep your patience and reiterate that pee and poop goes in the potty. I usually make them clean up their own pee accidents to reinforce that it is something that we should avoid doing because it makes a mess. I’ll hand them a rag and have them mop it up. (And then I clean it for reals after.) And if they poop on their underwear, I tell them I have to throw the [character on the] underwear away because they pooped on them and to tell them goodbye.
  6. Try and avoid going on a long trip too soon afterward. It will slow down the process.
  7. If we have to leave the house, I use training pants. They can still feel that they have had an accident, but I don’t have to worry about them getting pee all over a public space.
  8. They always sit on the potty when they wake up in the mornings, after they get up from naps and before bed.
  9. If they have peed but are seeming to linger on the potty, just wait. Usually that means they have to poo also. 
  10. If they are playing outside, be on the lookout for a child hiding somewhere more private. They are probably going to the bathroom.

I know it is real trendy these days to train children as young as possible, but my advice would be to wait until they are older and more ready. Taking a toddler to a public restroom is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I do not believe that there is a magical window that if you miss it they will definitely be going to college in diapers. And also wait until you are ready as well. It is a time commitment, and it will just be unduly stressful if you are training just because you feel pressured into it but it isn’t really necessary. Give it a try, and if weeks go by and the accidents seem to be increasing in volume and both you and the child are frustrated and burned out, put them back in diapers and don’t sweat it. You can try again later.

Some moms have told me that their children have trouble pooping on the potty, either getting constipated from holding it in, or just waiting until naps and night time so that they can just use their diaper.  I personally haven’t experienced this, but the best I could advise is the fave show on the iPad while sitting on the potty treatment before naps and bed. Have any of you experienced this and were able to conquer it?

I use potty seats because I shudder at the thought of cleaning out those little potties. You are cleaning up plenty of raw sewage anyway. No need to add to it. Try and pick out a nicer seat because the cheap ones move around too much and can slide sideways, propelling your child into the toilet bowl and scarring them into thinking the toilet is going to suck them down if they sit on it. Not that I am speaking from experience or anything. When you are away from the house, have them sit sideways toward the front of the toilet if you are sans seat. If your mercurial toddler will allow it, of course. You know how well they adjust to changes in the routine. (HA!)

I have no advice to offer as to night training because none of my girls have been waking up dry yet from naps or bed time. I’m hoping that will happen soon?

Welp, that is about it. Any tricks that I have missed?



About sylcell

Wife, mom of four girls, Catholic, insatiable sweet tooth
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6 Responses to Potty Training from the Trenches

  1. Kim Johnston says:

    I know I need to do it, but I don’t want to. I really don’t want to adult and parent this. It sounds messy and dirty. Meanwhile Emerson mocks me with “I pooed” when she has a dirty diaper. This is only less annoying than my mother saying right afterwards, “She’s ready”. Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sylcell says:

      Hey, you BOTH need to be ready to start potty training. If you’re not feeling it, then wait! I really don’t believe in the whole “if you miss the magical window her life will be ruined.” If you try and do it when you don’t have the energy or the focus, it will just be too overwhelming. Just wait until she is old enough for you to email her some instructions and problem solved! 😜😂😂


  2. Comment from a lady with no successful potty training experience, haha. We’re just taking the whole thing REALLY slow. Elizabeth sits on the potty before her bath (this was mostly started to combat peeing in the tub and that’s definitely working!). If she goes, she gets an M&M. If she doesn’t we still have a fun time in the (pee free) bath! We figure when she’s got the pre-bath time deal down she can start sitting on the potty in the morning before we all leave for the day.

    I have to admit, this looks a lot different than what I imagined this part of my life would look like. My mom stayed home with all of us, and you can take a different approach when you’re home all day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sylcell says:

      I really eased into it with Ruthie too. We also would just do pee in the potty before baths so that she could be introduced to the concept. I really think there is no one-size fits all approach, and every parent has to do whatever works for the child AND works for the parent.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the concept of setting a reward system for a poop and a pee. Unfortunately, my baby has been unwell (UTI) and I am just hoping that he gets back in action really soon. I have to potty train him ASAP!

    Liked by 1 person

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