The Golden Rules of Potty Training

5 years ago

It’s the afternoon of the sixth day of potty training, and I’m finally ready to talk about it.

I’m declaring myself an expert.  Because I have a blog.  And I can make lists.  And that’s how the internet works. (Which by the way, I’m harnessing and making my bitch from now on….the Internet, y’all.  Because I’m feeling a little better after my temper tantrum last week).

So here goes.

The Golden Rules Of Potty Training (Week 1):

1.  Buy a few toddler potties, and put them in every bathroom in the house.  Ask your kid to sit on them at bedtime and before bath, to get them in the habit.  Your child will happily sit there, read books there, sing songs there.  But he will not pee. Because he knows you’re not serious about it yet.  And he’s fucking with you.  Because if eating and sleeping weren’t hard enough, this next “basic” task is also designed to send you to the loony bin.

2.  Decide that the potties that you have are not good enough.  You need new potties.  (Of course you do.  You constantly need new shoes, new scarves, new laptop bags, and new lip gloss colors, so why not potties?). Ask your friends what potties they use with their kids.  Go buy new potties.  Because that’s the issue.  Not you or your kid.  It’s the potties.

3.  Tell your son’s preschool teachers that he’s not ready for potty-training.  Call it “Potty Learning” and “Potty Teaching”, just to see if they’re up on the latest attachment parenting models.  They get it.  They’re smarter than you.  They agree that he’s not ready.  Silently cry inside that your totally advanced three year old may end up being the very last child in preschool to potty train learn.

4.  Wait until the very.last.minute to start potty training.  The end of summer.  The week before school starts.  After all of the summer travel is done.  Write “Potty Training Week!” on your calendar in big letters.  Watch as your husband decides that he will be out of town that week.

5.  Make a big ol’ to-do about Potty Training Week with your child.  Do a dance.  Make let them watch Elmo’s Potty Movie over and over and over.  “See honey!  Elmo likes to go pee-pee!  Elmo doesn’t need diapers!”.  Present big boy underwear that is adorned with all of their favorite superheroes and every character from the Cars movie.

6.  Pray.  Stay home and put potties in every room.  Ask your child every 15 minutes if they have to go potty.  Say things like “Honey, think about your pee-pee” in hopes that they will suddenly reply “Well thanks Mom!  I sure did have to go, and YOU single-handedly saved me from an accident!”  Assemble baskets of cleaning supplies.  Roll up the living room rug and put it away.  Invite your mom to visit for the entire weekend so that you have a light at the end of the tunnel.

7.  Let your child become best friends with the potty.


8.  Pray again.  Pray that what your friends have said about this process is true.  The part about how children who have trouble with eating and sleeping are often GREAT at potty learning.  Please god, let this be true.  Mommy could stand to fall on the “easy parenting” end of the spectrum just.this.once.

9.  Sit back and watch as your child amazes you with his bladder control and body awareness.  Watch your child make it to the potty time after time after time.  Listen to his little voice as he calls out “Mommy I have to go pee-pee!”, and walks right over to the potty.  Watch him beam with pride as he has success after success.  Feel your admiration for your little boy seep out of every pore in your body.  Holy crap.  This is actually happening!  Brag.  Brag alot.  High-five your kid.  Give hugs.  Do the potty dance.  Mentally compute how much money you are saving in diapers, and how you can rearrange his room when you take the changing table out.

10.  Go to the grocery store.  Test your child’s boundaries.  Bribe them with a cupcake if they use the potty at Safeway (They won’t.  You will buy the cupcake for them anyway.)  They will then find an empty display shelf to play on, while no fewer than 6 sweet old ladies walk by and exclaim “Oh HI little boy!  Well how much do YOU cost?!”

11.  Pray that your child does not drop a poop on the grocery store display shelf, in front of all the sweet old ladies.


Think about what you will do if he is suddenly standing in a huge circle of pee, after you have loaded every last grocery onto the checkout stand.  Watch as the store manager comes over to ask “Hey little boy, who do you belong to?”  Pause a minute to make sure there is no pee on the floor.  Then respond with confidence “Oh, he’s mine!”


12.  If you begin Potty Week on a Monday, you will finally feel like you can exhale (and let your child play on your bed in just his underwear) by Friday.  You will feel the ribbon tear in two as you sprint across the finish line with your arms in the air.  You will stop for a water break.  You are fucking.emotionally.exhausted.  You did it!  And then your child will wake up from nap on Saturday and start screaming “I want my diapers baaaaaack!”  He will scream until he is shaking.  He will scream until he dry heaves in the toilet.  He will grab his diapers and sob as he tries to put them on himself.  You are not the only one who is emotionally exhausted.  This has been hard work for your three year old.  You thank god that your mom and your husband are both here to witness this.  You mouth to your mom “NOW what the hell do I do???”.  No amount of “It’s ok sweetie, change is hard.  It’s ok to be sad about your diapers, but you’re doing so great going on the potty!” will change things.  You cry on the phone to your babysitter, and beg her to tell you that this is normal.  You finally put a diaper back on your sobbing child.  You will think that potty week is over.  Potty learning is over.  You will think that you have failed.

13.  Your husband will take diapered toddler downstairs to play.  When they are done, he will calmly get him dressed and put his big boy underpants back on.  Like nothing ever happened.  Your husband will win the potty medal, even though you were the one who ran every leg of the relay  You will order yourself a big fat cold glass of wine at dinner.  After you sit in the back of your car with your child, who is taking a poop in the portable potty that you keep in your trunk.  Because that’s what moms do.

14.  You will realize that Potty Week isn’t actually a week.  It’s probably more like months.  Or even a year.  You will take your child to a birthday party and realize that greeting the host mother by saying “Hi!  I’m really hoping my child doesn’t pee on your floor!” isn’t the best way to begin.  You will realize that getting frustrated with your child for not peeing, can be replaced with praising your child for staying dry.  You will delight in the fact that you can actually fit in the back of your SUV with a potty, your child, the stroller, 7 changes of clothes, and a bag of sand toys.  You will discover that your child is ready for this.  That they are growing up.  And that they look really damn cute in big boy underpants.


For week 2, I think that I’m renting a margarita machine.  Bottom’s up!

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