“Three-Day Potty Training” and Other Lies


I read the book(s). Removed the rugs, the pants, the diapers. Checked for signs of readiness. Vowed to never touch a pull-up. Made a big exciting production. Bought the stickers, the little potty, the potty that goes inside the potty, the superhero underwear, the pull-ups in case, and the stickers.

Then we sat, and sat, and sat. For three days. Seven days. Today is day 43. 

Potty training my second son has been the most ridiculous, illogical parenting challenge yet. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some wins. But wow, there’s a lot of pee everywhere but the potty. There’s no science or method that works. “They won’t go to college in diapers,” the grandmas say. Wanna bet? This one actually might. 

Here are three lessons we have learned from our ongoing failure of a potty training attempt. 

1. No two kids will potty train the same. 

Our first son went to daycare, went potty once, came home, and never looked back. No diapers, pull-ups or drama. Clearly not the case for kid #2… Don’t they say the middle child is the rebel?

Many potty training books use terminology such as “three days” and “boot camp” and other fake promises. We know not to fall for one-week weight loss diets, so why do we fall for three-day potty training? Weaning was a process, walking was a process, and oh man is not peeing on your brother’s toy box ever a process. Just another lesson in changing expectation, not reality. 

2. The pull-up is a necessary evil.

The almost three-year-old has outsmarted me and knows that eventually, however long that is, a pull-up will have to go on. After all, we can’t stay in the house forever… Can we? So he holds it. The pull-up feels just like a diaper (because IT IS a glorified overpriced diaper!), so there’s no hope once that bad boy is on. But people have to go places. Work, daycare, school, cars that aren’t pee-proof. So on goes the pull-up. 

3. Redefining success (it was a little fun). 

About a week or two in, I sat on the stool to wait for the elusive pee to come and started telling a silly story. Before I knew it, the 4-year-old was in there telling his own as well. Most involved waking up to discover you have turned into the Hulk overnight. It was a potty party. The storytelling has evolved into a serious pastime around here and has become a bonding event between the brothers. 

One time in desperation, I found myself sitting next to the potty breastfeeding the baby and waiting with the toddler, which led to a super educational conversation about how babies eat. All things that wouldn’t have happened if we had just hit the potty training lottery twice in a row. 

But still, I’m hoping day 50 is our day. If not, it will be a long summer. Share your potty training secrets here!



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