How Potty Training Ruined My Life

potty training, parenting, kids, toddler

For all of you out there that convinced me potty training would be easy, you lied. You fully potty trained in 3 days mamas, I envy you. And to the ones that told me to rid myself of all pull-ups, yes you slowly ruined me too. It’s safe to say, nothing I read prepared me for my first potty training experience. And my expectations of what it would be like fell beyond short. Potty training pretty much ruined my life. Okay, so that’s a bit dramatic, but it definitely made me kick myself more than a few times.

Let me catch you up a bit,

So Bug is almost 2 1/2 and like every ambitious mom, my goal was to have him potty trained by his second birthday. Truthfully, I was even willing to settle with maybe a week or two after. I read every single blog I could find about how to make this quick and effortless. I knew I was totally prepared and when the time came, I was ready to tackle potty training head on. Only, his second birthday came and went without potty training success.

The two year old milestone was here and the best I had accomplished was getting him to go on the pot sometimes. And, to make it worse, he was going sitting down. Yes, I know, horrible for a boy, but he only has me to emulate okay. There was no consistency whatsoever in him going to the bathroom and we couldn’t stop the accidents to save our life. I was succumbing to potty training and I broke down and bought some more pull ups. The shame.

I was 10 months pregnant and this potty training thing was an epic fail in my eyes. . . *insert eye roll emoji*
So where did we go wrong?

So initially, I got some advice from an awesome mommy friend about how she potty trained her son. According to her, I was supposed to let him go willy nilly during the day and constantly remind him about going to the bathroom. That completely sucked. Bug would really stand in the middle of my living room and pee. No hesitation, no “mommy I have to pee”, absolutely nothing. Just a bunch of little wet spots on my carpet. Let me tell you, being in your third trimester and constantly scrubbing carpet is a nightmare. I was angry all the time and after a week of so many accidents, I literally lost count. Bug was back in a pull up.

Attempt two convinced me to put him in toddler underwear so he can actually feel when he pees. I was told this would work because the wet underwear would make him uncomfortable. As a result, after he had one or two accidents he would know not to pee in them. My success rate was a big fat 0%. I found myself with a handful of pee soaked underwear and pee spots not only on my carpet but also on my couch. Where did we go from here you ask? Back to a pull up.

Then, I read somewhere, that I should use the reward system. Be diligent in reminding him to pee and when he was successful in doing so, reward him. At first, I saw some great improvements and he was actually going pee on the toilet more and less everywhere else. He was so anxious for the reward he was willing to do whatever it took. But then I noticed a change. He stopped caring about the “pee” part and would just beg for the reward. It got to the point that he would literally cry for it. This wasn’t part of the plan at all. Much sooner than later, he was back to peeing all over the house.

So what was a very pregnant mama supposed to do? Give up, that’s what

He was back in a pull-up, this time indefinitely. I was too tired and too frustrated to continue potty training. So, I took him to the bathroom when I felt compelled to do so. Every other time, he would either fend for himself in that lovely pull up of his or he would tell me. This time, the ball was in his court. And yes, I know this probably regressed him quite a bit, but at that point I didn’t care. Month after month, he went through his days in a pull up. At this point, he was communicating in sentences and I knew that if he could talk he could tell me he had to pee. Shortly after, Bee made her arrival and being overwhelmed was an understatement. Potty training was out of the question for now.

Out of the question that is, until I realized how much I hated changing the diapers of two kids. It was just AWFUL! So, together we faced the potty training monster head on and we were determined to be successful this time around. I tried to crash potty train him (toddler underwear, taking him to the bathroom every 30 minutes, for a week straight) and it finally hit me that Bug was not the kind of kid that likes peeing on a schedule. So for once, I actually let him lead.

Still in pull ups, I would remind him to pee and offer some kind of incentive if he went on his own. With this, we were about 50% successful. He was peeing on the toilet more often, but not nearly enough. I then switched over to “big boy undies” during the day and pull ups only at night. I deliberately would emphasize the difference between “big boy undies” (briefs) and baby underwear (pull ups) and would ask him if he was mommy’s big boy or her baby. When he was having an extra whiny day, the answer would be baby. But on most days, he wanted to be my big boy. This was our step in the right direction.

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Potty training 101?

There’s no such thing. We were still having accidents but they were much more infrequent. He enjoyed wearing his big boy underwear and knew that wet undies meant a consequence of some sort. Next month, he’ll be 2 1/2 and we are on our second week of 0 accidents (even overnight) and I couldn’t be more proud. No more pull ups! None of the tips and tricks that I studied worked for us. He did it on his own, on his time, when he felt he was ready.

Would it have been easier if he had a man to copy, I’m sure. But somewhere between the sitting down like mommy, testing limits and Bug no longer being an only child, we did it. Most times, he doesn’t even need me to remind him he’ll just tell me “i’ll be right back mommy” and comes back in the room announcing his conquest. When I do have to remind him, he always looks up to me anticipating my stamp of approval which is a huge smile and tons of excitement.

I know that we are not 100% there so when he does have an accident, I need to be a little lenient. I’m waaayyyy past my 2 year goal but that’s okay with me. Besides, who am I really in competition with? I had to accept that children learn and advance at their own pace. And, it wasn’t that he didn’t know what to do, he was just being stubborn. The important thing is that we’re finally here, at the finish line. And I really don’t care whose child was potty trained by their second birthday, running miles at three or had an IQ resembling Einstein’s by their fifth birthday. All, I know is that Bug has completed another milestone, successfully, and I couldn’t be more proud.

So, to my discouraged potty training mamas. . .

Your light at the end of the tunnel is near. Don’t feel rushed based on where your friend’s kids are developmentally, or by family telling you about how they did it in the “old days.” Your kid will do it on their own time. You rushing them only makes the experience more stressful for them.Β They will have many firsts and learn many life skills along the way. This is only the beginning, so there’s no need to frustrate yourself in the process.

Cleaning up pee around my toilet is pretty crappy, but working on the aim game is next step. Baby steps are better than no steps at all. I was pretty beat up in the beginning and was convinced that my kid would be 15 wearing adult diapers. But look at me now, all confident and sharing. So I guess potty training didn’t ruin my life completely, but it sure did make the past 6-8 months of my life one giant headache. On to better things now, like reading and writing.


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16 thoughts on “How Potty Training Ruined My Life

  1. Great post, and I think you’re right in track, age-wise. My mom has always told me boys take longer to train than girls do. I’m sure that was LOADS of fun (sarcasm) cleaning up pee with a big belly!! In my third trimester, I was basically a beached whale! πŸ˜‚

    1. Yes, oh my gosh it was the best! I rolled my eyes at least 20 times a day accompanied by an expletive. Haha! I’m hoping my daughter is much easier when we reach that point!

  2. This is a great article i am potty training my little one at the moment and your post is just what I need to read. Thanks

  3. What an insightful article! I don’t have any children yet but am newly married and hope it’s in my future! I love reading posts like this to remind me how amazing moms truly are and how trying it can be at times! So glad you are making it through and that he is on his way to being pull-up free!

    1. Yes, we are superwoman in human form. I’m sure you’ll get your mom badge soon and then you can use this for reference (even if only for a laugh)! Congrats on the marriage <3

  4. What a wonderful post! I’m not a mom (yet) but love reading posts like this to remind me how tough and rewarding it is to be a mom! So glad you are making it through potty training and the little guy is almost out of pull-ups! Rooting for you guys!

  5. Well done for getting through it! Like you, the best incentive for my daughter was getting to be the “big kid”. As soon as baby sister was on the scene she didn’t want to be in diapers any more! That worked much better than all the other forms of bribery I tried πŸ˜‰

    1. Yes, I like to think baby girl was my saving grace! Now, I get to relax until it’s her turn to potty train. I laugh thinking we really bribe our kids in hopes they’ll do what we need them to. When in reality, we’re doing exactly what they want us to πŸ˜‚

  6. Excellent. So tiresome hearing about how perfectly everyone’s life runs… (smirk). The struggle is real! But the adorable little thing learns so much about how to deal with real life from the way we deal with real life! And it sounds to me like you are doing a pretty good job of it! Great Post!
    When I have another moment, I’m coming back to read about the F-Bomb incident! So hard not to laugh! Mine at 2.5 wanted to know where her f-ing ducks were!… Cracking up.
    Love your work!

    1. I so laughed outloud reading about the ducks. The nerve of these kids thinking they can use curse words in perfect context and get away with it πŸ˜‚ Would love it if you took a read of that one, makes me chuckle every time (: Thank you!

  7. I have I have no advice. I just came here to commiserate. I HATE POTTY TRAINING. Despise it. I would much rather deal with toting diapers everywhere. They are so much more portable at that stage. πŸ™ƒ

    1. At the peak of my frustration i said “i quit, he’ll just wear diapers until he gets to middle school” πŸ˜‚

  8. Hhhhaaaa this was sssoooo me!!! I was trying to wean and potty train at the same time. We got the potties out and around the house at 14 months and i gave up after 2 cause i was trying to wean him too.
    Lol. He is 2.5 amd still trying to wean him and is about to try potty training again.

    1. I can only imagine the struggle! It gets frustrating! After I gave up I told myself that he’ll get it when he gets tired of wearing wet undies and sure enough he started doing it on his own. they’ll only be this little once πŸ˜‚

Your words of wisdom are welcome here :)