a mom’s guide to potty training

Potty training. Fun topic right? Just kidding. It’s not fun for anyone involved, parents OR kids. I feel fairly confident in saying that we’ve successfully potty trained Matilda. So, in an effort to save someone else a headache or just to give you guys a laugh, here’s a look at our experience with potty training.

In my own (humble) opinion, I think Matilda is doing great with this whole potty training thing. She’s using the potty multiple times a day, asking to do so of her own accord, and even pooping in it willingly. I know that last one sounds weird, but it can be the hardest thing for kids to do!! Other parents, back me up here!

The past month has certainly come with a BIG learning curve, as all aspects of parenting do. Just when you think you’ve got something figured out, you realize that you don’t. At all. 

So, in an effect to save someone else a headache or just to give you guys a laugh, here’s a mom’s tongue-in-cheek guide to potty training. Enjoy and be warned- things are about to get real!

a mom's guide to potty training


Buy your daughter big girl panties and expect that to be incentive enough. We bought Matilda Minnie Mouse panties this past summer in hopes that the sheer promise of wearing panties would be enough to make her want to do it. The panties were an incentive, but we had to up the stakes with princess panties. Belle > Minnie

Read about several methods, and decide that the no-pants approach makes the most sense, so that’s the method you choose. In typical Heather fashion, I did TONS of research and found this method to have the biggest success rate. We tried it for one day and re-evaluated.

Assume that you will follow the ‘method’ EXACTLY. No exceptions. No changes. At the end of day one, she WANTED to wear pants and panties even though she was nowhere near potty trained. We caved for a few reasons: 1). March in East Tennessee can be chilly. 2.)Her not wearing pants or panties didn’t cut down on her having accidents. 3.)She really wanted to wear pants and panties and so it was a fight that wasn’t worth having. Pick your battles, ya’ll!!

Incorrectly assume that only boys can have projectile pee. Matilda legitimately projectile-peed into her box of books. This was also during the no-pants time, so there was NOTHING in the way of that pee! I just stood there in horror, unable to fathom how that had happened. All I can say is Thank God for John!! 

Expect 1 or 2 messes, but somehow you just know that your child is advanced enough to catch on right away. HAHAHAHAHAHA. That’s all I have to say about that one.

Forget that things like being too tired or too hungry are HUGE factors in potty training. When Matilda is very tired, especially at the end of the day, she tends to have accidents because she’s too tired to control the reflex. It still happens sometimes if she hasn’t had a nap that day.

Vow to not buy pull-ups because  (again, because you just know) it will confuse your child. This one is actually true. I caved and bought some pull ups after the 3rd day of NOT leaving the house. I was totally afraid she would have an accident as soon as we left the house. The first time I put one of the ‘going out panties’ on Matilda, she said, “It’s like a diaper!!” And, what does she do in diapers? That’s right guys. Pull ups DID NOT work for us.

Completely discount how long it takes to actually have to take your child to the potty ALL DAY LONG. And it happens at really inconvenient times, like when you’re cooking dinner or when YOU need to go to the bathroom or when you’re in the shower!!!

Do not, under ANY circumstance, lose your temper or be visibly exasperated by the potty training situation. See above explanation, especially the shower part.

Never lose your patience. Again, see above.


Never think about how unpleasant it is to sit next to (and cheer on) someone as they poop. This is real my friends. You are their own personal cheerleader and JUST REMEMBER: YOU HAVE TO BE EXCITED SO THAT THEY WILL BE EXCITED AND WANT TO KEEP DOING IT!! I love my daughter more than life itself, but there are NOT roses coming out the back of her!

Never forget to pack extra panties or pants in case of completely unexpected potty accident. I’m ashamed to admit that this has happened more than once…

Never forget to ask your child 1000+ times a day if they need to go potty.  Again, I’m ashamed to admit that it can be easy forget when you’re busy with other things.

Never forget to remind anyone you leave your child with for ANY amount of time to ask your child 1000+ times if they need to go potty. Please do not assume that ANYONE else is familiar with your child’s potty needs. No one else is as intimately involved with their bathroom schedule as you are

Never think about the logistics of taking your child to an adult potty when you’re out somewhere. It is no fun my friends. No fun at all.

Flushable wipes are the greatest invention ever. That’s right, because YOU STILL have to take care of that part for them.

And finally, never imagine that it will take a month (OR LONGER). No joke. 

#pottytraining isn't all fun and games! #parenting Click To Tweet

Okay guys, that’s all the potty training advice and real life experience I’ve got to share with you today. Many thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud about this!

What about you?

Parents: Do you have anything to add?

Nonparents: Have I scared you?




Hungry For Balance

I am a thirty-something personal trainer, nutrition coach, wife, mother, and former English teacher on a life-long journey for balance. I love writing, reading, cooking, baking, fitness in all its forms, my wonderful husband, and my adorable daughter.

Comments 9

  1. Bravo.
    I remember my developmental pysch professor told us that we should never try to potty train before a kid is ready, and I remember thinking how do I know when a kid is ready? Do they tell me? Haha.
    I remember my sister trying to potty train my nephew and it was rather difficult. One time we asked him a million times if he needed to potty, but somewhere after that millionth time he peed in his toy box. Though I must say, a book case sounds much worse!
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  2. HA HA HA! Brilliant, and all so true. I actually hate it when my kids are first potty trained because I literally become a slave to the toilet. Pull Ups are so expensive! Screw that.
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  3. It seems like potty training is one of the most … um… unique parts of growing up. It’s definitely amazing to me to watch mamas and how patient they are with their children. I’m not a very patient person, so I’m not sure how I would do when I become a mama, Lord willing. 🙂
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  4. GAH, I really need to potty train my daughter – I know she’s ready and apparently she does really well on her days at preschool. I’m just lazy and it seems like so much work and messy and there’s so many different strategies… One thing that is essential though is a sense of humor!!!
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