Potty Training: Everything you need to succeed

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Potty Training
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Welcome to Potty Training 101! Just kidding. I’m a first time mom that has just been through the unforgettable milestone of potty training. While I’m not an expert by any means, I thought that by writing this article with a few suggestions it may help one or two of my friends. This post is all about potty training and what we used to have a very happy, healthy and successful experience. 


So you’re ready to start potty training. I had that same thought shortly after Georgia turned 2. I purchased a potty chair and as soon as it arrived my husband and I got to work building it. Georgia was so excited to help us. More than that, she was successful as soon as we put it on the floor in front of her. She had many successes for the first few weeks. However, we were not home consistently or ready to really commit on this new milestone. And so we kept using diapers and only treated it as a fun game that we play sometimes. We kept the potty around at all times so she could get used to it. Ha! I know so much better now.

Well, as with anything, the ‘new’ toy loses it luster after a while and my toddler became disinterested in it. I thought she must not be ready and so we left the potty alone and didn’t talk about it for a while. Fast forward to October 2023 and I was speaking to a wonderful woman I work with, who also happens to be an amazing mom. Her son is almost exactly a year older than Georgia, so she happens to be a few steps ahead of me, and on that day she shared with me her story of potty training. 

This did 2 things: 
  1. Her story made me feel better! I thought I was so late to get going on potty training and she gave me room to be gentle with myself, with Georgia and everything else we had on the go. She even suggested I wait until the Christmas break so we would have time at home together to focus on it. 
  2. She recommended a book, which I credit to our quick success. I have never read a parenting book before, but this isn’t exactly parenting is it? It’s teaching a tiny human a socialized concept, something most of us have never done before. And so, any help was appreciated. 
The book I’m referring to is Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Golwacki. Jamie recommends reading the book in its entirety and then waiting two weeks prior to starting potty training. I read half the book the day before I started training Georgia, and I would say that we had a happy, healthy and positive experience. Be warned that there is shaming in this book if your child is older than 2.5 years of age. Jamie refers to this as 30 months in the book and honestly, anyone that does this should automatically be given a red flag. As a general rule of thumb, take everything with a grain of salt. You can listen to the advice of others without actually taking their advice and when reading this book there were items I chose to incorporate, and others I chose to ignore.


What I Put into Action

If you like to google and have believed anything online that says potty training can be done in 3 days then there is something vital you need to know – they lied. Potty training, much like any other habit, takes time. Here’s the good news, if done successfully, you should be well on your way within 7 to 10 days. I took many pieces of advice away from this book – which I won’t give away here because I truly believe it’s worth it to purchase the book and have a read yourself. However, one piece of advice I took to heart when reading was that you need to set aside at least 7 days to be at home with your child to potty train. If that’s not possible for you then you need to seriously reconsider your priorities. We followed that advice and found success! There were a few other positive notes I took from this book, I dubbed them as the golden rules. (1) commit yourself to this process, (2) focus only on your child (aka no phones or other distractions), and (3) relax.

What I chose to Ignore

I’m glad that I started with some of the positives because I truly credit this book with our success, however, that doesn’t mean that I was the biggest fan. There were a few things that I could have gone without, such as the shaming, the use of a potty chair, and a few specifics around nighttime training. Georgia was slightly over the recommended age when training should start, but we’ve had no difficulties in training. I specifically chose to ignore the recommendation of using a potty chair, and went for a potty seat that is over a regular toilet instead. Georgia preferred this set up, and I  was happy to oblige as it also helps to not need to train twice (i.e., potty seat to toilet seat). 

I also chose to ignore certain aspects of the nighttime training advice. In all truthfulness, I hadn’t planned to put any nighttime training into action until after she turned 3. However, within a few days of day time potty training, Georgia was waking up and calling out to me, asking to go potty. She effectively night trained herself.

The advice I chose to ignore was advice a la Big Daddy style. Jamie suggests that if your child wets the bed to put a fleece blanket over the mess and put your child back to bed. AKA leave the dirty sheets on until morning. This, to me, is lazy parenting and quite frankly, I find it disgusting. Let’s put this in reverse, when you’re very old and your child is caring for you, would it be okay if you have an accident and you’re put back to sleep with just a fleece blanket between you and the mess? Dignity exists at every age. Don’t be lazy, change the sheets.

Final Thoughts

All in all, if you follow the golden rules and have fun with this, the execution of potty training will be an enjoyable experience for all. I truly believe that children, like animals, can pick up on your moods and sense when you’re nervous, angry, happy or relaxed. This is why I cannot stress enough to try your hardest to relax and have fun. You will both get there, but there will be accidents. Remember there will also be success, so celebrate those when they happen. There were many stories and tips that I found helpful in the book that have not only been insightful for potty training, but will linger in my memory for years to come that may help in other aspects of our life. I’ve spoken so much about this book as it helped to prepare us for the potty training itself, but please know we also enjoyed reading the children’s potty books while we used the potty and as nighttime stories. I’ve linked these above in Potty Training Must Haves and they are all available on Amazon. 

When you go through this experience, you will be filled with so much pride seeing your child’s face light up as they learn one of their very first life skills. It’s a milestone for both of you, so don’t forget to celebrate your success too!