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Potty Training: Tips from a Mama Who Failed at it Once Before

September 12, 2020

Potty Training. Boy, oh, boy where to even start. If you are like me, I am assuming you found or ventured to this post because you are desperate for some answers and more importantly, a little hope when it comes to this subject. Well, guess what I am about to deliver all of that. Except, I am going to do so in a very realistic way and I’m not going to use any particular method.

So, before we begin, I want to let it be known that we are still very much on our potty-training journey with Cassidy. It hasn’t been that long since we began and truthfully, I think it might be a little while more until we can say Cassidy will be 100% trustworthy and accident-free. However, she has seriously kicked some major butt the past few days and best of all, we’ve officially stopped using diapers, and most importantly, it has never been stressful or negative. It has always been light-hearted, fun, and exciting, which I believe has made all the difference this time around. 

Anyhow, with all that being said, below I listed out all the things that I learned from entering this major milestone. Trust me, I know this may seem daunting to tackle but take it from me, a mom who literally has no idea what she is doing, that it doesn’t have to be. Just remember to take a deep breath and repeat after me, we’ve got this! I say “we” because this is going to take a team.

Are They Ready?

This is the big question you need to start with. How do you know when your child is ready to potty train? I think it all depends on who you are looking towards for that answer. If you are looking at a potty training book, some will say anywhere between 18-36 months. Or, if you are like me back in April, when we first tried this and was looking at friends, I thought since everyone else was doing it during COVID quarantine that we should be too. Well, guess what, that was a HUGE mistake and a total disaster. Why? Because I didn’t think to look at the one person who matters most in this decision… my daughter. 

So, with that being said, by looking specifically at Cassidy’s cues this time, we started to see a couple of things that showed her readiness. For example, she was starting to refuse and fight diaper changes, hid when pooping, looked embarrassed after she did poop, and then tried to get her diaper off at any chance possible. As far as her speech delay, we also saw how she has come far enough where she is able to say “pee-pee,” “potty,” and “poo-poo.” However, even if she didn’t have those words, I still think we could have the same success because despite not being strong communicating, she still understands a great deal.

What You’ll Need

  • Portable Potty Chair. We actually got 2, one for upstairs and one for the downstairs.
  • Toddler toilet Seat. We originally bought this one but Cassidy hated sitting on it because it is really hard. The Minnie Mouse one is padded and a lot more comfortable
  • Step Stool- We bought this one because it has Elmo face on it and every time Cassidy goes potty, we like to say “hi Elmo!” Sounds silly but it’s just another thing that makes this process fun for her.
  • Flushable Wipes- This is a personal preference but I sometimes don’t think plain toilet paper cuts it when it comes to wiping their butts clean.
  • Big Kid Undies- lots of them too (if your child has a favorite character, I’d recommend getting some undies with them on it)
  • Pull-Ups (overnight ones for bed/naps & regular for anytime you run an errand and may not be close to a potty)
  • Travel Potty Seat- you won’t use this right away but it will come in handy when you have to use a public restroom.
  • Floor/Carpet/Couch/ Laundry cleaner 
  • Yummy Fluids- Anything you know your child will want to drink a lot of. For us, it was sunny D. Yes full of sugar but it was a guarantee she’d chug it
  • Timer 
  • Rewards- We’re all about positive reinforcement over here so we decided to get a little jar of m&ms and chocolate covered pretzels. Something she really never gets and loves

Where to Begin

For us, we decided that it would be best to start this endeavor when we knew we had no place to be, we’d both be home, had no vacations coming up, and then had no other big transitions (i.e., big kid bed, school starting, new baby, anything new at all) taking place. Another added bonus was finding a weekend with good weather so we could be outside as much as possible. Luckily, with Labor Day creeping up we decided to do it then.

Diving In- A Day by Day Breakdown

Day 1

Day 1 for us actually started on the Friday before the weekend. I called this my “awareness day” because I wanted Cassidy to really see what happens when she goes potty. I put her in a sundress (for boys I would just take their bottoms off) and let her run around on our deck outside. This way if she did go it would at least wouldn’t be inside. From here, I watched her and any time she went pee, I’d point out what happened so she was made aware. We didn’t do this all day and didn’t do it for poop, because there is no way I wanted to clean that much, but we did it just long enough to make a point out what was happening.

Before the day was over, I let Cassidy know what was going to be starting the following day. I told her about her new undies and showed them to her, I told her how there would be no more diapers, and how she was going to be a big girl and use the “big girl potty seat.” She didn’t show any enthusiasm or seem to care but I figured it couldn’t hurt to at least tell her.

Day 2

This is where the fun began. We woke up, got Cassidy out of her room, brought her right to her little potty chair upstairs, and told her to sit on it and go “pee-pee.” She sat for one second and then was off. I let her go completely bottomless and just told my husband that we’d need to watch her like a hawk. I poured her a huge bottle of juice, turned off the TV (we wanted to eliminate any distraction), made her breakfast, and then set the timer for 15 minutes. I also made sure during this time to not take my eyes off of her because I wasn’t sure how much time it would actually take for the liquids to go through her. 

Once the timer went off, we brought her over to her potty chair and TRIED to get her to sit. But, Cassidy is a stubborn little girl who does not like to do anything if it isn’t of her own accord. She screamed and ran away and then not even 2 minutes later peed on our carpet. We didn’t scold her, we didn’t yell, we just told her “it’s okay, accidents are okay but pee-pee goes in the potty.” This entire dance went on for the next half of the morning. Honestly, though, I have to say that I did start to doubt myself and the process and was very close to admitting defeat. But, after quitting once before, I decided to push through and just wait to see how the rest of the day went. In my gut, I knew that if I could just get Cassidy to sit once on the potty and do something, she’d see what we were doing and continue. 

Thankfully, after a couple more accidents, a moment came when all the sudden outside on the deck, she peed and yelled “oh-no.” This is when I knew she was understanding that she did something she shouldn’t. 15 minutes later, I saw her about to pee again so I grabbed her (but not in a scary way) and put her on the portable potty seat where she finished the rest of the pee. We jumped up and down, clapped, and then gave her an M&M. We also showed her how to say “bye-bye” to the pee as we poured it into the toilet and how to pull the handle to flush. I know that sounds crazy but for little kids, they think seeing the water go-around is the coolest thing and I honestly believe Cassidy continued to pee in the toilet solely for this.  From that moment on, something clicked and she knew what the potty seat was for. She went back and forth between the little potty and the regular toilet and chose whichever she had closer to her at the moment. 

Now, you may be wondering about the whole poop thing. I was prepared for a whole slew of possibilities there and wasn’t sure what to expect. I know some kids take longer to nail that down and some kids can even be scared of it.  But, we decided to just wait and treat the idea of it all the same. We let Cassidy continue to run around outside bottomless and watched for her “poop cues.” She personally gets a little fidgety and tries to go off where she can’t be seen. Unfortunately, though, since I was right there watching, she proceeded to poop in her cozy coop car. I did the same thing I do for pee accidents, told her it was okay, not to touch it, and that poo-poo goes in the potty. 

Funny enough, she seemed a little disappointed in herself because of the accident. But we continued to reassure her that accidents happen, we weren’t mad and she’d get it next time. And you know what, 20 minutes later she pooped again (poor kid actually had a bit of a yucky stomach because of all the juice we gave her so fair warning on that) and she went right in her little portable potty chair. Again, we cheered super loud, made a huge celebration of it, and gave her a reward. 

Day 3

This was our second day of full-on potty training and for the most part, it went pretty smooth aside from 3 tiny accidents (1 poop and 2 pee). We decided to try and put some undies on her, instead of letting her run completely bare-ass naked, but I think it confused her and that is what led to her accidents. So back to taking them off we went and decided that the following day we would try again with undies. 

We also on this day decided to forgo the timer because Cassidy seemed to let us know, for the most part, when she had to go and I was curious to see how she would do without. Cassidy also seemed to hate the timer method and would run from us any time it went off. I guess for some kids the timer method can work but for others, it may not and even be more harm than good. Again, its all about going based on works best with your child.

Day 4

Our 3rd full day of training and this time we tried undies all day and then even a pair of shorts later in the day. However, while she did great with undies, once I got the shorts on her she had a pee accident.  So back to just undies we went! This day I decided to also venture out shortly and see how she did and surprisingly, she stayed dry.

Days 5

This was our 4th-day potty training and the first full day of ZERO accidents. She let me know each and every time when she had to go for both #1 & 2. This day she also had dry pull-ups during a nap, which was great to see.

Day 6

One tiny accident but to no fault of her own. Cassidy accidentally locked herself in her bedroom and I didn’t get her out soon enough when I heard her knocking. I thought she was just being a goofball. Other than that, she wore undies and shorts and had no problem. Well, that is until she misjudged a fart and got poop all over my nice white carpet. Thank God for carpet cleaner!

Day 7

One whole week behind us and this day went great as well. Not only did Cassidy wear shorts and undies for the majority of the day, but she also let me know when she had to poop by actually saying the word. Before this, she always just fidgeted but never actually vocalized it. I felt a little more trustworthy of her in that she would let me know when/if she had to go, so that was a nice break. Felt super proud of our little girl and also of ourselves for pushing through and figuring out what was best for all.

Nap-Time & Bed Time

As I stated above in the list of what you’ll need, I put pull-ups on there because the ability to sleep and not have an accident isn’t always a very easy thing to achieve at first. It takes your child’s body a while to adapt to this new routine when they are awake and even longer when they aren’t. So, for this reason, we are putting a pull-up on Cassidy for extra reassurance but ONLY when she is sleeping. Sometimes she wakes up dry but not always. I think as she gets older and more in control, we will be able to switch completely to undies at night. For the time being though, we will stick with these and then also start practicing limiting her liquids 1.5 hours before bed. 

Accidents Happen

Last but not least, I just want to reaffirm this idea. Accidents happen and even when you believe your child is fully potty trained, it is always a possibility. However, this shouldn’t be something that should stop you from giving it a try. From here on out, I know that I will always have to be a little more cognizant of asking Cassidy whether she needs to go. I’ll also have to remember to carry extra undies & shorts with me and then keep up with the positive reinforcement.

Potty training doesn’t have to be an overnight thing and honestly, probably won’t be. Just keep a good attitude, shake off the tiny accidents, and keep moving forward. AND, if you find that maybe this time isn’t working out, or perhaps you’re getting a little frustrated, then take a step back and put it on hold for a while. No one is rushing you and there are no rules when it comes to this. Go with the flow and most importantly, listen to that sweet babe of yours. If you take the pressure off, I promise you, they will let you know when they are ready and when they are they will rock it!


So I think I covered it all but if you should at all have any questions or even just need a little pep-talk, please comment below or better yet, find me on Instagram at @theverymarylife.

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