Potty Training In A Day— It’s A BIG FAT LIE!

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Potty training. The two words that strike fear into the hearts of mothers everywhere. Potty training my two older kids was hands down the worst job I’ve had as a parent (so far). It’s been over five years since the last time I potty trained, so the memories are vague… poop on the stairs, plastic bags full of poopy underwear, lots of tears (all from me, not the kids) and lots of frustration.

You can imagine that with those memories floating around inside my brain, I was dreading potty training my third child. For a while I was actually thinking, “I wonder if I could just wait until she’s five, then tell her she can’t go to school unless she wears underwear.”

With my first, I read a book about how you can potty train a child in one day.


You can’t potty train in a day! That’s plain old crazy talk and anyone who buys into that obviously hasn’t watched in horror as their two year old peed into their fur shoes in the middle of the aisle at Michael’s. I’m just saying.

So let me get to the happy ending of all this rambling. I have completely changed my approach to potty training this time around and it is SO much nicer for me, for my toddler, and for the whole family!

What’s the secret to potty training without hating life? Here’s what I’m doing right the third time around:

1. We potty train when it’s convenient. Nothing stresses me out more than a potty training disaster in public. My daughter wears big girl underwear at home and Pull-Ups® when we are away from home. Shopping spree? Pull Ups. Road trip? Pull Ups. Church? Pull Ups! I can’t tell you how much this has eased the burden of potty training. It keeps me sane and calm and both of those traits are necessary for dealing with a toddler every day.

To help my daughter learn, I use Pull Ups instead of sticking her back in a diaper. As soon as she’s in a diaper, she knows she can just go in the diaper. Pull Ups are new and different and help mentally remind her that she’s supposed to go in the potty.

I like Pull-Ups Learning Designs brand because they are stretchy enough to slide on and off easily. They also have a cool wetness indicator. My daughter loves the Doc McStuffins characters on her Pull Ups, but they also have Lightning McQueen designs for boys. I’ve always bought diapers, wipes and Pull Ups at WalMart because they have the best prices.

2. We are making it fun. I created a sticker chart for my daughter. Each time she goes #1 on the potty, she gets to add a sticker. If she goes #2 on the potty, she gets a sticker and an M&M or jelly bean. When she reaches the colored square on the end of a row on her sticker chart, she gets a surprise. Here are some ideas for rewards:

– swing on the swings with Mom
– a cupcake, cookie or other treat
– a new book or small toy
– visit the park, the zoo, McDonald’s Play Place
– new play dough
– build a fort and read books together
– visit the neighbors to feed the animals

Anything your child would be excited about makes a good reward. I have actually enjoyed the opportunity to spend quality time with my toddler, to have this extra chance to praise her, pay attention to her and cheer her on as she learns a new skill.

If you are potty training, you’ve got enough on your plate. Would you like a sticker chart you can print in a jiffy to hang on the bathroom wall? BAM:

Download it HERE. You’re welcome.

3. I don’t get mad. The biggest thing I’ve done to help me with potty training is that I’ve just changed my attitude. I used to take it as a personal insult…

“How DARE she poop and make me clean it up!”
“Doesn’t he know that we have to leave in five minutes?”
” Really? I just stepped in a puddle of pee!!!”
“I’m so tired… More poop?”

That’s honestly how I felt with the first two kids. Really mature, huh? This time around I realized just how silly and selfish that kind of thinking was. My little girl is learning a skill that is brand new to her and goes against everything she’s ever done before.

That’s why expecting potty training to happen in a day is a lie.

It’s going to take time just like learning any other skill would. I don’t yell at my toddler every time she says “pasketti” instead of “spaghetti.” I don’t go ballistic when she puts her shoes on the wrong feet. And I’m learning not to get mad when she makes a mistake potty training. Keeping my cool has helped the whole experience be positive, which in turn has helped my daughter be more successful. I call that a win-win!

If you’ve ever potty trained a child, what worked for you? What’s your best piece of advice?

The great people at Pull Ups have put together a fun little site that classifies your child’s personality and gives you tips specific to your child. I love a good quiz, don’t you? Find out which type of potty training character your child is HERE. My girl is definitely a “turtle” personality. How about your toddler?

Learn more about Pull-Ups® Learning Designs® available at Walmart by clicking HERE.


  1. Each child has a different reward trigger. One was awed by fancy underwear. One wanted tiny metal cars. One wanted star stickers – stuck to her body. One day we went out with a galaxy of stars all over her face, and that was ok by me. One did it for the ability to pick out a sticker and attach it to the sheet of paper that I taped up on the inside of the bathroom door, where she could admire the collection from her throne. The important thing is to remember that this is THEIR journey, not ours. We already learned this. We are there to cheer them on, and help refocus them when they need it. "Do you feel proud?" is a great question. "I am so proud of you" opens the door to "what if I don't do so well?" and also "Enh, don't want to worry about making you proud right now". Taking the pressure off by using pull ups when you go out is a great choice! Also, remember that all of this will look like a piece of cake when you are teaching them to drive!

  2. Great post! As a mom of 3 boys, I used a method called the "Naked and $75" method. The idea is to let the child walk around naked from the waist down. The $75 is for the amount of money you'll spend cleaning the carpet. 🙂 But it works! My oldest son (now 9) started training right after age 2 and he was able to learn to use the potty in 4 days because he was naked and could figure out what was going on down there. It took him a little longer to make the connection that when he had clothes on he had to TELL me he had to go. But that's where Pull-Ups® helped make that transition! 🙂 #client

  3. My daughter loves music, whenever she was on the potty we would pull up you-tube and play either "The Poop Song-potty training 101" or "I love potty Training by Joy Barry". (Recommended by my sister who had potty trained before.) We also followed your three rules. There was a lot of princess stickers and "special underwear". Also, once on a long car ride where bathrooms were far between, we packed a potty chair and other needed sanitary items, so she could do her business without having to wait until the next distant town.

  4. I have seven kids – all grown now, BUT, I did train one boy in a day!! I do have to say that he was just over three (he's 25 now) and we were stuck in a hospital waiting room. The only way I'd let him out of that room was to use the bathroom.

    We went every five minutes all.day.long. By the end of that day, he was trained……and I was tired…..but it worked. LOL!!

  5. We definitely learned with our first that it is so much easier when they are ready. We tried lots of 'bootcamp' weekends where he'd pee on the potty when we told him to sit, but wasn't noticing *before* he needed to go. I didn't stress about it because I read the average was 3 years & 2 months, but when he reached that age we were like OK, it's big boy weekend! We got a balloon, and said we could go somewhere fun if he made it through the weekend, and that time it stuck.

    Now we've got a nearly-3-year-old girl. She likes to go on the potty for fun, and is definitely getting close. We're waiting for the summer break to try switching over for good. Btw, she look a lot like your little one, but with blonde hair & blue eyes! And we even have that shirt in black, haha.

  6. I LOVE this article! I've been all over the internet learning now that my little boy's getting there… This is probably one of the more important things I really feel all moms who want to be prepared should see — although This lady isn't a pediatrician but she's one of the best around. http://dailydoc.org/i/5PottyTrainingMusts No more dirty diapers or worse having to wake

    up in the middle of the night… FLUSH, very underrated sound (:


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