How I Survived the Potty Training Process

Potty training. Two words that strike fear into the heart of every parent. When my daughter was approaching 3 and still not even remotely interested in toilets or potties, we decided it was time to start.
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By Christine Knight

Potty training. Two words that strike fear into the heart of every parent. When my daughter was approaching 3 and still not even remotely interested in toilets or potties, we decided it was time to start, regardless. We stocked her dresser with 20 pairs of underpants, downloaded the 3 Day Potty Training eBook to our iPads and girded our loins for battle.

Here's how it went down:

Day 1

As per the book's instructions, we tell our daughter that we've thrown out her diapers for good (we hid them in a wardrobe just in case) and show her the big girl undies she would be wearing from then on. She's super excited about wearing underpants and eagerly shows them off to everyone: "Daddy, look at my UNDERPANTSSSSS!" There is pee on the floor about 30 seconds later. She looks shocked. I can see her processing what just happened. She's not happy about it, and the allure of the big girl pants has dimmed already. She pees on the floor every 20 minutes throughout the day, and adamantly refuses to use the potty at all. Bribing her with chocolate does absolutely nothing. Our original plan to ditch diapers for good is revised after she wets the bed during her nap, and we put them back on that evening in hopes of a reprieve from the pee floods.

Day 2

It's much like the first -- except I'm losing hope and need more wine after she's gone to bed. We're concerned that the three-day method might not be for us, and instead collect advice from all of our parent friends who have recently toilet-trained their kids. Hearing that it might take up to three weeks or more makes me feel a little better about our disastrous two days.

Day 3

No pees make it to the potty, but she does tell me she needs to go after I catch her crossing her legs and dancing like she has ants in her pants. After a solid 30 minutes on the potty (and so much straining and grunting that my husband came in to see why I was torturing her), an adult-sized poo came out. Cue excited toddler and shocked adults!

Day 4

Three pees on the potty. Huge smiles and celebrations and one very proud toddler. (We all disregard the three accidents that went all over the floor.) I think it's finally starting to make sense to her!

Day 5

Yes, it's definitely sinking in. She runs up to me, whacking my leg with a look of pain on her face. "Potty?," I ask. Her head nods vigorously while she hops up and down. We bolt to the bathroom and her undies are still dry. She's one very proud kid! When I ask her later on if she needs to go, she replies: "My undies are dry. I'm a big girl! I'll tell you when I want to go." Hooray!

Day 6

It's a big day. We leave the house for the first time. I put her in a diaper since we will be in the car for four hours. At every opportunity, I put her on the potty and ask her to wee, which she does. The diaper stays dry all day. Victory!

Day 7

Several poos in her underpants tell us that this potty training thing is going to be a longer process than any of us had anticipated. We lower our expectations and try to keep the experience as positive as possible while moving in the right direction. That means diapers when we leave the house and underpants at home until I feel confident that the car won't be covered in wee or poo the instant we leave.

Day 8

Nothing much has changed -- we have the poo in the underpants again. This poo situation is proving to be troublesome!

Day 9

No change again!

Day 10

It's our first outing wearing underpants in the car. I put a waterproof change pad under her in the car just in case. Nothing eventful happens during the drive, but while we're visiting friends, there are three accidents in a row. Turns out the excitement of playing with someone else's toys trumps going to the toilet every time.

Day 11

Status quo.

Day 12

I take her over to a friend's house in her underwear and she successfully uses their bathroom multiple times, but pees when I place her in the carseat to go home. Whoops -- that one was my fault. When in this stage of potty training, I've learned that the best way to ensure less accidents is to take the child to the potty even if they say they don't need to go at certain times of the day: when they wake up, before you leave the home, when you arrive wherever you're going, before leaving to return home, before and after meals and before bed. And every hour in between these times.

Day 13

Breakthrough day! She asks to go to the toilet for the first time when she needs to go, rather than just telling me after the fact. We all rejoice and the toddler gets extra chocolate.

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Christine Knight is a writer and founder of, a guide to bringing up stylish mini-foodies in NYC. An Australian now living in Brooklyn, Christine blogs at, Tweets, Pins and Instagrams about life with her toddler.

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