Just the inundation of choices and gear available makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. From potty training dolls to travel potty covers to Usborne books on the topic… I’ve noticed that every time we hit a wall in the potty training arena, I rush to Google, who convinces me that I’m failing because I haven’t bought that “essential” thing yet. This inspired me to start a list of Potty Training Discoveries That Have Led Me to Despair at One Time or Another:
1. The Singing Potty Chair
“How awesome!” you say as you scroll through glowing Amazon reviews. “My child loves toys, and she loves songs!” Then you imagine her excitement at being rewarded with a song upon tinkle, whereupon you both skip off, hand-in-hand, to collect a reward (bribe). Except the singing-toy-potty arrives, and your child can’t seem to get past the fact that it’s a toy. So she turns around to play, then stands up to push the sensor for a song, then flushes for another song, and that’s when you realize: you’ve been suckered into buying another toy. (A toy that, incidentally, creepily activates in the middle of the night when the air conditioning kicks on.)
2. Those 3-Day Potty Training YouTube Videos
“So that’s why this isn’t working!” you think to yourself as you read the title. “These people potty trained in just 3 days, and I’ve been at it for 4 months!” Turns out, when following this method, you must refuse to retreat back to diapers, even as your child demonstrates 100% failure all over the floor of your friends, relatives, and daycare. This one has the same effect as the “naked from the waist down” method, where you commit to selling your house after the last child is trained.
3. Public Restrooms
I’m a self-proclaimed germaphobe. My entire adult life, I’ve spent as little time in public restrooms as humanly possible. Eccentricities aside, I don’t think I’m the only mom who views public restrooms with a dark and grainy, black-and-white tint (mixed with a bit of horror).
Once, when considering whether it was time to start down the potty training path, I asked a fellow mom about the dreaded public restroom. I wanted to know what, specifically, went down inside that miniscule stall. How did she keep her child from falling in a cavernous adult toilet? What kind of a balancing act actually happens in there, and where are the key players positioned? How did she wedge two people inside the stall when maneuvering the door-closing process without touching anything germy (the toilet, the floor, the – ugh – wastepaper basket)? Turns out there’s no real science to it –- public restrooms are still gross.
I’m not sure if the questions are innocent or accusatory, but something about being asked, “Is he potty training yet?” every week from ages 0.5-3.5 makes me feel like I’ve failed at everything in life. It doesn’t help that I’m pretty sure our grandparents learned just fine with nothing but a plain, standard-sized white porcelain. Yep, the pressure’s on.
5. Finding Out There are Infants Who Are Already Potty Training
I’ll never forget the time I was teaching a group of one year olds, and a mom walked in to take her daughter to the bathroom. I didn’t even have kids yet, but I still knew that this knowledge would cause me future torment. If you’re one of those mothers, all I can say is WOW. I am so impressed. I find it almost superhuman that a child who can’t even talk yet can manage this.
6. Stickers and Charts Working for Someone Else (as Reported on Facebook)
This method comes with positive reinforcement every step of the way. A sticker for telling you she needs to go potty. A sticker for sitting on the potty. The chart starts as a Dora-themed, laminated refrigerator piece, and as the weeks drag on, downgrades to scribbled artwork on the back of the mortgage statement. Didn’t work for me = Despair.
And of course, all roads eventually lead to this last method:
7. The Sit in the Bathroom Floor and Wait For Something to Happen Method
(Did you really see yourself doing this when you graduated with honors in Psychology?)
For days, you commit yourself to a purgatory of never leaving the house, and essentially setting up camp around the toilet. Not your child – YOU stay with the toilet, only allowing yourself to get up in order to chase the child down and place him back on the toilet. This method always ends in tears (mom’s), questions about the meaning of life, and finally, complete submission to the “It’ll Happen Eventually” method (see #8).
8. The “It’ll Happen Eventually” Method
We all end up here, sometimes on a daily basis. Rest assured that the child will figure it out by the time they’re 18. And if not, well, it no longer falls under your job description.
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This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated.
Kelli Pavlovec writes as a hobby and as a career. She loves running in the rain, old British TV shows, reading fantastic literature, and all things nature. She’s taking a course on Fiction Writing this semester and hopes to finally write and publish some books which she’ll post at kellipav.com.