Potty Training For Dummies or a Weekend Affair…


As mid-July creeps up and toddlers are getting ready to leap into the world of pre-school I am reminded of my own potty training panic around this time too many moons ago. They say there are no shortcuts in life but one method absolutely worked for me…

My child (aka Munchkin Pie) was a fall baby. I love everything about the fall… the crisp air, the changing season, the upcoming succession of holidays starting with Halloween and ending with the New Year. Everything about it reminds me of beauty and family and peace.

But having a fall baby comes with its own unique set of challenges. And come July I began to panic (as many of you may be at this moment) with the realization that Munchkin Pie would need to be potty trained and out of diapers… soon.

The pre-school informational e-mail read like a Molly Bloom monologue of do’s and don’ts for the year

Don’t send your child with a runny nose, don’t send your child with a cough, do send your child with extra clothes, do send your child with a snack, don’t send your child without a water bottle, do send your child with clothes they can get dirty and stained (are there any other kind?!)… and on and on the list went, chalk full of pertinent information that none the less sent my mind into a catatonic lull until suddenly it came to a screeching halt! And reversed. And read and reread; the words imprinted on my brain.

Your child must be potty trained! NO DIAPERS!

Somewhere in the back of my mind I’d known my child needed to be diaper free before preschool but somehow that realization didn’t strike me until this moment. Did I mention… it was already JULY!

I only had two months.

I felt like like I had slept through a tough chemistry class to wake and find the final was in two days and I’d yet to lift a finger; the book’s spine as new as the day is was purchased.

Munchkin Pie was happy and smart and curious (and did I mention smart) but she was also young. She would be skimming two by the skin of her teeth going into pre-school and frankly I hadn’t given potty training much thought, and no amount of smarts was going to make up for lost time.

And now it loomed ominous and foreboding

Daring me to shrink back in fear from the challenge…

You’ve got two months it impended…

I’ve got two months I shuttered

Where to start? Where to get advice? Did I make it you ask?

I did. I made it in a weekend!

But first I googled frantically. Reading any and all articles for that nugget that would help me.

There were plenty of articles and views and beliefs and view points but I’d yet to find that nugget.

The pull-ups page has so many ideas you’d think you were getting a PHD in potty training and Parenting.com had a 3 step process that broke it down into 20 or more steps before their ideology was finally summarized. The AAP article titled How to Tell when your Child is Ready started with an example of a two and a half year old who looked like they were in potty training “readiness.” Potty training readiness. What does that mean?! Then my excitement soared. I read an article by Laurie Boucke, author of the book Infant Potty Training. Yes, potty training infants.

I was elated… If a newborn can learn so can my toddler! I searched on to see if there was anything else that would do it…I didn’t have a newborn and the shee-ing sound was long gone for us.

And there is was… my saving grace. The 3 day Potty Training Technique

So what is the 3 day potty training technique?

The bootcamp of potty training. The weekend to freedom. To making sure you’re a preschool shoe in when the first day comes. To making sure none of those pesky, “please pick your child up, they’ve soiled all of their clean clothes” messages come your way.

After a weekend this is how I could best sum it up

Number 1: Be prepared to lock yourself in the house with all necessary provisions for a long weekend (3 days should suffice)

  • Be prepared for a long weekend where the two of you can stay home without leaving.
  • Make sure to have all of the provisions, toys, and activities that will suffice you for those days.
  • Make sure you don’t schedule any plans in those three days or have any work or family obligations.
  • Make sure that you remind your child consistently about trying to use the potty especially during play or if they have been eating or drinking (set a timer if it helps)
  • Make sure you know that if this works there is no turning back. Only plan this if you are truly ready to let go of the diaper. The only thing worse than not potty training in time for preschool would be to start with the 3 day technique and then let them have the diaper back. I cannot stress this. You must be ready to let go of the diaper when leaving the house! If you are planning a vacation or long flights this may not be the best time to start potty training.
  • Get yourself a portable potty for when you need to go anywhere (oh the stories you’ll have of stopping in the middle of nowhere and everywhere I promise). But you must resist putting the diaper back on once you have started or future potty training attempts may turn into a very long, uphill battle.


Number 2: Be prepared to have an ample amount of patience and understanding (and lots and lots of towels)

Why the list of necessities above you ask?

Because during those three days your child will roam the house diaper free!

I know… it sounds daunting, and a little scary. Can I really let my child roam the house diaper free you ask? This is where your love, your patience, and your understanding come in.

Your child may pee while roaming the house in those three days. If you are envisioning a child pee-for-all experience please note your thoughts are getting away from you into ideas that will never fruit. But if you really don’t like the idea that at some point your child may be running and there is the possibility that they may start to pee (which will usually shock them into freezing in place) then you can also have your child run around in their underwear in the backyard.

As for us… we set up towels everywhere. Although we did do many more puzzles and watched much more television during this time than usual to stay stationary. I layered towels where we spent the bulk of our time.

Munchkin Pie used normal undies during that time so the trickle that ran down her leg wasn’t as bad. But she didn’t like it. She didn’t like that trickle one bit. First she asked for her diaper back. Thought it was funny to run into her room and sneak one when my back was turned (it turned into a game of course). But I was adamant. There would be no diaper. There would be no safety net. We were preparing for preschool!

So after a quick game (or two) of chase she was in undies and diaper free again and the next time she had an urge to use the potty she knew. She knew exactly what that felt like and she told me she needed to use the potty, and went, and used her little potty.

I was in shock. In elated disbelief! The clouds lifted and the sky parted. When I say the next time I mean the second time that first day of potty training. She had only felt that trickle once and that was enough for her to use the potty.

My child would be potty trained by the end of the weekend.

And… Number 3: Be prepared to have a toilet trained child

When I first read about the long weekend potty training method I thought there was no way. That it wouldn’t work. After the deluge of article’s about readiness, about listening to ones child’s needs, about not rushing them or making them feel “less than” I was sure this WOULD NEVER WORK!

How can all of those fabulously educated PHD’s, and diaper making companies not realize that sometimes you can give a little push. Help them in the decision. That taking the plunge and devoting just one long weekend entirely to potty training can have you on the path to no more diapers.

I stress that I went into this (more than) a little skeptical. 3 days. Really? But it worked.

I will say we did have some accidents over the next few months. Usually in cases of extreme focus, extreme play or in the car (you are probably 2–3 minutes from announcement to potty when you first start potty training- again a portable potty is super helpful)

But we also had (almost) 2 months to figure it out and perfect Munchkin Pie’s potty using abilities. And if I had to do it over again? I would do it the same exact way. The experience was a success and preschool was a cinch- well the potty part was anyway!

I do want to stress this is not a perfect science and that each child is different.

Some kids may not mind the trickle. Some may become more easily distracted. Some may take longer or have more accidents but just remember…

Believe you can (and they can) and you’re halfway there.

– Theodore Roosevelt

This post was previously published on Medium.


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