Potty training: literally and figuratively the dirty word of parenthood. Like many parts of raising humans, we had absolutely no idea what we were doing. So when it came time to start marching down the potty plank I turned to my most trusted resource for guidance, the thing that never steers me wrong…the internet! But like all Googled conundrums, there are a million articles online to help confuse even the best-intentioned parent. Needless to say, by the end of all the research, I wasn’t sure which end was up and which end needed wiping! Luckily, we had a secret weapon to help us cut through the internet bullshit (and toddler shit).

tot on the pot potty training
tot on the pot

Our approach centered around the awesomely helpful Tot on the Pot Potty Training Kit. This all-inclusive poop party in a box comes with a parent instruction manual, kid’s book, activity reward system, doll (which comes in 4 different looks), play potty and more. It walked us and the toddler through what to do and when to do it with as few sugar highs and accident lows as possible. Instead of a constant stream of candy, it includes a reward system based on playing games, which, I was shocked, totally worked on our sugar fiend child. And to say that the toddler became obsessed with the potty training book is an understatement.

potty training books
potty training steps

Here are the top things we learned on the way to guiding our self-proclaimed princess to her new porcelain throne.

  • Listen – I asked for months if the toddler wanted to go on the big girl potty and stop wearing baby diapers and she always emphatically said NO. One day at 2 years and 9 months she suddenly said yes, so we celebrated like she agreed to marry us and were potty training within days.
  • Stay in the house – since I didn’t want it to look like her water was breaking in the middle of a public place, we were mostly housebound for the better part of a week as we hung out with Tot and her Pot. It was necessary for her to be naked inside with quick access to a potty at the beginning. The internet didn’t lie on that tip!
  • Incentives – considering bribery is a cornerstone of our parenting, it’s shocking that it wasn’t applied here immediately. Turns out even more than the popular M&M method (one for pee, two for poop), all she wanted to do was achieve something and then jump around and celebrate like she had won the poop lottery. I have to give the Tot on the Pot system all the credit for this one. 6 weeks later and she’s mostly non-bribed in the house and we sometimes use bribes when we’re in a time crunch to leave or out and about.
toilet training tips
potty training
  • Keep the potty train moving – everyday we transitioned her to the next level of training. Whether it was adding clothing, leaving the house or moving away from the floor potty. We never let her get too comfortable within the actual training so we could keep moving her towards the goal of being a more normal human that can be released back out into the wild sans diapers.
  • Avoid defiance – the old “take them every 20min to the potty” would have definitely been the wrong move for us. She even told me to stop asking her because I was annoying (insert fear of her teenage years here). Part of potty training was for me to learn her natural rhythm, how often she normally has to go and how much I need to push vs. her going without being asked. One thing’s for sure, if you want to piss off a toddler, just make them try to take a piss when they don’t want to!
  • Summertime – I now totally understand the tip to ditch the diapers during the summer months. Being naked in the house and having as little clothing to navigate around while out in public has been pretty clutch. And don’t even get me started on how much more laundry I’d be doing if clean up on aisle 3 was during winter.
  • Travel – 10 days into potty training we left on a week trip. For actual travel days on planes or trains I put her in pull ups just in case and brought the travel potty. During sight seeing days I incentivized with rewards to avoid as many soiled clothes as possible. Being out of a routine away from normal bathrooms definitely made a difference but overall it wasn’t terrible, so don’t be afraid to take the show on the road.
potty training while traveling
potty training on the go

Because this is such a grossly juicy topic I’m breaking it into 2 parts (don’t pee yourself with excitement, it sets the wrong example for the kids). In the aptly named Potty Training Part Deuce article, I’ll break down the day by day schedule we followed to get her mostly potty trained in a week, how we transitioned her each day to the next level, our must-have products for home and the dreaded outdoors and I’ll disclose the grossest thing that’s happened so far. Because poop smells, I mean sells.

Thanks to Tot on the Pot for sponsoring this post and making such a great system that even the toddler and I could enjoy! As always opinions are free of bullshit but may contain traces of toddler shit #becausepottytrainingisajourney