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Why Potty Training Makes You Lose Your Actual Mind

Photograph by Twenty20

I've now potty-trained three separate children, all with very different personalities, and I can say one thing with absolute certainty: Potty training is the worst.

Actually, I take that back. Potty training itself isn't so bad. I mean, sure, you're keeping Clorox in business by wiping many accidents off the floor, and you might get a fine from the EPA from the number of laundry loads you're doing, but you have your face set for it.

You decide your child is ready to potty train. You know this is the week of potty training hell and you just GO for it.

You put your head down and you stay homebound, you set timers, you hand off endless beverages, you reward with candy or tiny toys and you act REALLY excited about a small pair of underwear.

It's not fun, but usually by the end of the week, most children get the basic concept and you check off that box as another parenting thing accomplished.

But, it's not that part of potty training that's so bad. It's the weeks and months that come after it. It's the time when you think potty training is finished and you've given the diapers away to another family and you're ready to move on with your life.

For at least six months (but probably more like a year), you're still in training mode because as soon as you take your eye off the potty training ball, everything falls apart.

That's when potty training comes back to haunt you. For at least six months (but probably more like a year), you're still in training mode because as soon as you take your eye off the potty training ball, everything falls apart.

In that first week, you're watching the clock like a hawk, making sure you're never too far from a toilet and ready to drop everything and sprint like an Olympic athlete to the bathroom, all with a cheerful (if slightly manic) smile on your face.

But then you get lazy. You think everything is fine. And then ... accident.

ALWAYS at the worst possible time.

Once potty training has happened, instead of a leisurely stroll through the aisles of Target, you will spend the next 6 months at every public location scouting for a bathroom in the same way that a special agent is always noting exits and vantage points.

Because the moment you take your eye of the ball, you'll find yourself in the furthest corner of the store with a child who needs to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW and zero clue where a bathroom is. It's magical.

Even once your child gets the hang of using the toilet, I've found that it generally takes about a year before they don't need help getting on the toilet, wiping or washing their hands.

Helping with that—four to ten times a day—makes me miss the days of diapers.

And don't even get me started about night potty training. That's a whole other ballgame that's totally different from day potty training. It's extra special because you get to bundle it with sleep deprivation.

Basically, if you've potty trained a child and, a year later, you still have all your brain cells, congratulations. You're supermom.

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