One of the common myths of parenting is the horror of diaper changes, when really they’re more of an inconvenience than this monstrous task. For decades, sitcoms have shown men with clothespins clamped to their noses brandishing kitchen tongs to avoid dealing with a full diaper. When in reality, a standard diaper change mostly involves quickly wiping away everything that’s not baby and slapping on a new diaper. It’s not one of the most pleasant aspects of parenthood, but it is far from the worst.

Sure, every parent dreams of a time when their children will become self-sufficient and deal with their own bathroom needs. However, that day will never come without potty training. Taro Gomi’s sacred tome teaches us that “Everybody Poops,” yet many of us struggle with just how to go about teaching the porcelain dance.

At what age do you start trying? Do you go with the grown up toilet or toddler potty? For boys, do they sit or stand? Do you describe it as the cutesy “Going Poo-Poo,” the proper “Bowel Movement” or the significantly more fun, but far less appropriate “dropping a deuce?”

We are in the thick of potty training with our three year old twins. While we are nowhere near completing the overall process, there are a number of things that I have learned thus far:

Trying to explain what to do is harder than you think

For something (well two things depending on your daily fiber consumption) that we have done multiple times a day for the entirety of our lives, coming up with a way to convey technique is harder than you think. Just pause and take a moment to think about how you would explain to someone, let alone a toddler, how to use the facilities.  Do you go with the Idina Menzel approach and encourage them to “Let it Go?” or do you engage the immortal words of Salt’n’Pepa and tell them they should “Push it real good?” Do you sit them on the potty and continuously pump them full of apple juice and let nature take its course and hope they just get the general concept. Overall, coming up with a basic and simple way to instruct them on the proper way to dispose of bodily waste is more than half the battle.

Kids aren’t all ready for potty training at the same age

We sporadically started potty training with our twins shortly after their second birthday. As it turns out, they weren’t ready for it then. Rather than force them, we backed off. The pullups went back in the box and we placed yet another Amazon order of diapers in the next size up.

Here we are a year later. One of our guys has for the most part mastered the art of taking a leak while more solid endeavors continue to perplex him. His twin brother? Thus far, he has concluded that the potty seat makes for a more stylish hat than a place to rest your cheeks. We do our best to praise and encourage, but at the moment he is just not ready, and for right now, that’s ok.

A trip to the potty with a toddler takes longer than you think

For people without smartphones or at the very least a magazine, toddlers sure can stretch out the potty process. The actual “Go” only takes a few seconds; they have tiny bladders after all. However, there is a significant amount of time spent flushing, investigating the toilet, washing hands, drying hands, playing with lights and fans. The bathroom is a room that most toddlers probably haven’t had a lot of access to thus far in their life, and they will do whatever they can to extend their time spent in there.

Toddlers aren’t particularly concerned with waste

76% of all potable water wasted in the world is the result of toddlers flushing toilets and washing their hands. Additionally, the average toddler is responsible for using one tree’s worth of toilet paper while potty training. It would also be best to consider picking up a Costco membership to be able to buy hand soap by the five gallon bucket.

Toddlers love washing their hands; however, they’re terrible at it

Toddlers are great at turning on faucets, pumping soap on their hands, and getting themselves and everything in the bathroom slightly soggy. However, as far as actually removing soap from their hands and then drying them…not so much.

Be prepared to familiarize yourself with every store and restaurant’s restroom

Toddlers know the power contained in the phrase “I have to go potty,” and will use it to their advantage. That means if you ever plan on leaving the house, you’re probably going to have to get used to spending a significant amount of time in public restrooms.  Oh, and unless you want your tiny human using the Applebee’s toilet as a wading pool, you’re probably going to have get comfortable with kneeling on the floor or perfect the half hunched hover. Either way, it’s just one more part of the glamorous parenting lifestyle.

You’re going to have to figure it out and you will.

Unless you plan on sending the Pampers off to college with them, this one is pretty much non-negotiable. Like all other aspects of raising a child, there are countless resources out there telling you the exact right method for teaching your child how to use the potty. However, it ultimately comes down to what works best for your child and your family. Be patient and keep at it, eventually it’ll click.

Don’t worry, you’ve got this.




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