Let's face facts here: parenthood isn't always magical. Or fun. Or even that enjoyable. Like, at all. There are many parts of parenting that just can't be described as anything other than shitty; parts that can seriously send you spiraling down a dark hole of self-hatred, because you're just not sure you're doing your absolute best or even your most decent.
Potty training is one of those parts. In fact, for most parents, is the absolute worst part of those first few years.
Sure, for some people potty training is relatively easily, painless, and nothing more than a blip on the parental radar. Many parents were able to successfully potty train their kid in a few days. But I am not one of those parents. In fact, the jealous, nasty side of my otherwise kind and understanding demeanor hates those parents. Hates them. (Can you tell I've started potty training my kid, and it didn't happen in just a few days? Well, I have. And it didn't.)
Potty training takes an insane amount of time, energy, and absolute patience, which are all things that most parents white knuckle their way into acquiring. If you're a working parent or a single parent, potty training could be significantly more difficult, although honestly, any parent has a tough time trying to teach their kid how to successfully use the "big kid" potty. Whether you're a stay-at-home mom and dad, or you're working 50 hours a week while simultaneously holding down the household, when you're potty training, poop and pee run your life and it's just so damn exhausting.
Which is why, honestly, it's worth talking about. Every parent should feel free to talk about the dark side of parenting: the not-so-fun parts that are very real, very necessary, and very much just as monumental as the fun, light-hearted, and fantastic parts of parenting. There's no reason to throw on a happy face and pretend that all is well on the home front, because sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it's covered in feces, and hey, that's OK.
So, with that in mind, here are 10 reasons why potty training is the worst part of parenting. It can't all be good. I mean, how boring would that be?
It Can Feel Like It Lasts Forever
The average time it takes a toddler to be completely potty trained is three months. That's right. Three. Long. Months. And of course, that's just an average. Some children can take much longer, which says absolutely nothing of their intelligence or your ability as a parent. Every child is different, which is beautiful and wonderful and (sometimes) so damn frustrating since it means there are no hard and fast rules for, well, any part of parenting, including potty training.
Potty training is an unpredictable business, which means you have to be understanding, flexible, and open to a constant, unnerving amount of change. Even if your kid starts to get the hang of potty training, they'll have accidents and they'll regress. You might not be able to predict their bowel movements or put them on an easily discernable schedule. You might not be able to find a potty training method that works best for your kid right away, and you'll have to test out a few tried and true ideas (or create your own) before you find something that sticks.
Poop. Poop everywhere. And pee. It's nothing but poop and pee for the foreseeable future, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it. It's human, it's natural and, yep, it's messy.
There Are So Many Ways To Potty Train
There are countless potty training methods. Seriously, everything from rewarding your kid with a piece of candy every time they use the toilet correctly, to using an iPad to keep your kid occupied while they sit on the potty. Some people think that incentives are bad for children, whereas others swear by them. Some people don't agree with the use of iPads, while others see handheld devices as helpful parenting tools. There are so many ways to potty train a kid and, of course, it all depends on the kid and their individual personality.
More often than not, it's going to take some research, some patience, and some time trying different methods until you find which one your kid seems to respond to the best. (Yes, parents, this is why alcohol is a thing.)
Everyone Has An Opinion
"You're potty training too early." "Why haven't you started potty training already?" "You should try potty training like this." "No, you should really try this potty training method; It works better." Just like any other aspect of parenting, people are going to have an opinion when it comes to teaching your kid to shit in a toiler. Especially other parents. What makes people's seemingly endless opinions about potty training all the more frustrating, is that you're usually hearing them while knee-deep in your kid's latest fecal accident. Trust me, nothing makes a pile of poop worse than someone telling you that you should have done things differently. No, fellow parents, no one wants to hear about your potty training success or how you would have handled things while they're scrubbing pee out of their carpet for the third time this week.
It Requires A Superhuman Amount Of Patience
Master the art of internal screaming. I'm telling you, it will come in handy in ways you couldn't possibly fathom. Potty training requires patience. And obscene amount of patience, and you could do some irreparable, long-lasting damage if you don't remain patient while your kid tries to navigate their way to, and around, a toilet. You have to give it time. It's honestly that simply and honestly that difficult.
You Can't Overreact When Things Go Badly
You can't punish your kid for having an accident. Well, I mean I guess you can, but you really shouldn't. In fact, according to HealthyChildren.org, acting out, punishing or reacting negatively to a child's potty "accidents', can cause long-lasting damage. "The best response when you find your child hiding [their] accidents from you is to gently tell [them] that you know [they] had an accident, that it’s okay, and that you know [they] will do better next time. "
That means that any feelings of frustration, disappointment or anything that resembles you being upset, need to be stuffed deep, deep down. Speak with your partner or a friend, sure. Go ahead and vent to your parent or parents, if necessary. But you can't act our and voice your frustration to a kid that is trying to comprehend something completely new, entirely foreign and even a little confusing and scary.
Unsolicited Advice. So Much Unsolicited Advice.
Because everyone has an opinion on how or when or why you should potty train, some of those people will feel extremely inclined to share their opinions. In fact, you'll rarely have to ask for them. This isn't new, as unsolicited advice and parenting seem to (unfortunately) go hand in hand but, again, it somehow seems so much worse when your days are filled with poop and pee and diapers and potties and accidents.
Instincts Cannot Help You
Any parental instincts you may or may not have will do you no good. No, really, they're of no help to you. Sure, you know your child better than anyone else, and that acute, personal knowledge of your little will no doubt help you find the potty training method that works best for them, but that still requires research, time, and a level of learned understanding that didn't just organically sprout from within you. Potty training takes work from everyone involved, and because it doesn't come naturally to parents, it can often leave us feeling lost, self-conscious, and generally lacking.
Accidents Will Happen Long After Potty Training Is Over
It's bound to happen. There are multiple reasons why a child who has been successfully potty trained regresses. Anything from a big change, like a new baby or a move or a parent going back to work, to emotional stress, can put your kid back in diapers. Again, it's not something that should ever be punished or looked down on. Things take time, potty training most definitely included.