8 Moms Describe What Potty Training Is Actually Like

Diapers are a pain in the butt. They’re annoying to have to put on and take off every few hours. They’re overpriced (especially the older your child gets). Plus, they just don’t look all that comfortable. Still, I’ve come to appreciate their effectiveness in keeping my son’s bowel movements in one place. However, now my son is getting closer to potty training and I’ve been wondering just exactly what’s in store for us. Wouldn’t you know it, if you ask moms to describe what potty training is really like, they’re all pretty quick to chime in.

My own experiences haven’t been too wild just yet. We tried training our son just before he turned 2, but he had no interest. We’ve tried on and off since then, and the most we’ve gotten him to do is pee a little in the actual toilet. Lately, he’s started to say he’s afraid of the potty, which is at simultaneously understandable (when you’re 2) and frustrating (because please, kid, your diapers are costing us a fortune).

I’ve heard some potty training horror stories, kind of like those Clorox bleach commercials where the little kid says they pooped and it turns out to be in the bathtub. Yeah, not looking forward to those days. But hey, some other parents report an incredibly easy and mess-free transition to undies, so really, it’s the luck of the draw. Here’s more insider info on what to expect.

Sarah, 30


Potty training is constantly finding the balance between being proud of and disgusted by your child's waste. Did I mention you're usually the one responsible for the clean-up?”

Katie, 35


“Potty training my daughter was super easy. We let her run around with no bottoms for a few days and then she had it down. With my son, we kept trying that same method occasionally from 18 months until now. It never took until now. Previously, he would hold it all day, or just pee on the floor and himself and continue playing (in the pee). This time (a month before turning 3), he's mostly gotten it down, but needs a lot more reminding to go than his sister. And he's having more accidents (usually while playing on an iPad).”

Jenny, 38


“I've done it twice with two girls. First one I did at 2.5 years and it was more difficult. She had more accidents. Second one I waited a little later, just two months shy of 3 years and she caught on faster. Less accidents. She is stubborn though and refused to go at school for the first few weeks so would hold it all day which was a little concerning.”

Pilar, 31


“To potty train (my daughter) Sophia, the candy rewards, sticker charts, three days of being naked home all day; yeah, none of that nonsense worked. We got her a small potty, a Minnie Mouse potty, and nothing. Sophia does very well with praise. Andrew (my husband) and I came up with a song, and taught it to the whole family both sides. Whenever Sophia would go to the bathroom or ask to go, we would all sing the song and do a mini-celebration (clapping and dancing). The song went, ‘Pee pee in the potty, we're gonna have a party, because there's pee pee in the potty!’

Sometimes we would incorporate her name, but that was it. She loved the positive attention she was getting and strived on that. Ultimately I think it's important to keep in mind all kids are different. Although you have kids that train at 1.5 years (mine did right before she turned 3 just a month or so before), some kids learn at 4. Every kid is different. We didn't use pull ups and went during this phase and went to panties (only pull ups at night just in case).”

Ani, 31


“Honestly, all three of mine were trained in a day. We waited until they were ready, moved a little potty into the family room stayed home and naked all day watched TV and rewarded with an M&M for every success. It was literally less than a week before we were accident free day and night. My kids were super easy. Trained at 2.5 years, 20 months, and 2.5 years respectively.”

Jamie, 34


“First, you just resign yourself to the fact (not possibility: fact) that everything you own will get peed and/or pooped on for a while. How long depends on the kid, but it's going to be a least a few days, which sounds doable until you remember some kids go, like, six times a day. But for most kids it's weeks or even months of that.

Anyway, after a while, cleaning up buckets of urine from your floor will feel normal. It'll never feel good, but you'll get used to it. Then, one day, you will realize you haven't had to do that in a while. That's a really good day.

My son potty trained (we thought) crazy early. Before 2. And we were so smug for, like, 6 whole weeks. Then he Just. Stopped. Totally was like, ‘Ok. F*k it. I tried it. Done.’ Then he didn't show any signs of readiness again until he was almost 3. So that was awesome.”

Alejandra, 32


“Ryker (my son) gave me little issues. I put a potty on the floor across from the real toilet and would have him sit in it every time I'd use it. After a while, he started to want to use it.”

Maya, 31


“There is so much pressure associated with potty training your kid! I had no idea. When we lived in California though, moms would be competing on the playground over who could get their kid out of diapers first. It seemed like everyone had their kids in underwear by 18 months.

Meanwhile, I had a child with special needs, so we were not even thinking of potty training that early. In the end, when my eldest was ready, he potty trained himself. He just wasn't ready until he was 4. Once I gave up any expectations and pressure, it was fine.

With my second, it was a nightmare. He had to be potty trained to go to preschool and we literally accomplished that the week before school started. It took months. He made it very clear that he preferred diapers.

For my third child, my eldest is offering to teach her, so that is fine with me."