Potty training is probably the messiest experience you'll go through when your kids are little. Even a kiddie who seems like they've mastered it can have accidents, and a parent needs to be prepared for every possibility. The key to this is planning... and stuffing that diaper bag as full as possible for every anticipated need. We did our initial potty training days at home, with no pants, (the kids, not me). Eventually, though, we needed to venture out and having the right items in the diaper bag when potty training was key.
If you thought your bag was filled when your baby was using endless diapers, be prepared for a whole new set of "must-haves" while they are phasing out of them. When my nephew was segueing to using the toilet, we went on a road trip from New York to Michigan. I wish I could say it was a great success and that he peed and pooped in the potty with perfection, but it would be more accurate to say that the trip was filled with more poop than you can imagine — from clean ups in Aisle 3 of the supermarket to all over the shag carpet of our rental house. From this, we learned the value of a fully stocked diaper bag with as many changes of clothing as possible.
Like everything in parenting, it's all about being prepared.
AKA potty bribes. I had one kid who got a sticker when she went in the toilet, one who got praise, and one who got to watch Ghostbusters for every poop that found it's way into the bowl. Clearly, only one of those fits in a diaper bag, but if you are doing toilet training with any reward system, make sure to bring it with you.
21000 Changes Of Clothes
Okay, maybe not 1000, but certainly more than one. Ask my son, who, having peed through one of his spare outfits then peed through a second... and had to wear his sister's dress for the rest of the time in the playground. (I actually don't think he cared, and he looked kinda cute.) If you want to be extra prepared, throw in some clothes for you, just in case you get dirty, too.
3Hair Ties Or Clips
Keep a whole bunch of these in your bag because they can do triple duty. They're essential for keeping your own hair pulled away from your face, so you don't have to try to get strands out of your eyes with dirty hands. But the genius hack is you can use them to pull long dresses and shirts out of the way when your child is doing their business, so nothing gets accidentally sprayed or pooped on.
Anyone who has potty trained boys will tell you they love a challenge and the Cheerios are great for target practice. Throw a couple in the bowl and tell your boy to try to sink them. Bring enough of them so they can snack on them, too.
5Lots And Lots Of Wipes
Take the amount of wet wipes you think you need and double it. You can never have enough because things can get really, really messy. Like down their leg and up your arm messy.
6A Changing Pad
That vinyl-covered pad you used to lovingly lay your baby on when you changed their diaper can now be repurposed as a stand on mat. Your child can stand on it (instead of barefoot on a pubic bathroom floor) when you're slipping off their wet underwear and pants because they didn't get to the toilet in time.
Or if you are really ambitious, just throw a roll of toilet paper in your bag. You never know when you'll have to pull over to the side of the road and use nature's bathroom.
Let's face it, even with the best intentions and strongest determination, there will sometimes be public situations where the best thing to do is give them a pull-up to wear. Yes, it can feel like one step forward and two steps back, but I promise that this will not prevent them from ever being toilet trained.
Plastic supermarket bags will now feel like the greatest invention ever. Use them to line a portable potty or to store soiled clothing. They can also be used as garbage bags for the wipes, toilet paper or anything else that is yucky and you don't want touching the inside of your diaper bag.
Throw a few toys or books into your bag so that when your little one is perched on the potty, patiently awaiting their poop, they have something to occupy them.
12A Small Bottle Of Vodka
We could pretend this is to sanitize your hands in case they get messy, but let's be honest, it's for the off-off-off chance you hit the wall and need a little swig.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.