The Shit No One Tells You About Potty Training

Apr 27, 2023 | Parenting, The Shit No One Tells You

Potty training is fun for few; I still wince when I see people say they managed it in a week given that it took us well over 8 months with a child who wasn’t really ready but we’d run out of time before he started the school system. And now I’m facing it again in a couple of years time, I can’t say I’m looking forward to it… but at least this time I’ll be a better prepared. Here, Lacey talks through all the shit she wished she’d known before giving it a go with her kids.

Lacey is a mum to two little ones ages 4 and almost 2. Her 4 year old is potty trained and she is gearing up to start potty training for the younger later this year. She’s currently focusing on figuring out how to embrace the messy middles of life, through her blog (, podcast (Sharing The Mddl), and workbook (Support from The Mddl). Follow along on Instagram at @themddlinsta!

This could be full of jokes about poo but I promise I will try my best to avoid them because if you’re going through this, you’ll be seriously done with shit by now! Potty training children is a rite of passage for any parent. There are so many methods, guides, and courses out there to tell you how to tackle it and what to do. But there is so much more no one tells you, and I wish I’d known all of this.

Everyone has an opinion on and a story about potty training that they want to tell you.

If you tell someone that you are about to or are potty training your child, they will always have some thoughts. Some are helpful, with methods/tips/tricks, but many can be… challenging. For example, I was informed more than once something along the lines of “we potty trained our child in 2 days and they’ve never had an accident since!” and “oh, you’re doing this technique, let me tell you all of the ways that you are wrong”.

Unsolicited advice happens to be one of my least favourite things about parenthood and something I’m fairly sure all can identify as having received at some point. Yet something about potty training makes those pieces of unsolicited advice come in even more frequently. I don’t know if it is because people want to share their trauma or success, but they WILL tell you. If it doesn’t serve you, don’t put up with it and don’t be afraid to tell people you’d like to give things a go your way before you try anything else. Only you know what’s right for your child!

You think you’ve seen your child’s bum, but you’ve seen nothing yet.

Up until this point, you think that you have seen your child’s bits a whole bunch. You’ve been changing nappies regularly for so long, after all. The difference is that you dictate when you see them when they’re still in nappies. With potty training, you’re on someone else’s schedule and often, a much more regular one than you’re used to.

As much as you may love that tiny butt, you will sincerely wish that you wish you could dictate when you saw it again. Some toilet training methods have you keeping the child entirely pants-less so you can get them on the potty quicker. My husband and I tried this method with my son and found we were on high alert and just staring at their arse for something to come out continuously. It is exhausting and very bizarre the first time round! Even if you don’t go that route, the shout indicating that they’ve ‘been’ will tell you it’s another time that you’re going to be seeing more than you ever wanted.

You can’t potty for them, and you can’t set a time scale. Kids do it to their own schedule.

OK, you’re probably are thinking, duh, I know that. The frustration of potty training can make you forget that you are a rational adult. It makes sense to you that you feel like you have to go to the bathroom, and then you go. It’s just logic. It is only logical to your brain, but this isn’t how children work.

They have lived their entire life up until this point just… going. It has been fine for their entire existence, but suddenly you’re changing everything on them! The frustration that you feel when you just need to run a quick errand and that is the moment they yell from the car seat that they have to go right now, is visceral. You probably even asked them right before you got them out of the house and strapped in to the car seat. Realistically, even if you’re following a ‘proven’ method that saw other kids toilet train in a set time period, this is no guarantee. It’ll happen when your child is ready and that’s not down to anyone else.

It can become more about you managing yourself than them managing themselves.

Potty training has been one of the biggest tests of my own patience when it comes to parenting… and life. I’m a perfectionist and overachiever so I desperately wanted to have my son get it right away like everyone else’s child seemed to be doing. But… he didn’t.

It took time, but I realised these feelings and judgments aren’t about him at all. They are about me. He will stop having accidents eventually because hey, everyone does. I don’t need to put my frustrations onto him because it won’t help anything positively.

The bottom line is that no matter what advice you get, methods you try, or how long it takes, you will be fine eventually. It still is shitty though. Literally!

The featured image at the top of this blog was taken by Markus Spiske, for Unsplash.