The Potty Training Dilemmas



This post first appeared on Mum’s The Word in the summer holidays … but I’d thought I’d share it with you here because (a) I’m a classic oversharer and (b) I wanted you to know that I made it out the other side. Sure, I had to approach potty training a little like I was going into war – with a hip flask and a positive mental attitude. The helmet was probably a bit much, but it worked – I made it. I am now the proud owner of a child who is fully in control of their bowel movements (well, as much as any of us are). Here are the dilemmas that I faced when hunkered down in the potty trenches:

Summer is upon us Tunbridge Wells.

Hurrah! I hear you cry as you are whipping off your knitted cardy, throwing on your maxi dress and painting your toenails as you hop out the door to a local park/pub garden/National Trust type place.

The sun is out:

I am thinking ice cream
I am thinking beach trips

Oops sorry, not you – I am talking to the 2 year old (yeah, ok he’s 3 in a week) and I have been putting off toilet training for ages.

There is always someone, somewhere with an unnatural interest in the correlation of a child’s age and the ability to the control their bowel movements. In order to remain impartial about this type of person and for the purposes of this writing I will hereafter refer to them as The Annoying Person.

The Annoying Person first appeared when the 2 year old was some insane age at which I hadn’t even considered what I wanted to call him, let alone when I wanted him to have control over his bowel movements.

We would typically have the following conversation:

The Annoying person: Have you thought about when you are going to toilet train him?

Me: I think I’ll just leave it till the summer before he turns 3.

That has always satisfied The Annoying Person. Until recently, when the conversation went like this:

The Annoying person: Have you thought about when you are going to toilet train him?

Me: I think I’ll just leave it till the summer before he turns 3.

The Annoying person: When is he 3?

Me: Errrrr, next week.


The made up deadline that I have been spouting for 2 years and 51 weeks has arrived.

Cue panic buying big boy pants (seriously – there has got to be a better market for those things, tiny little pants riddled with stereotypes? Don’t they want to look like an actual big boy? I mean I can only speak for myself when I say my husband does not own speedo style pants with George from Peppa Pig on. Ones with dinosaurs – sure, but George? Nope.)

Cue panic buying sticker charts, a potty, wine for rewards (for me), smarties for rewards (for me), spray bleach (the smell of failure) and a huge multipack of Quavers (nothing to do with potty training, we’d just run out).

And here are the dilemmas we have faced so far:


How long is the kid supposed to sit on the potty? First he acted as if I had booby trapped it and refused to sit on it – so I combined it with a bit of technology (I know, I am SO 2016). I let him watch Cbeebies on the laptop whilst doing his business and now I can’t get him off the thing. His sisters even came and joined him, sat either side and settled in. Massively took the mick when the eldest asked for popcorn. My husband thought it was great – if he sits on the potty long enough it it’s sure to catch something right? He said they should invent a transportable one they can attach to their arses – I pointed out that they have – a nappy.


You’d think that potties were one size fits all right? Wrong. My son has hardly got an arse Kim Kardashian would be proud of but you could be forgiven for thinking he has the toddler equivalent when he sits down and is spilling over the side (literally). I have had to perfect my – ‘well done I’m so proud of you’ face and try to reign in my ‘NOT ON THE CREAM CARPET’ face. The 5 year old likes to inspect potty training progress VERY closely, and, well lets just say she doesn’t anymore. They need to invent some kind of screen you can stand behind, a little viewing gallery for the family. I’ll add that to my list of pitches for Dragons Den, you are very welcome Deborah Meaden.


Which brings me onto toddler pride. Now I am SO proud of my son and his various attempts to get his bodily excretions into a potty. And I am proud of the fact that he is proud of himself. But someone’s gotta reign that pride in a little. Hate to piss on his bonfire (because quite frankly that would be showing off) but it’s a tad inappropriate to be sloshing the contents of his potty up and down Southborough in order to show people what he’s achieved. I’m pretty sure the lady at the post office is not interested, nor the butcher, or baker, or even (is this actually a job?) the candle stick maker. Proud of you son, but you haven’t won the Olympics – you’ve just got (some of) your wee into a potty. Have a sticker. Not the pride of a nation.


With all successes come inevitable failures. And these involve a remarkable amount of patience and a level of cheeriness which doesn’t always (read: ever) come naturally to me. Especially when I have to sing song ‘dinner’s nearly ready kids’ while scrubbing a pair of teeny tiny Thomas the Tank engine pants. For the eighth time. Day 2 of toilet training and we’re in town purchasing more pants. Some are in the wash, some are in the bin (RIP) and some are missing in action (MIA). You are so very missed Spiderman pants but PLEASE do not show up in a few months time all crusty and stuffed behind the radiator (FYI – behind the radiator is where 95% of all objects MIA from our house are located, I strongly advise you to check behind yours NOW, there is probably a child’s birthday party you are supposed to be at or something, I file all invites behind mine). For potty training to commence you will need approx 63 pairs of pants (ball park figure) and when you trot into Mothercare to purchase said pants you will be gobsmacked see the ages on the pants. They make pants for 1-2 year olds. WHAT? What 1-2 year old wears pants? If you have a 1-2 year old who is toilet trained (1) I am amazed you have made it this far through this article and (2) You may well be the aforementioned Annoying Person – I’m ON IT ok?

So if you too are toilet training this summer you are not alone. We are facing these dilemmas as one. Go forth – get those trousers off (still not you) and give it a go. Meet you in Mothercare by the spiderman pants.

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