Life

Why Potty Training Is The Worst Part Of Parenting

This mom says potty training is the toughest phase on parents. Do you agree?

Today I threw away two pairs of underwear.

No, I wasn’t Marie Kondo-ing my unmentionables drawer. I’m potty training my 2-year-old and underwear is just one piece of the wreckage in this epic battle.

Potty training is the WORST.

It starts with good intentions. Your young tot is maybe 2, 2 1/2, maybe they are almost 3 and you are feeling the pressure from peers, from grandparents, from school. Maybe you received a note on your kid’s progress report that said, “work on potty training,” hypothetically speaking, of course. Whatever the reason you’ve suddenly found yourself in the throws of potty training—congratulations. You have just entered the absolute worst phase of parenting.

There, I said it and I’ll say it again. Potty training is the WORST.

For some reason, all that yucky business was totally doable when it was in a diaper. Sure it was still gross, but it was contained in a little engineered pouch. And, nothing is worse than pulling “accident” underwear off a wiggly toddler. You have two choices: Either risk smearing poop down the backs of their legs or scoop it out. Either way, it’s a whole new level of gross, not to mention difficult.

C’mon tiny people underwear designers, can we not make velcro-sided undies?!

Which brings me right back to the underwear I threw away this morning. My youngest is nearing 3 and to say she is stubborn is to say that Caillou is annoying—it just doesn’t do it justice. So, my stubborn, nearly 3-year-old is ready-ish to potty train. Suddenly, she refuses to wear a diaper and asks to go to the potty. Like a seasoned big kid, she does her business like a pro. Once… Twice… Hey, maybe this won’t be so bad. Guess again, mama!

The problem is, kids get distracted. In the middle of building a really fantastic Lego castle or painting the next watercolor Picasso, going to the potty is simply an inconvenience… so whoops… Houston, we have an accident.

To make matters worse, she can’t quite seem to get this whole you also have to poop in the potty sitch. So, to save my sanity, we have one potty training rule in our house: If underwear is pooped in it must be thrown away. There are no second chances. No matter how cute, how comfortable, no matter what favorite character plasters that underwear, poop equals instant death.

But, it’s not just the accidents, there are moments when I want to throw it all away. Especially my own pants after I’ve been on my knees wiping a tiny butt in 10 different public restrooms in a single day. While potty training, you become intimately acquainted with every public restroom in the whole world. My child has an insatiable need to try out all the toilets—the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker.  It literally doesn’t matter what your business is—my child wants to do her business in your business.

And, she will wait until the most inopportune time to go. Say I’m about to enjoy lunch at Panera and my hot delicious soup has just been delivered to the table. This is precisely when she strikes: “I have to go potty!”

Or, say I’m shopping in the snack aisle at Target—the absolute farthest point in the store from the only bathrooms. The next thing I know I am abandoning my full cart and running a solid quarter mile because my precious child has waited until this moment to announce her dying and desperate need to pee: “I have to goooooo!”

Yep, so do I. I have to goooooo, to an island far, far away until all of this is over.

Some folks will tell you they potty trained their tot in three days by keeping them housebound sans pants and underwear. These people are insane. Some folks will tell you their tot just started going on the potty on their own and hasn’t had an accident since. These people are annoying, and liars, or their kid must have been at least 12… right?!

There are thousands of books on the subject of potty training. And even more blogs and Facebook posts, and everyone has an idea about which potty training method is best. “Look for cues,” one book tells you. “Don’t let them wear underwear,” touts another. “Put a portable potty in your car!” “Don’t let them have Pull-Ups at night!” “Do let them have Pull-Ups at night!”

The information is conflicting and exhausting and at times downright ridiculous.

The only thing you really need to know is that you will do a ton of laundry; you will wash your hands until they are literally bleeding; a container of Clorox wipes in every room of your house is not a bad plan; and always, always throw away the poopy underwear.