Potty Training :: It’s Not Worth the Stress

toddler in red shirt holding toilet paper and sitting on small potty learning to potty train

I have successfully potty trained my three children. By successfully, I mean they were all fully potty trained by kindergarten. They were not totally out of diapers before 4 years old — and I realize some may consider that a failure. It is not a failure.  

I could give you a bunch of excuses for why my kids were potty trained later than I wanted. I have an autistic child. We lived through a global pandemic. I have a stubborn daughter. But the the truth is, it was just never a major priority for me. I have a lot on my plate as a busy mom of three, and I refused to let toilet training or diapers be a source of stress in my life.  

I recognize that I probably missed a crucial potty training window. Maybe if I had introduced it at 2 years old I would have had success earlier. Maybe if I had tried the “let your kid be naked” strategy, that would have been effective. Maybe if I had set a timer for every 10 minutes and had them try to go they would have figured it out. I did try all of the above but was never dedicated or consistent. Maybe if I had stuck it out with a potty training plan or program it would have eventually worked.  

When you are in the weeds with toddlers and preschoolers, potty training seems really important. It is the talk on the playground and moms nights out. People are constantly asking you, “How is the potty training going?” or, “How long did it take you?” or, “Which potty-training method are you using?” It is a topic people love giving unsolicited advice about. You may feel embarrassed or like a bad mother for not having a child potty trained. You are not a bad mom. You are a wicked good mom.  

After a decade of diapers, our home has been diaper free for the past year. I am here to tell you that it is not worth making yourself miserable or making your child upset. Kids can be so unpredictable. Wait until they are ready. Trust your intuition if you feel like the potty training is too much, then back off.

Your child will not be negatively affected if they ditch the diapers “late.” A question you will never see on a job application, camp or school form, or college application is, “At what age were you toilet trained?”

In the end, who cares if a kid is potty trained later? I don’t care. You don’t need to care. Grandparents shouldn’t care. Friends don’t care. And, most importantly, your kids don’t care either. You may not have this perspective now, but I promise you, after a year without diapers you will.

Leah was raised in Greater Boston, where she met her husband in 2006. They moved to North Carolina for a few years before deciding their hearts were still in Massachusetts. Leah is a stay-at-home mom and has three children — boy, girl, boy — born in 2011, 2014, and 2017. Her oldest son in autistic. Children with disabilities — and the families raising them — have a special place in Leah's heart. She loves "The Office," date nights, tacos, U.S. history, and the beach. She enjoys sharing her experiences of motherhood, the good and the difficult, to encourage other moms that they are not alone. Loves: Great food (mostly made by her talented husband), playing with the kids, the beach, date nights, The Pats, The Sox, The B’s, new socks and bras, and American history, and movies. Can’t stand: Cotton balls, weeds, broken crayons, pollen, and vacuuming up Cheerios every half hour.

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