Maybe Matilda: The 15-month Potty Training Solution

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The 15-month Potty Training Solution

Forget about that 3-day potty training nonsense. I am pleased to present to you my foolproof 15-month potty training method!!! Follow these steps precisely for best results.

Step 1: Allow yourself to feel like a bit of a failure as a mother when your child, a few months after turning 2, is proudly sporting diapers, of which he seems to be quite fond and in no hurry to be rid of.

Step 2: Allow your parenting guilt and embarrassment to push you to interpret your child’s very minor interest in the potty as training readiness.

Step 3: Spend a small fortune allowing child to hand-select a plethora of ridiculously overpriced character underpants to fuel potty training excitement, ignoring every cell in your bargain-hunting body that screams at you to buy the cheap, boring underpants. This is also a good time to purchase roughly 40 pounds of sugar in all of its delicious forms (bear-ed, worm-ed, twizzle-d and M-ed) to serve as potty treats.

Step 4: Summon every possible molecule of excitement to transform yourself into the world’s most enthusiastic cheerleader who finds nothing more thrilling than peeing in the toilet. (That cheerleading summer camp you attended in first grade is finally paying off!)

Step 5: Clean up pee on kitchen floor.

Step 6: Clean up pee on living room floor.

Step 7: Clean up pee on bathroom floor.

Step 8: Clean up pee on bedroom floor.

Step 9: Consult the almighty Google: “what to do when potty training child is begging for a diaper????”

Step 10: Clean up pee on family room floor.

Step 11: Dry heave while disposing of pooped-on Superman underpants because you are not prepared to handle that cleanup situation.

Step 12: Try one last time to convince your sobbing, devastated, borderline depressed child that the potty is cool! so cool! he’s such a big boy! this is fun! stop crying! stoooop cryyyyiiiiing!!!!!!!

Step 13: Give up. Accept that diapers may be a permanent part of your life for the next 15 or so years as you pack away the underpants.


Step 14: Wait.

Step 15: Wait more. This is a good time to singlehandedly consume the remaining 39 pounds of potty training treats. You deserve it, that was the worst.

Step 16: Keeeeeeep waiting.

Step 17: Consider trying again.

Step 18: Nope.

Step 19: More waiting.

Step 20: Awkwardly field comments and questions from friends who wonder why your child is now 3 years old and still not potty trained.

Step 21: Wait again.

Step 22: Maybe this is a good time to have another baby, since you’re becoming such a diapering pro.

Step 23: Perhaps you should consider buying stock in a diaper company?

Step 24: Okay. You can do this.

Step 25: No you can’t. Let’s just wait one more month, for good measure.

Step 26: After all, you have another baby on the way now. You certainly don’t want to have to potty train while you’re pregnant, for pete’s sake.

Step 27: And look at that, now you have a newborn on your hands. There’s certainly no sense in potty training now.

Step 28: Might as well give it another few months, just to be on the safe side.

Step 29: Re-purchase a plethora of overpriced superhero underpants, since the first batch no longer fits.

Step 30: Start again with the big boy pep talk, the overly-enthusiastic cheerleader routine, the calling of the grandparents to brag about even the teensiest droplet of pee making it into the toilet.

Step 31: Clean up pee on living room floor.

Step 32: Throw away another pooped-on pair of Superman underpants.

Step 33: Hold on . . . is that it?

Step 34: Really?

Step 35: Dare I say it? . . . I think . . .

Step 36: . . . just maaaaybe . . .

Step 37: Success!

( ^ my lovely sister-in-law sent some goodies for Darcy, but good luck convincing Mr. Fancypants here that the flowered headbands were not, in fact, intended for him)

It only took roughly a year and a half of procrastinating and half-hearted efforts, but we (I. It was me. Let the record show that I did this alone.) finally got Forrest potty trained, and whoda thunk it, if you wait until your kid is pushing 4 years old, potty training is actually pretty fast and simple. I’m talking in the range of 2-4 accidents and he had it figured out.

Of course, there was a bit of a poop strike when he was nervous to go #2 on the potty but equally horrified at the thought of me throwing away another pair of his beloved Superman underpants if he pooped in them instead, and held it for almost a week. That was fun. Sooooo fun. But I am cautiously optimistic that this parenting hurdle has been successfully hurdled.

Bring on the next one.


  1. My son was almost 4 when he got it too. My daughter was 2. More proof (as you've discovered) that girls are easier than boys. I may eat those words when they are teenagers but it's true for now. :)

  2. This is the best potty training post I've seen. I'm a grandmother now, but this is similar to how I did it with my oldest. Except I was so clueless I didn't even start until she was almost three. Then it only took a couple of days. Maybe we should wait until they can google it themselves. Then it might only take an hour or two.

  3. My son just turned 2.5. I'd hoped to have him potty trained by now. We live in a 100 year old house with no bathroom on the main floor. It makes avoiding PT easier. He thinks his big boy undies are super cool. He also thinks it's super funny when pee dribbles down his legs.

  4. I have two sons (now ages 17 and 13). I "thought" age 2 was the magical potty training age. NOT! With my first son I was nearly in tears. He was pushing his 4th birthday. My husband said, "Relax, no kid has ever gone to college in diapers." We went to a new family doctor who put his arm around me an said, "You are not a failure mom. Some boys don't get it until age 4. They're just not cognitively ready." Sure enough. I backed off and my son trained in his own time and VERY quickly once I backed off. My second son was about 3.5 years old. I just backed off and let him do his own thing. Once again, once he made up his mind, it was almost instant. They just have to make up their own mind, because WE can't do it for them. Congrats to you and Forrest! :)

  5. This sounds like me and Bennett. I tried twice. I don't know what in our culture makes us feel like we should start potty training the first time a child notices the potty/ "takes interest." I think it sets a lot of moms up for failure! Or first go around went pretty well until I realized that not once ina whole week had Bennett mentioned wanting to use the potty. He had more just been tolerant of me making him sit on the toilet every 15 minutes. I had this sudden realization that it was all on me and I didn't want to be asking him to go to the bathroom/ frantically trying to find a bathroom in every single store and only driving in the car for periods of less than 10 minutes like that for an undetermined period of time. After waiting about 6 months, it was a breeze!

  6. I seriously thought my son was going to go off to college sporting University-themed Pull-ups. Your potty-training post was pretty much a step by step version of what we went through with Matthew. The ONLY reason he finally agreed to use the big boy potty at almost age 4 was that he was told he couldn't start pre-school in diapers, and thank God he is a little rule-follower. For boys anyway, I highly recommend the waiting (and then waiting some more) approach, as developmentally I just don't think they're ready at an early age. Hang in there, Little Mama.

  7. My son just turned three and has ZERO interest in using the potty. Zilch. He even refuses to put on pull-ups. At least he's polite about it - when I ask him if he wants to sit on the potty (after waking up dry, so I know he totally pee if he wanted to) he just smiles and says, "no thank you, potty. New diaper please". Glad to see from the comments that I'm not the only one. And I've quit stressing about it. When he figures it out, he'll figure it out.

  8. I just about peed MY pants while reading this. It is WAY too close to my reality!! C is 3 years and 3 months and not trained yet. I don't let it bother me too much anymore because I have read and heard similar stories from others who have blazed the trail... But just the other day my sister in law questioned about his lack of potty skills and my husband came home and said we (read "I") should try again and bought some plastic undies things!! Stupid parenting guilt!! But it have to ask, when he did get it, how old was he? And did he initiate it? Or did you gently encourage and eventually he just did it? Because I'm in the boat of waiting till he's ready but also parenting guilt makes me wonder if I should be more proactive about it haha! Anyway, thank you for this post! Love it!

  9. Haha! I'm not looking forward to the teenage years for EITHER of them :-P

  10. Bahahaha! We had a few weeks of wearing the big boy undies right over top of the diaper--very cool. And we also don't have a bathroom on the main floor . . . very inconvenient for potty training! We've had maaaaany frantic sprints up the stairs.

  11. Yes! I felt so pressured to try at 2, and he was soooooo not ready. It was a disaster. But at 3 1/2, it was such a breeze. I was amazed. Definitely worth waiting until he was ready!

  12. There's a girl in my ward who is potty training her 18 month old, and I'm sure you can imagine my over-the-top eye roll every time I hear about it. I'd definitely rather deal with diapers for 3 years than a year and a half of toweling up pee on the ground. And that's so funny about Bennett being willing to go but never initiating! Forrest was semi-willing to try during our first attempt at potty training, but veeeeery quickly got tired of me constantly pestering him about it. I seriously think I was making him depressed--he spent almost an entire day just sitting sullenly and staring at the wall and not responding when I'd talk to him and crying every time he had to pee. Yeeaaaah . . . was not ready, and I feel so bad now that I even pushed it at the time when he so clearly wasn't prepared for it. But it was amazingly simple and fast once he finally was ready!

  13. Hahaha--love it! That was one of my motivations to finally give it another try . . . I think he'd love to go to preschool soon, but he can't wear diapers there ;-)

  14. Hey, he knows what he wants, and it is diapers :-) Yep, don't worry about it. It's not worth the struggle before they're ready and excited about it!

  15. Um, yes, my husband did the same thing--every once in a while someone would say something about Forrest being in diapers and he'd be like, "Maybe we should try again?" and I'd always say it was NOT up to him, since I'd be the one at home dealing with it alone. Definitely don't worry about it . . . it'll happen when it happens, and so what if it takes a while? I wish I'd realized that sooner. I initiated it at like 3 1/2ish (I guess I don't remember exactly, but a few months older than Crue, I suppose?), but he was into it, too. For a few weeks before we really started, he'd want to always wear a pair of underpants over his diaper, so maybe that helped ease him into the idea? He was a little resistant the first day (not full-on FIGHTING it, but he asked a few times if he could just have a diaper instead of his underpants, and I just showed him his empty diaper basket and made a big deal of, oh no! the diapers are all gone! and thank goodness he apparently is not smart enough to realize that I was lying when I pulled out a diaper for naps and bedtime), but he really did figure it out pretty quickly. There were maybe 1-2 accidents the first day, maybe 1 the second, and then 1 last straggler accident a few days later, and he's been good since (knock on wood). I don't put on a diaper for naps anymore, but we've been doing a pull-up at night just in case (although he wakes up dry like 95% of the time, so I could probably ditch that but meh, he doesn't mind and I like the safety net). Forrest liked having a little sticker chart on the wall by the toilet to put a sticker on every time he went, and we walked through the toy section at Walmart the day before we started so he could fall in love with something that we could bribe/threaten him with if he could learn to go on the potty. Ha.

  16. I'm surprised people commented to you about that!!! That is such a normal age, especially for a boy. Grayson was 3.5 before he was fully trained. I started when he turned 3. It was a long 6 months!

  17. Oh soooo funny, and u know what:
    Exactly the same story with my boy (3,5 years old) here.
    Men /boys are just gross

    Even sat in his poo diaper en just played along

  18. Mums always feel guilty but he probably forgot it already! X

  19. I laughed out loud when I read this post. I have an almost three year old who is not even mildly interested in using the potty. I'm thinking maybe I'll work on it this summer...if she's interested. ;-)

  20. Yay! I know you are glad he is potty trained but man that is a stressful process! I'm in NO hurry to potty train Harper... my friends that had baby girls at the same time I had Harper are all like "what's-her-name peed in the potty!" and I'm over here all like I don't even have a potty for Harper and not running to get one either. Don't get me wrong being done with diapers sounds wonderful BUT that also means lots of wet clothes, carpet, sheets etc = not fun.

  21. I would absolutely rather clean up a diaper mess than a floor mess. Yuck. Push it off!

  22. No one ever said anything rude, but every now and then someone would comment on it (just something like, "oh, he's still in diapers?" not mean-spirited, but people did notice). People aren't kidding when they say it takes boys a long time!

  23. Hahaha! That always amazes me, when they don't mind sitting or playing in a poopy diaper. That must feel so gross!

  24. I'm so making Ant read this! He's all on his high horse about "Corbin's 2 now so we better start potty training him." Hahahahahahahaha...NO!

  25. My sister who has three boys claims 3 years and 3 months is the perfect potty training time and she does it in 3 days. I really think doing it when their order is just easier on everyone.


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