4 Potty Training Lessons Learned by a First-Time Mom


August 7, 2012 by CassieCravings


As a first-time mom, I spend a lot of time not knowing what I’m doing. Every new milestone is an adventure into the great unknown.

Potty training, thus far, has been the messiest of our adventures. But it has also been one of our most rewarding.

While there have been many, many lessons learned (both to-do and not-to-do), here are 4 lessons that sum up potty training with 2 year-old Eli:


Day 2 is the most difficult. 

With my personality, I’m not sure which came first: the teacher or researcher. Either way I approach most situations with a compulsive need to study.

I read every blog and article that google would offer on the topic of potty training. I made notes of what worked for each family. I crossed out what I wouldn’t try, raised an eyebrow at some methods and became very hopeful that if I could just get through Day 1 then things would be fine.

Day 2 sucked.

All of the progress that Day 1 afforded seemed to dissipate overnight. I knew I shouldn’t be frustrated. I knew it was going to be a process. But I didn’t want it to be a backwards process. I was so disappointed.

About midday I quit counting how many times I busted out the Resolve and closed off the growing pile of laundry. I realized that the day might get better, but not the way I was approaching it. I had to let go of my progress charts and timelines and enjoy the ride. I let Eli take the lead. We still used our exact same tools (charts, stickers and happy dances), but my attitude changed.

That attitude change was a domino effect. Day 3 was much, much better.


Once the concept clicks…he will still make mistakes.

I was under the false impression that once he learns what it means to use the bathroom, he would severely dislike being dirty or wet. I thought he would go to great lengths to avoid such feelings of being soiled. For the most part this might be true, unless there is a killer matchbox car race happening in the living room.

Once Eli realized what all the fuss was about with this potty training thing, he did really well, but he still made mistakes. He still does make mistakes. He could go days without an accident and then have 3 in one afternoon.

This potty training adventure is not a straight road. It has a ton of mountains, sharp curves and even loops around a couple of times.


Laundry is best served with a diet Dr. Pepper and a Burn Notice marathon.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of laundry even when it was limited to one or two outfits and a pair of pajamas per day. For a week or so, I couldn’t count the outfits and big boy dinosaur underwear we were going through.

To make my marathon-de-folding sessions more enjoyable, I settled my mountains of clothes and myself on the couch with an ice cold diet Dr. Pepper and Burn Notice.


My son’s currency is words of affirmation.

Everyone has a currency, a trade off that allows a person to realize their value you have in him/her. Dr. Gary Chapman calls them Love Languages (If you have not read his book The 5 Love Languages or The 5 Love Languages for Children, I would highly, highly recommend it. It is literally relationship changing.).

More than new toys, stickers or treats, Eli craves words of affirmation. During potty training, he would even seek it out. He would ask if he did a good job and was quick to point out accomplishments that would afford him praise.

Knowing this goes way beyond potty training. I can be a better mom to my little guy knowing how I can best show him I love him. He needs to hear it. Of course I will show him through other ways, but I will be especially careful to take every opportunity to tell him how I happen to be the luckiest mama in the world.




14 thoughts on “4 Potty Training Lessons Learned by a First-Time Mom

  1. Keri says:

    potty training stinks. no two ways about it! Glad you have found some peace with the process, and good luck!!

  2. rachel.beard says:

    Wow! It sounds like you’re doing a great job! I am still working on my Little Dude! I really found the Love Languages to be helpful to me too, but I have not read the one geared toward children. Is the message significantly different?

    • mamacravings says:

      We’ve been at it a few weeks now, and he is doing really well 🙂

      The 5 Love Languages geared towards children is the same message and love languages. But it has a more child-centered approach to finding out the children’s love language and how to best serve that love language. I read it before I had kids (my first year of teaching). It has really stuck with me. Dr. Chapman has some really great stuff 🙂

  3. dhasty01 says:

    Thanks for sharing your potty training experiences. I recently started training my son and it is going okay. Hopefully I can remember to blog about it. Oh, thanks for the book references.

    • mamacravings says:

      Thank you for checking out our experience with potty training! 🙂

      This was my second go-around with potty training. The first time he wasn’t interested. It was a fight. I backed off and waited a couple of months, then tried again. This time he got in within a couple of weeks! 🙂

  4. dhasty01 says:

    Thanks for sharing. I am going through the same things with my son. I will look into the books you referenced. Cheers!

  5. Cassie Unruh says:

    I feel your pain, friend! I’m working on it with my son right now and it’s so tedious and sometimes discouraging. I would love for you to come link up this post at the Mommy-Brain Mixer blog hop, which is happening right now! TONS of fun! http://two-in-diapers.blogspot.com/2012/08/mommy-brain-mixer-3.html. I hope to see you! 🙂

  6. baywifey270 says:

    I plan to begin potty training my very-new-to-2 little boy soon after hubby deploys. So nervous, but your post relieved some worry. Thanks! =)

    • mamacravings says:

      Good luck with the new adventure in potty training! It certainly tries the patience, but I found that if I approached it with determination and a good attitude, my little one would too.

      Let me know if I can help at all. I’ll be looking forward to your updates as well.

      AND thank you so very much to you husband and your family for y’all’s service. We appreciate your husband, you and your son for your sacrifices. Prayers and loves to the whole fam. 🙂

      • baywifey270 says:

        Thanks so much! I really appreciate it.

        I figure potty training will definitely keep me and keep our minds off of deployment just for a bit. =)

      • mamacravings says:


        Every kid is different, but it took Eli about 2 weeks to really get it down. We’ve been working on it a little under a month now, and he rarely has accidents. For us, it was all about consistency. 🙂

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