10 Things Potty Training Has Taught Me About Life

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f there’s one thing I’ve learned as a mommy, it’s that there is no shortage of life lessons to be learned in the midst of mundane tasks like feeding, clothing, and cleaning children.

In fact, it’s probably in most humbling of jobs that the more profound truths are to be found. (See #3 below).

Today, I’m sharing what riches I’ve recently mined from the wonderful world of potty training.

I will attempt to keep this rated what I like to call NP (Non-Parent); that is, I will try to write with the understanding that while I have long since become desensitized to the gross factor of bodily fluids, others–especially non-parents–have not.  You’re welcome.

Wisdom Via Potty Training

1.) Comparing your life situation to others’ is fruitless.

It can produce stress when you feel like your situation (or kid’s progress) isn’t what it “should” be…or too much patting yourself on the back when you decide you’re doing better than everyone else.

2.) Focusing on the good cultivates a grateful heart.

In my case, sweet Bun has been struggling with regular potty “accidents” for the better part of a year (their regularity makes me question their classification as accidents, but whatever), but still takes a 3 hour nap daily.

I don’t love cleaning up accidents, but I do love the naps. So I will be thankful for the latter.

And frankly, I would gladly trade perfectly potty-trained for a lovely slice of quiet in my home.

3.) Silence in a bathroom occupied by a toddler never bodes well for Mom (or anyone else, for that matter).

4.) The messy tasks of life provide excellent training in humility and patience.

There’s something about holding a baby while grasping for a toddler who is diving off the toilet into the trashcan because she wants to inspect something disgusting that you cleaned up earlier and will probably clean up 3 more times before the sun sets that makes you go, “this is my life now?”

Yes. This is my life now.  It’s messy and there are tough days, but it’s mine and I love it.

And I can’t do it without Jesus.  And hopefully, I’ll start responding to the messes more like him.

What's up with the flower pics in the potty post? Well, aren't they better than a more relevant alternative? I thought so... Photo by

What’s up with the flower pics in the potty post? Well, aren’t they better than a more relevant alternative? I thought so… Photo by

5.) In parenting, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Yes, certain things are pretty clear–treat them with patience & kindness, no chocolate right before bed (hear that, Hubs?), babies must use pacifiers (at least in my house that’s become a non-negotiable…my son’s initial ambivalence to the paci was downright frightening).

But in the areas that aren’t quite so clear-cut, the longer I’m a parent, the less I’m convinced of my formerly dogmatic beliefs…the less tightly I cling to methods and formulas…and the more I realize that what’s best for one child or family is not necessarily best for another.

Lately, my goal has simply been figuring out what’s best for each child, in each particular season of their life–by watching them carefully and praying like crazy. And if that means changing up our methods from time to time, so be it.

6.) Toddlers have an insatiable urge to construct mountains of toilet paper.

When we open the generally-closed bathroom door, my younger toddler cackles with glee and rushes through the opening with the intensity of linebacker (or something else fast and determined-looking…this is why I shouldn’t use football analogies) in hopes of pillaging the powder room.

Alternatively, he goes into stealth-mode and accomplishes his work while we are none the wiser. See #3.

7.) Plans are best held with an open hand.

We planned to do the whole three-day potty boot camp thing. On day three, I felt like I was living in a circle of Dante’s Inferno.

Enter Plan B: the slower, more relaxed, potentially less effective but infinitely less stressful (for me) approach.

8.) There’s no shame in hitting the pause button.

If you have to camp out on the bathroom floor for hours with your three-month-old, waiting for your toddler to go potty, you should probably table the whole thing for a few months. Or not. You could also push through and everyone could end up just fine. (See #5).

There is a season for everything and it may not be your season for ______(fill in the blank with something you are pursuing but may need table for now).

9.)  Maniacal laughter after an “accident” is not a good sign…of anything.

I often lived in fear of this laughter, which always seemed to express “I have absolutely zero intention of pursuing bathroom-related life skills.”

Hence, #8.

10.) It is, in fact, possible for a toddler to wear 5 pairs of pants at once. In case you were wondering.

What life lessons have you gleaned from the less-glamorous aspects of your days?

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About Jenn

Jenn is a mommy of three and wife to her best friend. She enjoys good books, having dinner guests, and elevenses. She is not afraid to lead a one woman crusade against the rampant misuse of the apostrophe. She is afraid to adopt kittens before the baby turns three.

  • I LOVE this! That was the most NP potty training post I’ve ever read! Good job. And really, those truths could be applied to every area of parenting. 😉

    • Thanks, Laura! Wisdom is wisdom, wherever it’s found, right? 🙂

  • Enjoy that 3 hour nap!! Training will come and it will happen. Such good words.

    • Oh, I’m enjoying it :). Thanks for the PT encouragement…that’s what I’m banking on… 🙂

  • Thanks for the NP 😛

    • Yes, that was for you.

  • I’m a single-dad and actually had a great experience potty-training my daughter. She was a doll. Although I think there was at least one mountain of toilet paper.

    • Bless your heart! That’s great to hear.

  • The best trick we learned for potty training, for boys, was to have them ‘aim’ at Cheerios floating in the toilet. Made it so easy and fun! And yep, kids DO love that toilet paper!
    from The Dugout

    • I’ve heard that can be really effective, Mare! I am tucking that tip away for when it’s (eventually) time to potty train my little guy. 🙂