Adventures in Potty Training a Three Year Old (Beer Me).

Well, potty training Porter has been awesome and awful all wrapped into one tiny pair of undies with superheroes on them. I will be showing pictures of said undies and taking a lot about pee and poop here today, so if that doesn't sit well with you? Skip this post about potty training, it's not for you if pee and poo talk irritate you. It's not a glamorous topic, but I'm discussing anyway because it's ALL CONSUMING and I forgot so much from the last two times. And it's been kind of a rough week in general so I need to frantically type away my feeeeeeelings.

Last week I decided enough was enough and it was TIME for this three year old to stop wearing a diaper. The two biggest kids were completely potty trained before two-and-a-half and they rocked the three day method immediately: night training, nap training, poop AND pee training all at the same time. It was glorious and easy both times before this....from what I recall, anyway.

Enter Porter: three years old and stronger willed than the other two combined when it comes to getting him to do things he does not want to do. I've been dreading potty training with him for no other reason except that he is too smart for his own good. He knew when he had to potty but he just didn't want to go in the toilet, so I never pushed him and figured 'it will happen someday'.

Someday turned into last week on Wednesday when I realized we didn't have a ton planned for the week, his man-sized poops belonged in the toilet, and I wanted to rip the bandaid off and GO FOR IT while on maternity leave. Because, you know, why not potty train while undergoing major house construction with a newborn and the big kids home for the summer? Why not?!?! (She says with psychotic laughter and crazy eyes).

Anyway. Monday of last week he said he had to poop, so I had him sit on the potty. Nothing happened but I put on big boy underwear anyway, just to give it a go. He didn't have an accident but didn't go in the potty either. We were both pretty amped up and excited about these adorable big boy undies. Then he was off to a playground with Tony (in a diaper), then napping, then I lost all steam to try that day. 'It will happen someday,' kicked in again but I knew that it was time.

On Wednesday, 'someday' arrived. I ditched the diaper first thing in the morning, we hung out mostly at home for the day, and even when we walked to get the big kids from VBS he stayed in the undies. And stayed dry! Until we came back home and he was a few feet from the house, and he had a pee accident. No biggie, as he had several of those throughout the day. Inside the house, creating puddles, you know---the whole shebang. But I knew he was GETTING IT and had lots of successes in the potty, too.


I would reward Porter each time he peed in the potty, going a little overboard with high fives and excited claps and plenty of M&Ms and suckers and marshmallows. Note to self: trading diapers for dental bills may not be a win, but I'm going with it anyway. Day one was pretty darn good, boasting about 6 accidents and 4 successes. He wore a diaper for nap and bedtime and I was glad to have the first day behind us. He was so stinking proud and it really almost made me cry to hear him say, 'I did it! I peed in the potty, mommy!' My baby was becoming a man...or something.

Second day boasted more successes than accidents, but he still pooped in his diaper and it was wet in the morning after sleeping all night. More M&Ms and also suckers were had, as we focused on a sticker chart for each success. He was working towards earning a new train after 20 successes and was well on his way by day two. I believe we got him that train by day three but it's all a blur now.

The following picture must have been taken in a different lifetime, because now my house is seriously a disaster and will never be this clean again (slightly dramatic, but yeah---being at home more for potty training means a messier house, I guess).

Just because I want to remember this: there were multiple times when I was nursing Wallace, stepping on legos, making lunch one-handed, instructing the big kids on dumping the pee in the potty for me, and helping Porter's underwear to inch back up his legs onto his butt....all one handed. Add in a barking dog with every doorbell, and construction workers ringing said doorbell during every nap time and you have the recipe for my week last week. The ultimate in mom life, yes?!

Also, the second day brought a leak in our kitchen ceiling after unexpected rain hit in the early morning. It was from the construction, as they didn't put the tarp down over the new addition, thinking they'd be safe from rain. So waking up to a steady stream of water coming out of our light fixture was a little frightening. It all got fixed, after two more leaks sprouted, and now they use a tarp every night no matter what the forecast. They will patch up the janky kitchen ceiling at some point and construction rages on for the most part, so whatever. The exterior framing is basically done and they've begun tearing off our old roof now, so it's coming along nicely. I'll post about it 'someday'. ;)


Oh yeah, ALSO, I came down with Mastitis at the end of day one of potty training. More on that later but let's just say that Wednesday night really sucked (I slept on the couch because I was shivering cold but burning up), and Thursday morning wasn't that much better. But we survived!! Last week was really a doozy now that I stop and think about it. The baby is doing great and I'm doing my best to remain sane, thanks for asking. Antibiotics are kind of the best and my boob no longer pulsates in pain. Win. I do have a nasty cold and apparently Ace has asymptomatic thrush (?!), but let's get through this first post and go from there before I start complaining again. But yes, a LOT going on here lately!

End of Thursday, day two, when I declared popsicles for all and waved the white flag at potty training, mastitis, and house construction.

Day three was Friday, and now I see this is when things really clicked. He had maybe two pee accidents, was dry after his nap, and even dry in the morning after sleeping all night in a diaper. Amazing! He definitely was NOT waking up dry from naps or nighttime the week before this. He didn't poop in the potty so he must have used his nap time diaper this day, but I can't remember. I just know that on day three he turned the corner and I was less nervous about him sitting on the couch in just his undies. No towel needed anymore! Still nerve-wracking to leave the house every time but getting less scary by the day.


Maybe I should have mentioned this sooner? Part of the three day method that I've always used includes saying, 'Let me know if you have to potty,' and then asking, 'Hey! Are your undies clean and dry? GOOD JOB!' over and over again. You aren't supposed to ask IF they have to potty, because if you have a boy like mine he will always answer in the negative. But if you put the ball in their court and just ask them to tell if you if they have to go, it seems to work like magic for the most part. But Porter caught on quickly and by about ten minutes on day one he asked, 'Mom, why do you keep SAYING THAT?' I really am a broken record during potty training and it's hilarious to me that he noticed. Overall Porter was really excited and happy throughout the process and not frustrated or mad. I could tell he was extremely tired at night and before his nap, just from learning this new skill of not using a diaper, but otherwise he has been pretty unaffected by the training. Me, however? I'm freaking SPENT. In case you couldn't tell.

By day four, I let him nap in his undies and they were totally dry! We even went to State Fair and he peed in a public restroom there, so I knew he was on the home stretch. And by five he was wearing undies to bed at night, and again---dry! I'm not sure how I've had children who night-train so easily but it's very much appreciated. He honestly has not even had a pee accident since day three right now, and he's still super proud of himself overall. Because WE are so proud of him! Having Truman and Cecelia cheer for him and congratulate him on peeing in the potty is a big part of it, I think. But also, I'm careful to stay upbeat about his successes and will still dish out the M&Ms every time that he asks. He doesn't always want the rewards anymore, but sometimes he will remember and I'll oblige.

Lest you think this is a done deal, we still need to get him off the froggy floor potty and onto the real deal. ALSO, he needs to stop pooping in his underwear. For instance, today I have cleaned THREE smallish but horrible poops out of undies and I'm about at my limit for dealing with this part of it. For being so amazing with pee, he is really not getting the poop on the potty thing. At all. Does anyone have any special tricks with this part? My other kids did both pee and poop pretty much right away, so this is uncharted (crappy) pun intended.

I realize this is probably very normal, and potty training a three year old (boy!) is way different than doing it when they are two like the other times. But I'm really hoping he will start pooping in the potty very soon, like tomorrow, or else I'm seriously just going to buy about three more packs of underwear and start throwing those dirty puppies in the trash. GAG.

Seriously though, it's crazy to me to think that two weeks ago he was wearing diapers and now he just isn't. For all of the dread and putting it off, it wasn't TOO awful......except for the poop part. That really needs to get better but I'll still proudly proclaim him potty trained for pee and when sleeping. Also, it seems like he's trying to drop his nap FOR REAL NOW and I'm not sure he's ready for that. I know I'm not ready to have a non-napping Porter but I guess we will roll with it and figure out a way to make everyone minimally crazy. I realize I never did a three year old post for Porter so this will have to do for now: (mostly) potty trained, trying to drop his nap about six months earlier than his big siblings did, really smart, incredibly talkative, and a hilarious sense of humor. This kid is something else, man. 

M&M face at 9am.

He really melts me to my soul...when he isn't driving me bonkers. ;)

And now we only have one kid in diapers again. The giant size 6's will be packed away for Ace to use someday, and I'm off to buy more big boy underwear online!


  1. Good job!!! Julia continued to poop in her underwear for a few months. Not every poop but she did it. Often at daycare. :( Honestly, I just think it took time for her to notice the cues and hold it in long enough to get to the bathroom. She hasn't had a poop accident in a while now. We had to naptime train her because her current classroom doesn't do pull ups at all and she will still have an accident maybe once every two weeks during nap. We are no where CLOSE to night time training. It seems horribly scary to me.

  2. Oh, potty training. We just did it with Kai too and he is pretty much 100% trained now, but he does still wake up wet a lot of the time. He was also just as stubborn about pooping on the potty. He would just go in his undies and not even care about it. I got so sick of cleaning them out that I finally told him to ask for a pull up if he had to poop. We went out of town for a week and he had a lot of accidents, but literally on the way home in a pick n save parking lot he pooped in our camper potty. I was shocked to say the least, I really thought he would be pooping in diapers in high school ;)
    He's been consistently doing it now with the bribe of a giant stuffed snake he will get at the zoo at the end of the week.
    As far as our baby potty, it just disappeared one day and we told him the potty fairy came and picked it up to give to another baby because she saw that he was such a big boy and could use the big potty.
    Kai and Porter sound like they have very similar personalities, smart,strong willed and never stop talking haha.

  3. I am somewhat in the same boat with my 3 yr old and potty training a strong willed boy!

  4. I don't know what it is about a 3 year old boy that makes it so difficult to potty train. My youngest is 4 now but we started potty training probably right as he turned 3 and he has by far been the hardest one to potty train. In fact, probably the number 1 thing on my list for not having another baby would be potty training. Nope, I'm done with that! I do remember pooping being difficult for him to do in the big toilet. As gross as it sounds, I would let him come in to the bathroom with me and when his 3 older brothers had to go. He was very much a visual learner. Plus it brought on the great potty humor that they're always loving lol! Good luck with this last push (hardy har har! :-D) for potty training!

  5. My daughter also had trouble putting poop in the potty. She has a tendency to be on the constipated side and has really hard poops. We started giving her prune juice and it wasn't so tough for her and she started being willing to go on the potty. Downside. If they do go in their underwear..... it's extra gross

  6. My son did the pooping in his undies thing too. I ended up doing a second round of 3 day method type bootcamp just focused on poop. I watched him like a hawk and when he started to do his poop face I would say, "oh, I see you are going to poop" and rush him to the toilet. He would sometimes freak out and stop midstream. But with vigilance I was eventually able to get him into the potty at the right moment for a success. Then we cheered, gave treats, etc. after 2-3 successes like that he had it down and no more accidents. It took more than three days... Maybe 5 or 7? Since the poops come less frequently than pee, but it was pretty quick after the first success.

  7. Oh potty training. I feel like it's going to take my daughter FOREVER. She does good some days, but still has accidents and can't make it through the night without a pull-up. She'll be 4 in November. I keep reminding myself that it will click one day, but she she doesn't seem to even care if she has an accident and just laughs about it. SIGH. Haha! Best of luck that the poops make it into the toilet soon! ;)

  8. Buy more underwear and trash the dirties!!!

    My daughter was pee trained about a month before poop trained. One day I could tell she was about to go and I rushed her to the potty where she went. We didn't have another accident! She took forever to night train.

  9. Go Porter! We potty trained our son this summer and he caught on to pee instantly but poop took a while. I'd say he had about 3-4 weeks of poop accidents here and there before he was reliably going on the potty. Now he has no problem at all. We just kept at it and he eventually got it. One thing we tried is having him go commando. I noticed in the beginning that he would be more inclined to poop his pants if he was wearing pants (or undies), maybe bc they felt like a diaper to him? When we let him be bottomless he would be better at holding it in long enough for me to notice he had to go and I was able to get him to the potty before anything came out. After a few times of him recognizing the feeling and getting to the toilet successfully, we started putting undies back on. I think that might break one of the potty training method rules, but whatever, it seemed to help us :)

    Good luck!!

  10. My 3 year old kept pooping in his underwear and I was ready to throw in the towel but it finally clicked. Hanf in thete. Also for mastitis and thrush I HIGHLY recommend APNO. Get a script from your doc. It prevents recurrence of thrush and bacterial infections which antibiotics and antifungal can trigger. Totally works and safe for nursing moms. Don't know why they don't give this to all new moms.

  11. My son took about 3 weeks before he got the poop thing down. Pee was only 3 days, but poop took 3 weeks. We are still struggling with night training though, and he's almost a year into the whole potty training thing! That's awesome that your kids have rocked night training from the beginning! You are an all star for taking on potty training with so much going on. Seriously impressive!

  12. My daughter was able to get pee down fairly easily, but it took her a while to figure out when she needed to poo. It was a good three weeks of her coming home with poopy underwear from daycare (which I promptly threw out). Hopefully it doesn't last that long with Porter... Unfortunately I don't have any good suggestions...we just waited it out and she eventually figured it out.


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