How I (Kind Of) Potty Trained My Never-Stop-Moving Toddler

I stumbled across the solution to my potty-training troubles quite by accident

“Mummy, wook! I pee!” proclaims my tyrannical-king-of-the-throne toddler pointing at what appears to be a completely empty potty. 

I peer in, hopeful that maybe I’m missing something but nope, it’s as dry as a London newspaper.

“I get my ticker now, mama.” 

I try not to roll my eyes. He’s not getting a sticker because he didn’t pee in the potty. It’s my newest tactic to teach him how to use the toilet because Smarties and charts didn’t work. I know telling him he hasn’t earned his sticker will elicit an “off with her head” style tantrum. 

I say it anyway. 

But this time there is no meltdown. He simply pulls up his pull-ups (Well played, diaper companies. Well played), and sweatpants, and runs off to jump on the mini-trampoline we got him to burn off energy. 

It’s not even 7 am and I’m already exhausted. I grab another coffee and follow him to the playroom. 

A few minutes later I see the telltale wetness spread across the front of his pants. It’s almost laughable but I’m not quite there yet, not with a pile of laundry up to my armpits calling my name. 

Which reminds me that I need to pick up wine today. I’m going to suggest to the local wine store they create a Potty Training section, where you can pick up a Chardonnay that pairs well with scrubbing pee stains out of a carpet, or a Reisling for when you research how to clean a car seat. Perhaps a nice Lambrusco to go with the never-ending pile of laundry. 

My older son wasn’t like this. He has a completely different personality and was content to sit on the potty with a book until he finally did what he was supposed to. A few Smarties here and there, and it was done. 

I should know by now to never feel too confident about my parenting skills because karma will come back to give me a swift kick in the butt. 

This time karma comes in the form of a two-year-old boy who never stops moving. I don’t even fault him. From the moment I was in labour and the nurse ran from the birthing suite to get a doctor because he was already one-third of the way out, he’s been in a rush to see the world. He wakes every morning at 5 am and doesn’t stop until it’s his bedtime at 8 pm. In between, he’s a perpetual motion machine intent on proving the theory that an object in motion stays in motion. 

I stumble across the solution to my potty-training troubles quite by accident. It’s early autumn and we’re at a child-friendly farm. The ones where you pay an arm and a leg for your kids to run around a corn maze, and play in a sandbox with 20 other toddlers fighting for the few digger toys available. I happily pay the money because it means I can sit, drink my coffee, and chat with a friend, whose daughter was potty trained in a week. 

Out of the corner of my eye, I see him do the telltale dance and slap my medium double-double into her hands with a sharp, “hold this” and run to get him from the sandbox before he turns it into his own personal litter box. I reach him before the flow starts, his feet swinging through the air in an arc as I grab him by his armpits. 

“C’mon,” I say, walking towards a set of blue portables in the field.

The look on his face tells me this is not going to happen. “Mummy, dose smell.” 

I can’t argue with that. I’d rather suffer a urinary tract infection and a week of cranberry juice than set foot in a Porta Pottie myself. 

So in a fit of desperation brought on by the fact that I didn’t pack an extra set of clothes that day (rookie mistake), I take him behind a bush and tell him to pee outside. 

And that’s exactly what he did. 

Later that day, while I make dinner he tugs on my shirt. “Mummy, I need to pee.” 

It was the first time he has ever come to tell me. I hurriedly rush him to the potty but he points to the door and says one word. 


And that’s exactly what we do. He pulls down his pull-ups and promptly pees on my hydrangeas. Later that evening it’s on the half-dead cedar bush hidden in the back corner of the yard. The following morning, the fence. A few times my older son decides to get in on the action, and they turn it into a contest. Who can pee the furthest?

Why should the little one have all the fun? 

It may not be ideal but it worked and sometimes when you’re in the thick of motherhood, that’s all you need. 

For the next couple of weeks, he pees pretty much everywhere in our neighbourhood, always hidden by trees and bushes.

Winter is coming will take on a whole new meaning for me in a few months. There will be no peeing outside when he is layered with enough clothes to make him look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Or maybe I’ll just go with the flow and teach him how to write his name in the snow.

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