Pandemic Potty Training: What, Like It’s Hard?


As soon as the pandemic shut down happened, a bunch of moms turned to mommy group chats and mommy social media groups with the resounding message, “What a perfect time to potty train!” As the mom of a soon-to-be three-year-old at the time, I thought, “Hmm, well, if all of these other moms who know what they are doing are suggesting this, then I guess that is what we will do.” Because moms in those groups are always right, right? This is my first kid, I’ve never potty trained a kid before, but I’ve seen all my friends do it and it looks pretty simple. Pandemic potty training, how hard can this be? Did you catch all of the sarcasm in there? There was a lot.

What these moms failed to mention in their recommendations is that potty training is the worst! Why was this never mentioned? What happened to the unspoken “mom code” of giving a sister the heads up? Also, WE ARE LIVING THROUGH A PANDEMIC! As if that wasn’t stressful enough, let’s try to uproot every aspect of our life, including the peaceful and serene life of diapers. Moms out there who have not started down this path of terror, this is your public service announcement that potty training is awful. Fair warning, this is not a “How To” post of potty training, but more of the stages of potty training hell from two parents who have no idea what they are doing.

Stage 1: Challenge Accepted

We were home anyway, may as well try this, right? I hadn’t done much research; I’m not the “read parenting books” kind of mom. I’m more of a hot mess, let’s wing this and see how it goes sort of mom. We had introduced him to the potty but hadn’t spent much time focusing on potty training. One method I had heard of was setting a timer every hour until he got the hang of it. Sounds easy enough, let’s try that one. My husband and I were both working from home, so the first few days went a little like this; Take the kid to the potty, set timer, work call, the timer goes off, kid cries, forget to set the timer, kid wets his pants. Sounds fun, right? Nope, not fun at all. This is the start of our potty training nightmare.

Stage 2: In Over Our Heads

There is pee all over my house. I’ve said, “put your penis down” more in these last few months than I ever imagined I would in my life. I had to text my friends when my son finally pooped in the potty because I had no idea how to wipe him (true story)—living the life of glamour, cleaning man-sized poops out of Paw Patrol underwear. Then we can’t forget about the poo-flinging incident of 2020. My son was bare butt, jumping up and down and pooped on the floor. A big pile of human poo right on the floor. Continued to jump, flinging poo all over our living room. Pretty sure we are all still a little traumatized.

Stage 3: What Kind of Torture is This?

Have you ever woken up to your child with poo all over their face? Not only their face but their entire body? Well, I have a few times. Why? I’m sure I did something to anger the potty training gods, and this is how they are repaying me. This is my nightmare—potty training hell.

Stage 4: Survival

Honestly, in hindsight, it was probably good we were potty training through a pandemic. Sparing the outside world of what a hot mess I was, and still am some days, because of this process. Maybe those moms did know what they were talking about after all? We are making progress, even if it costs me several more gray hairs and an increase in my booze budget. Potty training, I will not let you win this one!