Potty Training: Think Ahead!

I wanted to start this post with a quick story of horror and disappointment (on my end). But before I get ahead of myself, if you haven’t read the other two posts in the Potty Training Series, please go and check them out so we are all on the same page.

Potty on the floor of the UPS Store.

When I was 18 years old, I paid for all of my non-tuition fees for university by taking a part time job at a local UPS Store. The first store I worked at was in Palos Verdes, California. For those of you non-Californians out there, PV is a very rich community! In fact, one time I had a 5 year old customer’s son tell me that he was going to Paris for his birthday (was I a little jealous, yes… may the Lord forgive me). But one of the things I remember most vividly from working at that store was a mother and her two children. She had a son and a daughter, and her son looked to be about 3 and a half. About halfway through packing something for her, I noticed that her son started to do the potty dance. You know the dance I’m talking about… hopping from one foot to the other, holding your crotch. It’s a dance that causes a lot of anxiety in every parent. I knew what was coming next, but there was nothing I could do to stop the chain of sad events that was about to unfold in front of me.

“Excuse me, my son needs to use the bathroom? Can we use yours?”

“I’m sorry ma’am, but we do not have a bathroom that is for public use.”

“Well YOU have to go to the bathroom, don’t you? Can’t he just use the employee bathroom?”

“I’m sorry ma’am, but he cannot use the employee bathroom.”

“But he really needs to go, can’t you make an exception this one time?”

“I’m sorry ma’am, I really want to help you out, but I really can’t allow him to use our bathroom.”

“Well just forget packing my item then! We’re leaving!”

“I’m sorry but you will have to pay for the packing supplies I already used first. I cannot reuse them at this point.”

“I can’t believe you are doing this! Can’t you see that my child has to go to the bathroom!! He’s going to have an accident!”

“Why don’t you leave your package here, I promise I will keep an eye on it, and go next door to use the bathroom in the Tea Shop. I will keep everything how it is until you come back.”

“Fine!!” *angry mother storms out of the door*

Ten minutes later…

“Let me pay for the packing supplies you used, and give me my package. I will never be coming back to this store again!”

At this point I noticed her son’s pants were wet. I quietly rang up her bill, told her the total, gave her the change, and watched her storm out the door in whirlwind of rage.

At this point you might be thinking something like, “I don’t like pre-mom, 18 year old Kristin very much! Couldn’t she just let the boy pee in the employee bathroom?” Well, let me explain my side of the story, and hopefully it will keep you and your kids from being in a similar situation.

When I first started working at the UPS Store my manager was very adamant that we never let non-employees use the restroom. She explained that since we stored chemicals and copy toner in the bathroom, that if there was an accident, the insurance would only cover it if the accident happened to an employee. If there was an accident with a customer, it left the shop open to a lawsuit. Her instructions were very simple, don’t ever let a customer use the restroom or you will be fired. If that alone wasn’t enough of a deterrent, the bathroom really wasn’t safe for children to be in. There were chemicals and other things stacked all around the toilet area, and I would have had to watch the woman’s daughter while she took him in there. Listen, I really wanted to help this lady out, but she obviously didn’t care about putting my job at risk, or the moral dilemma she was placing me in by trying to convince me to disobey my manager.

This horrible memory brings me to the main point of today’s article: Think ahead! As a parent with a potty training child, it is your responsibility to make sure you stop at a place where your child can go to the bathroom in a timely manner. You can’t just go out and run errands for 3 to 5 hours and hope that when your child has to go to the bathroom, you will be somewhere with an available toilet. Think about your day, where you will be, and plan out where you can stop along the way so your child can relieve themselves. Make sure that you have them go to the bathroom right before you leave the house. You can also have them wear trainers when you first start taking them on outings to give you a few minutes of extra insurance. I also bring a complete change of clothes wherever we go, because accidents happen.

When you first start going out with your child after they have gone two weeks at home with minimal accidents, be prepared to have to stop and change clothes, or to find a bathroom halfway through your trip. If worst comes to worst and your child has an accident in their second change of clothes, go home! It might be a huge inconvenience, but being a parent is about making sacrifices for your children. Plus this works as an incentive for your child not to have an accident. Kids like going out of the house on errands, or going to the playground. Use that to your advantage. And remember that it is counteractive to punish or yell at your child for having an accident, no matter how angry you may feel at the moment. Take a few deep breaths, remind yourself that they are new at this and need grace, and start over with a new pair of undies. We have been giving Kati a treat when get home if she can manage to keep her trainers dry the whole time we are out. This means there is a positive incentive for her telling us when she has to go to the bathroom in time.

Next week we will be talking about traveling with a newly potty trained child and how you can prepare and approach this interesting challenge with your family. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Happy travels!


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