Potty training: tips for surviving stage two

If parenting is the gift that keeps giving, then potty training is the developmental stage that keeps testing. I say this, because after successfully teaching our son to orate his need to wee wee or poo poo in the toilet at home, my wife and I grabbed our little test subject, strapped him in the car and rampaged headfirst into the panic-inducing period I’ve decided to brand: Potty Training Stage Two – Taking Your Toddler Out Of Your House And Into The Wild.

Now, I’ll be honest. I can’t find much about this stage on other parenting sites, but I wanted to cover it for four reasons. First, I’ve found it tougher than stage one. Second, a lot of modern parents have a get up and go attitude that means this stage will be of interest. Third, I have learned some important lessons that should help other parents get through it. Fourth, like 99.9% of all parents, I love telling funny pee and poo stories.

Traffic jam carnage

Speaking of which, did you hear the one about my toddler shouting “I need a wee wee” when we were stuck in a traffic jam on a London road where there were no obvious places to stop the car, get out and surreptitiously do the business? After much frantic communication, we decided that the best course of action was for my wife (who was in the back with my son) to stand my son up, pull his pants and shorts down, position an empty water bottle over his pee pee and encourage him to let fly, while I made soothing water noises in the front.

And do you know what? It was a complete disaster. Not because the idea was flawed (I stick by it, see tip below), but because my wife didn’t quite angle my son’s pee pee correctly. This meant his urine hit the tip of the bottle. This meant the back of the car descended into a mess of screams and spraying urine. And this meant, we laughed all the way home. Correction: that was just me.

But back to the main purpose of this article, which is to tell you about the time my son peed all over me in a portable toilet at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. No wait, it is to provide you with some tried and tested tips that will help you to survive stage two of potty training. Are you ready to hear them? Fantastic, then here goes.

1. Always carry a full bottle of water

On a scale of one to ten, my interest in wiping another human being’s backside is around a minus 50. Unfortunately, a potty training parent has to do what a potty training parent has to do. Fortunately, carrying a bottle of water makes things easier for you and your kid. Seriously? Yes, seriously. When your kid is done, get them to bed forwards and then pour the water over the area. This removes a lot of the mess, making their botty much easier and quicker to wipe.

2. Always carry an empty bottle of water

If I’ve heard another parent say “you’re lucky you’ve got a boy, as boys can pee anywhere” once, I’ve heard them say it 1,000 times. But let’s face facts, this simply isn’t true. At some point or other, you will find yourself in a situation where your son can’t pee freely. And when this happens, an empty plastic bottle will be your saviour and best friend.

3. Get to know your kid’s signs

In her best-selling eBook, potty training Queen Lora Jensen highlights the fact that kids can let you know that they need the toilet via signs rather than words. My son rarely did this when we were training him at home, but, presumably due to being less comfortable or confident in the environment, does regularly choose this method to express his needs when we are out and about.

Ooh, interesting. So what kind of thing do you need to look out for? It’ll obviously vary from child to child, but my son’s go-to signals are: playing with his pee pee, hopping from foot to foot, inhaling really heavily and asking, “What that smell is?”

4. Recce the toilets

Forget the soup of the day or the WiFi code, right now my first question whenever we enter any establishment is: “Can you tell me where the toilets are?” This might seem like overkill, but trust me. When a couple of seconds can be the difference between a successful toilet trip and two complete changes of clothing, it is worth it.

5. Talking of clothing changes

Every potty training parent remembers to take multiply outfits for their little one, but most of us forget that when the pants come down we are also very much in the line of fire. Conclusion? Be safe, not smelly. Carry a fresh T-shirt and trousers/shorts on every trip.

6. Use your imagination

Aim: to make sure your kid empties his or her bladder before you embark on a long journey in the car. Problem: your kid only wants to go when they are absolutely desperate. Solution: help, competition or emergency. Confused? Then let me explain.

  • Help sees me play on my son’s inquisitive side by asking him to assist me in the toilet (before casually asking if he wants to go when he is in there).
  • Competition sees me play on my son’s “I want to win everything” streak by betting him that he can’t pee faster/pee more/pee more accurately than daddy.
  • And emergency sees me play on my son’s developing use of his imagination by excitedly pretending that there is a fire in the toilet bowl that needs to be put out with his wee wee. Random? Definitely, but, hey, it works.


Taken all that in? Great, then all that remains to be said is a) no matter what happens keep calm and try to see the funny side and b) good luck.

Until next time…






  1. […] The facilities are kept in good order, but sometimes you need to walk a decent distance in order to find them. Obviously, this isn’t an issue for adults, but it can be troublesome for parents looking to change a dirty nappy or avoid a potty training accident. My advice? Make sure you take note of where the toilets are at the beginning of your visit, as this could save vital seconds. […]

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