The 3-day potty boot camp

Are you ready to take the plunge? To lock yourself away for THREE DAYS with a toddler?

Other than maybe losing your mind, this is totally worth your time. Pee-pee nirvana is within reach.

For your convenience, I’ve included affiliate links. Read my Disclaimer to learn more.

In 3 days, you can mom-brag at playgroup about Junior’s mad potty skillz. Just bring along a couple extra sets of clothes and change him when the others are distracted. Because this 3-day milestone marks the beginning of a journey – one that involves lots of costume changes for the next 2-3 years.

But you gotta start somewhere. And remember, your kid won’t go to middle school wetting his pants. (Or you’ve got bigger issues. To which I can only say, Good luck….)

There are tons of books extolling the benefits of this potty training method. Knock yourself out with one of them. Or just follow these tips.

Basically, you lock yourself in the house with your kid for THREE DAYS. (Holiday weekends work great.) And your kid gets to run around buck NEKKID like a wild banshee.

How does this not sound appealing? Oh, right, the whole THREE DAYS locked inside with a toddler. Yep, that is the challenge.


Here’s the run down for the successful 3-day potty boot camp. Which I put both my little guys through (successfully – thank God.)


You need supplies.
These include high-fiber snacks for the kid and alcoholic drinks for you. Remember, you’re pretty much on lock-down for 3 days, so stock up on groceries and toiletries. Worst case scenario, should you be without beer milk by noon on Day 1, you can just get Amazon Prime’s same-day service to hook you up.

Your kid needs supplies.
Take little cuteness shopping for her first undies and explain that “Tomorrow, we throw away ALL THE DIAPERS! NO MORE DIAPERS!” and that “BIG GIRLS wear UNDERPANTS!” And buy a kiddie potty for every room in your house. Oh, and you need wipes – lots.of.wipes.


  • high-fiber snacks for your kid (to help them make pretty poop)
  • alcoholic drinks groceries and toiletries for you (because you can’t leave the house for 3 days)
  • toddler underwear – Disney princesses or super heroes are a fun choice
  • kiddie potty for every room in your house
  • baby wipes for the “occasional” accident
  • collapsible travel potty to keep in the car
  • Other items to keep in the car: small can of Lysol, hand sanitizer, and small plastic grocery bags (or a wet bag)

Get crafty.
Make the weekend extra special by planning a couple fun activities for each day. This will keep everyone from going bat shit, stir crazy. (Did I mention we potty trained during the bleak mid-winter?) I love finger and body painting, water play, cookie baking, indoor bubble blowing, ornament making, and recycled-box-robot building. Hello, Pinterest!


Get nekkid.
When the kid wakes up, it’s off with that diaper! And “Let’s go throw away ALL THE DIAPERS!” (Or maybe just gift them to little brother or save them for your sister’s kid. Because diapers are dollars.)

But don’t stop with the diaper. Strip that little cutie down and get on with NEKKID time!

Put nekkid kid and kiddie potty together in the same room.
Also, a packet of wipes (you will need these.) This is where the multiple potties come into play. Miss Thang is not likely to stay in one spot all day. Kiddos like to wander. If you can find one, get a potty with wheels. Then she’ll move it around herself as she goes from room to room. She’ll probably also fill it up with toy detritus along the way. (I’m totally going to patent the potty-on-wheels idea.)

Feed the kid high-fiber foods.
Like apples and oatmeal with flack seeds. Fiber is important, because one of the goals for the weekend is POOP in the potty. Fiber helps keep things more “compact” and “softer.” (Yes, you will have conversations like this going forward. As if you haven’t spent the last couple years talking about poop already.) Constipation is not your friend this weekend, so I’m serious about stocking up on items that’ll bring the right results. That means limit the cheese.

Keep the kid hydrated.
Water helps the poop process and encourages frequent pee breaks (duh.) This is good because this weekend is all about PRACTICE. And practice makes perfect! So drink up, little buddy!

Sit and wait.
In other words, make yourself comfortable and watch your kid. When he starts to dance or looks a little discombobulated because a strange liquid is running down his legs, announce, “It’s time to PEE-PEE!” and VERY QUICKLY place him on the potty. Better yet, make him spend the entire day on the potty to guard against accidents. You can spoon-feed him and read him books while he hangs out.

Use a timer (if you want).
Set it to ring every 20-45 minutes to get him in the habit of peeing. But that’s kind of Pavlov-ish, where your kid might pee every time the door bell rings. You’re trying to get him to recognize that his body is screaming, “I have to pee!” So if you go the timer route, think of it as a reminder for you to stop looking at your phone and check in with him for signs of the pee-pee dance. Your job for 3 days is to disconnect from the world and help your kid learn his inner rhythms. It’s tedious, but after day 3, the results are pretty amazing. (Fingers crossed.)

Celebrate success.
Mastering the peeing and the pooping are major milestones. This means FESTIVITIES! It’s totally possible to do non-candy/sticker/random-toy rewards. Seriously, we skipped these and the world didn’t end. But you know what motivates your kid. We went with internal rewards. (Yes, I’m that mom.) Every time the potty magic happened, we danced and carried on about being a BIG BOY NOW! There was galloping and whooping. And this: “Mommy is SO proud of you. Are YOU proud of YOU?” Great beaming, glowing pride. Bam! Self-esteem boost right there.

Your day pretty much looks like this: food and water, play, potty break, CELEBRATE. Repeat.

Embrace the diaper during nap.
For nap time, insist Little Miss sit on the potty: “We pee-pee BEFORE we sleep!” Then it’s on with a diaper: “We nap with DIAPER ON. Just in case. So you can rest and don’t have to worry about pee-peeing right now.” (The goal of 3-day potty boot camp isn’t to sleep commando. That comes later once the kid consistently wakes up dry. Ask your pediatrician or best friend for tips. I don’t do night training.)

Immediately after nap, it’s DIAPER OFF and back on the potty: “We pee-pee AFTER we wake up!” Follow this for bedtime, too.

day 1 fun activity: cinnamon-applesauce ornaments (for winter boot camp)


See Day 1.

Leave the house.
In the afternoon, you can venture outdoors for a walk around the block with Little Miss. You will both appreciate seeing the sun. Miss Thang can wear clothes with or without the undies. Set the expectation that every trip out of the house begins with a potty break: “We pee-pee BEFORE we leave!” And end the walk with a trip to the potty.


See Day 2. (Did I mention this whole process is terribly tedious…yet completely worth the effort?)

Take a car ride.
To mix things up a bit on Day 3, venture out in the car. EVERYBODY pees before and after.

The tricky thing is that while you’re out, Junior might decide to pee. (Brace yourself: this is real life now with a child-sans-diaper.) You have no options. The goal of potty boot camp is to get Junior to do just this – recognize that his sweet little body has to pee. DROP EVERYTHING and run to the nearest bathroom.

My advice: bring along a kiddie potty or get a collapsible travel one. Keep it in your car or carry it with you at all times. Junior can use his potty that he’s come to love and trust. And you don’t have to teach him how to levitate over a nasty public toilet just yet.

Our kiddie potty fits inside a stylish messenger bag, complete with a pocket for extra clothes and wipes. This “potty in bag” has been to every family gathering, child’s birthday party and church event for the last 2 years. Y’all, I can’t wait to throw it away – it’s gotta be super gross at this point.

You can also repurpose your old diaper bag with these items, plus a little can of Lysol, hand sanitizer, and small plastic grocery bags (or a wet bag) to keep any “accident attire.”

day 3 fun activity: transferring orange water (thank you, paprika-from-the-spice-cabinet!) between buckets with a giant syringe (for summer boot camp)


Send the kid out into the world.
Wearing BIG BOY UNDERWEAR! Ask everyone you know to encourage him to take frequent pee breaks. Then stock up on Tide and carry extra clothes and wipes with you EVERYWHERE. At home, make life fun with nekkid time so he can quickly get to the potty whenever he needs to. Pulling pants AND undies off is a major time suck.

Remember: accidents happen.
He will survive. You will survive. My mom taught kindergarten and assures me even 5 and 6-year-olds get into a tough spot on occasion. Life won’t end. He’s not going to have potty issues in college unless he’s plastered or has Celiac Disease or something equally as awful. But I digress.

Good luck to you! When the accidents get you down, just remember, your kid will GET IT! So hang in there (and drink more wine.)


  • 3 days to achieve potty training nirvana. (PDF)

    Is your toddler showing interest in the potty? Sounds like it’s time to schedule the 3-day, potty-training boot camp! This PRINTABLE includes everything you need to know (and all the supplies you need to gather) to plan the successful 3-day potty training session. Fingers crossed, you’ll have a potty professional in no time!

Share your potty professional tips below or on Facebook at MothersRest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *