Potty Training Boys in only 3 Days – Tips, Tales and Takes

potty training

At this stage of parenting, I did not think I would ever think about potty training ever again. But recently I did.

I had one of those moments when you look at your kids and wonder when it all happened? When did they grow so big? When did they grow into a young adult?

It happens right in front of your eyes and yet, it’s still a shock to the system.

One minute they are small enough to carry in a pouch, the next they are tall enough to almost stare you in the eyes.

Last week I was ordering new underwear online for our oldest boy. Medium briefs!? No superheroes, no trucks, just plain-coloured, boring underwear. It seems like yesterday I was buying a bulk pack of size three Spider-Man undies.

Then even before the confirmation email from Amazon hit my inbox, I was taken back to the days of why we needed those tiny undies in the first place.

The long weekend that I was potty training our first child using a three day bootcamp friends had shared with us.

Potty training boys

Potty training is a major milestone in every child and parent’s life. We have gone through the stressful process twice now and survived. I can report that both our kids many years later are still managing to use the toilet correctly (kind of).

So that’s my stamp of approval for how to do potty training in just three days. Yep, three days of hardship to make it all worth it.

We used a three day boot camp that a friend had shared with us and without further lead up, here is the story I documented from that weekend.

With our first child, I was the one doing the potty training and that is a period of my parenting life worth telling. It was three days I will never forget.

Luckily I thought ahead about wanting to document the time later and wrote about it on an old Tumblr site I created for the experience. Wow, Tumblr. That was a long time ago. RIP Diaper Games.

As there are parents out there right this second thinking about potty training their kids, I thought it was worth republishing again. It’s for moms, dads and care givers. Doesn’t matter. It’s all pee and poop and a race against the clock.

The backstory

The backstory to how I ended up being the parent to potty train our son was simple. The three day boot camp plan we read about said one parent had to do it without any interference from the other. As I recall (my wife may say otherwise), I volunteered to potty train our son (who was two at the time) while my wife went to visit her brother in Winnipeg for the long weekend in May.

Of note, she already had the trip booked, she was not fleeing the province to get away from the chaos.

It was a big choice to make, but the timing was right and I liked the challenge. It helped that I had heard enough about the program working almost every time and that it gave me some one on one time with our son.

Everything aligned for three days of pretty much being stuck in the house.

Side note if you are reading this after March 2020. Three days stuck inside with a kid!?! Easy. What else do you got?

To make a long story short, those three days of poop, pee and frustration paid off HUGE. Not having to worry about your kid going to the bathroom in their pants is a game changer in the life of a young parent.

No more taking a dumpy diaper bag everywhere. No more late night runs to Shoppers for diapers. No more velcro sound of undoing a flaming sack of well you know. That sound still makes my skin crawl.

Like I said, we used a three day boot camp that a friend had shared with us and now without further build up, direct stories from that weekend that I first chronicled on the now defunct Diaper Games.

The following was originally republished on January 9, 2013 and has been updated slightly.

Turning Don Diaper into Boy Wonder

The lead up – May 2012

Potty training has been going pretty slow since we started many months ago. Granted we have not been trying that hard and secretly hoping that Harry would see it on TV or something and just get it.

So the 3 day potty training guide came into our hands and we decided to give it a try.

Why am I stepping up to do it?

Well it does say it works best if one person takes the lead and it just so happens Katie will be out-of-town for the long weekend in May. 3 days off, who would not want to jump on the change to take Don Diaper and turn him into Boy Wonder.

A recipe for potty training

Well a week has gone by since I first put this idea out there that I was going to take Harry on a three-day journey away from diapers. Where has the time gone? Also, there is less than two weeks left to prepare.

So this weekend is a big one for getting the running around done and the list of stuff I need taken care of.

Here is the ingredients I need for my recipe for toilet training.

  • Underwear (20 to 30 pairs) The diapers are going bye-bye. See yah, send me a postcard from hell.
  • Lots of wipes. We have those but it can’t hurt to get more.
  • Lots and lots of drink. Apple juice, fruit juice, juice boxes and alcohol for Dad at the end of each day. Gotta keep that kid full of liquid so he can be always ready to pee. I hear milk is not ideal but a little chocolate milk as a treat should do the trick.
  • Snacks. Duh. We all need snacks. I think Bulk Barn would be a good idea. Just have bags and bags of assorted candy and snacks. See what really grabs his eye and make that the ultimate prize.
  • Treats. See above. Although I guess this could be in the form of watching TV or new toys.
  • Rewards. This is a big one. Will be getting lots of stickers, maybe a new car magazine or some new little dinkie cars. Anything that makes Harry go, I need to pee to get that now.

Take away – don’t forget the fibre, it is not just about the pee over the weekend.

  • Liner for the mattress since I plan on going hog-wild and trying night time as well. Yes this is a full on dog house, hen-house, out house kind of potty training weekend. Leave no diapers behind I say.

Other stuff to do

  • Get groceries as we can’t really stray too far from the house.
  • Charge camera for the thousands and thousands of photos that will be taken.
  • Mentally buckle up for a wild ride.

As you can see, there is still some planning to do and time is running out.

Any suggestions for treats or snacks or ancient Chinese stress relaxing tips?

That’s all for now.

Less than a week to go

Preparations are in high gear. We have most of the list I need, now it is just about putting the final plans in order.

This includes reading over the booklet a few more times, getting it all straight in my head and planning out what will happen for each success and minor failures.

As if he knew this was coming, Harry has really taken interest in his potty this week and actually telling us when he needs to go.

So we shall see how the weekend unfolds.

It is going to be a lot of fun. Hope you follow a long.

Nothing like buying 25 pairs of toddler briefs at Walmart on a Saturday.

As ready as I’m gonna be

So with only a few days left before we kick off this party, I think I am as ready as I can be. Well at least with my list of stuff. Now the mental part has to kick in.

I keep having to remind myself that it will be wall-to-wall Harry for three days. No tag team partner, no trading when I need a break.

I did do a weekend before when Katie went to Toronto last fall, but Harry is a whole new beast now. The energy is like a Mountain Dew commercial and well, dad is not exactly hard-core.

So it will be about managing my levels of calm. Keeping the eye on the prize when things turn south (and they will).

I mean, it is not like work. It is fun that I am having with my kid and it will set him on his way to being a kid, then a boy, then a teen, then……..oh lord……yeah I don’t want to think of a 20-year-old Harry let loose on the world.

I hear I have fans reading this. That is cool. Because really I am just doing it for myself, to let my brain release what is on the inside and help keep focused.

Blogging has always been an outlet and I think this weekend is the perfect time to be doing it.

There will be photos, very short updates and some confessionals that I am sure will sound very stupid.

That is all for today. Next time, maybe I will let you in on what the prize will be for all my hard work.

Ready and waiting

  • 25 pairs of briefs – check
  • candy – check
  • prizes – check
  • stickers – check
  • pad for mattress – check
  • groceries – check
  • plan of attack – check
  • laundry done – check
  • Let the games begin first thing Saturday morning.

potty training - kid

Day 1, May 19th, 2012 – Let’s Get it On

Update: 4 hours in

  • 5 changes
  • 5 did not make its
  • 5 bowls of cereal
  • 2 granola bars
  • 3 shirt changes
  • 1 load of laundry

But we have gone almost an hour being dry.

More later.

From morning til nap time

Saturday 6am-1:30pm

  • 11 changes
  • 7 did not make its
  • 3 success
  • 5 bowls of cereal
  • 2 granola bars
  • 1 crispy
  • 2 juice boxes
  • 3 shirt changes
  • 1 load of laundry

Okay, so I made it to nap time (1:30pm) and this has been one long day so far. We started at 6am with Harry getting up to chase the cat around.

Finally once he came to hang out with me, I managed to stay in bed until 6:37am, so that seemed like a win.

Came downstairs to see the dog have pooped all over the living room. Awesome.

Oh, forgot to mention in the time Harry had been up, he also had a giant farewell poop of his own. Glad there was a diaper to catch that baby.

So it was not even 7am and I had cleaned up two very foul messes.

Onward with the mission.

We had breakfast, Harry ate five bowls of cereal and I had a tea and then we had ourselves a ceremony of sorts to say bye to diapers and that blasted diaper genie.

The ceremony was not that formal, basically we found everything to do with diapers and Harry stuffed them in a bag.

I moved the change table out and then we ended the event with Harry throwing the diapers and other garbage down the stairs (I later moved it all to the garage).

He seemed to like it.

Then it was time for underwear. He did not want to at first which had me pretty worried since him wanting to underwear up was kind of the key to the whole weekend.

But then he did.

The first pair lasted all of 5 minutes. He was confused and did not seem to mind peeing all over himself.

Next pair, probably 20 minutes. Oh boy I see where this is going.

Finally I tried to stop fitting the training into my day and making my day fit into the training.

We stayed pretty much on the top floor near the bathroom.

I must have asked Harry 98 times “are you still dry?” and his answers range from yes (thanks for your concern) to yes (would you screw off already).

But I keep going and we had our first break through just after 11am when Harry went an hour dry.

That resulted in a spiderman ball I had ready. He loved that.

Then it clicked some more, where when he starts to go, he tells me and we go and he finished on the potty.

The set backs have been not catching the big releases which he just does wherever he is. But we go through the same process. He finishes and then we celebrate.

I can’t wait for him to do one big one on the seat.

M and M’s are the currency in the bathroom. He gets 1 for doing the process of going into the bathroom and sitting etc. 2 for actually peeing in the potty and 3 for a bowel movement (oh boy).

They seem to work although he is already starting to hoard them like a squirrel.

I am pretty tired so I am sure I have missed a lot of the little moments.


  • went out side and he told our neighbour he dumped his pee in the toilet.
  • as he sat in my office chair watching Spider man, he told me not to worry about my chair.
  • Harry wiping out on the floor thanks to his own pee.
  • Yep, the little things. Full of charm.

Ok I am going to go lie down and re-read the book on this whole 3-day thing. Things are going okay but I want to make sure I did not miss anything.

Like I said, I think he gets it, now it is just a matter of keeping it going.

He is napping right now, so we shall see how dry that stays.

Until next time.

p.s. it is the nicest day of the year so far I think and it is killing us staying so close to home.

Nap til night

Saturday 3:30pm-8:30pm

  • 19 changes
  • 12 did not make its
  • 5 successes
  • 5 bowls of cereal
  • 3 granola bars
  • 2 crispy
  • 1 piece of pizza
  • 2 juice boxes
  • 4 shirt changes
  • 2 loads of laundry
  • 1 potty on the head

Well the boy is down for the night and may it be a dry night.

The post nap game was rough. Harry came to me soaked and seemed a little bit on the embarrassed side. I was of course positive in making it seem like no big deal but he really did not want to start over. Anti new underwear. Anti drink and anti wanting to do anything but go outside.

So I got him back on course and we went outside to play. That did not last that long as a puddle appeared.

So back in the house.

That meant sticker time, Dora time and soon after a phone call from Mom. He was confused as hell to mom being on the phone as the only people who are ever on the phone are Nana, Papa or Grandma and Grand dad.

So there were accidents and puddles but he did seem to be telling me he was going or had gone.

Now we just have to get to the “I have to go” stage.

The day was a little bit of a let down but I am sure I am doing it all right. It is supposed to take 3 days after all.

It is tiring and fun and annoying but I have not lost my cool or patience once yet. Not bad?

We celebrated with Dominos pizza for dinner. Harry enjoyed his standard piece and said it was very good.

We played outside one more time and then cooled down with a Dora before bath.

A few checks at the potty, a few books and he is out for the count.

Will update you in the morning.

Day 1 of potty training is over for now unless the boy pops up screaming I need to pee, which would be awesome.


Day 2, May 20, 2012 – Morning til nap

7am – 1:30pm

  • 5 changes
  • 4 did not make its
  • 1 poop
  • 1 successes
  • 5 bowls of cereal
  • 1 granola bars
  • 1 crispy
  • 1 piece of pizza
  • 1 shirt changes

Day 2 can be summed up just like this weekend’s weather. Pretty darn dry. I keep flip-flopping on how I feel this whole thing is going but the honest truth, most of today has been dry and much better than yesterday. I am probably being too hard on myself for things not being perfect so far.

The simple fact is, Day 2 has been better than Day 1.

We were up at 7am and the boy was wet – but after checking out his bed, not as wet as I would have figured for a 11 hour sleep. So nice work there.

We had breakfast and played cars and kind of made the second floor home based. We moved a lot of living room toys to his bedroom and he got a new car for having such a dry morning.

The few times he did pee, he did tell me as he was doing it, so we were able to rush to the potty.

Seeing as it had been a day, I knew the first #2 was coming. Well it snuck in as we were playing outside.

So we rushed up and pretended to finish it off, dropping it in the potty and cleaning up. He seemed to get a kick out of that.

We did stickers, cars, Dora and again in that order.

Left over pizza was for lunch and in Harry’s words, “This is good”.

Not as much drink today but more a normal intake. I flooded him yesterday as you are supposed to.

As for me, I feel like I am camping. Pretty gross myself and pretty tired. The house, well for those who know me, you would laugh at how I have let it go.

The weather is amazing and it truly is killing us at what we could be doing – two dudes with a car in the city – but oh well.

There are no real funny highlights to share so far today. It has been pretty normal stuff and progress has been made.

Thanks for all the emails and Facebook thoughts. I will report again later on.

kid using vacuum - potty training

Day 2 – From nap til sleep time


  • 7 changes
  • 6 did not make its
  • 1 poop
  • 1 successes
  • 5 bowls of cereal
  • 2 granola bars
  • 1 crispy
  • 1 piece of pizza
  • 1 phone call with mom
  • 3 shirt changes

As Katie said to me on the phone, it sounded like today was a lot more fun and high spirits.

True. We did have a lot of fun and the second day was better than the first, but there is still some work to do.

So now, Harry goes a few hours without accidents which is great, but he is still not getting to the bathroom in time. Now it is a big announcement that he is actually peeing.

So that is progress. What I was most happy with was the dry nap. Since it was dry, I knew a pee was going to happen at any moment. Harry was still groggy when we went to the bathroom and was not interested.

Of course 20 seconds later, he calls from his room that he is peeing. Missed it by that much.

We cooked up some spaghetti and meat sauce for dinner with a side of peas. Fancy eh? Meat sauce was a hit.

Before dinner we went out and rode the bike in the driveway and I still feel like a prison warden, giving Harry some yard time. Oh well that will pass.

So a much better day than yesterday – 19 changes down to 7. Still not a lot of actually potty action but I feel like it is close.

Harry knows the deal, he knows the language and now it is just him deciding on his own that he wants to partake.

Katie is back tomorrow afternoon and hopefully by then we have taken more strides as we end the 3-day session.

I am now going to celebrate with a much-needed shower and shave and probably pass out watching a movie.

Tomorrow is judgement day – I’ll be back.

Day 3, May 21, 2012 – The home stretch

A lot of good things to talk about but the little guy just went down for a nap and I am pretty tired. So I will update later.

He is pretty close to having it “click” though. Let’s hope the rest of the day is all he needs.

Day 3 – Wake up til nap time til bedtime

6:30am – 1:30pm

  • 4 changes ***
  • 4 did not make its
  • 1 successes
  • 4 bowls of cereal
  • 2 granola bars
  • 1 crispy
  • 1 happy meal 🙂
  • 2 fruit cups
  • and………1 mom home

Yep, I was tired. Nap time came, Harry went to sleep and I just could not sit down at the computer. I vegged on the couch.

So this is a recount as best I can remember.

Let me go back to the night before because it is an important step.

After about an hour I went to check on Harry. He was asleep and he was soaked.

He woke up, groggy and confused and most importantly, he was sad and looked very embarrassed. He knew he was wet and he felt bad.

I told Katie it looked like he came how to tell us he lost the big game and did not want dad to know.

It was heart breaking. Anyways, I of course pumped him back up, cleaned him up and he went back to bed for a good sleep.

When 6:30 came, he marched into my room, climbed up on the bed and announced he was went and needed new underwear. I thought that was pretty great.

Okay, so back on course.

We did the usual breakfast thing and everything was great. No accidents for almost 2 hours. We watched Dora, played cars and did all the usual stuff.

He had a little accident but it was pretty close to the bathroom.

More normal morning stuff…..

Then, he called from the living room as I was getting a drink – “Dad I have to go the bathroom”.

I got pretty darn excited so we walked up and he dribbled. Best dribble ever.

He told me, he waited and he went.

Now mind you five minutes later he peed on the floor but we were close.

Before nap we did laundry together, we played in the drive way briefly and we were out on the deck. The kid (and I) really needed some sun.

So nap time. I vegged and cleaned up a bit since Katie was in transit to get home.

Harry woke up just before 4pm and was wet. He was not happy with himself and it took some build up to make him happy again. We cleaned him up and went on with the day.

That was the last accident of the day.


This was like waiting for rain. He got up, we played, watched Dora, we talked to grandma, went outside, watched Dora again, dad had a beer (check out my Twitter stream) and we got ready for the return of mom.

This whole while I was pitching a no-hitter. Every 20 minutes that went by with no accident was great. 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours……

Then Katie got home and I was sure it will cause excitement and of course pee.

Nope, just excitement. We opened presents and I gave Katie the full run down of the experience so she could jump right in.

Right away Katie and Harry went up to the bathroom and went through the process.

Check, now I don’t need to be the only one. He did everything as if it were me. Good.

Katie went to get us a treat dinner (see happy meal) and Harry and I played outside.

I thought for sure this would be the accident time. Nope.

Still a no hitter.

Dinner was over, books were read and it was time for bed. Still nothing.

Katie took over and did bath and bed and by the sounds of it, it went ok.

Short story, Harry stayed dry and did a bunch of little dribbles in the potty before, during and after bath. Yay, nice work dude.

So now for night time and we did not want a repeat of the night before because it made Harry feel so bad.

We decided for night time to get pull ups or what we are calling night time underwear.

We will see and if he starts to be dry, will go away from them.

So that is where we stand.

I will comment on the whole process later once it sinks in and about Harry’s first morning at day care.

I will say, it was a weekend I will not forget any time soon.

First day after weekend

Daycare – Where magic happens

Just because we are past the 3 days of potty training, the story does not end. No, sir, the process as we have been calling it, lives on. There is no magic bullet to make the accidents go away and for things to go smooth. It is hard work. Hard work that is kickin’ the crap out of mom and dad. We are two tired souls.

But…….we could not be more happy with how it is all going. Harry is doing great and our one big worry has vanished.

We were very concerned how daycare would first accept the change and then handle it. Well, they have been excellent and Harry seems to be having a blast.

He asks to go, uses a full size toilet (with little seat) and has only been having a few accidents per day. Amazing. Just 5 days ago he was diaper bound. What next? Will he be driving by June?

The hard part for us anyways has been after daycare. Harry is becoming a stubborn little man and it is a struggle to focus him on the prize.

The other issue is, he asks to go to the bathroom A LOT and you can’t ever say no. He gets so excited for a dribble that he hops up to celebrate the success. Then 45 seconds later, do it all over……and over……and over. He has not figured out how to relax enough to just go all at once.

It will happen.

As for mom and dad, we are tired. It is a real gong show and if anyone is watching from above it must look like a real comedy show.

But we collapse on the couch at the end of each day, share our battle stories and gear up for the next day. As I said to Katie today, this is our new way of life, we just have to let it take us over and then it becomes laughable.

We are getting there……..I think.

Thanks for all the support and well wishes. Harry is a big boy now.

The end of potty training – kind of

So that is my story of potty training. As I was reading it all again for the first time since May, I have to say, I remember it like it was hours ago. As bad and painful an experience many people assume it was, for a dad like me, it was amazing.

We are 10 months down the road and Harry is an almost perfect potty man. He takes himself to the bathroom, even in other people’s homes. He still has the odd night of accidents but we will take it. He is only three and it will happen eventually.

The main point of this story is, the boot camp worked. The long weekend of poop worked. We changed our little man forever and when you take in the big picture, what is three days really?

It was fun, gross, tiring, amazing and I would not of missed it for the world.

The next question is however, who is going to potty train boy number two? Mom or dad?

Update: As it turns out, daycare potty trained our second kid and it happened so casually and without incident, that there is not a lot to say about it. 

What’s your potty training story?

Do you have a potty training story to share? I would love to hear it. Add a comment below or let me know on Facebook.

I leave you with this question. It’s been almost a decade since my tale of potty training, yet there always seems to be signs of boys missing the bowl.

Could I have done better? Could I have instilled a greater importance on aim? I guess in another life.

The end.