5 Reasons to Potty Train before Spring Break (or any vacation)

Pants-optional beach in Hanalei.
You can’t miss his signals!

A lot of folks in my realm of the world are starting to get excited for spring.  Longer days.  Warmer temps.  Less snow.  A lot, lot, lot less snow.  Spring Break!  We get 2 consecutive weeks for Spring Break in Jackson, Wyoming because guess what?  We deserve it.  It’s been a long winter, especially this one.  We need to go somewhere where we can feel the skin beaming down on our bare shoulders.  We want to wear significantly less clothing.  

I’ve been talking to a few families who are ready to potty train, but they don’t want to do it now, as in before Spring Break.  The mentality is “I don’t want to put in all this time and effort now, for it to unravel while we’re on vacation.”  

The reality is that pre-spring break or any vacation is an advantageous time to potty train.  I know it seems counterintuitive, and there’s a fair amount of fear about a potty training snafu derailing your precious vacation, but just hear me out.

Here’s why it makes sense to potty train before a vacation:

You’ve got Dad’s full attention.

1.  You’re going to be with your child all day and night (at least for the most part) for numerous days in a row.  There’s a good chance your partner will also be traveling with you.  When else do you get this many days in a row to practice potty skills and move toward independence in a relaxed, but intensive manner?  

You do the Potty Training Plan as described in The Tiny Potty Training Book by Andrea Olson (link) a couple of weeks before your vacation.  It takes the majority of children 3-10 days to complete all three steps in the Plan.  The Plan is wrapped up before vacation.  This means your child is potty trained.  Over vacation, when you’re enjoying family time in some (hopefully) gorgeous place, you work on potty independence.  

2.  Have you ever noticed how to-do lists disappear while on vacation?  I have a running to-do list every day that I’m at home.  Sometimes I hate how tied to it I feel.  And then I go on vacation or even just a brief weekend getaway and the to-do list vanishes.  When I’m not at home, I have almost zero inclination to “get things done.”  No laundry, no dishes, no appointments. I ease up on checking my email.  Social media … what?  

On vacation, the distractions of daily life greatly diminish, at least I hope they do.  You have that much more time to be present and enjoy yourself.  In this relaxed but clear state, you will be attuned to your child’s potty needs.  You’ll remember to remind your daughter to pee before getting in the car for an hour long car ride.  You’ll notice her pee or poop dance.  You can work on pottying in unfamiliar places.  

Why do you think almost all American mothers in the 1950s were able to potty train their children before 18 months of age with relative ease and grace?  Life was simpler back then.  It was not as busy as it is today, nor were there any of the technological distractions of today.  Let your vacation have a bit of that 1950s flair.  Be chill about potty learning and watch your child progress.  

3.  I hope you’re going somewhere warm!  A lot of our vacations will be in warmer climates, where we wear fewer clothes.  Bonus!!  This one is kinda simple.  Accidents do continue to happen after potty training is complete, and it is much easier to clean up post-accident when you’re only wearing a bathing suit, a dress or shorts (no undies needed, if recently trained).  

Swim trunks are a lot easier to remove than winter attire.

Minimal clothing also means it’s easier to get undressed in time to eliminate in a toilet, mini potty or grassy patch.  30 seconds is a lot of time to “hold it” when you’re recently potty trained and trying to push down pants completely.  

If you’re stressed by the occasional pee accident (or the pre-pee drips), try wearing lightweight merino wool leggings.  Even though they are wool, they are cool enough to wear in warm climates.  Wool has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties so you can simply rinse them with water post-accident and let them dry.  (Lightweight wool is very quick drying.)  And then you are on your way.  Low stress.  Easy to clean.  Wool can go weeks and experience multiple pee accidents before washing is necessary.  Even though you’re tired of them after winter, consider bringing your child’s wool base layer bottoms with you on vacation.  

4.  There’s always a reason to postpone potty training.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about how potty training is a lot like doing your taxes.  (It’s likely due to the fact that it is tax season.)  Very few people are excited to do their taxes.  A lot of people postpone doing their taxes and file late.  Filing late costs you.  As does, postponing potty training.  

In short, you can always find a reason to put off potty training – a move, family visiting, a new job, a new baby, a VACATION.  There’s never really a convenient time to potty train.  We can always find something else to which to dedicate ourselves.  But the benefits of having a potty trained child are numerous: increasing the child’s self worth and independence, saving money, reducing environmental impact, no more diaper rash.  

We found time to refine potty skills during the summer in Jackson.

5.  This reason is somewhat specific to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where I live.  However, I’m sure the mentality I’m going to share resonates with a lot of people.  Jackson summers are short and very sweet.  People want to get outside as much as possible during the summer months.  Recreation opportunities and social events, not to mention visits from friends and family, fill our calendars.  

A common attitude toward potty training is “I’ll wait until summer,” which is great, if you truly are going to carve out the time to devote to the process.  Yes, there can be some perks to potty training during the summer, such as less clothing, warmer temps, maybe more time off from work, but when summer is so short and precious, as it is in Jackson Hole, you really need to make the commitment if you’re going to potty train during the summer months.  

Please share in the comments below how working on pottying skills or doing EC went for you while you were traveling. I hear again and again how surprised families are that it’s pretty simple to focus on pottying skills or EC while away from home. Your insights help others! And if you have any questions, post them in the comments and I’ll be sure to reply.

2 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Potty Train before Spring Break (or any vacation)”

  1. We took Kate’s advice and started potty training well in advance of our February Hawaiian vacation. I was nervous about the 7 hr plane ride w a kiddo in undies. Our 22 mth old does great at home getting to the potty, but does have a few misses here and there [mostly early starts]. Amazingly he did good in both the airports and on the planes. Dry undies the whole way! He did have more misses than usual while we were away [which I’m chalking up to the newness and unfamiliar scene] but for the most part pottying was fairly similar to what it is at home.
    AND he even learned the fun art of peeing [and pooping] outside when the need arose.
    I’m SO glad we went ahead and potty trained before the big event~ as we’re so much further along in the process than we would have been.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Poa. I think airplane rides go well because the parent is inches away, all the time. Sure you might be reading a book or watching a movie, but the proximity keeps you always within arm’s reach. Plus, you’re so close you can sense shifts in energy and nonverbal cue more easily. Learning to potty outdoors is essential (for most of us who enjoy playing in nature). See, even after you’re potty trained, there are still potty skills to be learned!

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