This Is One of the Most Helpful Parenting (and Potty Training!) Ideas I’ve Used as a Mom of Three

published Jul 19, 2023
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Small child on a toilet
Credit: Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

Have you ever started out on a road trip and, just as you’re in a groove, driving smoothly, your toddler yells out, “I need to go potty!” Cue: utter frustration. No matter how many times you make the kids use the bathroom before hitting the road, inevitably, someone will ask to stop 30 minutes into the drive.

I used to feel anxious traveling with my oldest when he was potty training because it was new territory — would he be too scared to use a public potty? What would we do if he fell asleep in the car without a pull-up on? What if he needed to go Number Two? Ultimately, my oldest son did really well with potty training at home and on-the-go. But in typical second child fashion, my younger son struggled a bit more. He had accidents more frequently and just took longer to be fully comfortable going in the potty.

Tip: Take along the training potty!

When my second son was 2.5 years old, I had to make a short two-and-a-half hour road trip with him and my newborn — alone. My husband had the brilliant idea of taking along our training potty and keeping it in the trunk so that I wouldn’t have to cart my toddler and six-month old into a gas station restroom. My son was still having a few accidents a week at that time, so my nerves were pretty rattled at the thought of dealing with an accident on the road with a baby also in tow. But having his potty in the back was a game-changer! (Bonus: It’s also kind of chic? For a potty, that is.)

He was already very comfortable using the potty at home and it fit perfectly in our trunk. (The BabyBjorn Smart Potty is even more compact than the original.) When he needed to go (miraculously, only once!), I pulled off into a gravel lot, let him use the potty (then, used it myself — desperate times!), and we were on our way!

I loved the freedom of having that little potty in the back. I wasn’t limited to pulling off at exits that had restrooms — I could stop almost anywhere, let him climb in the back and go, then dump it in the grass. When I got back home, we just never took the potty out of the car. It now has a permanent spot in our trunk, and I ended up buying a second one to keep in the kids’ bathroom.

Now, we never leave home without our BabyBjorn potty. Plus, when we get to our destination, whether that’s a grandparent’s house, a campsite, or a hotel, we can just bring the potty with us and our kids have their own familiar little place to go.

I’ve even set up our own little potty station in a side compartment of our trunk with wipes, extra clothes, paper towel, hand sanitizer, and grocery bags that we use to line the potty seat to catch solid waste. The portable potty has come in handy more times than I count. 

Beyond traveling, though, it’s very convenient to have a toddler-size potty on hand when I’m running errands with all three kids by myself. It is no small task to take three children under 5 into a public bathroom. Instead, if someone needs to go, my kids can use a familiar, cleaner potty in the privacy of our own car, and my youngest can safely hang out with us instead of touching every nasty surface in a store bathroom.

So maybe the real hack here is to just make your car an extension of your home. Ours has certainly served us well as a changing room after a day at the splash pad, a snack station, and, of course, a private bathroom.

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