What Does Potty Training Have to Do with Your Money?

My brain has always worked in analogies and making connections between things.  This has always helped me learn things in school because it makes things relatable.

Recently when potty training my youngest, I couldn’t help but connect the whole process to someone’s money journey.

So, yes, potty training is related to your money, but it’s not what you may think.  In this case, it has nothing to do with the cost savings of diapers.

Prior Experience

Potty training with my oldest seemed to take years. And the more I know now, the more I can say it’s because of me and not her.

If you had asked me 6 months ago what the worst part of parenting was, I would have hands down said potty training.

And it wasn’t because of the accidents or doing extra laundry. It was because I expected it to go a certain way, and it didn’t, and as a bit of a type A personality – that was really hard to take.

The whole process also made me feel like a failure because I took on most of the responsibility, and my daughter didn’t seem to get it. I thought I must be a terrible teacher (I know I’m not, but in the stress of things, the reality is fleeting sometimes). And, of course, all of this comes with shame and mom guilt.

So, the whole process was extremely stressful.

It always seemed like everyone’s kids were 100% potty trained – why wasn’t mine?

Sound familiar? Do you feel like everyone else has their finances all figured out? That you’re behind because you haven’t achieved XYZ or saved $$ yet? Or do your finances bring out feelings of shame, failure, and guilt? You’re not alone.

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Bring on child #2, and potty training was the last thing I wanted to do. Couldn’t I just pay someone to do it for me? I mean, I’m sure that service exists somewhere, but I can’t even begin to imagine what it would cost. But I digress.

I was again scared of what the process would be like, dealing with all those negative emotions. I couldn’t mentally prepare myself to go through (what I thought was) 2+ years of potty training again.

Are you scared to open your bank statements when it comes to money? Scared to check your credit score or tally up your debt? Maybe potty training isn’t all that different from managing your finances after all.

Working with Someone

So, I knew that I had to do something differently. I couldn’t let history repeat itself.

It was time to “bring in the professionals,” so to speak.

I had read a book on potty training with my first, and although it helped, I felt like I (obviously) needed something different. And conveniently, one of the accounts I follow on Instagram offers a potty training course.  I appreciated their Instagram content, so I thought – why not?

So, I told hubby that I was thinking about getting the potty training course from Big Little Feelings, and he was indifferent to my excitement – haha.  In so many words, he told me that it didn’t matter what I tried. The process would take years again, so I should just mentally prepare for that.

The optimist in me ignored his pessimism disguised as “realism.”

And luckily, I was able to take advantage of a Mother’s Day sale to get the potty training course on sale!

Maybe you’ve tried taking control of your finances, but nothing seems to work. Or you are trying to save, but your partner thinks it’s pointless or is a mindless spender? There is no shame in getting help with your money (or with potty training ????).

Having a Plan

After watching the course, I really felt like I had a plan.  (The course is great, by the way, and even includes exact scripts of what you can say to help your little one without adding pressure to them. I’m not an affiliate of this course, just a happy parent/customer).

So we looked at the calendar and picked 3 days to start so that I could devote 1:1 time with my son to work on potty learning.  And so that my daughter didn’t feel neglected, we planned lots of fun things for her to do with her dad during those 3 days because he was off work.

I wasn’t expecting to 100% potty train my son in 3 days, but I knew that would give us a good start moving forward.  And we are lucky that my mom helps with childcare when hubby and I are both working, and my mom was on board to help too.

So all the pieces seemed to be falling into place.  The type A part of me always likes a good plan.

Sometimes with our money, we just need a plan.  Something clearly outlined that walks us through exactly what to do. When it comes to my investments, I call this plan our Personal Investment Policy Statement. And while this plan doesn’t tell us exactly what to do, it clearly outlines our investing plan and gives us something to refer back to when distractions arise.

Getting Your Partner On Board

So, I started potty learning on day 1. And while I was optimistic, hubby was still indifferent.

That is until our son started peeing on the potty.  Sure, he had tons of accidents that day.  But he also had many small moments of success.

We were even lucky enough to have our son poop on the potty that first day, which doesn’t always happen with potty learning.  Some toddlers develop a whole thing around poop and the potty.  It was a real struggle with our daughter when she started using the potty.

And as soon as there was some success on day 1, hubby was fully on board.  I even had him rewatch the day 2 and 3 videos with me the night before so we were both ready to help our son on his learning journey.

While I was prepared to take this on myself fully, it was so nice to have hubby help and take on some of the responsibility. It meant I could spend some time with my daughter those days doing fun things with her too.

When I told hubby I wanted to achieve financial independence and be work optional well before the traditional retirement age, he was a bit skeptical.  He didn’t want to deprive himself on the way to the end goal. But when I started changing some of our money habits, and he saw how much we could save without feeling deprived (by aligning our spending with our values), he was fully on board then too.

The Power of Community

And remember those earlier thoughts of feeling like every other parent and child had potty training figured out but me? Well it turns out that was something I made up in my head.

Sure, on the outside, it may look like every other family has it figured out.  But in sharing my struggles with some of my mom friends, they admitted to struggling too.  My kids aren’t the only ones still having accidents or trouble with bedwetting.

Knowing that I’m not alone is so reassuring.  I often have to remind myself that, as parents, we are all just figuring this out.

The same goes for your money.  On the outside (or on social media), it may always feel like everyone else has it figured out but you. Or that you are behind some imaginary target. But I’m here to tell you that you’re not.  Not everything on social media is as it appears.  And chances are, if you are vulnerable with friends and share your money struggles, they may open up about theirs too. At the very least, it may help make money feel a bit less taboo.

Having a community can be so powerful. This is true whether we are talking about potty learning, your health, your money, or the direct physical community of your neighbours around you.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

So, when it comes to your money, if you have feelings of fear, shame, overwhelm, or guilt, know that you’re not alone. And that there is a path forward through all of those negative feelings.

To help you, here are my money-potty training connections:

  • Prior experience doesn’t have to define you – you can always learn from it and keep growing
  • It’s okay to ask for help – doing so can really accelerate your journey
  • Have a plan – either one you create yourself or with a professional
  • If you have a partner, get them on board – if you’re both pulling in the same direction, you’ll be much stronger
  • Seek out your community – surround yourself with like-minded people 

Final Thoughts

Whether we like it or not, money is essential to our lives (just like learning to use the toilet). So, why not learn ways to ease the stress around money and find out how money can work for us?

For toddlers, getting rid of their diapers can be a scary thing. It’s what they’ve always knowns. It’s comfortable and feels safe. But never getting rid of their diaper robs them of the opportunity to learn and grow.

Maybe where you are with your money right now feels safe and comfortable (even if that means you’re neglecting it). But know that you are also capable of learning and growing. And just like a potty-training toddler, you’ll be better for it in the long run.

The journey won’t be linear, and there will be some ups and downs (or accidents in the case of potty learning) along the way.  But you have the power to learn about your money and start feeling more in control of it. Even if it’s just little steps, we all start somewhere.

So, ditch the diapers, learn from others, make your plan, and then take action – you got this!

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