I Am Officially Tired of Buying Diapers

diapersWednesday I wrote about the fact that I wear the financial pants in my family.  Today I am going to talk about a different kind of pants- diapers and pull-ups, specifically- and the fact that I am officially tired of buying them after five long years.

Tired. Of. It.

I buy pull-ups for daytime and diapers for overnights.  I buy them at the grocery store, the department store, and the drug store- with coupons if I’m lucky.  I currently spend $10-$15 dollars per week on something that adds no value to our lives or to the planet.   I might as well be shreddin’ $20 bills over here!

Here’s What I’ve Tried So Far

lydia vivian croppedAhhhh…..my beautiful daughters.  They are so fun and so full of life.  As of this summer, they’re also big girls- my oldest starts kindergarten and my youngest just turned three.  That means that we’ve moved out of the baby and toddler stage thankfully, but we certainly out of the woods yet.  Why?  Well, my three-year-old has no interest in using a big-person potty.  And, believe me, it’s not for a lack of trying on our part.  Here are the strategies we’ve tried so far:

  • Reward- We started giving her a spoonful of ice cream or a piece of candy any time she pee-peed on the potty.  That seems to work after-the-fact, but the promise of a treat isn’t always enough to lure her in there to begin with.
  • Punish- We started telling her we were upset when she peed her pants.  I hate doing that.  Whenever she could tell I was frustrated, she would look up at me with those big blue eyes and say, “Sorry mommy.”  That made me feel awful.
  • Indifference- Once we realized we weren’t getting anywhere with rewards or punishments, we tried taking her diaper off and just letting her pee all over herself.  Our thought was that letting her pee her pants might result in her feeling uncomfortable or embarassed.  Nope.  She just goes on with her day, wet pants and all.

I Am Officially Tired of Buying Diapers

My oldest daughter potty-trained quickly and easily.  But my youngest?  I’m afraid to say it, but I just don’t think she cares enough at this point.  She’s also busy- real busy- and doesn’t want to stop what she’s doing to go to the bathroom.  She would much rather just pee her pants and continue picking flowers, riding her bike, or playing in the sandbox.  Ewww…  I’m tired of buying diapers, but I also don’t know what else to do.  A few strategies I’m considering:

  • Potty Timer- A relative suggested I set a timer and simply tell her it is the “potty timer.”  Then I just need to take her to the potty any time it goes off.  Perhaps she will think it’s a game and get on board.  Maybe?
  • Naked Weekend- Several people have suggested I let her run around naked outside for a day or two.  The idea is that she might recognize her need to potty better if she literally felt pee run down her leg (as opposed to it being absorbed by her clothing).  That might be possible on the weekend, but I’m not sure how cooperative she would be.
  • Fun Potty Time- Others have suggested adding food coloring to the toilet water or wearing a funny hat when it’s pee-pee time.  Sounds crazy to me, but I’m honestly willing to do anything at this point.
  • Wait- I keep reading that kids who aren’t interested in potty-training might just need more time.  I’ve considered putting our plans on hold for a few months and trying again this fall.

So, that’s it.  I’m officially tired of buying diapers, but must continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  Hopefully I’ll figure out a winning strategy sometime soon.  Until then, I envision lots of laundry, frustration, and tears coming up.  Stay tuned.

Did you have trouble potty-training your kids?  What strategies worked for you?

About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.

Comments

  1. I have no experience there, but l like the idea of naked weekends and the timer. With my dogs, l do the pee song that l made up for nighttime. Before they would not pee, and l have to get up in the middle of the night. Now, at night, l get up..start singing “it’s time to pee, it’s time to pee pee pee pee” accompanied by a dance and presto, they pee. I still have to get up every once n a while for the tiny one with the small bladder, but it works very well. Good luck!!!

  2. Holly your daughters are really beautiful! I have a seven year old daughter, but would you believe that before she turns one she didn’t pee anymore, even at night. She would tell me, “Mama weeh weeh”, it means that she wanted to pee. :)

  3. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    My oldest is 6. We haven’t bought diapers but she has had issues with the potty during the day. Basically she doesn’t want to stop what she’s doing to go! Timer worked for her. I used the pull ups app on my phone which has favorite Disney characters. The second she heard it she would go. You then give the kid a star and when they earn enough stars (u choose) they get to play one of the games on the app. Worked pretty well for her. This summer we finally turned a corner and have only had 2 daytime accidents. ( much better than the sometimes 2 per day)!
    Let her pick out whatever undies she wants too. I thought my little pony would inspire but it turned Wonder Woman, super girl, and bat girl were more exciting to her. Plus I got both the same so they like to wear the same ones so big sis doesn’t want little sis wearing different bc of an accident!

  4. So here’s a thought, it could be a medical issue. We did elimination communication with my oldest and she was practically potty trained at eighteen months. The. We moved and moved again and she changed daycares three times. Yep, we had a lot of accidents and I thought it was because of all the changes. Then, at three, our daycare threatened to kick her out because of her accidents. I took her to the doctor who diagnosed her with chronic constipation, which causes both pee and poop accidents (and they still poop and it CAN look runny). We have to give her Miralax daily and after a month of that (with no other changes), she’s not having any accidents. Feel free to email me and I can tell you more signs to look for.

    • Yeah, I am going to see what happens before I take her to the doctor. We’ve only *really* been trying for 3 or 4 weeks. I’m glad you found a solution though!

  5. I’ve heard that letting kids pick out their own big girl underwear is sometimes a good motivator. Also I know there are books out there that deal just with potty training. I think sometimes depending on a kiddos personality it can just take longer. But I hear you on being tired of buying diapers, and I’ve only been buying them for a month! I’ve been buying them in bulk on Amazon, but I’ve now run into the problem of having lots of newborn diapers and I think she’s going to be out of that size soon! Can’t win!

  6. I don’t have any experience here, but I guess I’m in for a treat! :) I like the idea of naked weekends..although hopefully that doesn’t give her the idea that it’s cool to be naked all the time–like at day care, or at the store, or whatever.

  7. My 3 and 1/2 year old daughter had no interest in potty training and I was so frustrated and feeling just as you state here. Then I read somewhere about empowering the child with statements like “you are in charge of your body” and ” only you know when to pee/poo”. I spoke with her about how she was in charge of her pee and poo, she loved that she was in charge of something, that she was the “boss”. She immediately started going on the potty. For the next three days she didn’t even have an accident! And only wore a diaper at bedtime! She still has naps and is dry through her nap time. We literally went from wearing diapers to not in one afternoon.
    She still talks about being in charge…. And I have to clarify that she is in charge of her body, and that I or daddy are in charge of everything else. ;)

    • I love that! My daughter would probably love to hear she was *in charge of something*- anything! I am seriously going to try that.

  8. Have you tried Amazon Mom? My wife and I get cheap diapers from Amazon, especially if you are willing to take the boxes that are dented or have been dropped…obviously it doesn’t hurt the diapers in any way.

    As far as potty training, my oldest daughter was super easy. Now my son is only 10 months, but what we will do with him, which is what worked for my daughter, is set a schedule. Take them potty every hour or 2 hours and sit them on the toilet. It got my daughter in the mindset of going and she was potty training very quickly. Good luck to you, ma’am!

    • NOOOOOOOOOOOOO, I don’t want to save money on diapers. I just want to quit buying them all together!!!!!

      I have heard good things about Amazon mom though.

  9. Punishment always has the opposite effect with potty training (there’s research on this and everything, plus that’s what happened when DC1 got the mean teacher in preschool). It causes kids to try to hide it and to feel ashamed about it. That may have set you back.

    We’re *finally* potty training our two year old at daycare (she’s been trained at home for a year now).

    Re: diapers: We use/used cloth diapers for nighttime which cuts down on disposable purchases.

    Re: 3 year olds. I’ve heard all of the above strategies to work for different three year olds. What worked with my little sister back in the day was bribing her with super frilly underpants. Nothing else did anything.

    • Fortunately, I only scolded her once or twice. That really isn’t my style. Hopefully it won’t set her back but, at this point, I don’t think it has.

      I think I am going to try a combo of a chart with stickers and “telling her she is in charge” or her body like someone mentioned above. She always asks me if she can be in charge of the dog so I think that is something that might really appeal to her.

  10. LOL, sounds just like my third daughter. :-) What we ended up doing eventually for her was casually mentioning that she couldn’t go to “big girl school” (homeschool co-op) if she wasn’t potty trained. She was trained within a week. So, lord something big like that over her if you have it. But the naked thing works well too.

  11. We were in sticker shock when our first children were born (twins) in the amount of diapers we used and cost. We danced for joy when they were potty trained. For overnight potty training we used a potty alarm, because our youngest son was such a deep sleeper that he never woke up when he had to go. We had to use pull ups for years. Once we got the alarm, problem was solved in a few weeks.

  12. Oh man, I feel ya! I would almost equate the last diaper payment with my last car payment. It was heaven.
    I was lucky with potty training, my kid just sort of figured it out. He was a hellion in so many ways but coming out of those diapers was a snap. I’d like too think he just got to a point where sitting in poo was no longer fun.
    Wish I had the perfect tip so you can leave the dark-side! LOL
    Have a super weekend Holly! May you return here Monday magically diaper-free!

    • I am going to be hardcore about it this weekend. During the week is going pretty well because she is at daycare and her provider is trying hard to move this process along.

  13. I’m so with you on this Holly! We still have all 3 in some form of diaper. Pullups at night for the older two and diapers for our youngest who is 2 1/2. I feel like we’re just setting money aflame when we buy them. Our middle child is making it through the night about 1/2 – 2/3 of the nights dry so we have hope there. Our youngest could give a flip right now and we were working with the other two by his age but he shows no interest. That said, we did the naked day/weekend with the first two and it worked like a charm by day 2 or 3. We’ve thought about trying it again with our youngest, but that could lead to some interesting times with the others.

  14. My kid turned 2 in June and he is 80% potty trained at this point. He loves using the big boy potty and asks to go all the time. He still has some accidents and doesn’t wake up at night yet, but I’ll take it. Of course daycare has done basically 95% of the work for us, so in my mind that has been money well spent.

    Have you tried just using regular underpants instead of pull ups? I know you said she doesn’t care, but regular underpants don’t hold squat so she might care a little quicker… then again she might still not care.

  15. Ugh. I remember being frustrated and then someone told me to chill out and said you don’t ever see a kid wear diapers to kindergarten. I bet it will happen soon. Good luck though.

  16. Oh no! I have no strategies because I haven’t been there, but now I’m scared. Also, I had a mini heart attack when I saw naked weekend in bold…I wasn’t thinking a naked weekend for the kid……. You’ll have to let us know what ends up happening so I can learn from you :-)

    • PLEASE do not try to learn anything from me. Can’t you tell I have no idea what I’m doing? I thought I was so awesome when my first child potty-trained instantly. Now I know it was just a fluke!

    • We inadvertently did a naked weekend about a year ago because DC2′s diaper rash was so bad that she needed a break from any kind of diaper. It worked out surprisingly well.

  17. Oh gosh, been there! My son was not interested in potty training at all and I felt like we tried everything (rewards, a schedule, underpants, no underpants). I don’t like giving this advice (because I hated hearing it myself) but what worked for us was backing off and letting him lead the way when he was ready.
    Good Luck!

  18. I have no experience with this and my DH said that his son apparently was a super star and skipped the potty stage and went straight to a regular toilet. I would really like to hear the result if you try the Naked Weekend option! Or maybe suggest to your kiddo that she start paying for her own diapers ;)

  19. I was/am in the same boat at you. My first daughter also starts kindergarten this year and she was soooo easy to potty train but that goes with her personality. My youngest daughter, who turned 4 in May, was HARD. She was probably 3 1/2 by the time she started wearing big girl panties but she still wears pull ups to bed and I don’t see that stopping anytime in the near future.

    She was jealous that my oldest had cool panties with characters on them. LOL that was the only thing that made her want to try. And at first we had all kinds of accidents. Start by putting panties on her while she’s playing outside so that you don’t have to worry about accidents in the house. And take it slow.

    Different kids have different personalities so if she’s not interested you’ll probably just have to wait.

    • I’m afraid you’re right!
      She is wearing panties right now and she has had a few awesome days. It just feels like it is two steps forward, three steps back.

  20. I was so happy when we didn’t have to buy diapers and pull ups anymore! Potty training is one of the most frustrating things to deal with. Just keep trying and wait it out. It seems like one day, it just clicks.

  21. We never pushed the potty training with my son. One day he woke up and decided he wanted to use the potty, just before he turned 3. It was an overnight miracle, because he was 100% trained and has never had an accident, even at night, even on road trips (1 stop over 9 hours!) One thing his daycare provider pointed out to us, was the despite being the last child to start using the potty, he was the only consistent child in using it. The other kids had frequent accidents, which the provider believed was due to parents pushing the potty training on them too soon?! I have no real advice unfortunately. I tend to just go with the flow and wait for the kid to let me know when he’s ready for something. I think we were blessed with an easy child, so I think we’ll stick with one. ;) I sure don’t miss the costs of diapers though!!

  22. I’m dreading the potty training days…my son is only about one so I have no experience with this. We used to watch Supernanny and thought her tactics were great…I think there was an episode on potty training. Good luck!

  23. We had the worst time training Will. He had absolutely no interest in the potty which led to lots of fights between he and my hubby. I had more patience with the process, because truthfully as much as I hated buying diapers they were also a huge convenience. I hate having to stop everything I am doing to find a bathroom for him. Finally when he was 3 and a half, he literally started using the potty one day and that was it.

  24. Those big eyes will get you everytime! I don’t have kids yet, so my wife and I haven’t broached the topic of potty training a child (honestly, I don’t think I ever thought about it before now. I just imagine every child wanting to use a toilet. I’m probably in for a lot of rude awakenings). But, we have talked about cloth diapers (wife wants) and not cloth diapers (which I want). I’m not super cool to the idea of basically having a basket full of poop covered towels, but if it saves me hundreds of dollars per year, I can get down with it.

  25. I’m very (VERY) thankful I don’t have to deal with this. I’m going to enjoy my time without kids!

  26. After potty training our autistic daughter I consider myself an expert on all things potty. First off, your daughter may simply not be ready from a control standpoint. Some kids don’t develop full control of their sphincter until age 5, but most do by age 4. If you think it’s just a motivation/anxiety issue, Google the rapid method. You might have to spend an entire weekend to it, but it works.

  27. I have to hop on this spendy train soon, which I’m definitely not looking forward to though I’m looking forward to everything else. I hope your little one gets potty trained soon!

  28. Brian Porter says:

    I don’t understand this article. My 3 year old is potty-trained… :)

  29. I don’t have kids myself but I know quite a few people that have kids and used cloth diapers. Not sure what the exact cost is but apparently it can be cheaper than regular diapers and also more environmentally friendly

  30. I think I’d go for fun potty time. Make it an event when its time to go potty and maybe it’ll be a more desirable activity.

  31. I’m not at the potty training stage yet, my daughter is only 10 weeks old, so not much help there. But I do have to say that we’ve been using reusable diapers and they’re amazing. A bit of an upfront cost (but we got a few as gifts, so that helped) and then its pretty inexpensive after that. Just a load of laundry every other day :)

  32. We tried the potty timer method and it worked. So maybe it will work. You may try all of those one after another and if none works then wait.

  33. I’ve been looking forward to reading this article since I saw the title in my email, and I finally had some time tonight. I know exactly what you are talking about! My three and a half year old daughter refuses to use the potty also, and she will just go in her training pants (cloth or pullup). She totally freaks out if I try to sit her on the potty! We have a variety of potty seats, tried different rewards, read books to her about it, got the new underpants…she just does not care. She is starting preschool in a month and I desperately need the free time, but they will only take her if she is trained so we are getting down to the wire. I am going to try the pullups app someone commented about….I don’t think she will care about the “you’re in charge” thing but might try it too. Let us know if you find something that works!!

    • Oh Carol! I so relate! I started telling her “shes in charge” this weekend and she seems interested in the concept. One pee-pee on the potty so far this morning. I am setting a fake timer and singing a pee-pee song. Hopefully the timer idea will work for both of us!

  34. I’m right behind you with the potty training. We are still in what I call the “potty orientation” stage. My son is 2 and I want to make sure he is “ready” before we cross over into full on training. I’ve read that if you attempt to train before the kids are ready, it could backfire and take longer. One day he shows signs of being ready, other days he runs the other way at the very mention of “potty”

    I am planning on using cloth training pants instead of disposables because my research tells me that pull-ups absorb like diapers whereas cloth trainers allow kids to feel the wetness.

    I hope you’ll keep us posted on the progress. I haven’t moved to that next phase yet, but if you’re interested, I wrote about the first phase in Adventures in Potty Training: http://www.mommakescents.com/adventures-in-potty-training/

    • We had some trouble with using cloth training pants vs the cloth diaper – it was too much like a diaper and she just peed in it. We had to go naked before she “got it”. Not that we bought any pull-ups, but the trainers just weren’t cutting it for our kiddo.

  35. When my daughter turns 5-6 months I think, I already started do trained her to her potty chair. Sometimes when she peed, she immediately told me because she doesn’t want to wear wet shorts.

  36. I don’t have kids, so I can’t really weigh in about what works and doesn’t work with potty training children, but I can imagine how frustrating it is to try to stick with enforcing toilet only. I nannied for years and it took so much more work to clean up a wet kid without a diaper. The only thing that worked for one of the kids that I nannied was telling him that he couldn’t go to pre-school if he didn’t go in the toilet. He wanted so badly to go to preschool but they didn’t take kids in diapers (of course).

  37. Ugh I can imagine your frustration, especially since she’s actually old enough to use the big potty. I think the new ideas sound great, I hope they’ll help you with your problem!

  38. We did the naked weekend, which worked well for peeing. A year later, we’re *finally* getting the pooping in the potty down. We only have accidents when there’s something not “regular” going on though, so it’s progress. Frustrating while you’re going through it though – hang in there! If you’re OK with the mess, you could just skip the pull-ups and go with undies only. We also tried the “don’t get wet/dirty – they don’t like it”. It didn’t work for us, but it worked for other parents we know!

  39. Ditch the diapers! Todays pull-ups and super absorbent diapers make it pretty comfortable to walk around after peeing. Cotton training pants (like the 1950s and 60s) were very uncomfortable. I’m a vote for pretty big-girl panties and being uncomfortable when she pees her pants. Not sure how day care will feel about it though.

    • Thanks Mary! That is basically what we have done and I am extremely happy to report that she is 99% potty-trained during the day now and only wearing pull-ups at night. Thank goodness! We re on our way out of the diaper phase finally!

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