If a 3-day weekend is approaching on your calendar, you may want to think about using it to potty train your child. Many parents find they can make remarkable strides in potty learning with focused attention. To utilize this time wisely, you will want to familiarize yourself with the 3-day potty training method.

This method may be ideal for children who:

  • Show signs of readiness for potty training
  • Thrive on having a parent's focused attention
  • Can understand the basics of potty use

It is also a suitable method for parents who:

  • Can give their children their undivided attention
  • Are motivated to say goodbye to diapers because they are tired of spending money on diapers, don't want to add to the landfills, and want to put away their bulky diaper bags
  • Are willing to give up the 3-day mission if it appears their child is not thriving in this method

What are signs of readiness?

So glad you asked! (Just kidding - but you were wondering, right?!) Seeing signs of readiness in your little one is crucial before you begin potty training. Here are the following signs you will want to look for to determine if your child is ready to tackle this milestone:

  • Shows interest in potty using
  • Watches you in the bathroom or asks questions about it
  • Stays dry for a few hours at a time or wakes up in the morning with a dry diaper
  • Gravitates toward pooping or peeing in a specific area of the house
  • Tells you when they have peed or pooped, or
  • Let's you know when they are going

Even showing one of these signs may be indication enough to go ahead and give potty learning a  go. However, if you don't see any signs, it is probably best to wait a few weeks and then revisit the possibility of getting started. In general, most children show signs of readiness and can grapes the concepts of potty training between ages 2-3.

Preparing for weekend potty training

If you are going to potty train over a 3-day weekend, you will need to do some prep ahead of time. So here's a rundown of some things to think about before Saturday morning hits.

Clear your calendar. You are probably putting this together by now, but if you are trying to do the 3-day potty method, you will want to have no distractions for those 3 days. That means canceling any errands, get-togethers with family and friends, and playdates. Staying at home will help your child gain confidence in their skills and prevent any setbacks or regression due to lack of focus and attention.

Clue everyone in on your plans. No, that doesn't mean you need to share it with all the neighbors, but make sure you let everyone in your home know the agenda for the long weekend ahead. Having everyone on the same page will help keep the focus where it needs to be, which is on potty learning. And, don't forget to let the most important person know - the child that is getting potty trained. Maybe they would like to offer some input on fun rewards or activities to do while they are in between potty trips!

Designate a bathroom for potty training. Choose a bathroom closest to where you and your child will spend most of your time together. Ensure you have supplies like a potty chair or potty seat, stepstool, flushable wipes, hand soap, and plenty of towels and paper towels. In addition, it may help to have some fun books, so they have something to look at if they are sitting on the potty for a little bit.

Get some fun undies. You may want to do this closer to the weekend, so your child gets really excited, but do a fun errand to their favorite clothing store for some awesome underwear. Involve them in washing and folding them, so they take ownership of adding this new clothing item to their wardrobe.

Prep your house. Aside from designating a bathroom for potty learning, think about what areas of your home will cause you to stress if your kid has a mishap and pees or poops outside the bathroom (FYI - this will happen and is normal). So roll up any precious rugs, throw a shower curtain on the couch, and maybe encourage them to be outside as much as possible - weather permitting.

Action Time

Now that you are physically and (hopefully) mentally prepared, it's time to get the show on the road. On Saturday morning, or Day 1, start by doing a diaper round-up and place all diapers in the house in a box somewhere out of reach. It is important to note that many children will only work on daytime potty training, so if your child will still wear diapers at night for a while, keep those out of reach and available only for bedtime.

After your diaper round-up, focus on playing together for the rest of the day and spending quality time on the bathroom floor. It will help to have some fun beverages on hand, so your child has plenty of opportunities to pee. Just make sure they aren't too sweet, as sugar can irritate the bladder. Also, don't hesitate to set potty reminders for both you and your child so you don't get too carried away with an activity. It can be fun for your child to set the timer on your phone themselves, so they feel like they have ownership over their schedule. Dry undie checks are also a fantastic way to encourage your child to check in with what's going on in their undies and for giving them praise.

Once you get through day one, you may feel pretty good about some of the progress. And if not a lot happened, don't stress - there's always tomorrow. And speaking of tomorrow, you must know that most parents feel like Saturday never happened when they reach Sunday. What we mean by that is that most children do not wake up with the same progress they showed on Saturday. Indeed, Sunday can feel like a repeat, where you are revisiting the same steps and messages from the day before. This is normal. But the hope is by Monday, your child will start to show they are putting the pieces together with potty going.

Pros and cons of the potty training over a long weekend


  • You may see results in 3 days
  • Start saving $$ on diapers sooner
  • Less waste in landfills
  • Fewer power struggles with diapers
  • Your kiddo gets your undivided attention for the first 3 days of their potty career
  • Lots of bonding and playing with your child
  • No time away from work


  • Saying it takes 3 days is misleading
  • Fear, frustration, and disappointment
  • Unhealthy elimination patterns
  • Too harsh and intense when it should be fun
  • Opposition from parents when forcing fluids and snacks
  • Missing out on an opportunity to relax, recover, and just have family time without a focus on achieving the next milestone

The BIG Question: Does 3-day potty training actually work?

For many children, yes! The 3-day method can help some children take significant strides in their learning and confidence with potty training. However, it doesn't mean that you are done potty training after the long weekend is up. Indeed, you will be continuing to give them cues to go to the bathroom, likely cleaning up accidents, and will, of course, need to continue supporting and encouraging them for several weeks following this weekend.

However, some children will not benefit from this method. At The Academy, we are big proponents of our children guiding us in this milestone and believe our role is to support them with the right tools, encouragement, and positivity. The 3-day method can be intense for some children and parents, so feel free to abandon ship if your child is resisting and let your child guide you on the pace they want to go to master this milestone. After all, it is their experience, not ours.