When Potty Training Invades a Campsite [Camping Chronicles]

Welcome to the third post in the Camping Chronicles. We’ve talked a whole lot about staying warm. Now we are switching gears entirely to potty training.

I had to start this post off with this photo. Cause why not?! We all need a few more laughs when it comes to potty training.

If you are in the middle of a potty training adventure, then maybe you cannot laugh…yet. I get that.

We have all heard, “Potty train your kid in one day!” And for most of us, we glare in resentment. Moving out of diapers is an ordeal.

If you are like us, you set a start day, you prep for it, with potty books, new undies, and lots of carpet cleaner. We then clear the schedule and plan not to go anywhere [as much as possible] for at least 3 days. We stay near the potty, we talk potty, we force fluids, we dance when there is success, and we callous up those knees cleaning up the accidents.

To be honest, I have nothing to complain about. My two older kids haven’t been that hard to potty train. But what was hard? When I was itching to get back outdoors, to a park, to a pool, camping, hiking, anything… I had no idea how to handle my dysfunctional potty-er.

Honestly, I still have no idea how to handle them…I just survive them.

How we do it:

At the end of the day, we just aren’t willing to forego our outdoor adventures for urine. And there are a few things we do that have helped. We bring those extra outfits, we scout out the nearest restroom, we plan for accidents. We ask, and ask, and ask if they need to go to the bathroom. But most of what we do involves the froggy potty. Let me make an introduction:

This froggy potty is one of those indoor items that we repurposed for the outdoors. If we go camping? It comes along, cause face it, those outhouses are 1. dark scary holes that send most toddlers into tears and 2. often too far away for those 5 a.m. potty runs with a 2 year old. My daughter still calls them the “can potties” and when I first asked her to use one, she had a complete panic attack followed by an emotional break down. It. was. not. happening. My son was a little more adventurous and when I explained you go bathroom in a big hole in the ground, he exclaimed, “That is totally awesome” and tried to get a good look down.

Anyways, save yourself the hassle and the freezing cold mornings by putting a potty in your tent and emptying it in the morning… after your coffee, and after the sun peaks over the horizon.

And not only camping! We have a friend who just stuck it in the trunk. So those first park play dates or outings, you have a travel potty with you on the go.


Consider diapers at night:

We aren’t a Pull-ups family. My kids thought they were the same as diapers, and they basically are. But consider them for the night times, or just return to diapers at night. One accident is a camping catastrophe. They wet the sleeping bag and I guess you spend the night in the car? I don’t know…I’ve never taken the risk.

Use your yard to teach them “peeing in the woods?”

Do a test run of potty-ing outdoors before you are on the trail. We didn’t do this…There is a 90% chance of your kids needing to pee while on a hike. We weren’t prepared for this. We casually marched him into the forest and told him to just pee. Well, maybe it is just our kid, but he freaked! He couldn’t relax, he didn’t get why it was ok to go on the ground here, but not at home. Which…led to an accident and we were walking our little pee soaked toddler back to the car.

Which leads me to the obvious : Don’t forget those extra clothes. Even on a hike. Especially on a hike.

Get a kid potty with a lid!

Choose a kid potty that has a lid and removable parts for washing. Often we’d have a kid go late at night and it would sit there in the tent till we emptied it in the morning. Gross. But much grosser without a lid.

13 comments on “When Potty Training Invades a Campsite [Camping Chronicles]
  1. Have you ever found any fold-up potties that you could take with you on a day hike? Something maybe with a bag you could catch the pee or poo in and then wrap it up for the ride home? We are always out and just honestly, never close to bathrooms. My son will not pee standing up. I hope it comes soon but for now we are a sit-down to pee family.

  2. Nice post – I find it funny now but we’ll see what I’m thinking in a few months! Your “practice in the yard before the wilderness” advice made me think of my little brother. Back in the day, we lived in a 3 bedroom house with 1 (ONE) bathroom (can you imagine?) When my great grandmother and grandmother came to visit, you just had to learn to hold it. Well, my youngest brother was newly potty trained and couldn’t hold it. So my mom got exasperated and told my dad “Just take him outside and have him pee on a tree!” Which he did.
    Turns out, he took him to pee on the big oak tree in the front yard. And my little brother thought this was so much fun, he started doing it all the time. And my mom started getting calls from the neighbors about a little boy out front with no pants on!
    Moral of the story, practice in the BACK YARD.

  3. Love this post! We are very close to potty training with our daughter and you’ve given me a lot to think about. I’m a bit stressed because we can’t have her just stand and pee on a tree during hikes. Thanks for the great tips!

    • Jen, girls are tricky in that regard. But my daughter did the sit and squat just fine. But I do help her since I am sure she’d pee all over her pants and shoes. I stand in front of her [facing each other] and I hold her under her armpits. The I have her “pretend like she is sitting on a chair” and I counter her weight with a little of mine and have her put her legs forward towards me. Involves a little mommy involvement, but it works. In fact now we have it down to an art!

      • I tried this for the first time the other day with my 7 year old… needless to say it didn’t go well…for either of us (ewe!) I’ll remember the hold from the front idea for the future!

  4. Great post! Last summer was our first camping trip with our potty trained guy and it was stressful, but went over quite well. Since he had a been out of diapers for a few months, I refused to put him in anything, but undies overnight. What I did was bring along his waterproof mattress cover (twin size) and lined his sleeping bag with it so it was covering him on all sides. It proved to be ultra absorbent at home so I felt safe using it while camping. Fortunately we never found out if it worked or not, but I felt good about using it. Just wanted to share. 😉

  5. Even as they get older it’s a good idea to be prepared for accidents! When my son was well out of diapers he had an accident in his sleeping bag. We normally restrict liquids after a certain time, but hot chocolate by the fire doesn’t always make its way out of their system before bed. We learned the hard way. The waterproof mattress cover is a great idea!

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