Why Do You See Potty Accidents During the Holidays?

Here's why we often see a backslide of potty training accidents during the holidays.

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Sugar cookies in the shape of snowmen, sure you can have another.

Later-than-usual evenings watching a parade of lights swing through town (with cookies and cocoa in hand.)

And about 582 things to remember to shop for, wrap up nicely, and make.

The holidays look different than the rest of the year.

You do more. You eat differently. And everyone’s running on holiday overdrive.

So how does the holiday season affect potty training?

The holidays are the high time for potty training backslides and things looking altogether screwy if you're starting potty training. Here’s why and what to keep in mind.

Why do you see potty accidents during the holidays?

Let's first look into WHY this happens with potty training during the holiday season.

And then I'll share tips on how to make it through the holiday craze with your potty training toddler.

Because the holidays can also be a great time for many families to potty train..

  • Preschools often start in January and require your child to be potty trained.

  • Many parents have time off from work.

It's doable to potty train your toddler during the holidays! But here's what you want to know.

5 Reasons Why Accidents and Potty Training Backslides Pop Up During the Holidays..

How to avoid potty training backslides over the holidays

1. We're all a little distracted during the holidays.

If you're in the starting stages of potty training, you have a lot of *extra stuff* to do in addition to your typical mama workload...gifts to buy, holiday parties, adventing around your town.

Tis the season for making, crafting, and wrapping...so we're all more distracted during the holidays.

If your child is newly potty trained, you may mentally move on from prompting, because your child's *got it* and you have a lot of other things to be thinking about.

So you may be more likely to:

  • forget to prompt your child to pee

  • lose track of time

  • assume your toddler has *got it* and doesn't need a reminder for a potty break

2. We're traveling here and there and everywhere during the holidays.

In addition to the family gatherings on each holiday, there's all the other stuff that comes up in the holiday season..

  • Going to meet Santa

  • Ice skating and sledding dates

  • Holiday parties

  • Holiday photos at the mall

  • Holiday craft fairs for shopping

And the list goes on.

3. We have a lot of places to be during the holidays to soak up all that holiday magic.

Winter temperatures mean more layers to get your toddler in and out of.

And it's a bigger process to *get to* all those places and outings and festive gatherings.

In many parts of the country (and definitely here in Maine!), it's FREEZING out, and it's no easy job getting your toddler in and out of their winter gear...

Let's not forget the carseat buckling, taking off the puffy jacket, then put it back on.

Then off, then on.

Does your child do his own zipper? There's another 5 minutes waiting on that do-it-myself skill. If you're in the Velcro camp with winter boots, that's another solid 5 minutes of putting them on and then taking them off.

Add it all up, and if you have more than one kiddo, you have a lengthy *process* of getting in and out the door to go anywhere during these chilly winter days.

4. We're not eating the same (hello SUGAR!)

I'm not at all a Scrooge let's-feel-guilty about partaking in holiday treats. I love it all..

Drinking up that delicious warm cider after picking that perfect balsam tree.

Eating my weight in sugar cookies.

Indulging in that chai latte because it's so darn cold in the morning. It's the holidays!

And your toddler is likely eating and drinking way more sugar than usual, too.

But you poop what you eat. And we see an uptick in poop accidents around the holidays and also hear of more toddlers running constipated (likely due to all the starchy foods we eat in the holiday season). So be mindful of what your toddler is eating so there's a balance.

Here are foods that help your child poop if you're seeing any mild toddler constipation.


Here's the thing with all those holiday sugary treats. Sugar absorbs water and affects your poop. So do all the holiday carbs. So you may see fast poops because of a change in diet. It's always a good idea to talk through what those poop sensations are in the body, how to connect with that sensation and get to the potty in time. Here's my favorite book all about poop, and here are my picks for children's books on the human body.

5. We fall into the trap of seeking perfection, which can shake our confidence.

The holidays are an easy time for any of us, even us mamas who don't subscribe to the notion of *mom guilt*, to compare how you're delivering and packaging the holidays to your children with other families.

  • Does everyone else have their tree trimmed and you're behind?

  • Did you buy tickets to the Polar Express and get the time wrong and feel like you just *ruined* Christmas?

  • Did your mom always make the perfect Christmas cookies and you're not feeling the drive to bake?

  • Did you pin handmade crafts you wanted to do with the kids, and now you can't even find time to pick up supplies?

Yep, life stays messy, imperfect, and people make mistakes. Moms can't do everything, even through the holidays.

So what do you do?

Stop potty training? Accept the accidents? Re-diaper and be merry?

Nope. First you want to re-group and get in the right headspace to team up with your child for using the potty.

6 Simple Solutions for *why-is-potty-training-not-working* during the holiday haze:

1. Don't forget to prompt your child to go pee!

This is a biggie as many mamas during the holidays are thinking of SO MANY THINGS that they simply forget to remind their child to go potty. Even if you've been rolling for awhile and accident-free, you'll often hit the *honeymoon is over* backslide if you pull back too far on prompting your kiddo to use the potty.

2. Search out the bathrooms when you're out and about.

And don't forget the travel potty (and liner). And that goes extra for all those last-minute shopping trips — point out where the bathroom is at Target, bring your travel potty, and have your toddler find the bathroom when you're at a relative's home for the holidays.

Related: This is my favorite potty book for helping to normalize public bathrooms with your toddler.