Talking About the Cost of Potty Training With Jane Marie
Not too long ago, I saw on Jane Marie’s Instagram that she was initiating the arduous, irritating, and yet impossible to avoid process of potty training. Since I was doing the same, I reached out so that we could complain to each other — and also compare costs.
Jane Marie: Hi! Hi. I’m here and miraculously not covered in shit.
Ester: You’re so on message! An interviewer’s dream. Please, go on.
Jane Marie: Well, JG has had diarrhea for a week so I have to collect her poop for 3 days and take it to the lab for testing. It’s probably nothing but could be a PARASITE, lol? Obviously, this has somewhat derailed potty training, which we’re right in the midst of.
Ester: That sounds awful for all of you. I’m sorry. When I had a parasite, I had the decency to wait until I was old enough to collect and submit samples of my own feces. But let’s back up. How old is your daughter and how long have you been in the potty training trenches?
Jane Marie: So she turned 2 in July and we started training in earnest — it’s been about three weeks now. We’ve had JG’s pink potty for about a year and panties for about 6 months. We just talked about it a lot with her but didn’t start actually training until she asked to.
Ester: Wow, you’re ahead of the game.
Jane Marie: Am I? I can tell you authoritatively that it never feels that way. But yeah, she just woke up one morning and said “No more diapers. I wear panties.” Of course, that hasn’t been how it’s gone, but we are trying.
Ester: Oh yes, capitalize on their enthusiasm, that’s what everyone says. The trouble in my case is that Babygirl got excited at about eighteen months, at which point we bought the little plastic potty — and then after a couple of relatively lackadaisical attempts at using it, she decided she no longer cared about such mundane matters as toilets. She then showed zero interest until now (age 3).
Jane Marie: Well, see now that’s where the “training” comes in. I am completely ignoring JG’s disinterest and plowing ahead, haha.
Ester: Ha! Well, possibly to my detriment, I was following the Brooklyn advice, which was don’t push them. Follow their lead. I don’t know, maybe everyone here has Freudian-type fears of giving children deep-seated complexes? But I was definitely annoyed about it: having to continue to spend what felt like half my paycheck on diapers from Target and having that stupid plastic potty sit in the bathroom, unused, mocking me.
Jane Marie: Well, there’s maybe a third way of looking at it, and that’s that she did express interest and make a decision but then we have to show them what it looks like to follow-through on that. I think? God, what the fuck do I know
Ester: No, it makes sense! JG’s going to end up a girl scout or class president or something and BG will be one of those kids who takes a gap year and then never goes to college.
Jane Marie: Or the opposite! That’s the whole thing, you never fucking know. So, like, just do whatever you want and try not to kill them.
Ester: Yes. That is my parenting philosophy in a teacup: do whatever it takes not to feel, or at least act, homicidal. Either way, BG has — with our prodding — embraced the potty again, for the most part, and we are so excited to spend our precious few dollars on Pull-Ups instead of yet more diapers.
Jane Marie: Is this where I add that we did cloth diapers (during the day) for the first year and a half? Haha. Uhhhhhh … it was intense, but we used a service that was something crazy cheap like $20 a week for pick up and drop off. They even picked up the poop.
Ester: Oh wow! I don’t know many people who made it beyond the first few months. Your whole family is big on follow through, huh?
Jane Marie: I’m showing my cards I guess. I dunno, it was actually easy with the service’s help. If I would’ve had to do it myself, wash them and all that, I would never have done cloth. But yeah, I heard it makes potty training happen quicker mainly because they get used to the discomfort of a wet diaper and I had my eyes on that prize.
Ester: I never heard that. I feel so betrayed. We tried cloth, but with other more abstract advantages in mind — you know, the environment — and maybe that made it easier to ditch once it became kind of exhausting and inconvenient. I was also washing them myself; I can’t imagine there’s a service around here that will pick up your kid’s poop for $20 a week.
Jane Marie: That’s disgusting, Ester. But I bet there is a service, my parents had it, they exist.
Ester: Oh, I’m sure there’s a service, just not an affordable one, maybe? So we gave in and switched to disposables. Naturally, now that I think about it, diaper manufacturers have an economic incentive to make those as comfortable as possible so that kids never want to leave their cozy, waterproof embrace.
Jane Marie: This place does it for $36 a week, which is like $20 in LA dollars. BUT I AM NOT A CLOTH DIAPER ADVOCATE. I don’t give a shit about other people’s shit; do whatever you want with it. :)
Ester: I love the idea that there’s an actual exchange rate for NYC dollars vs LA ones.
Jane Marie: So how much were disposables for you guys once you went full time? I haven’t kept track these past 6+ months that we’ve been mostly in pullups. I don’t even know what the difference is, moneywise. It ALL feels like throwing money in the trash for the first few years, I think.
Ester: I know, isn’t it amazing? I, like, didn’t know how much money I could spend at one time until I procreated.
Jane Marie: I was debating a little jungle gym thing for the yard, whether to get the $300 one or the $500 one and my mom was like “JUST BUY IT; THEY’VE BEEN THAT EXPENSIVE SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME.” I went with the cheap one (and it never gets used). But yes, so diapers! They are the worst, but then again, what are you gonna do, potty train an infant? (Those people.)
Ester: I was just today referencing that classic NYT trend-piece from 2013 about parents who let their children poop in the street.
Jane Marie: What. I was pregnant then and trying not to read any parenting anything. That’s ridiculous. I would punch those people, probably, hopefully in front of their kids and then I’d be like, “You parents suck. Shit in the toilet, you heathen.” Or something.
Ester: Yeah, I think that was, indeed, the general reaction. It was probably a fake trend-piece anyway, but a memorable one.
Jane Marie: Look, we’re gonna go camping eventually. There’s a time and place for everything.
Ester: Exactly. Poop in the woods like a civilized person! Not by your neighbor’s Honda. Anyway, we ended up not coaching BG to squat down between cars; instead we got diapers in bulk from Target. Relatively cheap — certainly more affordable than the name-brands available in our local drug store — and they did the job. Now that we’re on to pull-ups, at least for day time, I’m cringing at local drug store prices again, and at the princesses they put on the damn things. Suddenly pull-ups have to be gendered? Why, when diapers didn’t have to be? I hate having to pay extra to see Ariel on my child’s butt.
Jane Marie: Burn all the princesses.
Ester: Please sympathize with me: my kid had never even heard the word until like a week ago. Her dream Halloween costume was “pirate superhero ghost.” Great, right? (Not that I knew how we’d actualize it.) Then I picked her up from preschool a couple days ago and we started talking about Halloween and she told me she wants to be a princess. My face melted like I was a Nazi at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Jane Marie: LOL. Well, mine has been talking about being Katy Perry for months. Why did we make them, Ester? Why do this to our perfectly princess-free lives? I let JG watch cartoons and shit, but not The Little Mermaid. That’s on my blacklist.
Ester: I love The Little Mermaid — I mean, the Sea Witch! what a boss — but yeah. BG’s not seeing that shit til she’s old enough to rent it herself. From wherever a person will be able to “rent” movies from in 2025.
Jane Marie:And Doc McStuffins, too. She’s all over diapers with her made up bullshit maladies. “Over-use-osis” is not a thing! Stop telling my kid that’s a thing.
Ester: Yeah! I was so excited about the idea of Doc McStuffins — who is on all of the pull-ups that don’t feature Ariel — and then I saw like five minutes of her damn show. She isn’t a real doctor! I felt so betrayed.
Jane Marie: Total quack.
There are pirate pull-ups. Jake. That dude. I hate him too, though. He’s, like, charming. Fuck charm.
Ester: My mission in life is to inculcate in BG a healthy suspicion of charm.
Jane Marie: Preach.
Ester: ANYWAY. How much do you think you’ve spent on potty-training so far and has it been worth it?
Jane Marie: Okay, so we got the pull-ups going about a month ago and used them for probably two weeks pretty regularly. So, what’s that? I have no idea. We got some off-brand ones. Let me go see the brand … Well, apparently someone shelled out the big bucks for Minnie Mouse ones. Jesus Christ it never ends.
Anyway, so we go through about 3 of those a day at this point. So however much that is? Plus the potty, which I think was around $20. And then panties, which are roughly $5-8 for a pack and I bought a WIDE variety. I’ve probably spent around $40 on baby underwear, but I am who I am and that might not be everyone’s bag. I just love lingerie.
Ester: Our most annoying purchase also features Minnie Mouse! It’s one of those transitional seats that lets kids use the Big Potty, only it doesn’t really work and, because she feels insecure on it, BG hates it. It probably cost us $15. Our little potty probably also cost about $20 and it’s somewhat more functional.
Jane Marie: I considered getting one of those and then decided not to, for no reason at all. You just HAVE TO opt out of some gear or you will drown in it.
Ester: Oh yes. Well, we saved money by being too poor to have a backyard and so not being able to spend $300-$500 on a swing set. One point for Brooklyn.
Jane Marie: Is it though? Does that really count as one point? ;)
Ester: It’s the only point I have, Jane Marie. Any last thoughts, before you go back to scooping up diarrhea and I pick my kid up from school, from which she’s probably learned several new gruesome things?
Jane Marie: Well, I’m starting a $250 juice cleanse today. I just decided an hour ago. I am so icked out by all this shit and I just need something in my day to feel clean and healthy and good. It’s probably a mistake. I’ll let you know.
Ester: Ha! Those kids. They never stop costing you.