5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Potty Training My Son

Henry is my third child. If you think that means I somehow know what I’m doing , think again. In my case, any kind of mother’s intuition I should have by now has been kept at bay by each successive year of sleep deprivation.

That’s why I haven’t been in any rush to potty train my little man.

The first time I tackled potty training I was a work-from-home mama with two, two-year-old girls and a newborn. Presumably to keep me open to future children, my mama brain has blocked out nearly all memory of those days.

But somehow, back then, little old unorganized me found time to breastfeed my always-hungry son in between rushing tiny bladders to their toddler potties.

And somehow, I won. I don’t remember how we did it or how long it took – but I know I won. It was rough though. The one phrase I remember repeating was: “I hope our landlord replaces the carpet after we move.”

But now my son is almost three and it’s time to face the inevitable: I need to potty train again. And now it’s a boy.

Now I freely admit I didn’t have a clue where to start. So I started where most Millennial moms start – I read a bunch of blogs.

In my naivety I thought that would do the trick. I was confident that my fellow mama bloggers wouldn’t hold back, that they’d guide me through this scary process with plenty of tips and relatable stories.

All I can say is: ladies, ladies, ladies… I believe you left a few things out.

Around here, the potty party has had more than a few unexpected surprises. And for you future potty trainers, I figure I better give you a heads up.

Potty training is more dangerous than I thought. And you need to brace yourself.

Here are 5 things I wish I’d known before potty training my son.

1. Bribery might backfire.

The worst thing in the world is when your kid is afraid to use the toilet. Right?


The WORST thing in the world is when your toddler becomes obsessed with going to the potty.

This nightmare scenario is exactly what happened as soon as my Henry got wise to the fact that even a few drops in the toilet was good enough to earn him “em an emies”(M&Ms).

From about 10am on that first day, the boy ran up to me EVERY. FIVE. MINUTES.

The whole day was an unending loop of “mama! mama! potty potty!!” Then we’d sit, he’d squeeze, and I’d be obligated to reward the little scammer.

By the end of the day, I was giving him 20 questions before getting up to “rush” him to the potty. “Are you sure, son? Really sure? Really really sure? Could you possibly hold it?” And don’t rush to judge me, either. At the pace we were going, I was starting to worry he’d end up potty trained with type 2 diabetes.

2. He may end up an exhibitionist.

After a week of hardcore training and months of prepping, it looks like I’ve successfully taught Henry how to hate clothing.

The naked method is everywhere on the blogs. Basically, the quicker you want your kid potty trained the more naked they need to be.

“You’re only comfortable with keeping your kid barricaded at home half-naked? Oh that’s fine. Just be okay with taking at least 6 days to potty train.

You want to use pull-ups? Oh girl, you’re in it for the long haul.  Be ready to work at it for at least a month.

But fully naked?! My goodness, he may be potty trained in a day – 3 days tops!”

I was all about getting this done ASAP so bring on the birthday suit! But for my tiny closet nudist this method has had some unexpected side effects.

Day 1 of total nakedness at home went okay. We stayed in the house and Henry peed all over it. Eventually some of that pee made it into the toilet. I think that’s called success.

Day 2 of total nakedness at home includes a 1-hour break from nudity where the kiddo gets dressed (including undies!!), plays outside, and the mommy watches their pants the whole time to see if they are staying dry.

I thought Henry would love the break and have a blast running around and playing with his sisters on the swing set.

No. All I got was a kid crying at the top of his lungs because he wanted to go inside and be naked. The clothing restrictions of the great outdoors were just too confining for my little budding nudist.

Needless to say, pastor’s kids don’t make the best exhibitionists. This new trend should be interesting.

3. Potty hugs aren’t worth it.

This should be common sense. The thing is, I had my foggy maternal instinct working against me.

When my girls were potty training, I gave them lots of hugs to make them feel safe on the big scary toilet.

Boys are different.

A hug might mean you are now unknowingly in the target zone. This happened to me today. I gave Henry some love and all I got was a shirt full of pee.

Hugging Henry is just too big of a risk. I’ll pray for you, son, but you’re on your own.

4. You’ll forget you have other kids.

At first, I thought it’d be fun to have the girls cheer on their baby brother this week.

Then I forgot Henry was a baby brother.

For this one week of his life, Henry is pretty much an only child. And my girls are okay with that. I think they’ve had about enough of schizo-mommy.

My poor girls. Here’s how pretty much all of our conversations have gone this week:

Oh yes, Nora, tell me all about your dream last… AHHH! GET OUT OF MY WAY! HENRY IS PEEING ALL OVER THE SOFA!

Gracie, that is the cutest drawing. Who is that? Mommy and.. HENRY, DON’T STAND THERE PEEING ON YOUR BLANKET. MY GOD, GET IN THE BATHROOM!!

I can’t hold a conversation. My eyes are always darting to Henry. Naked Henry. Is he squirming over there? Was that a shudder I just saw? Where is he aiming? What’s in the danger zone?

I love my girls. But when your boy does the potty dance, you drop everything and run. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of preschool, or making lunch, or worst of all – choosing your next show on Netflix.

Girls, I promise next time I’ll hit play before I sprint out of the room.

They are so annoyed with me.

5. Big boy underwear makes you cry.

I really wish I had some warning on this one. It’s the worst.

Remember how adorable you thought your kid’s poofy diaper butt looked? The big boy undies look is nothing like that. Suddenly, your baby’s cute little tush is running around in normal – miniature person clothing.

That’s not okay with me. It makes me want to sit down and order a truckload of those $40 Costco diapers.

I hadn’t realized that this is the week I have to give up my baby. But it’s true. The moment we claim victory over Henry’s potty training is the same moment I’ve got to give up his babyhood forever.

He is almost 3, so I’ll admit I’ve had plenty of time to admit defeat. But I hadn’t and no one was making me. Until this week. This week the big boy undies are winning.

I’ve always been the mom of a chocolate-obssessed, half-nudist, cuddle-crazy, big-sister lovin’ baby boy. But now he’s running around in Superman underwear.

One step closer to grown up and too many steps away from my arms. I’ll admit seeing my little Superman zoom around the house today made me cry. I thought cleaning up pee so many times would make me cry; but no, it’s that darn underwear that did it.

While some of these potty surprises took me off guard, it should’ve been no shocker that my little boy is growing up too fast. Pretty much everyone warned me about that.

So even though this week’s memories are already on their way to becoming a blurr, I’m going to do my best to hang onto as many of these little man moments I can. Because before you know it my sweet Henry boy will rush into a young Henry man.

And I’m absolutely not ready to handle that.

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