How I House-Trained My Son And Other Amazing Feats Of Motherhood

This past summer I (we) potty trained my son. Let’s revisit the moment. The moment that lasts for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks. (Did no one tell you that, too?)

My goal that summer is merely to house train E. But one thing led to another and he uses the potty EVERYWHERE. (Well everywhere there isn’t a bathroom fan or an automatic flushing toilet. Well, the latter freaks me out, too. I mean WHAT THE HECK SETS THE FLUSHER OFF? My movement? My lack of movement? The thing flushes pre-pee, mid-pee, but not always after-pee. So my son finds the process a bit unnerving. Um YEAH.)

I would not have even TOUCHED potty training that summer had E not forced my hand. Or my nerves. Or my I-cant-clean-up-one-more-urine-spot. Because at 33 months (that’s 2 years and 9 months old for all you non-parents) he decided: I HATE DIAPERS. No diaper plus no potty equals wet spots. Lots of wet spots. And I had a two month old to breastfeed and sling and breastfeed and sling and breastfeed.

I know that the average boy potty trains at 39 months old, and my son has… let’s say a stubborn streak. (SHOCKING) And we have a new baby and I thought that we would wait. And wait. And maybe someone else could do it for me. I did NOT want to go the early route. I’m okay with size 6 diapers. And we always had Depends.

We look for alternatives. We beg our pediatrician for HELP. We start duct taping the diapers on him. (Not on his skin. Around the diaper like a duct tape hip-hugger belt.) And he is cool with that. At night. When he is SLEEPING. Otherwise, he writhes and squirms and FREAKS OUT. And I have to pull out that third limb I gave birth to when I had him and tear the duct tape with my teeth.

Oh, don’t forget that we must get the diaper off of him. With a poop in it. And no safety scissors handy. I can still smell the screaming.

And, of course, my son learns to pull and pick and find the end of the tape and LOOK MAMA A PEEPEE SPOT. I don’t want him to get some complex about peeing but PLEASE STOP PEEING ON MY FLOORS. We are running out of rooms to play in before your daddy gets home and can clean them up. (I’M BUSY BREASTFEEDING AND KEEPING MY SON FROM POOPING BEHIND THE COUCH.)

One day I break. I say: Get on the potty bandwagon hubby because we are having a potty party this weekend.

And we do. We have (THREE) toddler potties and M&Ms and Happy Potty to You songs and everything that I could think of that would interest my son in sitting on the potty. We put one in front of the television. We developed a potty dance that would’ve gone VIRAL ON YOU-TUBE. I set my iPhone timer so I can remember to sit him on the potty EVERY THIRTY MINUTES.

And it works. In the house. I successfully house-trained my son without having to buy a crate.

Because I could careless if he used the potty out of the house. I’m fine with backyard nakedness (I have to be with E) and peeing on bushes. And I am not excited to add to the out-and-about trips running to the where-the-heck-is-it-potty at the slightest penis grab and convince him that the potty wont flush and get his pants down and change his underwear because we didn’t make it in time all while balancing N on my head (because who puts their baby on the PUBLIC BATHROOM FLOOR. {blink blink})

I WANT to use diapers when we leave home. Because E keeps them on in public. Why? I don’t know. The same reason I’m wearing a bathrobe over my clothing right now. No one understands the logic of this household’s fashion statements.

But eventually, and only if I had a buddy or a really masochistic streak going, do I venture into potty-outside-the-house land. And we survive. As long as I provide ten pairs of underwear.

He is fully potty trained in eight weeks (sounds shorter than TWO MONTHS OF URINE EVERYWHERE). And by potty trained I mean that he still (TONIGHT) wears a diaper while sleeping. BECAUSE HE’S SLEEPING! And I’ll do ANYTHING to keep it that way.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

10 thoughts to “How I House-Trained My Son And Other Amazing Feats Of Motherhood”

  1. Sophie is just now getting night-potty-trained. And it's all because of the “surprise bag.” When we started the training, if she woke up with a dry pull up, she got to pick out one item from the surprise bag (filled from the dollar store). Now we've graduated to three dry mornings = 1 surprise. Works like a charm.

  2. Included in my five year plan is buying a baby from another country. I know, I know, you are supposed to call it adoption, but let's be real. Anyway, this post brought PTSD-style flashbacks of potty training my two and now I'm wondering if I can buy one that is already housebroken.

  3. ooh, i like it. and im impressed how far you've gotten with it! GO SOPHIE 🙂
    but i dont have the energy for it right now…. we are still working on… well… LISTENING {sigh}

  4. Bah! I so needed this. Thank you for making me feel normal. I am DREADING doing this again. DREADING IT! It is the hardest thing I've ever tried to do. I totally thought I could do it without “bribing” him and by the end of the first morning he was getting M&M's for peeing on the potty, staying dry, cars each time he peed in the potty, watching copious amounts of t.v. and an amazing dog and pony show on the side. And he STILL wasn't potty trained. I gave up. Sigh…

  5. My son stated wanting the potty around 18-20 months. it was a fun little game that big sister did and put the yucky new baby down, so why the heck not.
    Once I finally gave in (after 2 years old), he pretty much potty trained himself on the big potty. I just stood there and kept him on task. Boy did I luck out. He still wears diapers at night at almost 3. I can wait for that.
    Now my 18 month old thinks she can use the potty, complete with trying to get up on the big one by herself. Talk about a mess.

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