What Potty Training Taught Me

I have always been a firm “maybe” on gender roles. As the oldest of three kids, myself and two younger brothers, my parents just tried to survive parenting (as we all are these days). My middle brother and I are 18 months apart so we did almost everything together, even sharing a car and working at the same YMCA in high school. There was never a designated ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ activity in our house, it was more along the lines of ‘do your chores or get in trouble’ kind of situation. I can’t remember the days when we were toddlers or what potty training and tantrums of my own looked like back then, and honestly, it gives me comfort knowing my child will likely have zero memory of the tortuous tantrums he subjects us to regularly as well.

All this to say, as I am raising boys I feel very strongly about gender roles when it comes to potty training. 

We did the pants-off method. If you’re unfamiliar, it is where the child goes with no pants but has readily available and easy access to go to the bathroom as needed until they connect the urge to go with the action of actually going to the bathroom. This was the only method that I could even envision working for our house as we potty trained my oldest at 2.5 years old alongside a newborn. I do not recommend potty training a toddler with a newborn. Avoid at all costs if possible as the newborn forest meets a major toddler milestone is a recipe for many tears from everyone. A friend complimented me by saying I was “killing it”, more like it was killing me. For the first four days, I just shadowed my toddler annoyingly asking “do you have to go potty?” every 15 minutes. Poor kid didn’t even have a minute to suck down some juice before I was asking and escorting him to the bathroom. Real soon there were tears, enough tears to go around. 

I cried first. I cried from the pure exhaustion of constantly having to watch my child so I could catch any accident. Some tears were from the newborn tiredness that cares not for whatever else your life is going through at the moment. Neither kid knows that the other has needs, or that I have needs for that matter. The early days blended together between juggling the bottle and wiping the butts (one butt on the toilet and one butt still in the diaper). Finally, the weekend comes and my husband can help! 

Frequently my husband catches flack for not doing this right or not doing that right, sometimes just breathing too loudly is annoying me (especially in my most hormonal state). I love my husband dearly, but I know y’all know what I am talking about. Anyway, his turn to handle both kids while I get a much-needed shower and I come out to find that my toddler now “peepees like daddy” (stands to pee) because he was feeding the baby and couldn’t get to the toddler to help get him physically on the potty. Brilliant move on my husband’s part, and one I give him full credit for. Five days into potty training and because my toddler can “pee like Daddy” we have now conquered this transition. 

The week that I thought would end up killing me has proved to provide so much growth for our family.

I am so proud of the way my boys are growing up to be like their dad. My husband being part of the process was integral to my son’s success. He didn’t want to potty like mom, after his entire life being clung to my hip potty training has him affectionately wanting to be “like daddy” in every way now. 

These are the days I thought would never come. These are the precious moments I didn’t even know existed. As baby boy number two now lives on my hip, baby boy number one gets to do all the things like dad. I am enjoying every moment of loving my boys and the seasons we get to go through together. Lots of moments are very hard, potty training being one of them, but not every crying moment lasts forever. Dad has been assigned potty training from this point forward. 


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