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Potty training twins: Part 3 {Treats}

The sage continues. We are now potty training both our toddlers.

You can check out my previous potty training posts here:
We've been potty training one of our toddlers, C, for 22 days now. His twin brother decided this past weekend that he wanted to potty train as well. We are on day 5 of potty training O. The first couple days of potty training both toddlers were crazy. It almost felt like C regressed some when O started potty training. In my previous posts, we were considering potty training C for overnight. We aren't exactly sure of the approach we want to take on nights right now. Both toddlers are waking up with somewhat wet diapers-- not really, really wet, but still a little wet. Here are the three options I'm considering for potty training them on nights:

1. Training underwear and waterproof training pants.
I feel like this is the most aggressive approach, the one to really get them to potty train overnight. I used these Gerber All in One Waterproof Training Pants with our oldest son, D, when we potty trained him. When wearing the Gerber Training Pants underneath these, they are pretty waterproof. A child can have an accident in these and it will hold really well. I like this combination because it really lets the child feel wet. I feel like pull ups are basically diapers and so there isn't too much incentive for the child not to treat it like a diaper. These Gerber training pants feel like underwear and so they aren't comfortable to be wet in. I would also do the mattress trick I mentioned in "Potty training twins: Part 2 {The next step}."
Downside to this option: waking up in the night if they feel wet to change training pants; waking up in the morning to change training pants to regular underwear (which I do now from diapers to underwear).

2. Pull ups
I feel like this might be the easiest option. If I do this, there is a good chance that they will keep sleeping through the night when they use the pull up. In theory, they could also pull up and down the pull up in the morning when they need to use the restroom, perhaps even if they wake up in the night and need to use the restroom. I really feel like, even if I decide to go with the first option, I will probably start with pull ups first and then move to the Gerber training pants after they are even better about waking up dry.
Downside to this option: we go from buying Target diapers at $24.99 for 138 to pull ups at $19.99 for 52. The nice thing about the Gerber training pants is that they are reusable and washable; you have to keep buying pull ups.

3. Diapers
This is what we are doing for nights now. When they wake up in the morning, they run to the restroom and I change them from a diaper to underwear. Sometimes this is at 6:45 am, sometimes at 7:30 am. They sometimes wake up shortly after we put them to bed demanding to use the restroom, but never in the middle of the night. I don't feel they are necessarily learning to potty train nights this way and they throw a fit every evening when we change them into their pajamas and diaper, "I wear underwear, Momma!" The Target brand diapers, while we have generally been happy with them after switching from Pampers, don't have the best Velcro on the side. Once you pull apart the Velcro to allow the child to use the restroom, it doesn't stick back together well. Taking on and off the diaper to allow the child to use the restroom generally means changing his diaper as well, regardless of how dry it may be. I'm kind of feeling like we need to do something else than diapers.
Downside to this option: we are almost out of diapers, so I would need to head on over to Target to buy another box of diapers.

We haven't made up our mind yet on what we want to do for nights. I mentioned it before, but I'm dreading the idea of giving up sleep. At 22-weeks pregnant, the last thing I want to be doing right now is wake up in the middle of the night to change sheets and give quick baths. That is why I think we will switch-- next week (ever the procrastinator)-- from diapers to pull ups, try it out for a week or two, and then move up to the Gerber Training Pants option if it is going well. Otherwise, I think we will linger in pull ups. (This is kind of a big deal for me to be considering pull ups as I swore up and down when potty training our oldest that I would never buy pull ups! Ah, motherhood... you end up eating words so often.)

Before we started potty training O, C really had potty training under his belt. Very, very few accidents. He had reached the "rebellious stage" of potty training: "Okay, I've got this. Now I'm going to see what I can get away with." He wasn't very happy the day he told us that he was going to use his underwear as a diaper and then did-- only to be confronted with consequences instead of treats or "It's okay." We didn't always have a change of clothes with us when we left the house, because he was so reliable. We'd left him with a sitter; we'd run errands all day; we'd visited friends' houses and the like. If he was doing nights, I would have considered him potty trained. And then we started potty training O. The first day of potty training O passed uneventfully. The second day, C's potty training went out the window. Not sure what happened. O only had one accident, but C had 3 or 4, very surprising to my husband and me because we had started thinking of him as very reliable and trustworthy in underwear. We had mini panic attacks. Are we starting over at square one with C? Are we doing something wrong?

The other problem we had was the treats were well out of hand. Anytime anyone used the bathroom in the house-- myself, my husband, our oldest son, one of the toddlers-- one of the toddlers would leap up and have to use the restroom. They were getting to the point of producing a drop or two just for treats constantly. I wrote in the blog post "Potty training twins: Part 2 {The next step}" that we were out of treats by noon. I was constantly in the bathroom telling the toddlers to stop playing in the sink, stopping playing by the toilet, asking them if they actually had to go potty, perpetually bombarded with demands for "Treats! Momma, treats!" It was ridiculous. If one toddler used the bathroom, the other would as well. So the first toddler would genuinely have to go potty. I would help him in the bathroom, wash his hands, come out and do treats, only for the second toddler to see the first toddler get treats, run to the bathroom, have me help him wash hands, come out and get a treat, for the first toddler to dash back in the bathroom... Constantly, constantly, constantly. Our system wasn't working.

So what does every logical woman do when faced with a tough problem? Call her mother. My mom said we needed to do away with treats for every time they use the restroom-- totally agree. I printed off a sticker chart for both of them, each a table I made on Microsoft Word. The table has 5 rows and 8 columns. The first row lists the days of the week in each column: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and a special column for Week. The next four rows are for stickers. If they go the entire day without an accident in their underwear, they get a sticker and a special treat (O got a cookie his first day without an accident and last night they both had their pick from the leftover Valentine's Day candy). If they go the entire week without an accident (a concept they haven't grasped yet and we haven't fully explained yet-- we will when we actually have a week's worth of stickers on the chart), they get a very special treat, like a bowl of ice cream or something.

Happy toddlers celebrating getting stickers on their potty training charts

I think it was because we had just started potty training O, but he caught on to this system very quickly. The first day we implemented this (day 3 of O's potty training), he was on board. He went the whole day without an accident. C did not catch on the first day. This was during his potty training regression after we started potty training O, and he deliberately had 2 accidents that day. That evening when we were putting a sticker on O's potty training chart, not intentionally in front of him, just with O to celebrate going a whole day, something with C clicked. The next day, C told me first thing in the morning, "I not have accidents today. I get sticker and treat." O piped in, "Me too!" And they did-- they went all day without any accidents. We spent a long morning/early afternoon picnicking at the park and they had no accidents. (I gave them each a small treat when we got home for being dry the whole time and for using the potty once we got home. They celebrated, "Yay! Dry at park!") They both took a long afternoon nap and were dry the whole time during their nap. When they woke up, we went to dinner and ran an errand all together as a family. I was so glad my hubby was there. When we pulled into the gas station, O yells, "Have to go potty!" He took O in to the bathroom. While he was in there, C says, "Have to go potty, Momma!" I pumped the gas and told C he had to wait. When my husband came out of the gas station, he went back in with C while I buckled O up in the car seat.

I haven't entirely taken away treats. I generally give them a treat for performing the larger functions in the restroom. Out of all the accidents they could have in their underwear, pooping is the least pleasant to clean up and so I feel it should be amply rewarded for being done properly in the toilet. They seem satisfied when I tell them they don't get a treat every time they go potty in the toilet. I try to emphasize that they need to do go all day without an accident. Our oldest will always add, "Or if you go poop!" That has produced several small functions in the toilet for which the toddlers demand a treat, "Tiny poop, Momma! Treat!" Overall though, the treat system is far less abused as we are doing it now than when we were freely handing out treats every time either of them used the restroom. I also try to hand out surprise treats so they feel rewarded and noticed during the day for their efforts. I gave a treat yesterday for going the entire park playdate without any accidents. I've given treats for running errands and using the potty while we are out. I just try to keep them small and casual, not make them feel like they are entitled to a treat every time they do this. After all, potty training really is something they should learn at one point or another to do without praise or compensation. I do ponder how the treat system crumbled so completely having twin toddlers potty training simultaneously. The treat system worked great potty training our singleton and when we were potty training one of our toddlers, but not potty training both of them.

This morning both the toddlers were admiring their sticker charts. They have counted up the stickers they have earned and plan on getting another sticker for today. After using the restroom an hour or two ago, one of the toddlers came in the family room and announced, "No accidents, Momma! Sticker tonight!" I'm really starting to feel that some of the darker days of potty training are behind us... well, until we start nights! :)

I'm sure other moms feel this way, but I am frequently reminded of Lord of the Flies by William Golding when parenting 3 children. So here's my upbeat potty training quote: “He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one's waking life was spent watching one's feet.”


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