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Potty training twins: Part 4 {The process}

Previous potty training posts:

Not gonna lie... Today was a horrible potty training day.

Which makes me want to write a blog post about how wonderful potty training is going for us-- no sarcasm, in all honesty.

When I talk to people about potty training, everyone has a different view on it. A girlfriend of mine sent her boys to a potty training boot camp (never heard of those before, but, HECK YES, and WHERE IS THE ONE NEAR ME?). I have friends that swear by the three day method-- cover your furniture and let them roam naked for three days and suddenly you have potty trained kids. I have friends that do things slowly, never officially "potty train," just switch to pull ups, let them dabble in underwear, let things ride, and one day their pull ups are dry and they are wetting their beds-- no mess, just potty trained kids.

What's my view? To me, potty training is a process. A long, long process. Not always hard work and not always messy, but still a process. Potty training, to me, answers this one question: am I involved in the bathroom process? If the answer is "yes" then they are still potty training.

Potty training means continually making forward progress towards the end goal of not being in the bathroom with my children-- not having to wash their hands, clean them up, fasten their pants, or watch the clock and wonder if they have gone potty lately. For instance, I can let our oldest use a public bathroom by himself (though I always wait outside the door for him-- yeah, I'm "that" mom). When he comes out of the restroom, I know he washed his hands and dressed himself properly. In comparison, with our toddlers, although they don't have accidents when we leave the house anymore, I'm dragging them to the restroom when we arrive at our next errand; I'm dragging them to the bathroom before we leave the store; the whole time we are at a playdate I'm closely watching them to make sure there are no signs of them needing to use the restroom. Also, just in case, I have a diaper bag fully loaded with plastic bags, clean underwear, and changes of clothes (including socks). When I leave them with our baby-sitter, I give her a heads up about when they last went potty.

Are they driving their potty training? Yeah. They really are. The only time I get on their case about using the restroom is when I would be mortified if they had an accident, like when I'm at a girlfriend's house and they are sitting on her couch watching a movie or on a playdate at a new friend's house. Or when I really don't want them having an accident, like heading out on a longer car ride or when I'm making a big Costco run. At home, they are in charge of potty training. Even when we are out, they are the ones telling me when they actually have to go potty. I just can't help but stress about the possibility of accidents because I am their mother a.k.a. the one who has to 1. clean up the accident and 2. apologize for the accident.

So why was today such a horrible potty training day? Because they don't have accidents anymore. They have "on purposes." This morning there was a debacle in the restroom. A toddler removed himself from the toilet before he was all the way clean and ended up making a mess of both the porcelain chair and the floor next to it. Apparently his brothers found this quite amusing and the other toddler decided to recreate this hilarious scene in the playroom later in the afternoon; much to his dismay, his mother did not find it nearly so amusing and he found himself in trouble. The original toddler, attempting to relive his earlier popularity, made his way to the restroom a few short hours after the playroom incident and dramatically reenacted the morning's fiasco. While his brothers could not suppress their giggles, he found he had far less sympathy from his mother the second time around. Actually, all three boys were quickly disciplined and assured this sort of behavior was not welcome in their home. It was an upsetting afternoon for the toddlers-- who seemed shocked they were punished for their antics-- and an unpleasant afternoon for myself-- as I was the one cleaning up the mess.

How is this forward progress?

Hmm, not entirely sure. The only positive outcome from today is that the toddlers now know that under no circumstances do I think using their underwear as diapers is funny or acceptable or okay or "an accident."

What I do know is that they understand what they are supposed to do. Their attempt at humor showed me that they know what is socially expected of them and this was their way of going against the grain.

I don't believe in holding their failures over their head. We forgive and move on in this family. After they were properly reprimanded for their indiscretions, we moved forward. However, when I put them to bed tonight, I gently reminded them that tomorrow is a new day and that tomorrow "we" are going to use the potty all day and when "we" use the potty all day and have no "accidents" then we get a sticker (for more on "we" read Honest Toddler's post, "We").

They seem on board with this plan. My husband and I have taken away all treats during the day except for the big kahuna-- no accidents all day. We've started pull ups at night, still no idea when we will actually potty train overnight.

My last view on potty training is that there is no right or wrong way. I do believe potty training requires forward motion. Sometimes you realize you are pushing it when your child isn't ready (read, "Try to see it my way") and you need to shelve the potty training plan for the time being. When we first potty trained our first child, we had no idea how we wanted to do it. I researched so much and came up with a plan. Then we rolled up our sleeves and got to work potty training him only to realize that it was a team effort: he needed to be just as on board as we were (read "Why not?" and "Follow up on potty training"). Along the way, we changed tactics. We did what worked. This time around, when one of our twin toddlers demanded to be potty trained, we thought, yeah, let's just potty train both toddlers at the same time, only to discover the other toddler was not ready (read "Potty training twins: Part 1 {No plan}"). Before we knew it, the reluctant toddler was ready to potty train and the treat system we were doing with just one toddler didn't work potty training 2 toddlers at the same time. We changed tactics. The point is, all along the way, we reevaluated and readjusted. We tried things out and tweaked what didn't work. On top of that, the way we went about potty training one toddler wasn't the way we went about potty training his twin brother (one is far more motivated by the desire to potty train and the other by the treats and praise).

Even more so, the things we are doing with our toddlers may not be the things you do with your toddlers. I don't think we are necessarily doing it the best or easiest way for everyone in every circumstance. I'm doing it the best and easiest way for me, a stay-at-home mother 23-weeks pregnant homeschooling a preschooler with almost 3-year old twin toddlers demanding to be potty trained at the same time. This is in no way how I potty trained the first time around and probably won't be how I potty train when baby #4 is ready to potty train. I am writing about our experience potty training twins because when I start potty training, I like to read about what other people did and I like when I can glean things I hadn't thought of from other people's experiences.

So when I say that we are now on day 28 potty training our first toddler ready to potty train and day 11 potty training his twin brother, no, I don't mean that this whole time has been full of accidents. I definitely have not been setting alarm clocks or watching them closely this whole time (actually setting the alarm clock never worked for them, though we did that with their older brother). Save for today, they are not wandering our house having accidents (I would be a total mess if that were the case-- today's stress required a decadent risotto for dinner in order to put it all behind me). Potty training is working out the kinks of everyday life and trusting they will use the bathroom on their own, holding it when need be and using the restroom when they know there won't be another one for awhile. I know which situations are harder for each of the toddlers to deal with-- one has a hard time shortly after we get home from a long day of errands (not sure why when he uses the restroom just fine the whole time we are gone?) and the other just after he wakes up from afternoon nap (dry the whole nap, wakes up groggy and this is the most likely time for him to have an accident). Yes, I stress under new scenarios (friends' houses) or when my hands are tied (pushing a huge cart at Costco when I'm there alone with the boys), but this time around, with both of the toddlers wanting to be potty trained and pushing for it, has been hands down 100% easier than the first time around when my husband and I were the driving force behind potty training our oldest.

I am sure there will be at least one more blog post on this, definitely when we actually potty train nights (right now we are doing pull ups at night).

Happy potty training, friends. May the force be with you.


MrsSquires said…
So thankful you're sharing your twins' potty training story. We're in the middle of potty training my 2 year old daughter, and I am 20 weeks pregnant with twins. It's definitely a process. I thought it would go faster, but I am watching and seeing her improve and lead the way. So, I am following her lead, and we are getting there.
Katy Blevins said…
We are far into the process with my twin boys as well! Some days, I think we're finally getting it, some days it feels like we've just started and are stuck at square 1. So close! So close! It's definitely a marathon and not a sprint.
Sprout's House said…
Thanks for sharing your potty training experiences. It's always nice to see how other people are tackling it! V@Sprout's House xox (Dropping in via the hdydi parenting link up).
Kimber said…
Our boys are still doing great potty training! It is WONDERFUL to not be changing diapers during the day. The pull ups at night have also worked out great. For both the boys, the pull ups are drier and drier each morning. My husband and I have also noticed that they sometimes get up to use the restroom during the night all on their own. Baby steps! :) I'm thinking the boys will still be in pull ups at night by the time baby #4 comes early this summer, but it will be nice to only have one child in diapers during the day!

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