The potty training chronicles

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job as Mommy! It is an amazing gift to spend my time caring for these beautiful boys, and shaping them into small citizens of the world. That being said, there are some aspects of parenting I do not particularly care for. Potty training is near the top of the list, especially potty training two children at once.

It is my own fault for putting it off so long. Every time we tried in the past, I gave up after a day or two. I said it was too hard, it was too stressful, I had too many other things to worry about and couldn’t be rushing a child to the bathroom every five minutes….. I wasn’t ready. So of course the boys weren’t ready either.

But two weeks ago, we bit the bullet. And we did something we had never tried in the past: we threw the diapers away. Okay, not really, my frugal heart would never stand for such waste. I returned unopened boxes, and gave the rest to a friend. Bottom line, all diapers were removed from the house. That eliminated the boys’ crutch of falling back on diapers, but more importantly, it removed my own crutch of falling back on them. There could be no turning back this time.

In an ideal world, I would have trained the boys one at a time. I would have loved to just focus on one child at a time, especially because my identical twins tend to have identical body clocks when it comes to bathroom needs. But by getting rid of all diapers in the house, we were forced to take on double-duty, like it or not. And somehow, it has not been too terribly bad. It hasn’t been that great either, but not that bad.

So here’s what we did. We spent the first three days chained to the house, wearing only underpants. We focused on keeping our underpants dry, and I did my best to catch any accidents as they were happening (not easy with two, but I did the best I could). We had some successes and some failures, but that was the point. They almost have to have accidents as they learn to start listening to what their bodies are trying to tell them. After the first three days, we tried to relax a bit, but then the boys slipped. Instead of trying to make things happen on the potty, they were trying to hold everything in, and they were making themselves sick. Both boys have a history of GI problems and chronic constipation, so alarm bells started going off in my head that we needed to change things, and fast.

I reached out to some other twin moms, and they recommended a reward system. So I created sticker charts, and instead of focusing on keeping their underpants clean, we started focusing on successful trips to the potty. The stickers got them excited, the prizes (dollar store) they earned when they filled a row of stickers got them even more excited, and things FINALLY started to click!sticker chart2

After two weeks, are we fully potty trained? No. We still have accidents, of both kinds, and I don’t leave the house without extra underpants and shorts for them. But the accidents are becoming fewer, the successes are becoming greater, and overall I think we are doing pretty good! I am hopeful that in a few more weeks, I won’t have to ask them every 10 minutes if they need to use the potty, and I won’t have to be on such high alert when we are out in public. It will happen. I know it will. Eventually.

A quick note, we do still wear pull-ups for naps and at night. I firmly believe that nighttime potty training is an entirely different skill set, and they are not ready for that yet. I don’t mind doing the pull-ups right now, especially since I don’t want to change sheets five times a day. But to think that after five years and two months of constantly changing diapers, and 15 months of that was three kids in diapers at once, I have not changed a single diaper in 15 days. Wow! That feels really good! I am proud of my boys for taking this step to grow a little more, and grateful to be done with the diaper phase of life.

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