Monday, June 8, 2015

Potty Training Twins

I've really looked forward to every milestone in Jude & Sloane's life with the exception of one: Potty training.  Not only have I not looked forward to it, I've completely dreaded it.  Diapers are easy.  You (the parents) are in control.  If you're in the checkout line at Target, you don't have to abandon your cart because your child may or may not need to go to the bathroom.  The obvious downfall is the expense, but other than that?  Diapers for life.

My kids must understand me better than I realize because they also seemed quite content staying in diapers.  You know all the signs kids show that prove their readiness for potty training?  Jude & Sloane showed none of them (Sloane went through a brief period around 18 months but lost interest quickly).  They never woke up dry from naps.  They never asked to use the potty.  They rarely told me after they'd gone in their diapers.  When they turned two last fall, we looked at the calendar and decided Memorial Day weekend sounded perfect.  We knew we wanted to try the 3-day method and felt like they would be more than ready at 2.5 years.

Fast forward and they showed no more signs of readiness than they did six months prior.  I even asked Michael the week leading up to Memorial Day, "Think we could just hold off a little longer?" but he wanted to proceed as planned.

The week before we potty trained, I read 3 Day Potty Training by Lora Jensen.  I really thought I knew what to expect but found out I was clueless.  I was basically a walking case of "How NOT to potty train your twins."  I highly recommend this book. 

Fluids (We stuck with water.  Other alternatives: Juice, Popsicles, Fruit, etc.)
Undies (We had 14 pairs for each)
Potty seat or Portable Potty
Step Stool (for potty & sink)
Rewards (We used fruit snacks)
Sticker Chart/Stickers 
Flushable Wipes
Lysol spray
Prepared/easy meals for the parents (or Dominos) (You'll be so tired, the last thing you'll want to do is cook - I'm not kidding.)

Preparation BEFORE you begin...
About a week before we started, I brought up potty training constantly.  Every time I changed their diapers I said, "Pretty soon you will go in the potty like mama and dada!  Doesn't that sound fun?" Whenever I needed to go to the bathroom I made a big production of it:  "Mama is going to go potty now!  You will do this soon too because you're a big boy/big girl!"  I let them watch (being a parent is humiliating).  I wanted them to know they were big kids and that big kids use the potty - not their diapers.

My kids love Frozen so I decided we would have a Frozen-themed potty training experience.  I found a Frozen potty training sticker chart on Pinterest and stickers at Target to match.  

Sidenote: We only had one sticker chart.  Having two sticker charts right next to one another shows an obvious comparison and goes against the thought of it being an encouraging experience.  Since we only had one chart, Jude & Sloane worked together to fill up the chart.

The day before we began, we went to Target and let the kids pick out their own undies.  We made a really big deal out of it and told them how excited we were for them.  The magic of potty training (as you will see below) is making everything EXCITING.  It is a happy time.   Even if you are dreading it on the inside, you put a smile on your face for 72 hours.

The night before, we rolled up our living room rug and put it in a safe, pee-free place.  We also covered the chairs and sofa with towels in case of accidents.  The towels would also come in handy when one of the kids had an accident on the floor.  Always a towel close by!

What I Wish I Would've Done Beforehand...
1.  Had them practice pulling down/up their underwear.  They'd never worn pull-ups so this task ended up being difficult for them while potty training.  They can pull down/pull up their pants, but underwear is a little more difficult.  This meant I was frantically helping them before they had a chance to make a big mess.
2.  As I said above, eating while potty training is difficult.  You really need all hands on deck so a leisurely lunch/dinner is out of the question.  Neither of us ate anything the first day until nap time, and by dinner we were so tired we got Whataburger.  Whatever it is you do, just make sure it's something fast and easy and your fridge is fully stocked.

The kids woke up bright and early so we got their water ready and took off their diapers.  We made a big deal of putting on their undies and letting them throw away their diapers.  We were all about the symbolism, which I'm sure went right over their tiny heads.  They wore tees and undies (and nothing else) the entire time we potty trained.

Michael and I each had a twin and watched them like a hawk.  We set our phone timers for every 15 minutes and each time the alarm sounded, we sang "Time to goooo!" (to the tune of "Let it Go"- still sticking with the Frozen theme).  We'd always planned to train both of them on the regular toilet, but realized we would be in trouble if they had to go at the same time.  We purchased one small potty and a potty seat for our toilet.  

The morning was a disaster.  They never went when we took them and then they would have an accident right after they left the bathroom.  I knew to expect this, but I was so sure if they'd go in the potty and see the reaction from both of us, we would be set.  Jude was the first to use the potty and the celebration he received was like none other.  We were ecstatic.  He was ecstatic.  This was going well.

Sloane had accidents all morning.  Potty training guides tell you to watch for signs that they need to go.  My kids had zero signs - they just GO.  So we spent the morning racing our kids to the potty, only to realize they'd completely gone on the floor and had nothing left.    We pumped them full of water, had multiple dance parties, played lots of games, and watched lots of television.  The morning went faster than I thought, but little success was had.

At nap time we put them in diapers (we'd only had one success story so we decided nap time would be a complete disaster in undies) and got ourselves prepared for the afternoon.  When they awoke, we changed them back into undies and took them straight to the bathroom.  Neither had to go.  Sloane didn't go for FOUR HOURS.  No accidents - nothing.  I started panicking because it was obvious she was uncomfortable.  She started refusing water and I was almost ready to throw a diaper on her.  Jude had a few accidents but was really good at stopping once he realized he was going.  

Going to the potty every 15 minutes got tiresome for everyone.  Pretty soon both of them cried when we sang "Time to go!" Michael found a potty song on Youtube that we played several times.   At one point the lady sings, "You can do it, just stick to it, you're gonna get through it just fine" and I wasn't sure if she was singing to the kids or to me.  Either way, I appreciated her words of encouragement. ;)

Sloane finally went on the potty and received the same excitement her brother had experienced that morning.  She'd been sick with a cough most of the day, so holding it for four hours and finally going completely drained her.  She asked to go to bed at 6:20p.  I gave her a big hug and told her how proud I was of her.  

Jude stayed up an additional hour.  When it was bedtime, I put him in a diaper and he immediately peed.  He apologized and looked so sad.  I told him it was fine and then he asked for a new diaper.  I was absolutely blown away.  This was the kid who the day before would've happily worn a wet diaper for as long as I'd allow it.

Biggest Takeaways from Day 1:
1.  Be encouraging and optimistic.  All smiles all the time.  Absolutely no berating or chastising when the kids have accidents.
2.  Rather than say, "Do you have to go potty?" say, "Let me know when you need to go potty."  Put them in charge so they don't depend on you to ask them.  (This really worked for Sloane, not as much for Jude.)
3.  If your child does not go in a short amount of time, do not force them to sit on the potty for an extended period.  It's frustrating for everyone and rarely leads to a success.
4.  Even if you get desperate, leave the potty/potties in the bathroom.  They need to learn the bathroom is where you do your business - not the living room, etc.  
5.  We let them graze on food all day.  We didn't want to put them in high chairs for lunch/dinner because we knew in that time they were likely to have an accident.  Instead, we had a living room picnic, which they seemed to really enjoy.  

Sloane was up all night having trouble breathing, so three of us received exactly two hours of sleep.  The morning started fairly well with no accidents from Sloane and only a few from Jude.  While most of the success stories happened because we took them to the potty, a few were from them actually letting us know they had to go.  We still set our phone timers for every 20-25 minutes.

The day turned weird at noon, when my husband took Sloane to urgent care for her breathing.  Long story short, they gave her three breathing treatments, which weren't enough to get her breathing correctly, so she was taken by ambulance to the ER where she received another breathing treatment and two chest X-rays.  She was diagnosed with a bad viral lung infection and we were sent on our way with three prescriptions.  This was about seven hours of Day 2.  We'd put her in a diaper when she went to urgent care, thinking she'd be home within an hour and we could get back to training.  Nope.  However, she refused to use her diaper and actually used the potty at urgent care!!  She didn't go again until she got home and was able to use the potty.

Jude had some serious setbacks that afternoon.  I put most of the blame on a very distracted/worried mama.  I was trying to stay focused on him and watch for cues, but my mind was on my daughter.  He was also very curious as to where she was and asked for her often.  He did have a few successes but mostly accidents.  One thing Jude does well (which I've heard is a little surprising) is #2 in the potty.  The kid has no issues with this.  Sloane waited until her nighttime diaper before she would go.  I don't have any advice to give you on this as we can take zero credit for his lack of fear - It was all Jude.

Biggest Takeaways from Day 2...
1.  Don't give up.  Even if your child goes to the ER for half of the day, you don't have to stop potty training.  ;)  Kids are so resilient. 
2.  By day 2, your child has most likely selected their potty preference.  Sloane only wanted to go on the "big potty" - she did not want to go on the "baby potty."  Meanwhile, Jude preferred the portable potty.
3.  Once they've gotten the hang of it, sometimes kids need privacy too!  Jude is a cuddler so I just assumed he would want me sitting right next to him with our arms touching.  A few times I left the bathroom to check on Sloane and he always did his business while I was away.  So now I make sure he's situated and then stand at the doorway.  Sloane, on the other hand, seems to prefer an audience (of course she does).  
4.  Leave the bathroom light on and the door wide open all day.  I wanted my kids to see the bathroom and their potties every single time they walked by the bathroom.  I kept all of the doors closed to the bedrooms so they had few distractions.  

Ahhh, the day when magic happens and everything clicks.  Or at least that's what the book says.  Michael went back to work so I was all alone with the twins.  From the get-go, Jude had accidents.  And not the kind where he would start in one room and finish on the potty.  Nope, he was just going with reckless abandon and didn't even care.  I was so frustrated.  He'd clearly regressed and it was like we were starting from scratch.

I'll be honest - one of the hardest things about potty training is staying positive and excited, regardless of what happens.  Saying, "Tell me when you need to go potty" 400 times a day in your cheeriest voice as you're cleaning up the last mess is exhausting.  But I can't reiterate enough how important it is.  After Jude's third accident of the morning, I was stern with him and immediately regretted it.  His face said it all and I put myself in time-out for a bit.

Sloane had zero accidents and was over the sticker chart and fruit snacks.  She would go to the bathroom, flush the toilet, and then was on her way.  Sometimes I swear she looked bored with the whole thing.

During nap time I took a long bath and recharged for the afternoon.  I was going to be optimistic and encouraging.  When the kids woke up, I did just that.  And I kid you not - Jude was a different kid that afternoon.  He had one accident.  ONE.  Full disclosure: he wasn't telling me he needed to go, he just went when I took him.  I still considered it a 180 from that morning.

I didn't use the timer this day, I just looked for cues and would take them every 30 minutes or so.  I also didn't push the fluids as much but gave them lots of fruit instead.  I know more fluids = more chances to learn, but I also knew I was on my own and having to take two kids to the potty 100 times each just wasn't in the cards.

Biggest Takeaways from Day 3...
1.  If one of your kids is doing better than the other, stop taking them at the same time.  I wanted to give Sloane the proper attention/applause, but I hated that poor Jude had to sit and witness all of it.  
2.  Unless one of your kids is completely potty trained by day 3 (thank you, Sloane), I really encourage both parents being home all three days.  I was able to spend my time on Jude, and there is no way this day would've been successful if I'd had to really split my time between the two of them.  I am amazed at twin moms who do it on their own.  
3.  I know a lot of us use nap time to get stuff done around the house.  This does not apply when you're potty training.  You do whatever it is you need to do to relax and unwind.  Potty training is stressful stuff and you have to be on your best behavior when you're around the kids.  
4.  If I didn't know it already, TWINS are so different when it comes to potty training.  Sloane was absolutely mortified and cried the few times she had accidents.  Jude couldn't care less.  Sloane refused to #2 in the potty until day 3, Jude's very first success was #2.  Sloane wanted us near, Jude preferred his privacy.  Sloane didn't need a celebration, Jude was all about it.  It's so important you pick up on these differences as soon as possible and adjust yourself accordingly.  Even if you are training them at the same time, you cannot train them the exact same way and expect success.

I understand why they call it 3 Day Potty Training because, if done correctly, your child understands the rules of potty training in three days.  However, I do NOT think it means they will be 100% potty trained in three days.  I'm sure that's the intent, but I've talked to very few moms (especially moms of boys) whose children have it completely down in three days.

Sloane was a potty trainer's dream.  I can count on one hand how many accidents she's had after the first day.  One week later, she no longer tells us she needs to go to the bathroom, she just quietly excuses herself and goes.  She'll take a fruit snack if it's offered, but doesn't care about rewards.  And let me reiterate - she showed ZERO signs of being ready to potty train.  I'm not sure those signs are as important as some say.

Jude, sweet boy, handled potty training quite differently than Sloane.  He was well on his way after the first few days but from day three on, there was little improvement.  He always went to the bathroom when we took him, but he never told us.  One week later we are still having multiple accidents and I'm scared to leave the house for more than 20 minutes at a time.  I've been told by several friends that boys are harder/take longer and that it would eventually "click," but I'm not seeing any clicking.  We are now trying to decide if we will continue training or put him back in diapers and try again in a month.  I don't want to give up too soon, but Sloane proved to me that when they're ready, it should not be this difficult.

I'm glad I read 3 Day Potty Training and felt we did everything we could to prepare our house, our kids, and ourselves for potty training.  If we do decide to put Jude back in diapers and try again in a month, I plan to stick to what we did the first time.  My hope is he'll have an extra cheerleader (Sloane) helping him get there!

Even though we didn't have 100% success with both of them, I still felt it went far better than expected.  We definitely had some rough moments, but I wish I hadn't spent so much time worrying about it before we did it.  Turns out when they're your kids, nothing is too gross or too hard.  Unconditional love makes everything a little easier.  :)

If you have any questions or advice (always welcomed!!) feel free to email me:!

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  1. Yay thanks for posting/sharing! I am still seriously considering waiting until kindergarten with C&C, but if I decide to get with the program any earlier, I'll definitely be referring to this for tips ;)

  2. This is great! We did 3-day boot camp with my dd, and I am dreading with my twins. She was great at home, but when she went back to school (full time daycare) it was tough. They recommended putting a pull-up on the outside of undies so they feel the accident, but it's not as big of a mess in public. I was worried she would regress, but after a while, she figured it all back out. Again, thanks for sharing. I can't imagine doing two!

  3. My twin boys are 2 1/2 and I am definitely waiting till 3 to start trying to potty train. At this point they show no interest and could care less about a dirty diaper!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this! I have 26 month old twin girls (and they have 2 older brothers). I potty trained my boys this way and it worked so well! My first was ready at 2.5 and after day 3 we were doing pretty good. My next we tried at the same age but it just wasn't working. We gave up and tried again later and he got it so fast! I can count the number of accidents he had after starting that second time on one hand. If you want to stop and wait a little bit, it's not a bad thing. Do whatever works for him!

    Now I am dreading potty training the girls, but when I do this will be so helpful. Good luck!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this! I have 26 month old twin girls (and they have 2 older brothers). I potty trained my boys this way and it worked so well! My first was ready at 2.5 and after day 3 we were doing pretty good. My next we tried at the same age but it just wasn't working. We gave up and tried again later and he got it so fast! I can count the number of accidents he had after starting that second time on one hand. If you want to stop and wait a little bit, it's not a bad thing. Do whatever works for him!

    Now I am dreading potty training the girls, but when I do this will be so helpful. Good luck!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this! I have 26 month old twin girls (and they have 2 older brothers). I potty trained my boys this way and it worked so well! My first was ready at 2.5 and after day 3 we were doing pretty good. My next we tried at the same age but it just wasn't working. We gave up and tried again later and he got it so fast! I can count the number of accidents he had after starting that second time on one hand. If you want to stop and wait a little bit, it's not a bad thing. Do whatever works for him!

    Now I am dreading potty training the girls, but when I do this will be so helpful. Good luck!

  7. I know it was a stressful three days - but honestly, you've made it sound so 'do-able'!! I'm feeling optimistic about potty training my 24 month olds. Hmmm ... Maybe in a month or 2!

  8. Wow This is wonderful post and Great advice! Potty Training in 3 Days is very useful page for us. It is so much faith for potty training in 3 days guide. Thanks for sharing valuable information.