Currently I am about a year and a half out from potty training my boys. It has been on my mind lately because now my daughter is coming up on two years old and I know I am going to have to face the facts soon… I have more potty training to do. I have heard that there are some kids out there who are easy to potty train. I have yet to see this mystical creature appear in my household, but I have heard tales. I still have hope for Lilly. I thought I would share with you a little about my experience with potty training multiples.
T H E F A L S E S T A R T
In the summer of 2011 I wanted to start training James. He was 3 months shy of 3, and I thought he might be able to go to preschool for two days a week if he was potty trained. It was a disaster. I foolishly thought that I could just potty train one brother and wait to do the twins later. No sir… whatever big brother does so do the little brothers. We ended up buying three little potty chairs so everyone could try at once. I attempted the 3-day potty training method and I quickly discovered that it just wasn’t feasible by myself with multiples. There was no way I could give my full and undivided attention to just one.
There was pee everywhere and the boys were getting into so much trouble while I was in the bathroom. We were also having trouble with James and some constipation. He would scream bloody murder every time I tried to take him into the bathroom. While I was dealing with him and trying my best to get him to use the potty, the twins got into some of my makeup and made themselves beautiful with black and silver make up. After three days of no progress and so many accidents, I gave up. It was not my proudest mommy moment. Maybe they weren’t ready, maybe I wasn’t ready. I’m not sure but it was not a good week at our household and I thought I was going to go out of my mind.
S E C O N D T R Y : T H E F I R S T 3 D A Y S
The following summer, I knew it had to be done. James was 3.5 and the twins were coming up on 3. It was time. Here was our plan and why we choose to do it this way.
- Start Monday morning
I know that a lot of the potty training tips say to pick a three day weekend to really get the kids trained quickly, but all of our weekends were planned out for a few months and I needed to get started. It was not easy because I knew it would be the four kids and me plus a lot of accidents, but with our schedule it was the best option.
- Have the kids pick their underwear
I wanted them to be excited about their new underwear so I let them help me pick out which ones they wanted. We went to Target and let them each pick out a package, plus I bought a few more. I started out with about 30 pairs of underwear and there were some days in the beginning I used almost all of them in one day.
- While at home they wore nothing but underwear and a shirt, but we still used pull ups when we went out.
Let me just say that the pull ups were a sanity saver. There were no consecutive set of days where we were able to stay home, and my brain could not handle all three boys having accidents every ten minutes while we were in public. We also continued to use pull ups at night. I was washing a ton of clothes and towels — I absolutely could not handle sheets and blankets.
- Used sticker charts as reward
I am not a huge fan of candy rewards for two reasons. If there is candy in the house I want to eat it, and I also get a little grossed out by candy and bathroom activities combined. I don’t know it’s just one of my weird traits. We had the kids help make their reward charts to try and up their excitement.
On Monday morning I had our plan in place and I was ready to go. The boys picked out their favorite superhero underpants while chanting, “Superheroes use the potty.” I took the boys into the bathroom and they all used the toilet successfully, followed by cheers and clapping and stickers. It was a great accomplishment. It was also the last time they made it to the toilet that day. I seriously felt like I was cleaning up an accident every five minutes. I tried to remind myself that it was the first day and it would get better, but I literally collapsed in my bed immediately after putting the kids to bed that night.
The next two days were busy for us. We went to my dad’s work for his retirement party. The kids were in pull ups and didn’t use the restroom. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t even try, but I knew there would be more chances. I actually was a little relieved that I wasn’t cleaning all day. For his first day in retirement, my dad wanted to take the boys on Sheldon’s Train Day (from The Big Bang Theory). So we went to Travel Town to look at the trains and ended up at a Restaurant in LA called Carney’s, which is a restaurant in a train car. The boys loved it and they even asked to go to the bathroom several times. They still wet their pull ups, but we did make it to the bathroom a few times.
While we were at home, it was a mess of accidents and dirty clothes and towels. I felt like I was failing my boys. Not only were they not making it to the bathroom, but I was having huge behavior issues with James. We had several massive stand offs where he tested my will, and it seemed like he was searching for lines that he could cross just to watch my head explode. I often felt like I was in a western during a duel at high noon. Me at one end of the hall, him at the other, staring at each other to see who would crack first. Many resulted in screaming fits and pee everywhere. By the time Mr. Train came home on the third day I was completely done for.
That night I thought I was never going to survive potty training. It was crazy. James wanted nothing to do with potty training. How was I ever going to get him to do it? I had horrific images of a 15 year old boy going off to high school still wearing diapers. Extreme… I know but, I had completely lost my mind. I didn’t know how I could ever keep up with the laundry if this kept up. Mr. Train felt bad that I was taking the brunt of this task, but I assured him there would be plenty of accidents for him to clean up on Saturday.
D A Y 4 & B E Y O N D
Something happened on day four. They just seemed to start getting it. We had some days with great successes and my sanity started to return. The amount of times they made it increased and the accidents decreased. We even had our first poops in the toilet. We had upped the prize to try and get them to use the toilet for poop, so we bought a bunch of hot wheel cars. Once they saw one brother get a car, the race was on to see who could get the next one. During the next few days we spent a lot of time at home. We had a ton of discussions about bodily functions and body parts and kids running through the house in their underpants.
After the first week they seemed to have pretty good control over their bladders, but pooping was another issue. Every few weeks we tried to change up their rewards. I know that there is a lot of literature that says rewards are just bribing, but I was a mama who was desperate to potty train. After a while the cars weren’t working any more so we moved to a chart with check marks. After filling out a row of the chart they got to go to get yogurt with Mr. Train all by themselves. We went through several rounds of small rewards before making a chart with 30 squares in it. Once they reached their 30 marks, they got to go to Disneyland with their Papa all by themselves. After that (which was 6 months later), it seemed like we were mostly accident free. I have to admit I still carry a change of clothes for the kids wherever we go, but we hardly ever use them anymore.
I think the most helpful thing during this life adventure was talking to other mothers of multiples. In our early days of training we had a twin play date with four twin mamas and our boys. The one thing that all of them had to say about it was that potty training multiples is hard. At least I felt like I wasn’t alone. There was someone else out there who was going through same struggles we were, whose house was a disaster, and who had a few glasses of wine in the evening to unwind from the stress of it all. I can look back now and laugh at all of the crazy antics we survived, but boy am I glad it’s done. I am still desperately hoping that Lilly is one of those magically easy potty trainers, but only time will tell.