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My daughters’ interest in my use of the bathroom was all well and good, but until they developed their own awareness and muscle control, it was all theoretical to them. I originally wrote this when my twin girls were three, as a review on our local MoMs’ group blog.
When we began potty training, around 27 months, though, we experienced a drastic change in the girls’ morning routines.  I appreciated that they woke to use the potty…but there were some painfully early starts to our days for quite some time.
I would love to one day get back to our blessed 7:30 rise and shine…but for now, I’m so thankful to at least have a consistent wake-up time.
I originally posted this on my blog a couple of weeks after Baby B potty-trained, which was about 6 months to the day after Baby A potty-trained. I remember where I was a year ago…I didn’t know much about potty-training, but I knew it would be in my relatively near future. When Baby A started showing some signs of interest in the potty, shortly after she turned two, I started reading…the parenting books I had, online sources of parenting information, blog posts.
Having said goodbye to diapers three full weeks ago (!!!), I thought I’d reflect on what I’ve learned. I often hear about people using sticker charts or M&Ms, with rewards earned for output, sometimes in weighted amounts.
The “prestige” of being a big girl, of flushing the potty, and of wearing pretty underwear seemed to be motivation enough for both our girls. Baby A used the potty ring on the upstairs potty, and she had no trouble using the portable potty seat in public restrooms.
I started Baby B on the potty chair, but she was playing so much…bouncing with her feet and wanting to lift the seat from the base. I don’t mean to be controversial here…I know there’s a big market for this intermediate step, so it must work for a lot of families.
I think some parents use a Pull-up when they leave the house, to avoid messy accidents away from home. With Baby A, who trained at 27 months, I took very small outings at first…a walk around the block for 30 minutes…then working up to a quick run to Target within a 45 minute window. A blog friend of mine wrote a year or so ago, “If potty training is stressful, your children aren’t ready.” A couple of kids later, I agree…but…it’s all relative.
Even though I feel confident both my girls were ready, such that motivation wasn’t a huge factor, potty training was still a stressful time.
I see parents of toddlers grow misty-eyed, imagining the day that they’ll be done with diapers. Now my children are 8 years old and fully capable of going to the bathroom alone and cleaning up after themselves. We used disposable diapers exclusively, mostly because I went back to work when my daughters, J and M, were 11 weeks old and their daycare centre wasn’t about to deal with cloth diapers. In the Days of Diapers, we could get through the grocery store in about 45 minutes to one hour, even with strangers stopping us to ask about The Great Mystery of Twins. Then there was the time that J threw herself on a bowling alley bathroom floor in a fit of rage. In the Days of Diapers, I’d been the mother who showed up to everything with her kids, always prepared and always ready to participate in whatever was going on around town. It’s been 8 months since we dipped our big toe into the waters of potty training, and we now have one child who is completely day time potty trained  and the other who is not.
During nap time, Isla June had been performing the Great Magical Act of stripping off her clothes and diaper. After second said incident, I turned to my most trusted source for mom information- Facebook. So, on a random Sunday (because that's our movie watching day), I popped in the potty video. She's started to hold it more and have one episode of "release" instead of lots of little pees (is that TIMI?


Although I carefully researched almost every other area of parenting and child development, I decided to rely on my experience for potty training.
I was only when I was months into the effort with my daughters that I realized that the adults were the ones who had been trained in my sister’s case. I thought their interest in the potty, paired with an ability to communicate verbally, was enough. I took their waking with dry diapers every morning as a sign that they were able to control their bladders, but they just happened to develop that control out of typical order. Sure, I got them all excited about Disney-themed panties, but I saw potty training as my personal accomplishment rather than theirs. Outside of the “boot camp” approach, I didn’t feel like there was much “methodology” to understand. I know that two children does not a statistically significant sample make, but – even with the girls being very different from each other – there are a couple of learnings I can point to in our experience. In both cases, our girls told us they wanted to start using the potty, so I didn’t need to motivate them to “produce”. With both of them we went through a period of time when they wanted to tee just a couple of drops to be able to flush (I could just imagine how manipulative things could have gotten if they were jonesing for M&Ms!). After several months, Baby A began having some very small accidents…not wanting to interrupt her play for a bathroom break. And if we’re at a friend’s house, she does fine sitting on the regular toilet (I hold her gently to make sure she doesn’t lose balance and fall in!) I have heard about kids getting attached to one particular potty chair or ring. Maybe because I was able to wait for our girls to make the first move, though, letting me know they wanted to use the potty, I never felt Pull-ups were necessary. When she “got it”, within the first five days, I felt comfortable to leave the house as usual.
That first week or so there was a constant need for attention…looking at the clock…listening for cues…back and forth to the potty…wanting to discipline, but not wanting to discourage.
The newness wears off, the routines kick in, and – over time – going to the potty becomes a part of life. I didn’t reward the girls with chocolate, but you’d better believe I kept a stash for myself! They don’t look forward to potty training, of course, but they look forward to having children who are potty trained. We were able to increase our retirement contributions once we stopped having to budget for diapers.
I’d hold a book in front of them while they took turns pointing out animals or colours or shapes.
We’d always need to stop at least twice, abandoning our cart to visit the bathroom, sometimes exiting to discover that a hardworking store worker had put all our supplies back on the shelves.
With newly potty-trained J and M, our social sphere narrowed, every outing being planned around the least gross available bathrooms.
One day, out for dinner, J waved me off when I rose to go with her to the restaurant bathroom. I smiled at the Target portion of the story remembering how we interrupted your morning with my mama forgetfulness.
I remember my sister being on the potty at under a year old, so I starting trying to potty train my daughters as soon as they expressed an interest in my own bathroom habits.
She was far too young to be able to use the potty, but between the nannies and maids we had in Bangladesh, there was always someone there to read her signs and rush her to the potty when she was about to go. They were clean and dry through the night for months before they were could identify potty time during the day.
I read about reward systems and pull-ups, but I surely didn’t find a step-by-step guide as I’d hoped.
Some of these are personal opinions of mine, and some are more overarching principles that I’ll actually reference beyond potty-training.


I told them, “That’s not enough to flush.” (In Baby A’s first couple of days, we flushed so much the potty actually did “break”…fortunately Hubby heard the anguish in my voice and was able to rescue me during his lunch period that day.
About six weeks ago I started awarding her a sticker at the end of the day for keeping clean and dry all day. Whereas I don’t tolerate playing at mealtime, though, I was afraid to reprimand them too much on the potty…ultimately they were doing what I was trying to encourage. That worked fine…until Baby A seemed to use potty-time as an excuse to garner one-on-one time with Mommy (the bathroom being separate from the playroom).
By introducing different potty paraphernalia from the beginning, I hoped to avoid that issue. I explained it to myself that the girls were coping with a huge responsibility, and – relative to their little worlds – that was a lot of pressure on them. For a full six months, Baby A had been a star on the throne…and here was her sister joining her in the spotlight, wearing pretty underwear, and getting stickers, just like she had been. Like so many other journeys to date in this crazy ride called parenthood, potty-training is just a phase. And I distinctly remember on Day 6 of Baby A’s training, I took myself to the Dairy Queen after the girls were in bed. I know that going through potty-training (a story for another day) and toddler bathroom visits was necessary to get here. Every now and again, I’d feel a great warmth on my knee and know that someone was going to need a diaper change. My daughters being so tiny, there was a very real chance of them falling into the store toilets, so each little girl would wrap her little arms around my neck to hold herself up while she emptied her bladder or bowel under my nose. M was convinced that she would fall in and drown, so add to the stench and small space a screaming 3-year-old trying to decide if she was more concerned about her own impending death or her sister’s. That just wasn’t reasonable as a functionally single working parent with twins in a daycare program. Instead of making potty training a favour they were doing him, he put all ownership of their success on them. For us that meant staying at home during the first three to five days when the girls were taking on their new responsibility. Once they became more confident in their abilities, within a week or so, their emotions stabilized (at least relative to a two-year old!). Whereas Baby A’s potty use had become a fact of life, I began to praise her again, noting how proud I was of her, as well as her sister. I got a Reese’s Blizzard and sat in the car, all by my lonesome, and enjoyed every spoonful.
She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst.
I insisted that M was her own person and should be potty trained, regardless of her twin’s readiness. She loves to get her card off the refrigerator, pick a sticker, and show her new sticker off to her daddy. It was a great reminder for me to be patient, and know that the novelty would wear off sooner or later. I immediately got Baby B on the same system, and she’s been earning stickers almost every day, too. She would decline, so we’d head back to our book, at which time, the girls would bicker over whose turn it was.



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Comments

  1. Ayshe, 05.06.2014
    Really ready for this about 18 months toilet use if they're.
  2. TeK_BiR_GeCe, 05.06.2014
    Weeks or till he expresses an interest in making.
  3. vefa, 05.06.2014
    That your child will require to realize and.