I don’t read a ton of parenting books. I skim topics of interest—areas that I am particularly unsure of—and look things up as I go along. I rely a lot on my mom friends who have already traversed tough milestones like sleep training, starting solids, weaning, and baby proofing. In the end, like most people, my husband and I tend to solve most problems by incorporating what experts say, what the internet says, what our peers say, and what is right for the individual personalities of our twins.
I figured potty training would be the same. My twin boys are 22 months old and I expected that sometime in the near future we would start introducing the idea of “the potty” and maybe in a few months, sometime near Christmas when my husband was on vacation, we would start some more intensive potty training. I’m really not in any rush because, the truth is, I don’t hate diapers. In fact, I find them very convenient. Even with the added laundry that cloth diapering twins generates, I still find the idea of diapers simpler than trying to take two squirmy toddlers to the restroom. To this point, I’ve read a little on the topic, bought some portable potties, and started vocalizing my actions when using the bathroom in front of my kids, but that’s it. Last week, my Mother of Multiples group held a potty training seminar where a local expert and a panel of seasoned twin moms answered questions about the nitty-gritty nuances of potty training. This was perfect timing since potty training was on our horizon.
I learned a lot of good tips about potty training at our seminar but much of the facts overwhelmed me. For instance, I had not considered that I might need more than one set of potties (e.g. 4, 6, 8 instead of 2) to make using the toilet easier for everyone involved. I did not think about the fact that my kids need to start to learn how to take their pants off (something that I was told invariably results in a period of time where your children are always naked because they can in fact take off their own clothes). It never occurred to me that the jeans my guys usually wear are not ideal and that I would need to infuse their wardrobe with some elastic waist pants so they can more easily get their britches down. And the idea of a “potty backpack”, or any sort of bag that I would use to carry a portable toilet in which my kids would use in the car, had never occurred to me. I was, however, aware that consistency is key and that once we started training, there would be no going back. Needless to say, I have been digesting some of these tidbits while deciding how we were going to approach potty training in my household. My plan was to think on it for a bit longer, device a strategy and then when the time was right (i.e. when I was ready to tackle the changes that were about to ensue) we would begin.
Thankfully, my son had a different idea. Two days after I attended the potty training seminar, without any additional potty talk in the house, my son decided he wanted to poop in the toilet. Just before my husband was about to place him in the bathtub, my son looked at the toilet, pointed and said “B poop?”. I was not in the room at the time so my husband did what anyone who had not attended a potty training seminar would do, he sat the boy on the toilet. Minutes later I walked past the open door and asked what was going on. Once filled in, I excitedly told my husband that B needed to sit on his own potty on the floor because he would not likely poop if his feet were dangling (I vaguely remembered just being told that feet needed to be on the ground so the proper muscles could be engaged for pooping). I brought them a potty and over the next 10 minutes the three of us just kind of stood there staring at my son who was sitting on the toilet playing with a toy truck not really doing much of anything. Every time we asked if he was done (which was a lot because I was convinced this was just a stall tactic), he would say “noooooo” in his cute little drawn out way, so we just waited. Finally, he stood and declared “B pooped” and, shockingly, he was right. Words could not express how proud I was of him at that moment. We made a big deal of flushing the poop down the toilet and waving goodbye. Shortly after seeing this, my other son told me he wanted to sit on the potty. Though he did not produce any flushables, I was happy with his effort just the same. Clearly this was a sign that this was going to be easy, right?! One son had the insight and drive to want to poop in the toilet and the other one was going to do it because his brother did. Cakewalk.
Well, the last two days have been comical and a great reminder that doing anything with twins is twice the work and twice the chaos. Since both boys had tried to use the potty, I knew I had to keep the momentum going. The next day I offered them a chance to sit on the potty first thing in the morning. I undressed both boys, showed them the potties and waited. Both boys sat on the potty, but nothing happened. Fine, no big deal and was what I expected. The part that I had not planned for was that now I had two naked boys who need to get dressed. While I’m wrangling one trying to get his clothes on, I look over and brother is sitting bare-butted in the toy box, peeing. The next day, I do the same thing, offer the potty when the boys have been undressed. After some sitting and one going pee in the potty (yay!!) my other son manages to open the door and run down the hall. As I grab clothes for both boys and proceed to dress the son that has peed in the toilet, out of the corner of my eye I see my other son riding his scooter around the living room, naked. This is an image that will always make me giggle. Next, I feel him tugging at my pant leg and I see him pointing. In a matter of seconds, while I was clothing up his brother’s shirt, he had managed to poop on the floor. I turn my attention to getting the poop off the floor before my dog ate it, and I look up to see my darling boys start to tug-a-war with the potty that has urine in it. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.
Twin logistics will never cease to amaze me. No matter how you slice it—until they learn to use the toilet—when I am alone, I will have one unattended naked toddler. Preventing this naked boy from peeing or pooping when I am not looking is going to take more effort than I originally expected. I feel like these bathroom mishaps were a fast initiation into the world of potty training but I also feel like this is another one of those things that is just funnier because you are going through it with twins.