Potty Training 101 – According to a Toddler

I was one of those parents who feared that her children would go off to college in diapers. No, seriously, I was. Because that’s my kind of luck.

So imagine my surprise when Garrett, one of my twins, at the age of 2 1/2 (31 months, if you want to be exact) suddenly announced, “My diaper is yucky” and tore it off faster than my husband tears out of here for work every morning at 8:07 am on the dot.

I replied, “Well, if your diaper is yucky and you don’t want to wear it anymore, you’ll need to use the potty”. My jaw hit the floor when he said, “Okay” and walked into the bathroom, sat down on the little potty seat and peed!

It was THAT simple, my friends.  And I didn’t even have to pull my hair out or scream obscenities into a pillow.

As parents, we bang our heads against the wall, frustrated with our children over such milestones as potty training. It’s definitely not for the weak at heart. When it comes to potty training, there’s a lot to be said about waiting until your CHILD is ready… not when YOU’RE ready. 

If Garrett could give some pointers, I would imagine there would be some important things he’d want all us frustrated, exhausted parents to know.

Potty Training 101 - According to a Toddler from hdydi.com

Potty Training 101 - According to a Toddler

That’s me on the right. Just ignore my twin brother who’s pouting because he’s NOT potty trained yet.

  1. This is the most important rule. I’m just gonna come right out and lay it on the line. I am in control here. Not you. Not Daddy. Not the moon and stars in the sky. MEI am in control. I will use the potty when I am good and ready… and not a minute before that. Yeah, yeah. I know you gave me life and all. Save your breath because I really don’t care.
  2. Let’s go over the rewards system. If I’m gonna be honest here (which you know is RARE for me) the one reward that means the most to me is just seeing you incredibly happy. I mean, if seeing a little bit of pee in the potty from little, old me makes you beam with pride, I’m all for it.With that said, if you INSIST on giving rewards, here’s a list I put together which might be helpful:
    • candy (preferably, lollipops… lots and lots of lollipops)
    • stickers (of all my favorite tv/movie characters, definitely not Big Bird… he kinda sucks)
    • temporary tattoos (the ones with skulls, not the ones that say “My mom rocks”)
    • time-out for all my siblings (hey, it’s MY reward… don’t ask any questions)
    • toys (let’s be clear… good things do not come in small packages! The bigger the better, just sayin’)

     

  3. Pull-ups vs diapers. Honestly, there’s no difference. Pull-ups are really just glorified diapers. And they’re more expensive. Save your money and just get me a big screen TV for my room.
  4. Underwear – okay, here’s the deal. It is of the utmost importance that you let me go to the store with you and choose whatever underwear I want to get. Running into the house all excited with a bag full of new underwear that YOU chose from Target isn’t gonna go over well with me. Just so you know.Remember, the control issue? It all goes back to that. If you come home from the store waving a package of new underwear in my face that I did NOT pick out myself, then you should fully expect a huge setback, more than likely, in the form of a big steaming pile of poop on your white bedroom carpet. Yep, that’s how I roll. With your kind of luck, you actually won’t discover it until you step in it.
  5. Please, please, please try to make this whole potty training thing entertaining for me. Here’s what’s UNacceptable:
    • You sitting on a stepstool in front of me, staring me down as if your brain can telepathically send a message to my bladder and my colon, urging them both to take quick action so you can go update your Facebook page, bragging about how awesome you are at potty training your child (as if…)
    • Calling the entire family into the bathroom to watch me perform. I know it’s hard to resist because I’m just so darn cute sitting on the pot. I mean, I’d want to stare at me too. But now that I’ve agreed to give up diapers, I have the right to privacy in the bathroom. I’ve earned it. Oh, and before you even think it… YOU, however, do not have any right to privacy… like, ever.
    • NO taking pictures of my poop and e-mailing them to Daddy at work with the subject line reading, “You HAVE to see this”. My poop can only truly be appreciated in person.  If he’s lucky and I’m in a good mood, I may just produce another whopper on the weekend for him to experience with his own eyes.
    • NO saying, “How can such a little body make such a big poop?” Let me just remind you that YOU do the cooking around here. I can’t help that my body considers most of the food you make garbage.
    • Singing silly, stupid songs (say this 10 times fast successfully and maybe I’ll consider holding my bladder for an entire night so you can get 8 consecutive hours of sleep – but, then again, don’t hold your breath).

    Here’s what I think is super fun… see, I’m a huge Disney freak. So my mom let me pick out my own underwear at the store and of course I picked all Disney characters because I’m cool like that.

    This is a picture of me, proudly holding all my underwear…

    IMG_2194

    I know… so cute, right? Anyway, she tacks them to the wall in the bathroom

    right next to my little potty, like this…

    IMG_2195

    While I’m doing my business, I stare at them and imagine Dori saying, “Just keep peeing, just keep peeing” and Buzz Lightyear saying, “To infinity and beyond…” when I flush the potty.

    It’s FUN. I totally dig this.

  6. There WILL be regression… when you least expect it, of course. Like, say, when we’re at a playdate at someone else’s house. Or when you finally decide to be brave enough to take the entire family out for dinner.It’s not that I’ve forgotten how to use the potty… it’s more that, for some reason, you got in your head that YOU are in control. This is simply not the case.

    am in control and this is how I put you back in your place (must we review #1 again?). You’ll look disappointed and say, “Now, why did you do that? You know how to poop in the potty!”

    Yeah, see, that isn’t the point… of course I do. It’s YOU who has forgotten how we play the game. And sometimes you just have to reminded of who the REAL boss is.

  7. Lastly, don’t be in such a hurry to rush me through the potty training process. Remember, I’m only this young for a little while. Cherish these times and appreciate them.Trust me, you’ll think potty training was a breeze compared to the hell I’ll put you through when I’m a teenager.

So there you have it… potty training 101, in a nutshell, courtesy of yours truly…

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Helene is a 40-something, married, stay-at-home mother to two sets of twins.  With only 2 years between both sets, she maintains that having a wicked sense of humor is key in raising multiple multiples.  

To follow along on Helene’s real-life, tell-all adventures of parenting twins x 2, please visit her blog at I’m Living Proof that God has a Sense of Humor.

Potty Training Twins: A Newbie’s Initiation

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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.

DSC_1101I 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.

Potty Training Twins – It’s not Twinpossible!

There’s been some discussion of HDYDI having some more Potty Training Multiples posts. Here is my original post from a little over a year ago, transcribed (with some updates) from my personal blog, Double the Giggles. Ultimately, there is no single successful method, so my suggestion is to read up on as many theories as you can, and see what works best for your twins. Most likely, it won’t be the one that works best for you and your busy schedule… but nothing is ever simple when it comes to multiples, right? Enjoy reading about our experience (below), and good luck in your potty training adventures!

Twin boys and potty training. Ugh. I was seriously starting to think that my little Andrew and Wesley would each be hauling a diaper bag off to college, (preferably a paid-for-by-two-full-scholarships sort of college). We started getting them both familiar with the concept of using a potty around 18 months and we are just now reaping the benefits of not buying diapers and Desitin just weeks away from their turd birthday. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).

By getting familiar with, I mean with potty books and the actual potty (read: 47 potties): The adult potty, the toddler potty, the tiny seat that goes on the big potty, portable seats, outside in nature (yes, I have boys), everything. You name it, we have it. I swear, I have at least 7 potties in addition to the two that came bolted to the floor of our house. We’ve tried them all. What ended up working? The permanent fixtures in the house. That’s right. You heard me.

Andrew was first to succeed, but what we didn’t know (18 months ago) was that we just had to wait until HE was ready… I wouldn’t believe this unless it actually happened.  And it did. Andrew decided when it would happen all on his own.  About 18 months of on and off, very stressful “trying to potty train” and one day, out of the blue, the kid just decided “today is the day.” It was wonderful.  Magical. (Insert angelic voices, here.)

Throughout this adventure, I’ve learned how difficult it is to have a mom (and/or dad), a curious second sibling and three dogs all in one tiny 4×5′ bathroom at the same time. Distraction, distraction, distraction. I decided to weigh my efforts more towards the child that seemed to have the hang of it instead of trying to train both at once. WAY EASIER, and Wesley wasn’t jealous or competitive at all. We always called him in after to help us wave ‘bye-bye’ to our flushable friend(s), but one at a time was the way to go for us. Give this a try if you are struggling with two at once.

Wesley is now (finally, about 3 weeks later) getting the hang of things, but that ‘light switch’ hasn’t been flicked quite yet. We are in the constantly-reminding-him-to-stay-clean-and-dry phase, and sometimes he’d rather continue to play then take a much-needed potty break. That being said, I’m refusing to buy any more diapers and still have a brand new pack that I’m not planning on busting open any time soon. All undies, all the time. (Pull-Ups at night, but that’s a whole other can of worms). Now that I see how things went with Andrew, I’m trying to stay as positive as possible with Wesley, even though their approaches to the concept are different. When an accident happens, I have him remove his clothes (and I’m sure to tell him “Yuck! I don’t want to touch those clothes!”) and after he visits the potty, he helps me clean the area he messed in. No yelling, no judgements, just matter-of-factly. You made this mess, kid… you clean it.

There is hope out there. We didn’t find hope in a toddler potty, or by using Cheerios as targets. We found it by sitting backwards on the regular old toilet, “making as many bubbles as possible” and by categorizing the end product, (Ex: “Wow! You made a dinosaur/crocodile/daddy-{yes, daddy}-sized poop!”)… and a sticker or M&M work well, if you’re into bribery!  Do some research for new and fun ideas if the ones you are trying aren’t working.

Hang in there. I truly think we give them the guidance they need, but it is up to them when it happens. Stay positive (so difficult, but sooo important), be prepared to do some extra laundry and buy stock in Lysol wipes. The day will come when they are ready for it and you’ll be their biggest cheerleader.

Rereading this post a year-or-so later, I need to add that it took another 6-8 months for the boys to stay dry through the night. I never realized that nighttime potty training was a whole other thing. I wanted my sleep, and feared that they’d be unable to go back to sleep if I woke them every few hours, so PullUps were what we relied on for quite some time. There was a lot of praise given on the mornings where dry PullUps still existed. The boys are now 4 and have been in “big boy undies” at night for several months now. Currently, the boys go to bed between 7 and 8, and I usually get them both up once a night (between 2 and 3am) to use the bathroom. I’m a light sleeper, so I’m usually up several times a night, anyway. This prevents any accidents in their beds (which if I didn’t get them up, might occur once or twice a month) and saves on unnecessary loads of laundry.

Whether you have one child in that stage or four, potty training is definitely an adventure. Not a hey-I’m-totally-living-vicariously-through-that-friend-of-mine-backpacking-through-Europe type of adventure. More like the adventure I had white water rafting where I was glad I was wearing protective safety gear, I was glad when it was over, and I never needed to experience it first-hand again!

Night Duty, Again!

After having our first son potty trained in just 3 days (at 25 months) and never having an accident I was boasting my chest ruffles pretty loudly whenever potty training came up with family and friends. Call it denial or positive thinking I was convinced that there would be no problems with the twins either. They turned 25 months and then 30mo and still had absolutely no interest in letting go of their comfy and warm diapers that I dragged from the store every month on my back bent over doubly (why I never heard of ‘Amazon Mom’ is beyond my understanding. That thing there saved us so many $ and so much time&trouble I wish I had heard of it when the twins were first born). I started potty training with them several times just to realize that it was of no use when they’d pee in the toilet and then 15 minutes later finish emptying their bladder on the carpet in the basement. Too much stress, too much work and who really cares if they don’t get potty trained at all until they’re 12?

Throughout the past spring Joshua had been watching his big brother use the toilet with some interest.  He then started to tell us that he needed to ‘potty’ at diaper change. We’d take him to the bathroom and he’d often pee and we’d do the clapping and cart wheeling and confetti and he would beam of pride. Then he’d start telling us he needs to ‘potty’ before he wet his diaper. This went on for about 2 months before I realized that the boy is ready to say good buy to diapers .. or so I thought.

Joshua does not like change. Last winter his shoes were 2 sizes too small before I got him to wear the bigger pair without a full blast tantrum. I was never able to introduce his new winter hat, that’ll have to wait ‘till this winter.  I don’t know why I thought he’d let go of his diapers without a fight. We did the whole ‘big boys wear underwear’, ‘look at Daddy, he’s got underwear’ speech. We bought underwear with his favorite colors and animals and trucks and you name it. We promised candy and toys and moon from the sky and yet he was not seeing the light.

Until one day when he wanted to be ‘like Nathan’. I’m not entirely sure what happened but he’s been fine since. As long as we call his underwear pull ups.

His sister on the other hand was a tougher one to train and according to my husband that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering who her mother is. She took her sweet time and had accidents, refused to go until it was too late and then she’d cry hysterically that she didn’t mean to pee on the floor but had to go so bad …

But that’s not what I wanted to write about, really. I wanted to tell you that I am living a phase of regret. I am no longer able to sleep through the night as I was used to for sometime. I now have three children unable to pee in their pull-ups but yet too young to hold the pee in all night … so that leaves me to get up at least once per kid per night, on a good night. There are nights when I am up more than when they were infants. And I’m not liking this. I know that ‘this too shall pass’ and pretty soon they are big enough to use the bathroom alone in the middle of the night. Until then I’ll be in night duty. Once again.

Did you feel like your workload increased when your kids potty trained? How did you help them figure out bathroom at night?

 

Cloth Diapers for Two, Please

As we all well know, multiples can really drain your wallet/check book/credit card/(non-existent) life savings/etc. As Jen noted earlier today, using cloth diapers is one way you can exert some control over the financial drain of diapering two or three or more babies. In my family we also found cloth diapers to be the best choice for us. Here’s why.

My mom cloth diapered all of her children, so I was intrigued about cloth diapers from the start. Cloth diapering certainly uses water and energy (and bleach at times), but I personally believe that it does less damage to the environment than using disposables. I also was somewhat uncomfortable with the chlorine and urine-absorption chemicals found in most disposable diapers.

My husband made it clear that I had to make a viable financial case for cloth diapers. I took this as a challenge and figured out how to make cloth diapers easy and affordable for us. Now that we’ve been using cloth diapers for a year and a half, we both agree that it’s been a great decision.

Cloth diapering is easy. I am fortunate enough to live in a city where I can enjoy a fabulous diaper service. Every Friday morning by 8am my bag of dirty diapers is picked up from my porch and replaced by a new bag of freshly cleaned diapers. I fold the diapers into fourths and lay them in adorable Velcro-tabbed diaper covers. When it’s time for a change I dump the diaper and all of its contents into a diaper bin and lay a new folded diaper in the cover. When the cover is dirty I throw it in the laundry basket. I wash a load of my girls’ clothes, including diaper covers, once or twice a week. Now that they’re eating solids, I rarely have to do much pre-scrubbing of the covers since most of the mess gets dumped straight into the diaper pail and the diaper service does the rest. That, for me, is the best part about using a diaper service.

Cloth diapering saves me money. Back in the newborn days, when we were going through many more diapers than we are now, the diaper service was especially cost-competitive with disposables. We were paying about 7 cents less per diaper than we would have with the disposables I priced at our local Target. Now that my girls use fewer diapers, we’ve lost some of that economy of scale with the diaper service, but the benefits of the cloth diapers more than make up for that. We also use cloth wipes, which I just throw in with our regular laundry, so we aren’t buying cases and cases of baby wipes on a regular basis either. In the summer I dry the covers, wipes and clothes on the line.

Using the free dryer

Cloth diapering has many ancillary benefits. In my experience, these include:

  1. If breastfeeding, cloth diapers give you a much better sense of how much urine output your babies are producing — and thus how much milk they’re consuming. Urine can “hide” better in disposables. I liked being able to see exactly how much my girls were producing.
  2. Cloth diapers keep messes inside the diaper so much better than disposables. The only major blowouts I’ve had were when I was using disposables while we were away from home on trips.
  3. Cloth diapering lets you control exactly what comes into contact with your babies’ most sensitive areas.
  4. Cloth diapering frees up enormous space in your garbage can. This also saves us money, because in Seattle the larger your garbage can, the larger your monthly utilities bill. Cloth diapering (and city-sponsored composting!) allows us to use a very small garbage can.
  5. Other moms have told me that cloth diapering makes potty training much easier, because kids begin to notice their wet diapers and dislike that feeling. I’m seriously hoping this rumor proves true! The sooner we potty train the sooner we stop paying for diapers all together.
  6. Cloth-diapered bums are freaking cute.

    I see a plumber’s bum

Of course cloth diapering is, as with everything, probably harder with twins and triplets than with a singleton. Here are my tips for cloth diapering with twins:

  1. Have backup disposables on hand. I probably buy one small box of disposables every two months or so.
  2. Buy used diapers and/or covers. The baby consignment stores here in Seattle sell tons of used diaper covers, and I often find $15 covers for $4 or so. If you don’t have nearby consignment stores, diaperswappers features a forum where moms sell their used diapers and diaper covers to each other.
  3. Make sure every caretaker is instructed on how to use your cloth diapers. Don’t allow anyone the excuse, “I don’t know how to use those diapers.” It’s easy to learn, and it frees you from being responsible for all those diaper changes!
  4. If you’re overwhelmed with the decisions to be made regarding cloth diapering, start with disposables. There’s no reason you can’t revisit cloth diapering after a month or two. Plus, your children will be bigger and you may be able to skip over the smallest sizes of cloth diapers.
  5. If you have a diaper service available in your area, it’s a great baby shower gift to ask for. People can prepay for service and you can begin the service whenever you’re ready.

This is how I imagined it would be

Earlier this week as I planned what I would write today, I frequently came back to the idea that being at home with my children was not how I had imagined it would be. I finished my time as student and our nanny’s contract ended in December, so I decided I would take some time at home with my children. I don’t know if it was the excitement of Christmas, the changes in routine of the holidays, the cold weather that kept us inside, my expectations about what I get done each day, the appointments and activities we had scheduled, the transitions into the “terrible twos” (times two!) or the physical effects of diet, sleep and exercise patterns, but things were not going as I had imagined.

But today, things seemed to get on track. My son (Big Brother or BB) got up and came down for breakfast with a smile on his face. We enjoyed our breakfast together. I cuddled my three children (and their three babies) on the couch and we read stories together. The girls (R and S)  took turns examining each other and their babies with the medical kit. BB planned a pretend birthday party for us, and he sang happy birthday to each of sisters (after asking me “what name is this baby?”). That seemed like a perfect time to have snack, so they had the homemade muffins we made yesterday sitting together in the living room.  My son vacuumed up the crumbs, while R and S took the dishes into the kitchen. Everyone helped out.

For lunch, we made cornmeal muffins with leftover chicken and vegetables. They were thrilled with muffins for a main course, even though lunch was a little later than usual. BB stayed upstairs for his required quiet time, and I got to have some time to eat my lunch by myself. R and S settled for nap, and slept over an hour.

When quiet time was over BB played independently for a while. When the girls finished their nap, they played fairly independently too. I showed BB how to play a counting game on the computer (also good practice for his fine motor skills), and I had a few minutes to sit down and look at a new cookbook I got for Christmas.  Dinner was leftover soup I made in the crockpot yesterday, so there was no panic to get food on the table for dinner.

We accomplished quite a bit during the day. I worked with R and S using the techniques from speech therapy. We worked together to label with new toy bins they got for Christmas. I’d been anxious to get this done, so it was a big relief to cross it off my to-do list. I got two loads of laundry done, which is the minimum required to keep up with recently potty-trained twins since I refuse to buy pull-ups for naps and bedtime. The kitchen was mostly clean before dinner after two loads of dishes. BB had vacuumed parts of the house, and most of the toys were put away in the toy bins.

The day wasn’t without its moments. I did have to intervene and take away a few toys.  There were a couple of accidents, and some poopy training pants. I had to threaten to put the girls in playpens before they quieted for naptime, and my son tried to disassemble the Learning Tower. There were a few flare-ups between the kids, particularly when I was on the phone.

But overall, something was different. Maybe things did go more smoothly. Maybe my expectations were more realistic. Maybe I’m getting better at integrating what the kids need with what I want to accomplish. Maybe we’re all getting in to a routine, especially when we don’t have to go anywhere or do anything. Whatever happened, today is much closer to how I imagined things would be.

All I want for Christmas….

Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas is three children who can reliably and independently use the potty.

Thank you and Merry Christmas.

I know this is a big wish, but it would have a large ripple effect:

  • fewer loads of kids’ laundry
  • fewer “potty parties” with all of us in a small half bath waiting while everyone takes a turn “trying” on the toilet
  • hands that aren’t so chapped from frequent washing
  • more spontaneous trips out of the house because we’d need less preparation and less baggage
  • more money to spend in other ways

Unlike Any Other

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last two months, it is this simple truth: potty training is completely unlike all previous transitions of baby- and toddler-hood.

The moms of older kids are just shaking their heads and chuckling at me right now, and that’s just fine. We all come to these realizations in our own time.

While you can argue about “readiness” for the other big transitions of the first few years (sleeping through the night, letting go of bottles or pacifiers, etc.), I have found that most of them you can kind of muscle your way through.  Choose your approach, implement it consistently, and grit your teeth for the three or four days it takes to make the transition.  A friend of mine has a theory that nearly everything with babies and kids takes about three to four days to settle in, so you have to give it that long.

Potty training is an entirely different beast.  Maybe it’s because they’re older and more manipulative smarter.  Maybe it’s because, instead of “removing” something, you’re asking them to actively “do” something.  Maybe it’s the perfect storm of development and control.  But try as I might, it simply is not something you can just hunker down and get through in a couple of days.

Friday Portrait: 7/52

Of course, even that isn’t entirely true.  Never was there a situation that was more child-specific.  My daughter actually took to potty training rather well.  The first week or two felt long, but the truth is that she took to it quickly, and has stayed shockingly consistent.  Barely two months later and she is, knock on wood, even Pull-Up free at night and nap.  That’s just her thing.

Becca

Her brother, on the other hand… well.  He seemed to take to it well the first week.  And then the second week arrived and, pardon the expression, it was an absolute shitstorm of constant accidents.  He’d have a success or two in the morning, and then straight downhill for the rest of the day.  After a looong week and a half of constant accidents (on his part) and a complete emotional breakdown (on my part), I put him back in Pull-Ups, full-time.  Since then, he has absolute negative interest in the potty.  He has used it here and there, but mostly wants nothing to do with it.  And he’s in such an intensely controlling, contrary, stubborn phase right now, I’m simply stepping away and not turning it into a massive power struggle.

Daniel

You just never know what you’re going to get when it comes to potty training.  You could have the kid who can hold it for hours on end, or the one who has to sprint to the bathroom every 45 minutes.  You could have the one who’s afraid of pooping, or the one who will happily sit on the pot anywhere and everywhere.

And you’ll never know until you try.

So, you parents of potty trainees, how have your kids varied in their potty hang-ups? What were their struggles and successes?  Did you find a particular approach worked wonders on one child and was a disaster with the other?

Learning how to play with my kids

You’d think that, at 2.5, I’d know how to play with my children.  And to a large extent, of course, I do.  But the truth is that I spend a large portion of the day coordinating, shuttling, refereeing, and then getting out of the way when they’re actually playing nicely with one another. We go to activities together, we come home together. They play while I make lunch. They go down for nap together. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

But recently, due to some potty-training boot camp weekends, I have had the opportunity to spend nearly the entire weekend with each kid, alone. And it’s amazing how different that experience is.

My daughter was the first to go on the boot-camp front, so my husband disappeared for most of the day with our son.  Rebecca has an impressive attention span, and could stay focused on one activity for quite a while.  Read a bunch of books, roll out some play-doh, create multiple large-scale finger-paint masterpieces.

Stuck in the house

She pretty much chose an activity that she wanted to do, had me set it up for her, and played independently for 20 minutes or more at a stretch.  Oh, sure, she wanted me to look at what she’d done, and we had fun comparing the sizes of our finger-paint handprints. And she can be goofy as all get-out, and loves to race circles around the first floor on a big green racing turtle. But she’s an introvert, just like her daddy.  She could spend a lot of time engrossed in her own little world, singing songs to herself.

Two weeks later, and the kids switched places. It was Daniel’s turn for a weekend of mommy and potty. I scarcely realized how much I should have rested up for the whirlwind that is my son.  In terms of straight physical activity, he’s not the perpetual-motion machine that a lot of toddler boys are.  But he never, ever, EVER stops talking.

2.5

The talking was not a surprise to me.  He’s been like that for ages.  What I did find fascinating is his new love of pretend-play.  He would come up with elaborate story lines and want me to act them out with him.  Most were a mish-mash of favorite TV shows and memories of things we’d done together.  But he wasn’t just telling the story, we were playing it.  I had to sit next to him on the bench of the Dinosaur Train, and stamp his ticket with my claw. I sat in the back seat of Daddy’s car (actually, the floor of our mudroom) while he drove us to the airport and the museum.  I could only convince him to take a potty break from these elaborate tales by suggesting that we visit the potty on the Dinosaur Train/airplane/museum bathroom.

The extrovert, which he obviously gets from me, bounces from one thing to the next and wants me to be involved in every part.  That is, at least, until he tells me to get off of the couch and go into the kitchen. When I ask why, he says it’s so he can slide down the arm of the couch (which he knows he’s not really supposed to do – bad liar).

It was really something to shift out of my normal gear, which is to just kind of manage the chaos and the outings and make sure everyone is reasonably happy, somewhat well-behaved, and not killing one another.  To actually take a day or two, stay in the house, and play with each kid on their own terms.

What about you? Have you gotten the chance to sit and play with one kid at a time? Do you find them remarkably similar or completely different?