Toddler Thursday: How Not to Potty Train

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Categories Parenting, Potty Training, Toddler Thursday, Toddlers4 Comments

What I did wrong when potty training my twin daughters.I did potty training all wrong.

I tried to potty train my twin daughters for 19 months to abject failure. I remember thinking, “People keep saying, ‘No kid goes to college in diapers’ but maybe college kids are just really good at hiding it.”

My husband, home for 2 weeks during an Army tour in South Korea, ended up accomplishing it with a few words: “You’re going to the 3-year-old class. That’s for big kids and big kids wear panties!”

“I want to wear panties,” said M. And she did. She went to bed in panties that night and never wore a diaper again. I only remember a couple of accidents, and they happened weeks later. When her sister J saw what a fuss we were making over M, she too demanded panties. I was left with 3 boxes of size 4 diapers I ended up giving away a few months later.

What I Did Wrong

I skipped the research

I remembered potty training my (much) younger sister. Although I carefully researched almost every other area of parenting and child development, I decided to rely on my experience for potty training. 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.

I thought very early potty training was possible. 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. 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. That just wasn’t reasonable as a functionally single working parent with twins in a daycare program.

I didn’t understand potty training readiness

I completely misunderstood my kids’ readiness. I thought their interest in the potty, paired with an ability to communicate verbally, was enough. Physical developmental readiness to give up diapers actually has four parts, which may well develop at different times:

  • Awareness of the need to go.
  • Ability to hold the urge to go.
  • Ability to release on demand.
  • Ability to hold the urge to go during sleep.

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 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. They were clean and dry through the night for months before they were could identify potty time during the day.

I took it personally

I got into something of a battle with the children’s daycare teacher. (We only lasted at that center for the 2-year-old class and then went running home to the one my daughters had attended in infancy.) She insisted on treating my daughters as a set. The teacher and I agreed that M was ready to potty train and J was not. She wasn’t willing to work with them until they were both ready. I insisted that M was her own person and should be potty trained, regardless of her twin’s readiness. The girls were getting inconsistent messages about potty training at home and at school.

I took ownership

I didn’t put onus of owning potty training on the children. Sure, I got them all excited about Disney-themed panties, but I saw potty training as my personal accomplishment rather than theirs. Their father did it right. Instead of making potty training a favour they were doing him, he put all ownership of their success on them. And the toddlers rose to the challenge!

What potty training mistakes would you encourage other parents to avoid?

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Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: Our “OK to Wake” Clock

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Categories Overnight, Parenting, Potty Training, Preschoolers, School-Age, Sleep, Wouldn't Do Without WednesdayTags 5 Comments

I originally wrote this when my twin girls were three, as a review on our local MoMs’ group blog.  My girls are now six, and my love for this little gadget is still as strong as ever.


Since our girls started sleeping through the night, until they were about 18 months old, I could usually count on them waking up around 6:45 in the morning.  And then, when they dropped to one nap during the day, they began sleeping until about 7:30.  Those were the days!

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 then discovered a wonderful gadget that has made a huge difference in our morning routines, the “OK to Wake!” clock.  [There are several iterations of these in clocks and stuffed toys…just search “OK to wake”.]

OK to Wake

I set the clock to 6:30, at which time it glows green.  (As much as I’d like them to sleep until 9am on the weekends, I wanted to set a “realistic” goal.)  I tell the girls, if you wake up and the clock isn’t green, you can roll over and go back to sleep.

There are times when I hear them stirring shortly after 6:00, but they don’t usually call for me until 6:30…on the dot…and then I hear, Mommy!  The clock is green!  I slept well!

There are times that they wake up early, sometimes needing to sit on the potty.  After they use the bathroom, it’s been great to have an “impartial party” — the clock — to cite.  “The clock isn’t green.  It’s still sleep time,” I’ll tell the girls.  They almost always accept that they need to go back to bed.

I was worried that the clock would somehow wake them up in the mornings.  Its glow isn’t so bright that it disturbs them, though, and a handful of times they’ve slept an extra 15 or 20 minutes.  The green glow lasts for 30 minutes, so they still get to call out to me when they wake up (which they get a big kick out of).

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.


(This is not a sponsored post.  I am in no way affiliated with the companies that make or sell these awesome gadgets.  It’s just been a lifesaver to us…for close to four years now!…and I wanted to share.)

MandyE is mom to six-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Toddler Thursday: Reflections on Potty Training Twins

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Categories Parenting, Potty Training, Preschoolers, Toddler Thursday, Toddlers24 Comments

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 decided to document what worked for us, in hopes that it might be helpful to someone else.  Here’s hoping!

Potty Training Reflections

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. I planned to do my research and decide upon an approach. I would be prepared, and I figured that would be at least half the battle.

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. Outside of the “boot camp” approach, I didn’t feel like there was much “methodology” to understand. I read about reward systems and pull-ups, but I surely didn’t find a step-by-step guide as I’d hoped.

Having said goodbye to diapers three full weeks ago (!!!), I thought I’d reflect on what I’ve learned. 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. Some of these are personal opinions of mine, and some are more overarching principles that I’ll actually reference beyond potty-training.

Consider your rewards very carefully, in light of what behavior you’re trying to motivate.

I often hear about people using sticker charts or M&Ms, with rewards earned for output, sometimes in weighted amounts. In both cases, our girls told us they wanted to start using the potty, so I didn’t need to motivate them to “produce”.

Instead, I sold our girls hard on how cool it was to get to flush the potty. 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!). 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. In the midst of potty-training, I was in no state to deal with a plunger myself!)

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. After several months, Baby A began having some very small accidents…not wanting to interrupt her play for a bathroom break. About six weeks ago I started awarding her a sticker at the end of the day for keeping clean and dry all day. It worked like a charm! She loves to get her card off the refrigerator, pick a sticker, and show her new sticker off to her daddy. I immediately got Baby B on the same system, and she’s been earning stickers almost every day, too.

“Play” is part of learning, but I only allow it in measured doses.

When both girls started using the potty, it was quite the novelty, of course. It was so frustrating to me how much they wanted to play! 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. Someone commented on a blog post, reminding me that a child’s job is to play. It was a great reminder for me to be patient, and know that the novelty would wear off sooner or later.

Still, I have rules about sitting on the potty. Your hands belong on the handles on either side of the seat. When the girls start to play the “why” game, or sing, or get otherwise distracted, I’ll remind them, “We’re here to make our tee-tees / stinkies. We can talk / sing when you’re finished.”

I don’t “reprimand” them so much as encourage positive behavior. After a point, though, if I think they’re truly just playing, then potty-time is over.

Be flexible – and encourage flexibility – in the potty location.

Before the girls started to potty-train, I was vehemently opposed to using a potty chair. (I couldn’t imagine having to clean it out!) I bought the girls a potty ring for the regular toilet. 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). I bought the potty chair and put it right next to the playroom. That quickly addressed Baby A trying to go every five minutes.

Baby A used the potty ring on the upstairs potty, and she had no trouble using the portable potty seat in public restrooms. 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. By introducing different potty paraphernalia from the beginning, I hoped to avoid that issue.

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. So I moved her to using the potty ring. That allowed me to discourage her playing, as her feet don’t touch the floor. I also transitioned A to the big potty, so we’re potty chair-free these days, too!

I never used Pull-ups.

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. 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. I didn’t like the idea of putting a “just in case” / back-up system in place.

I think some parents use a Pull-up when they leave the house, to avoid messy accidents away from home. I certainly understand that fear! I wanted to avoid that scenario at all costs, too. For us that meant staying at home during the first three to five days when the girls were taking on their new responsibility.

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. I would wait until she’d just used the potty at home to time our trip.

With Baby B being older (I guess), this didn’t seem like much of an issue. When she “got it”, within the first five days, I felt comfortable to leave the house as usual. She used a public potty within the first week, and it wasn’t a big deal.

Potty-training is an emotional time.

I saw it with both my girls…they became very sensitive when they were potty-training. I’ve read about developmental changes inciting emotions, and I believe it wholeheartedly. 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. Once they became more confident in their abilities, within a week or so, their emotions stabilized (at least relative to a two-year old!).

Baby A also regressed a bit when Baby B started training. I didn’t anticipate it, but I recognized it quickly. 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. 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.

Potty-training is stressful.

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. 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.

But…everything evens out. The newness wears off, the routines kick in, and – over time – going to the potty becomes a part of life. Like so many other journeys to date in this crazy ride called parenthood, potty-training is just a phase. It will pass. You will all survive.

Still…treat yourself! I didn’t reward the girls with chocolate, but you’d better believe I kept a stash for myself! 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 got a Reese’s Blizzard and sat in the car, all by my lonesome, and enjoyed every spoonful.


With enough time, {almost} every experience is sweet in hindsight.  Potty training was not exactly fun, but we made the best of it.  

If you’re in the midst of training, hang in there!  If training is ahead of you, you can do it!  And if you’ve been there and done that, we’d love to hear any tips and tricks you can share!

Twinkly Tuesday

MandyE is mom to six-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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Toddler Thursday: Diapers Are Easier – A Confession

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Categories Potty Training, Toddler ThursdayTags 5 Comments

I see parents of toddlers grow misty-eyed, imagining the day that they’ll be done with diapers. They don’t look forward to potty training, of course, but they look forward to having children who are potty trained.

I have a confession to make.

Having my toddlers in diapers was far easier than having potty-goers.

This mom found diapers much easier to deal with than potty-trained toddlers. How about you?

Now my children are 8 years old and fully capable of going to the bathroom alone and cleaning up after themselves. I love their independence in this department. I know that going through potty-training (a story for another day) and toddler bathroom visits was necessary to get here.

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. We were able to increase our retirement contributions once we stopped having to budget for diapers. I liked not having to pay for them.

I just really disliked having bathroom-going toddlers. Diaper-related peace of mind was worth the money.

Picture this.

In the Days of Diapers, my daughters would wiggle into my lap, one on each knee. I’d hold a book in front of them while they took turns pointing out animals or colours or shapes. Every now and again, I’d feel a great warmth on my knee and know that someone was going to need a diaper change. M might even tell me what was up. “My go pee-pee!” I would let her know that I was aware of her situation. We’d finish the book, I’d reach to the nearest diaper station, place a blanket on the floor, wipe and change, head to the trash and wash my hands.

Then the potty switch happened. M and J would sit in my lap. We’d start looking at a book, when suddenly, “My go potty!” So we’d push the book aside and rush to the bathroom. I’d installed a toilet seat with a child insert, so we didn’t need to mess with the seat too much. J would pee, I would wipe, M would whine. I’d flush, and M would cry because it was loud. We’d all wash our hands because M had probably touched something she shouldn’t have while I focused on J. I’d pull J’s panties and pants back up and ask M if she needed to go potty. She would decline, so we’d head back to our book, at which time, the girls would bicker over whose turn it was. We’d have just settled back down when it started again. “My go potty,” M would tell me.

Rinse and repeat.

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. I’d seat M and J side by side in the child area of the cart, confer with my list, and play a game of “Find the Shape” or “Where’s that Letter” as I worked my way through the aisles. If the girls were wet, they were wet. I could change them at home or, in a pinch, on the passenger seat of the car.

Once we were in the Period of Potty Trained, grocery store visits doubled in length. 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. 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. More often than not, they had to go at the same time and it was The End of the World. When you’re 3, everything is The End of the World.

Then there was the time that J threw herself on a bowling alley bathroom floor in a fit of rage. I really missed diapers then.

Every drive, no matter how short, now took 30 minutes longer than it used to. I took to storing a spare potty, plastic bags, and a towel for privacy in the trunk. I still needed the diaper bag for the extra clothes needed for bathroom accidents. Yes, I needed clothes for me too. There’s nothing like showing up to work smelling like pee.

I got to know the variety of public bathrooms that exist in the USA. Porta Potties win the prize for least maneuverable with twins. 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.

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. With newly potty-trained J and M, our social sphere narrowed, every outing being planned around the least gross available bathrooms.

Like every other painful part of parenting, it was just a phase. One day, out for dinner, J waved me off when I rose to go with her to the restaurant bathroom. She knew where it was and what to do. She was far too old to need parental supervision to go to the bathroom.

I stopped missing diapers… and realized I missed having toddlers.

How do you feel about diapering?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the single mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, but now also blogs at and Multicultural Mothering.

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Toddler Thursday: Potty Training at Different Paces

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Categories Parenting, Potty Training, Toddler Thursday, Toddlers2 Comments

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.  Basically daycare started the training in September when they moved from the junior to senior toddler room and for nearly two months now Molly has been in big girl underwear with minimal accidents (maybe one a week).  Jack however continues to use the toilet two to three times a day and is content to tell you when he’s just gone so you can change it immediately, he’s make strives towards training, but he just isn’t there yet, so we’re encouraging him slowly.

538px-Toilet_with_flush_water_tankImage courtesy of wikipedia

When we first started Potty Training I came up with a list of things that we didn’t know but should have probably guessed about the early stages of potty training, below is the revised version to reflect things I didn’t know about Potty Training toddler that I do now, 8 months later.
1. The potty is a “cool” hang out spot when a toddler is bored, plus it also is a great excuse to delay bed time and insist on stories at nauseum.

2. The first significant leap was when the toddlers told us when it was time to change their diapers, not that they actually have to go, next comes the two minute warning, and eventually the five minute warning (most of the time).

3. Toddlers don’t realize the odious nature of fecal matter, they think it’s an extension of their body and don’t understand why you don’t want them to touch it.

4. The girl thinks that any sound or function that comes out of her body is “poop” and recently, on taco night, after Daddy passed gas she proclaimed, “PooPoo Daddy! Tell Mommy!”

5. The cup in the potty can also double as a hat and will, more than you can imagine.

6. Reading stories about potty training on the toilet is an effective way to “inspire” your toddlers. (I recommend My Big Girl/Boy Potty by Joanna Cole).

7. Be prepared for accidents, especially when you take the training wheels off.  Keep a spare set of clothing (including socks) with you at all times.

8. The training toddler will generally be more upset than you are about the fact that they peed their pants in the produce section of the grocery store, but only a little bit.  Remind them that everyone has accidents.

9. Never underestimate the motivational power of “big kid” underwear to a toddler, especially when it has Smurfs or Disney characters on it.

10. Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the bathroom.

11. Be patient, they’ll get there at their own pace, not yours.

SaraBeth is a Toronto, Canada based writer and working mom of girl-boy twins. Her blog, Multiple Momstrosity earned fourth place in voiceBoks’ Hilariously Funny Parent 2014 competition and was named one of Toronto Mom Now’s 2012 Top 30 Mom Blogs.

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Potty Training 101 – According to a Toddler

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Categories Parenting, Potty Training, Toddler Thursday4 Comments

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

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…


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

    right next to my little potty, like this…


    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…


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.

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Potty Training Twins: A Newbie’s Initiation

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Categories Parenting, Potty Training, Toddlers1 Comment

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.

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Potty Training Twins – It’s not Twinpossible!

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Categories How Do The Moms Do It, Perspective, Potty Training2 Comments

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!

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Night Duty, Again!

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Categories Development, Potty Training, Sleep6 Comments

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?


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Cloth Diapers for Two, Please

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Categories Potty Training, Theme WeekTags 3 Comments

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.
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