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How I potty trained twins

I had a sudden realization the other day  – I didn’t pack any extra undies or shorts for the girls when we went out on an errand. And I didn’t care.

“Um, I think the girls are potty trained,” I told my husband.

Potty training is one of the most daunting parts of being a parent. And with 2 of them? I wasn’t sure I was going to survive.

I had heard about training them separately. I had heard that once I started one, the other might follow suit. R&C have almost always been right along side one another developmentally, so doing them together made the most sense. I was still terrified.

But here I sit today with 2 mostly potty trained kids, telling you that it can be done, and it’s not all that scary. There are some very important things to consider, whether you’re training one kid or five kids. Here’s what didn’t work for us, and also what did.

Undies

What didn’t work:

Wearing the cute new character themed underwear right away — They loved their new Kai Lan undies, and damn do they look cute in them. But the undies too closely mimicked the cozy feel of a diaper, and accidents ensued. So we ditched the undies after about 2 days of accidents and frustration.

What worked:

Going bare bottomed —  They just hung out around the house and backyard nekkid (or with shirts), which helped them realize their potty cues. We went bare for a good 2 weeks before we even attempted to leave the house, and then they wore loose fitting shorts and no undies. I slowly started incorporating the undies into our daily life, starting with outings, then full time.

Location, location, location

What didn’t work:

Nothing like a good book while you're sitting on the toilet.

The bathroom – Seeing TV shows or hearing about people who kept their potties in the kitchen or living room grossed me out. Plus the bathroom’s where we do our business, right?

Wrong. I found myself making all too frequent  trips to the bathroom, every 30 seconds it seemed, and no one was even going. Urgent statements of “I have to go potty!” were long forgotten by the time we actually got to the bathroom, and people…I do not have a big house. I was exhausted, and we weren’t getting anywhere.

What did work:

Keeping the potties close at hand — I picked a particular spot in the living room {which is our major playroom and where we spend 90% of our time}, and they knew they could always find them there. Once the cues started to kick in and they recognized that they needed to go, they just darted over to a potty and went, and then we would go flush it together.

Inspiration and rewards

What didn’t work:

Pressure — This is a no brainer, but it’s easy to slip into that role of the dictator and tell your kid that they have to go. But putting pressure on them is the best way to ensure that they don’t do it, and could cause some negative feelings toward the potty in general (this goes for both the small and big potties). If they didn’t have to go, we would just try again later.

What did work:

Patience and positive reinforcement — I cannot tell you how frustrated I was by day 3. I wanted to cry, I had cleaned up so much pee and had so many potty fights. But long {diaper clad} naps and a chance to regroup gave me a new outlook, and I decided to try a new tactic — having them sit on the potties every 5 minutes or so and trying my best to keep them there for more than 10 seconds.

On the second trip we read their favorite story of the moment. Right in the middle of the big bad wolf blowing down a poor little pig’s house, I hear a “psssssssssssssss…..” from Rachel. She totally didn’t even realize she was doing it! But we stopped the story and celebrated exuberantly.

That was all for that day, but it did wonders for all of our confidence levels. The next morning Claire had her first success, and it clicked for both of them.

Rewards — Luckily for me, we made it through most of our training with the incentive of stickers and high fives. What can I say? My girls are easy to please. But then we hit a plateau. I needed to get them up on the big potty in preparation for preschool. So I busted out the M&Ms.

The big potty

These $5 IKEA potties were perfect for training.

What didn’t work: 

Forcing it — Just like putting pressure on them to pee, forcing your kid to use the big potty can have some negative effects. I knew Rachel wasn’t scared, but she sure did act like it. Although she would sit on the big potty at school, she wouldn’t go. She was more comfortable with the small ones.

What did work: 

This potty seat with a step ladder from Mother's Helper is what really helped us get over the hump.

A new potty — A friend lent us the Mother’s Helper potty seat {affiliate link} with a stepladder that sits on top of the toilet, and oh my God they think it is the coolest thing ever. Pee and poo has been free flowing ever since, an the only accidents have been at school (and only 2 at that).

 

 

 

 

See? It’s easy!

Okay, it’s not easy, but we got through it and looking back, it doesn’t seem so bad.

Maybe this is why we moms are blessed with selective and short memories. Because then why on earth would we ever want to do this again?

Now I just need to get us over the naptime/bedtime hump, and all will be well. But I’m still scared of that part, and the piles of laundry that are sure to come with.

What’s your best potty training tip?

 

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Leigh Ann Torres
Writer, artist, wife, cook, maid, bookkeeper, mom to twins plus one...all around genie in a bottle, except you only get one wish, and it has to be reasonable.
34 Comments
  1. Great tips, Leigh Ann and hats off to you for potty training TWO kids at the same time.

    My son is only partially potty trained – he knows to tell us when he has to go for a #2 but still pees in his diaper. Granted he’s only 21 months, so I think we’re on the right track. So far, we haven’t had to use any bribes per se – he has access to toys he normally doesn’t when he does sit on the potty!

    • That’s a great tip I heard too. I tried to stay away from the “bribes,” but they had no real incentive to keep going after a while. Looks like your son is doing well!

  2. Hayden was potty trained pretty early and fast (20 months). We went straight from diapers to undies, and it only took about 2 days for him to be wee we potty trained. After the first two days, he had a wee wee accident about once a week at most, after a month of that, he was cured. I think being able to feel the wetness, and see it on his pants, helped. I did find putting the potty in the kitchen helpful for the poo poos. poo poo training took about a month. We finally went to undies at months a few months ago. Life is great.

  3. We’re potty training the twins right now, and so far so good…though it’s MUCH more work than potty training just one at a time! It sounds like we are doing the same things, and had the same successes and failures.

    And now I’m off to check out the potty seat with the stepladder!

    • It is so exhausting doing everything twice, isn’t it! Especially those pre or post outing trips to the potty. ANd of course EVERYONE, Zoe included, has to come into the bathroom at once when someone has to go. Makes me all claustrophobic.

  4. I laughed so hard when I saw the picture of the happy face covering one of the girls’ bums (I can’t tell which one…cut me some slack) and then Z in the back ground with a diaper bum.

    HILARIOUS!

    Just chillin’

    You are amazing my friend! That takes dedication and you did it! I really don’t think you give yourself enough credit for how awesome you really are! You are organized, consistent, and you have serious follow through.

    You deserve a pat on the back!

    Way to go Leigh Ann!

    • LOL I think it’s Claire, but I’m not really even sure. In fact the 1st time she pooed, she was sitting on it playing with her bead maze and there it was! Thanks for the encouragement. I feel like I have crossed a huge milestone!

  5. That post came just in time!! lol
    We have “just” begun – I think it will still be a couple months before I go right whole-hog into it. Especially since I have 1 interested and 1 totally not. I just might have to do them separately. Not sure yet. Ugh.

    • Maybe if you start one, the other will get interested. There’s really no rush. I waited as long as I could. But it sure is nice!

  6. Great advice! I’ll add both products to our wish list for later too.

  7. Great job. It isn’t easy! My second was MUCH easier than my first. :)

    • I think that’ll be the case here too. In fact when we had the little potties out, Zoe would often go sit on one (in her diaper) when one of the girls was going, then she would stand up and point and get all excited like she went pee. So cute.

  8. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your great tips! I’m terrified of potty training my triplets. They are 18 months now, and I think I’m going to put it off as long as I possibly can!

    • You’re welcome, Andrea! At 18 months, I was not even thinking about potty training! There is no shame in putting it off. We didn’t even start until my girls were almost 3.5, because we had another baby right before they turned 2. There was no way I was going to try to potty train twins with an infant. Good luck!

  9. You know, i can’t even remember training my second one – at all.
    Nothing, its not coming to me at all ….
    Crap, i am getting old!

  10. I waited until they were three. With both sets, I think it takes boys a little longer to “feel it.” We bought one of those rings for the potty to help them use the big one. It was great because I could take it with us which helped them use public restrooms too.

    • That’s a great tip too. Luckily the ladder seat got them (mostly Rachel) more used to the big one so that they haven’t had issues in public.

  11. I waited for them to show me they were ready. It’s hard stuff, and I’m not looking forward to doing it with Buggy in the next few years. My second son was easier than my first and I believe it was because he did a lot of “watching” when he was little.

  12. Relief! They’re potty trained! So happy for you all. We still have an accident here & there. Definitely agree that the “no pressure” is the most important.

  13. We have that step ladder potty seat and it made all the difference in training Kate. We still have it now as Maddie needs it to get up, but it gave her all the independence she needed.

  14. What really worked with Blake was praise. I was (and still do) constantly telling him how great he was for using the potty. He’s very good about peeing in the potty now but I have to keep on him with poop. When he poops, I give him “candy”, which is really just a piece of dried pineapple from Whole Foods.

    My one tip with boys: I always sit him backwards on the toilet when we’re out someplace without the seat. It’s much easier for him to relax and pee without it shooting off everywhere. :-/ He also feels comfortable knowing he won’t fall in the toilet.

    • We have fruit leather that we call fruit candy. :) I think that when they saw how excited I was when Rachel finally went (and OMG I was because I was about to lose my mother loving mind), that encouraged them to go more. Yay for positive reinforcement!

  15. My twins are waaaaaay beyond the potty training stage now and so they should be at 11. I trained one – the whole deal, miniature potties, treats, praise etc. but the other absolutely refused so I gave up because I got stressed. I waited and waited, he knew what to do, and shortly after starting preschool, he just did it himself. Taught me a lot about myself, my kids, how different they are and the validity of both types of method.

    • That’s so true. One of them didnt really care to use the big one until we got he ladder seat, then she was golden! I have a feeling my youngest will be easier.

  16. My husband is a twin, and there are so many times I wonder…how did my mother in law do it???

  17. I love your blog!! I have twin girls who turn 4 this month and so totally understand the potty training of a pair. We had potties in the living room too!!

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