When it came to potty training my twins, just thinking about it gave me anxiety. I’m all about making life as simple as possible. It may sound ludicrous to most people, but diapers and disposable training pants were easy. I didn’t have to ask my kids if they had to potty before we left the house. Nor did I have to worry about accidents or worry about changing their clothes. I mulled over how encumbered my life would become if I had two kids that needed me to stop so they could go potty. The control freak in me thought changing diapers just seemed like the simpler choice.
Sure, I wanted to get rid of the additional expense of disposable diapers. And I was looking forward to my little ones moving on to this very important phase. Not to mention, all of the other parents in my life (predominately parents of singletons) looked at me funny because my twins weren’t potty trained. I also had my mother in my ear, telling me how all three of her children (singleton children) were potty trained by the time they were one year old (I cannot prove it, but somehow I believe my mother was stretching the truth). My retort to all of them was, “They will be potty trained one day. No one goes to kindergarten in a diaper.”
However, as the months rolled by, I was getting scarily closer to that becoming reality. I mean, I tried. Somewhat. I would ask the twins if they needed to potty, sometimes. I implemented a reward system using stickers. I would sit them on the potty. However, I will admit, I wasn’t consistent. It tried training them when we were home and when I remembered. Raising twins is always a bit chaotic, even for a control freak like me. My family has a pretty active social life and we are rarely home, so it was difficult to implement. Plus, my kids were in preschool. And although they would assist with potty training, it was difficult to be as consistent as I was at home because they have several other kids in the classroom.
But the day of reckoning came on the day I went to register my kids for summer camp. My kids are preschool age, so I signed them up for the preschool class. The director asked me if they were potty trained. She asked that because if they were not potty trained then she would have to put them in the toddler class. Now that gave me motivation to speed up the potty training process. My kids were going to be in the classroom with their same aged peers come hell or high water! My kids know the difference between a pentagon and an octagon. My rationale was, if they could learn that, then I can teach them how to pee on the potty! So I went home and I was in full potty training mode.
Well, it wasn’t overnight, but I was able to get my kids fully potty trained 3 months later in time for the first day of summer camp. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but here are some tips that helped me along the way.
Ditch the disposable training pants.
For us, disposable training pants were a crutch. My kids would never go to the potty on their own in them. Never. I didn’t start seeing progress until I got rid of them.
Invest in padded underwear.
Padded underwear was very helpful. The kids responded to “feeling wet” and were less likely to wet themselves when they were wearing them… but at the same time it is helpful for parents because they were less likely to soak through onto the floor (less mess, yay!). And buy several pair. There will be times when you may just want to throw some soiled pair away (I’m just saying.)
Put your child on the potty in regular intervals.
To get your kids into the routine of going, it helps to put them on the potty frequently. My kids automatic response when I asked them if they had to potty was always an emphatic “no”… and then they would most often wet themselves a few minutes after that. But more often than not they would go if I just put them on the potty.
Don’t make a big deal if they have accidents.
Accidents will happen. Sometimes it seems like you’re taking two steps forward and three steps back. I often would have one kid that seemed like they really got this potty training down, then to have several accidents back-to-back after that. It isn’t really regressing; it’s all just part of learning a new skill. It won’t be perfect in the beginning. Just change them, remind them to potty, and keep it moving.
Have extra changes of clothes and underwear with you at all times.
It may be the control freak in me, but I always like to keep three sets of clothes (per kid) on me. Hey I’m probably overdoing it a little (that’s the control freak in me) but I like to feel prepared. And like I said, accidents will happen.
After it’s all said and done, my kids aren’t going to go to Kindergarten in diapers (my original goal, LOL). In retrospect, I think I was putting too much energy and thought into the idea of potty training. I was causing myself unnecessary anxiety. And putting off the process probably made my anxiety worse. I noticed the biggest change that I made to my potty training strategy was just being consistent and patient. There’s no big secret or magic about it. Eventually they got it — all kids do!
Rashain Carriere-Williams and her husband, Kellom, are the parents of 3 year old boy/girl twins, Aubrey Madison and Karson Michael. She is also senior director at a non-profit agency in New Orleans, LA.