There are plenty of articles discussing the preparation for potty training twins and getting them started, but you don’t hear a lot about what happens next. Most kids don’t get the hang of potty training 100% right away, even after doing a boot camp weekend. There will be a period of uncertainty where you’ll be a little afraid to take your twins anywhere in public, and I don’t blame you. It’s hard enough to take twin toddlers out in public, but those diapers were your safety net, and now they are gone. Kind of intimidating, right?
Remember when your twins were first born and you felt like you were a traveling circus each time you left the house? The bottles, the diapers, the bags, the formula, etc. It’s going to feel like that again for a little while; at least until the twins get a better hang of potty training and are good about telling you when they need to “go”. Until then, plan ahead.
Here’s some supplies that will really help you while on the go with twins still in potty training mode:
Potty bag (this can be your old diaper bag or a backpack)
- 2 sets of clothes for each child, with each set in it’s own zip-top bag
- Baby wipes
- Hand sanitizing wipes
- Travel toilet seat (I used this one)
- Small rewards (optional)
- A few Pull-Ups, just in case
Bag that stays in the trunk of your car
- 2 more sets of clothes per child (as mentioned above) as backups
- 1 shirt that can fit mom or dad
- 1 roll of paper towels
- 1 roll of toilet paper
- Fold-up travel potty (I use the Potette) + extra inserts
- 1 water bottle, for rinsing soiled clothes if needed
Start limiting liquids at least 1 hour before you plan to load everyone up in the car. Make it a rule that everyone goes to the potty before leaving. Then when you arrive at your destination, everyone goes to the bathroom again. This is especially important in a large store because it’s a real pain to find bathrooms while you’re in the middle of the bread aisle (and cross your fingers that you make it there in time!)
During your visit, check in with your kids every 15-20 minutes to see if anyone needs to go potty. It’s better to know and make a dash for it then to have an accident happen too far from a public bathroom. If someone says yes, drop what you’re doing and briskly make your way to the bathroom. I’ve left the deli counter shouting to the woman in mid-order, “Please hold my salami for me, I’ll be right back! Potty emergency!” and they are more than happy to oblige.
Once you’re at the bathroom with potty bag in tow, leave the cart outside and bring both twins in. Try your best to get the big stall (as long as there aren’t any handicapped visitors in sight) to make sure you have ample room for the 3 of you. Repeat gentle reminders to not touch anything; it helps to say, “Hands up! Show me your hands!” Swiftly whip out the travel potty seat and get twin #1 up on it; you may have to hold them steady until they are more confident. Often the potty seat will be too small for the public toilet and there will be awkward balancing involved. Also if the toilet is an auto-flush, warn your kid ahead of time so they aren’t startled too much when it goes off while they are still sitting on it. If they are extra sensitive to the auto-flush, bring a post-it note with you to cover the sensor until everyone is done.
And as with all things with twins, repeat with twin #2. Give several firm reminders to not crawl on the floor, not crawl out from under the stall, and not look under the stall at your neighbor. Bribes are really great for this. A single piece of candy can go a long way for public bathroom success. Now don’t forget that you should pee too!
Once everyone is done, escort the twins to the sink for handwashing. This is always a pain in the butt with little ones because the sink is always too high and there’s usually no step stool. You’ll have to hoist each one up separately, grab a handful of liquid soap for them, help them lather while holding them up, rinse, and repeat! Then hope they aren’t frightened by the hand-dryers. Exhausted yet?
But YOU DID IT! It was probably pretty awful, but you did it! And with every time you do it it will get easier. Your twins will get the hang of it and start to know the drill, and that will make it go faster each time.
Now sometimes you’re at a venue with no bathrooms, such as a park or field. Then things really get fun! I suggest that if your twins are still not 100% accident free that you carry your potty bag with you, plus a few extras. I always keep a fold-up travel potty in the trunk of my car and it has saved us on numerous occasions. When I’m at the park I keep the travel potty, extra potty inserts, and toilet paper in a separate bag that I tote along. My boys usually use it 3-4 times at each visit and it really keeps the accidents down on the playground.
If your child is very shy, or if there’s a lot of people around and you don’t feel comfortable whipping the potty out on the playground, use the trunk of your car to use the potty. You will need to keep the other twin contained at this time. I suggest you either have them sit on the other side of the trunk until it’s their turn or if you have a super wiggly kids strap them into their car seats while you help their twin go potty. But always have the other kid use the potty too, even if it only seems like one of them has to “go”. This will save you a lot of time and aggravation.
Whatever stage of potty training twins you’re in, never forget that “this too shall pass”. One day you’ll look up and suddenly realize you can’t remember the last time you changed a diaper. It will happen! Keep forging ahead and be consistent, and you’ll find all your hard work with pay off big time… x2!
Julie Burt Nichols is Twiniversity’s Dean of Parents, serving as Editor-in-Chief of Twiniversity.com, Account Manager, and Instructor for Chicago Twiniversity classes.
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