My twins are 3 years old and I have not been looking forward to potty training. If anything, I am not encouraging the potty. I just don’t want to deal with it (I am a generally lazy parent). When seeing my twins take tiny steps towards potty training I would feel a little bit of dread rise knowing what was awaiting me. My girls were developing appropriately, but I literally groaned and said, “Ugh, I guess this is happening.”
What potty training my first daughter from 18 months to 33 months looked like:
Step 1: She says she needs to go potty (or I prompt her every hour or so with “Do you need to go potty?”)
Step 2: I rush her to the bathroom
Step 3: I disrobe her from the waist down, rushing to take off pants, diaper or pull-up
Step 4: I set the potty seat on the big toilet and position the stool underneath her. I didn’t want to think about transitioning from a little kid potty to big toilet. We only used the regular toilet with this kind of seat.
Step 5: Hastily place her on the seat, careful to center her tushy on the little seat
Step 6: She releases her bowels
Step 7: I help her step on to the stool (because she’s really little)
Step 8: I help her use the toilet paper
Step 9: I help her push the lever to flush (because she’s not yet strong enough to do it alone)
Step 10: I get a new diaper/pull up on and put pants back on
Step 11: We move the stool over to the sink, wash and dry hands
The only active part my daughter was really responsible for was indicating she needed to make a deposit, then releasing her bowels! This was ridiculous and we still ended up with peepee accidents on the floor and furniture. I did not want to embark upon the same adventure with my twins. Double the pee and stress to rush to the potty? No thanks.
I felt no internal or social pressure to rush toilet training with my twins. It would happen (as it eventually did with my oldest) so all the “new mom” stress of announcing my kid used the toilet was gone. My twins will be out of diapers before kindergarten starts; good enough for me.
Signs I knew my kids were getting closer to using the toilet include:
- Interest in sitting on the toilet
- Telling me when they have pee or poop coming or just peed/pooped in their diaper
- Hiding to pee/poop
- My girls would often leave the room to find a corner in another room to push their poop out. We’d all be playing and all of the sudden I would think, “Where’d she go?” then find her red-faced and tucked away in a corner of the office or dining room, clearly needing some privacy.
Even though I wasn’t thrilled about launching the potty training extravaganza, we encouraged the girls. We gave rewards, like m&ms for any successful trips to the potty. We were careful not to admonish accidents or put any pressure on them.
The potty training breakthrough
A few weeks ago, one of my twins (my strongest-willed little lady), said she wanted to wear only underwear and get a big girl bed. I said in order for those things to happen, she needs to say goodbye to diapers and pee and poop in the potty all the time. DONE. The next morning she said she was done with diapers and we have never looked back.
Saying I was SUPER skeptical about how this would go down is an understatement. Miraculously, she just trots off to the bathroom, gets the seat set up and pees/poops on her own. I don’t need to rush after her. She’s super independent with this, and I can actually continue with my day (like enjoy my meal at the table). Occasionally I help her turn off the faucet when she’s done washing her hands. This hands-off approach feels crazy, but it’s working.
It’s the little things in life and this morning I got her out of her crib (big girl bed is on its way) and then I went back to my bathroom to finish doing my make-up for work. After a few moments of bopping around with her sisters, I heard her say, “I need to go pee.” I didn’t flinch or move to leave my bathroom. She took her nighttime diaper off (she’s still in a diaper for sleep, but she typically wakes up dry), set up her little seat and peed! All this happened while I was in an entirely different room in the house. It’s the little things in life and hearing the sound of tinkle from far away is music to my ears.
What I have learned from this new potty training experience:
With the proper motivation, a toddler can conquer a seemingly impossible task
Everything will happen in its own time
Resist stressing or rushing something before your kid is ready; it’ll just cause aggravation and accidents
Potty training a 3 year old means more coordination and independence (which I love)