Dare I say that we have conquered the potty?
Could it be possible that my worst fear as a twin Mommy wasn't as bad as I thought?
Did I make a bigger deal out of this than necessary?
The answer to all of those questions, my friends, is "yes."
So, I thought I'd share what we did in our journey through this poop-laden world since I was so clueless when I started. Seriously...no one tells you how to do this, so you just have to take a little bit of this and a little bit of that and put it all together until it works for your kids.
This is one of the services I wish I could contract out, BTW...along with binky fetching in the first year!
Okay, here are my tips and experiences with potty training:
- Readiness and starting...I had no idea that the Crazies were ready...I went with my gut. If they're not ready, you'll know. Don't pick a Start Date way off in the future that just looms ahead of you like the end of the world. Choose a random day that works for you. For us, it was a day that we HAD to stay home to wait for Salvation Army to pick something up. Both Crazies woke up with poop in their diapers, so I was safe from that horror for a while and it was nice out. The Perfect Storm...staying at home, no poop, and nice weather.
- Remind yourself that you will vaguely smell like urine for the next two years.
- Blame the fact that they have to partake in potty training on someone else. This one was easy for me because I really do have a built in excuse...they need to be potty trained for their preschool program this year. However, if you don't have a built in excuse, make something up...Grandma won't let you sleep over her house until you use the potty...the mall took out all of their changing tables, so we need to learn to use the potty. You'll figure something out...you're all pretty creative.
- Make them earn their undies. One of the most exciting parts of potty training for kids is the ability to wear underwear...and they want to wear every single pair in that package as soon as possible. I told the Crazies that they could wear undies only AFTER their peed on the potty. I then set the timer for 20 minutes, perched them on their beach chairs in front of the TV and let them make good decisions.
- Get beach chairs that are easy to clean. This is brilliant if I do say so myself...we picked ours up at Kohl's...princess and Cars, of course. They wipe right off and dry almost instantly in case of accidents.
- Don't let them sit on your furniture. That's right...it's YOUR furniture. Don't let them ruin it with their tiny little bladders. Take ownership of your house back! Stepping down from that soapbox now...
- Timing...have them "try" every 20 minutes on your first day. Not only does it get them used to thinking about it, but it also gets them used to sitting down and making an effort. You can gradually lengthen this time and eventually remove the timer altogether once they're more comfortable telling you when they need to go.
- Start a reward system and make it seem like a big freaking deal. Mine was 2 M&Ms for pee and 5 M&Ms and a sticker for poop. I made a big deal of them being able to pick out their own stickers and they could do what they wanted with them...wear them on their hand, stick them in a favorite book, eat them...whatever.
- Amend your reward system as needed. Matt fought me tooth & nail about "trying." Turns out he has the bladder of an elephant and can hold it for approximately 3 hours...who knew? I had to institute a reward system for trying...1 M&M for trying.
- Get out if you can! If you're going to play outside, bring the potties (and the timer) with you. Let them pee in the potty on your deck or patio. Don't worry about what your neighbors think...if they don't think it's the cutest thing in the world, then they have the problem!
- Naptime and bedtime...here's where opinions vary vastly. We used diapers for naps and bedtime...I knew that once they fell to sleep, they'd lose all control of their bladders. I also knew that the Crazies are heavy sleep-pee-ers! Why take the chance and risk even more aggravation? Plus, we had all of those expensive diapers to get rid of! After a couple of weeks, I switched naps to Pull-ups rather than diapers.
- As soon as the Crazies woke up, I had them in underwear again.
- Leaving the house...on day 2, we ran some errands. I was a nut. I brought a potty with us (Matt's because I knew he wouldn't pee in Hailey's...yes, he's my OCD child) and made short trips. We went to the post office and then back home to pee. We went to Hell-Mart and then back home to pee. Not only does it get you out of the house for a bit, but they're still aware of their needs.
- Getting back to "normal" life...by Day 3, I was out of my mind. I needed to work out and get some serious errands done. We needed to get back to normal life and soon! Since I go to the gym 3-4 times a week and the Crazies stay at the Kids' Zone, that meant knowing their policy on potty training and having to introduce them to a new routine at the Kids' Zone. We went to the gym to talk to the caregivers and to introduce the Crazies to the bathroom there. We were told that children were given no additional help with the potty and that they needed to be "pretty much self-sufficient." Shit...my kids were nowhere near self-sufficient. Either way, I couldn't just stop life for a month to potty train. I showed them where the kid's potty was and how to use it. We practiced for a few minutes and then left the gym.
- Don't overwhelm your kids. After I showed them the potty, I could tell they were on overload, so we left. If I had left them there and gone for a workout, I think that would have been too much. Baby steps, right?
- How to travel...everywhere we go, we have the following accoutrements with us: potty, change of clothes and underwear, paper towels, wipes, plastic bags. I keep all of this in our car for emergencies...of which there will be several.
- Troubleshooting...Matt refused to poop on the potty. He'd either hold it until naps/bedtime when he had a diaper or would shit his pants. Neither of those options is acceptable in my book. I had to find something that would get him to change his habits. We were at GG's and he would go down in the basement, get really quiet, and shit his pants. That sent me over the edge...at that point, I told him that he would not be allowed down in the basement until he pooped in the potty and if he went in his pants, I would take a truck away. He was upset, but was mature enough to think about these consequences. His actions changed...the next morning, I noticed that he got a certain look on his face, asked him if he needed to poop, and quickly ushered him to the potty. He pooped on the potty and was TOTALLY PSYCHED about it. He quickly jumped up and yelled, "I POOPED ON THE POTTY!!! I GET 5 M&MS AND A STICKER! I GET TO GO IN THE BASEMENT AND KEEP ALL OF MY TRUCKS!!!" He was triumphant. That week he actually pooped in the potty we kept in the trunk too as well as once in public. For a kid that was crapping himself, these were huge strides. Basically, if you run into trouble you need to be hyper-vigilant and find the kid's Achilles Heel...they all have one and if you work it correctly, you won't permanently damage your child. Why is everyone so worried about permanently damaging their children? We're ALL permanently damaged...if your child doesn't have some sort of childhood issue, they'll be the abnormal one...just saying...
- More Troubleshooting...Matt would pee if he got a time-out. It was his own little way of telling me to go screw myself. Don't accept that these actions are accidents. They're most likely purposeful and meant to send a message. There is very little that these children are in charge of, but once they gain control of their bladders, they can use it at will. If he peed while in time-out, I'd clean it up, clean him up, and put him back in time-out to complete his time. Don't feel bad for them or buy into their sadness about their accident...let them know that it is unacceptable.
- Facts...girls are definitely easier. Hailey was going in a peeing by herself on Day 2. She can pull up her underwear and pants and released the rewards before Matt. We did have a time where she refused to wipe herself, but that's small potatoes, right? Boys see potty training as some sort of power struggle. Don't let it become that...it's not worth it.
- Drink wine at the end of the day...you'll need it. This shit is stressful!
There will be funny stories...there will be times you gag...there will be times you look at your child and wonder "What the fuck were you thinking???? That is NOT okay!" All of this is normal and can even be fun as long as you're not too high strung about things. I always have to remember that my kids will typically adopt my attitude. If I'm stressed about something, they will be. If I'm laid back about something (even if I'm completely faking it), they will be too. You gotta work the system and come out on top.
Did I miss anything???