Potty training has been a nightmare.
I can’t put it any differently honestly. If you’ve been following The Green Family Project for a while you know that I’ve been potty training FOREVER. You can read about my previous failed potty training attempts here and here. But at our third (and I was determined that it would be final) attempt something finally clicked for my kids.
Hindsight being 20/20, it is obvious why my first few attempts at toilet training failed terribly. And with the interest of people learning from my errors, let’s begin with all the things I did wrong.
These were the biggest mistakes:
- Mistake #1. I bowed to social pressure and started too early. Society has a lot of opinions about toddlers and potty training. Between daycare charging extra for kids in diapers, or some requiring young children be diaper free, and full day kindergarten starting at age 4 in some areas, the pressure to have your children potty trained as soon as possible can be intense, especially for working parents.
- Mistake #2. I attempted the 3 Day Potty Training Method a.) too young and b.) without adequate interest in using the potty from both of my children.
- Mistake #3. I tried to cut diapers/pull-ups cold turkey. I understand this works for lots of people but I should have known that approach wouldn’t work with my kids. Honestly, I was just impatient.
- Mistake #4. I got frustrated with each attempt and fell back into the pull-ups routine. My kids could see that I wasn’t being consistent.
- Mistake #5. Potty choice. I’ll talk more about this later when I discuss what actually worked.
The worst part about all these mistakes is that after each failed attempt my twins became less and less interested in potty training. At one point, they were refusing to even go near a potty or discuss it in any way. It was infuriating but I only had myself to blame.
So what finally worked?
- Firstly, I did what I should have done from the beginning and waited until my kids told me they were ready. Not only should I not have been in a rush to train them but I shouldn’t have put the pressure on myself to train them both at the same time. If you’re a twin mom reading this post, potty train your children separately to save yourself a headache. Now, in actuality, they didn’t exactly tell me they were ready but we happily watched potty training videos, and read books about the potty, and most importantly, they were willing to sit on it without argument.
- We started on a long weekend. 3 days with my husband and I working as a team and focusing on potty training, establishing a potty training routine and cleaning up accidents made a huge difference than when we attempted it in a 2 day weekend or by myself. I can only speak for my experience, but that extra day made a difference in helping the routine stick.
- We made a big deal of the first day. We called it our “Potty Party Day”. Cheesy, I know but it worked! And we talked about it a lot in the days leading up to the party. If our kids at any point leading up to the big day indicated that they weren’t ready I would have put on the brakes and waited for another weekend. We had party food, lots of motivational candy, juice, a potty video (affiliate link: Elmo’s Potty Time), and new books to read!
- We worked with what they felt comfortable doing. I took the pressure off pooping on the potty and had my kids focus on only using the potty to go pee. For the time being, if they don’t want to poop on the potty they don’t have too. They can ask me for a pull-up to poop in until they are ready (or we have peeing in the potty completely down).
- We separated daytime and nighttime training. This was to maximize their successes and again, take away some of their stress from such a big lifestyle change.
- I encouraged their internal motivations. My kids will be 4 this summer and they are both super interested in kindergarten. But the truth is, now matter how interested they are in school, they can’t go if they aren’t potty trained. So, I make sure they know that if they want to go to kindergarten this year, then they have to practice the potty every day.
- The “right” motivational candy. At first I was like, how does anyone potty train without giving their child diabetes? But the trick is to pick one simple candy (I chose skittles) and never waver from it. It worked as a great motivational tool for the first 3 days when I really needed it but by day 4 my kids were so over the skittles. But they couldn’t really complain because at the end of the day I was still offering them candy for their efforts. Thank you Skittles for phasing yourself out.
We finally chose the right potty. We tried 3 different types of potties before finding one that worked for all of us. The first potties we used had a cushioned seat which was nice, but that ripped over time. It was also difficult to clean. The second potties were too minimalist and would have worked better for children who were already comfortable regularly using the potty. What made our third set of potties the winners was that they had backs/lids and tiny little handles on the sides for stability.
So you might notice I’m not putting any affiliate links for these potties. That is because despite the rockin’ design, neither of these potties actually worked. The potties are supposed to play music after a chid does their business and somehow I got two duds. The pink potty was missing parts and the green potty just simply doesn’t work. BUT I got them on sale so I can’t complain too much.
We still have a ways to go.
Currently, we are 3 weeks into our potty training routine and I am really pleased with our progress! While I’m confident the days of diaper changes are behind us, we still have a long way to go before we are fully potty trained. I’m replying on (affiliate link) Pamper’s Easy-Ups for sleep periods and poops.
If you’re not using Amazon Prime for purchasing your pull-ups, you’re missing out!