Potty training twins

I have been dreading the words potty training and twins for as long as I can remember. Be it fear of the unknown, fear of such a big change in our routine (which is working very nicely at the moment), or fear of being trapped in the house for days on end (we rarely, if ever, spend a whole day at home without going out), potty training the twins has definitely been something I’ve been putting off.

We’ve had potties in the house for months – probably six months or more. We’d get them out before bath time, and had various phases of success with Fonz and he’d often have a wee before getting in the bath. Ez was a totally different story, and panicked at the slightest suggestion she should sit on the potty. One evening, the potties were out, and on a complete whim, I told Ez, who’s absolutely mad about jigsaw puzzles, that I’d buy her a new puzzle if she sat on the potty. I have never seen a child move so fast. Within seconds she’d grabbed the potty, sat down, done a wee, and was demanding her new puzzle! And that was the beginning of potty training for us.

The timing was terrible. I’d done zero reading around the subject, the builders were about to start work on the ground floor, and it was snowing outside. But as we were stuck in the house anyway, and both twins were showing willing, I didn’t think I could let the opportunity pass me by. So while they were at nursery the next day, I went out and bought a load of cheap jogging bottoms (potty training essentials), some more pants, a puzzle for Ez and a truck for Fonz, and a load of reward stickers. I made a reward chart – a sticker for each wee/poo on the potty – with the promise of the toy once they’d gained ten stickers.

The next few days were spent with the twins naked from the waist down, and with remarkably few accidents. They immediately grasped the concept of the reward stickers, and if anything I found they were using the potty too much, squeezing out every last drop of wee for yet another sticker! They were so excited about the stickers that when we reached ten stickers they’d totally forgotten about the bigger prizes I’d originally offered, and so I carried on with stickers and put the other toys away for presents at Easter. I wasn’t sure what to do at naptime, so I put them both down without nappies, and they both woke up wet. So we switched to wearing pull-ups (they like to wear their pants on top) at naptime.

By day 4 I thought we’d cracked it. But as soon as I tried to put them in pants and trousers, they both had accidents. But another day and they got it. I was able to take them to nursery with plenty of spare clothes, and no nappies.

At nursery they used the toilet rather than a potty, so I quickly invested in a toilet training seat, and immediately the twins preferred to use that and we could put the potties away (no more cleaning out dirty potties – hurrah!).

I think in total it took us about a week, although Fonz still has accidents if he’s distracted or over-tired.

Our steps to potty training twins were:

  1. Establish an interest in going to the toilet. This means lots of talk about wees and poos, chatting about how big girls and boys use the toilet, letting them watch mummy and daddy use the toilet (weeing with witnesses. Delightful).
  2. Introduce a potty way before you intend to start potty training so that they can get used to it, play around, sit on it if they want to (even if this is fully clothed).
  3. When you think they’re ready, stock up on your reward of choice (chocolate buttons, smarties, stickers), draw up a reward chart (one for each twin), and make a song and dance about it when you explain it to the twins. Get them excited about the process.
  4. Go shopping with them and let them choose their own pants.
  5. Let them try together. I had planned to potty train Ez and Fonz separately, but actually the twins see what the other is doing and are naturally interested. They watch their twin getting huge amounts of praise for using the potty, and want some of that for themselves. It’s also good to involve both twins when one has success on the potty/toilet. Ez and Fonz loved congratulating each other, and were even a bit competitive about using the potty.
  6. Get the twins naked from the waist down when you start (or completely starkers if it’s lovely and hot outside). Clear up any accidents without making a fuss, but make a HUGE fuss over any successes on the potty. We had a total of four potties – one for each twin upstairs and downstairs – you could even personalise them or buy different ones to make them more individual. Ask them regularly if they need to go to the toilet – if you think you’ll get distracted set a timer for every 30 minutes to prompt you. Watch for tell-tale signs such as fidgeting that might indicate they need to go.
  7. After they’ve mastered the art of staying dry when they’re not wearing anything, then try them in pants. Expect a few accidents, but it will click sooner than you think. Then you can progress to putting them in jogging bottoms too (easy to pull up and down and will dry quickly after washing them. I’ve also been told that jeans can be very uncomfortable for them if they have an accident).
  8. Brave a trip out locally. Ideally somewhere you don’t even have to drive to but if you do take the car, protect the car seats. We have plastic carrier bags on their seats, covered with a folded hand towel. Take a travel potty with you (I recommend the Potette Plus which I’ve loved so much I’m going to review it here), plenty of spare clothes (trousers, pants, socks), a bag for wet clothes, and again don’t make a big fuss over any accidents, but give lots of praise for successes. If you’re nervous, try to limit the amount they drink just before/while you’re out until you’ve got your confidence up. Remember to ask them regularly if they need the loo, as when they’re out they’re likely to be more distracted so might forget to ask.
  9. Try to make the transition from potty to toilet (via a toilet training seat) as quickly as possible. If your twins are willing, skip the potty altogether.
  10. As they gain in confidence, so will you, and they’ll also get much better about holding it if you’re not near a toilet, or if you’re in the car. I’m now only worried about accidents if they fall asleep in the car, as Ez and Fonz aren’t dry at naptimes or night yet. Make sure you always have spare clothes with you when you go out. Because you can guarantee that the day you don’t will be the day the accidents just keep coming, and coming, and coming!

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