The girls are two years and 5 months. Already. I started this twin journey with intentions to potty train (PT) on the early side. In fact, I had been interested in EC’ing until I found out I was having twins, and then I decided I’d go it more traditionally, but I swore I’d tackle it sooner than most of my contemporaries, out of respect for the kids and a strong belief in instilling confidence. I had high hopes that the girls would be PT’d by age 2, which I thought would be ideal, as I believed they’d be more “helpful” and less oppositional before that age. (See this previous post for my early thoughts on the current trends in potty training and EC.)
I’m still in the middle of it, but I believe now that my intuition was right on all counts, but things got hectic, and I actually let go of some of that intuition in favor of some of the modern wives tales, because I wanted them to be true. Examples: “If it’s not going well, take a break for awhile.” “They’ll do it when they’re ready.” (I have no one to blame but myself for adopting this BS. *FLOG* See my own previous blog post! I knew better! *FLOG*)
And now, the excuses. One problem is that I’m a huge over-acheiver as a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom). I used to happily work for myself—which means of course that I was salesperson, designer, production artist, bookkeeper, planner, time and task manager, etc., all at the same time. And I loved the enforced organization it required. I love getting way more done, and done well, than expected. So that’s the type of mama I am too: I keep myself very busy, fitting in the craziest things between childcare and housekeeping. I was sanding and painting the exterior of my home (many times over…don’t ask!) during nap time for half of their entire infanthood and past their second birthday, which was no small intrusion into my plans to potty train! But I did feel it had to be done. (Our house looked haunted when we bought it, and two sides of it are still in less-than-ideal shape. Don’t get me started.)
I have learned over these two years to cook most anything I’ve ever wanted to—Indian favorites, graham crackers, every style of bread—as a sort of homemaker hobby, but mostly because I highly value being able to identify every ingredient and procedure in my family’s food. This of course is quite time consuming.
And then there are the two blogs (this one is for my sanity and enjoyment), the journals I keep for the girls, the research into schooling options and other things kid-related, and some hours each month pitching in with my husband’s business.
As far as packing my schedule, I got to feel very accomplished, but I shot myself in the foot. I kept myself way too busy. Even at times working late into the night and robbing myself of the already-hard-to-grab sleep of a new mama. But somehow—and this is just hubris—I really thought I could still manage the big stuff like potty training at the same time. Even though I was approaching it as a part time gig. Hmm.
Complicating matters—and this is a big one—I have a friend who has one of those magical toddlers (and take my word for it—this is by all accounts extremely rare) who decided to train herself, pretty much. Then her twin sister seemed to go along for the ride because of the stellar example set for her. Easy peasy, right? Yeah, it really is awesome. For that mama. Over here, I was in awe. And witnessing this genius child, I allowed myself to believe in magic (fueled by some bogus current thought trends): “Maybe my kids will just do it themselves when they are ready too. I mean they’ve gotten lots of exposure. It’s gonna click soon!” I had a sneaking suspicion I was fooling myself, but “Oh! How convenient it would be…and I’ve got so much to DO before their birthday!” You can hardly blame me.
Meanwhile, I was making regular “attempts” at training (or “learning”—whatever floats your boat) but I didn’t realize I was making things worse by approaching it casually and intermittently. The girls would be bare-bottomed at home (with me trying to catch every pee or poo) but when we’d go out for groceries or play dates, I’d slap their diapers on. So now they take the whole thing very casually too, as in, “It must not be super important, because when it is important, mama puts a diaper on us. So if we wait or protest enough, she’ll give up and give us our comfy diaper.” (Yep. I did.)
The worst thing is that I wasted tons of my own effort. I was putting a huge amount of energy in when I’d have them “training” here, but I really wasn’t doing it consistently enough to get good results. ‘Cuz I kinda thought it would just click for them one day and they’d take over. Silly mama!
I was ignorant of a couple of key points, which now seem like no-brainers.
Here’s one: Don’t put the potty out for them to “get used to” unless you are going to be actively training. My kids think their potties are reading chairs. I started teaching them about the chairs, very gently, when they were 16 months (picture on that previous post). It was cute and they were sweetly compliant with sitting on it. I brought the girls to the bathroom with me and they showed interest, even making the psst psst sound I’d vocalized to act as a cue for them whenever I’d go. Rachel would run to the door and make that noise—she was clearly into learning more. The thought fills me with woe. If only I’d known that my instincts about their nature at that phase were right and that the compliant desire-to-please attitude they exhibited indicated it was a perfect PERFECT time to spend a week or two being firm and consistent with it, I may have nailed it then.
Another: Don’t buy in to the freaky thought (another currently touted theory) that you can’t be negative in any way when dealing with potty training. The new “experts” advise that you’ll turn your kids off to the whole issue if you display any negativity. This is crap. It makes no sense. Now I’m back to being myself—showing my obvious disappointment when they don’t do what I expect, whether it’s with potty training (peeing on the floor) or anything else (throwing blocks, spitting milk). See? Why would you walk on eggshells with just one issue? What are the kids supposed to think about that? Likely your timidity will make them think you’re scared and confused. I was! Why didn’t I go ahead and overthink this stuff too, like I do everything else? Oh, right! I was too dang busy! *FLOG* Silly mama.
Clearly, I had the right idea in the beginning, I just believed, erroneously, that it would be more effortless. Effortless! What was I thinking? Why would it require no effort from me? That’s just weird. That is, if you disregard all my great excuses.
Much more to come, including ridiculous stories that make it clear why it sucks to train two at once.