Raising My Twins

It's what's on my mind.

Darling Rachel Receives Special Award

More for the Potty Training Trials file: Rachel has earned the weirdest place to have an accident award.

Last night, I heard her yelling about poo poo, which makes me move fast. I walked into the girls’ bedroom to see Rachel on hands and knees on her dresser, in a puddle of chunky vileness.

She was smart enough to avoid trying to climb down, as she probably would have slipped and gotten hurt.

Surprisingly I don’t run for the camera in these moments, but I did create this nifty illustration to give you the gist of the situation. Yes, she was wearing shorts.

I omitted the chunks in my illustration.

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Potty Training Twins, Part 4 of ?

The girls had a great time visiting family. Here they cuddle up with “Uncle”.

Our annual Thanksgiving trip came in the middle of our potty training. It was supposed to be mostly in the bag (!) by then, but it’s taking my girls a little longer than average, as the previous posts describe.

We were in decent shape with the training before we left for our 500 mile drive to Southern California, even with the um…runny problems. In fact, they had to go so often in the days previous to our trip that they got some really good practice, and seemed to pretty much have the hang of taking themselves to the potty.

But then we had to pack them up in the minivan (with piles of cleaning supplies and baggies and whatnot). We left them pantsless, sheepskins and cloth diapers laid underneath them in the car seats. Apparently this felt too snuggly for them—maybe like a diaper—because there were at least a thousand accidents on the way down, and really gory ones at that. I was cleaning poop and rotating sheepskins nonstop. We put pants on them for our lunch stop and they both stayed clean and dry for the meal (whew!). All told, we only coaxed a couple of successes out of them during the trip…but one was an enormous poop from Rachel! But we showed up in San Diego with a huge bag of revolting laundry (did I mention that Rachel inexplicably threw up her breakfast about 5 miles from home?)

During the week-long visit with family, the girls learned a little bit more about wearing undies and pushing them down to potty. But as expected with this change in the program, they had many accidents. We had one totally accident-free day after Thanksgiving, though. On that day, we successfully reminded/coerced them every hour or so to stop playing and go potty.

The ride home was terrible though. Early in the day, I coaxed each of them to poop on their potties, and was hoping they were done with poops for the day. But for some unknown reason, they had diarrhea again and there were tons of accidents and so much obvious discomfort. Rachel had an especially bad bout and her butt got rashy right away. I ended up putting pull-ups on them for the second half of the 10-hour ride, although I changed them promptly when they pooped in ’em, and once Rachel asked to be put on the potty to go, which was really cool, as it must’ve been hard for her to time right. The pull-ups were handy for this, although in general I’m not planning to use them much.

So we made it home with more gory laundry and an exhausted mama. Today I am trying to get them on track while wearing pants. Audrey’s had four accidents (two in her pants—ew!) but a couple of pees in the potty. Rachel was holding everything until I made her try to poop before nap and she got a little done. I can’t believe they are sick again! I’ve emailed the doc to see if the diarrhea is something they need to be seen for, or if it’s just some strange side effect of potty training.

I’m pretty tired of cleaning poop, I’ll tell ya.

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Potty Training Twins, Part 3 of ?

Tandem lock in. Not the easiest thing for Mama to manage.

We are finally getting it (she said, cautiously).

Today, there has been one (gruesome) accident by Rachel, but after a lecture and putting Panda Man on a high shelf “until she made it to the potty successfully,” she had two minor “hits” on the potty. The thing is, she’s got the runs today. Ahem. Fun stuff. But no way was I putting on a diaper after yesterday!

Yesterday I made sure both girls were full up with milk and ready to go before I started a lock-in with them. Audrey, who napped for two hours bare-bottomed and stayed dry (that’s my girl!) before drinking a cup of milk was sure to be bursting at the seams, and Rachel had had roughly 14 oz of milk in the last hour before her sister got up. Ready Freddy! Right?

Lock in commenced. Lots of playing, which I allowed for a few minutes but then got more serious. “Girls, we just have to go potty before we can go outside and play, ok?” Playing, stalling, more playing, reading volumes and not going…

After 45 minutes (didn’t expect that much delay), Audrey got the job done and got to go out and watch Sesame Street until Rachel was done. Rachel resented the departure of her sister but would not let it sway her to cooperation. She dug in her heels and would not go. Keep in mind she did it earlier in the day and also the day before. I sensed it was stubbornness and after a little bit I had an inkling that this one would be a record breaking holdout. Previous record: 1.5 hours.

I remained the very picture of a calm, supportive mama. I mean I was channeling some zen master…nothing but smiles and encouragement and empathy. For three hours. That’s right. Three hours. (Do they make trophies with a potty on them? Maybe a crying toddler on the floor next to it?)

Actually, I was starting to really doubt myself. Especially because she looked like she was really trying to go a couple of times and then couldn’t, bursting into tears. The thing was, she had done it under the same circumstances earlier and the day before. So I didn’t totally believe it was a new performance anxiety, but she had me second guessing myself. (“I read their sphincter can refuse to open if they aren’t feeling safe…but I know I am providing absolute emotional warmth and safety…”)

I really could not give in, especially the longer it took! If I had, the lesson she’d get would be “If i wait long enough, mama will give in. And she’s waited as long as 2.5 hours, so I now know I must wait longer than that. I will do it because I really want/need to get my way and turn this whole ridiculous potty idea she’s got around.” (Yes, I know toddlers do not think this clearly, but they are very, very determined and expert at testing limits, so sans-words, this is what I think would be happening in her head, more or less.)

So my hands were tied unless I wanted a power struggle from hell on my hands every day. Eventually, she caved. It was dinner time when we emerged from the bathroom. We had gone in there after naps. Luckily, Dad came home before Sesame Street ended and watched over Audrey. Even though I couldn’t give in, Rachel had shaken my conviction in my lock-in method, and I decided during this time that the next day I’d have to change something.

This morning I told them both that I expected them to take themselves to the potty and that I didn’t think we’d have to do any lock-ins because I knew they knew what to do. (Ehh…heh.)

It worked! And guess what? Rachel is not afraid of the bathroom in the slightest, nor treating me any differently than before. She’s her lovely self. And she’s complying (mostly) with my requests to sit on the potty and try to go, even with the trots…and that’s a tough thing to have while learning!

Today I’ve had two potty successes with Rachel and two with Audrey. Audrey’s moving right along…taking herself in there now. She’s very happy to be in charge of this. This mama’s bursting with pride, even knowing the rug could be ripped out from under me any second.

Two more days until traveling. Seems soon. But I remain cautiously optimistic.

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Potty Training Twins, Part 2 of ?

Potty training with the girls. Rachel (r) is on the potty here and Audrey gives her a kiss.

How did the girls get this old (almost 2.5), given how I feel about potty training, you wonder? For one thing, everybody knows (and logic dictates) you need more than one person for at least a few days to start potty training twins, but I’d never managed to hook that up in spite of trying. So I’ve gritted my teeth and made several ernest attempts to train them on my own, knowing it would be really hard. And I’d end up so frustrated I thought I’d blow a fuse.

Almost every single time, I’d get an opportunity to teach one girl only to be thwarted by the other. Example: I see that Audrey’s peeing…I move her quickly to the potty and start to tell her that she’s doing great, etc., but suddenly Rachel is pushing Audrey off the potty. Mama wrestles Rachel aside and tells her she needs 2 minutes with Audrey. Now Rachel is climbing on my head. Really. All the time it was like that. It made my head want to explode.

One summer morning we were playing in the backyard when I spotted Rachel starting to poop. I raced over there to catch most of it in a potty and sit her down to encourage her. Dad walked out just in time to see Audrey dunking my abandoned iPhone in my coffee. Less than 10 seconds had passed.

But NOW how are we doing? Well, Thanksgiving is approaching fast and I’m trying not to be discouraged. One day we will be done with this, but oh man! it’s hard to contemplate the holidays at various relatives’ homes if our progress continues to be this slow! Although I know Grandma will be happy and excited to help, which makes me feel better.

First off, here is the best advice I’ve found on potty training: This eBook is $15: oh crap. potty training by Jamie Glowacki. It’s no-nonsense, dispel-the-myths advice, and it’s lengthy (for those of us that are potty-obsessed) covering every scenario the author can think of after training hundreds of kids. This book was brought to my attention by a blogger friend at eliminationcommunication.wordpress.com.

I loved the eBook, and read the whole thing. Jamie’s philosophy matches mine very well. She helped me to see that I caused a casual attitude about the potty in my girls, because of my lack of consistency. Sure it makes sense now!

So aaaanyway, as much as I love the book, I have some pretty big stubbornness with which to contend here. After a week or so, I started what I call “lock-ins”. To get them to stop using the potties as reading chairs and know that I mean for them to GET THIS, I have been locking them in the bathroom with me—sometimes together and sometimes alone—and while I remain supportive and positive, I try to maintain an attitude of sort of bored distraction to give them a feeling of psuedo-privacy to help them relax.

When they are together in the bathroom, they play a lot, so it’s pretty hard. I actually stop them from playing with the paper roll and the toilet seat, and I’ve moved most everything else out of their reach. I remind them that they can go back to playing or watching Elmo after they sit and pee, but otherwise I talk little. They really resist, and I’m not surprised anymore, given the fact that in the past I’ve “caved” and put diapers back on them after a few days or weeks (oh yeah). But not this time! I’ve been really consistent, and pretty stubborn myself (is that where Ray got it?) I’ve sat in the bathroom with one of them for as long as an hour and a half (guess who?) and was prepared to stay even longer if needed!

I know they have to go when I put them in there. In that way, I set us up for success whenever I do a lock-in. Usually one or both have been dancing around, or in Rachel’s case even leaking before I attempt a lock-in. Amazing how they can still hold out for so long! Also I only do about 2 of those a day also, so that I’m not pushing them way over the edge of rebellion. I’m still waiting for them to self-initiate.

Today’s lock in was with both girls, and I told them I’d love to watch Mickey Mouse with them, but I’d have to make sure they peed first. Audrey actually didn’t complain today, just played a little bit, then hopped up on the big potty and peed. Only took about 15 minutes! I parked her on the couch with Mickey and went back to Rachel.

Rachel’s always been more stubborn, but she’s also more verbal. She whined and cried, hugging me endlessly, but eventually climbed up on the big potty and peed. She took about 30 minutes, which is less than half her usual. I feel cautiously optimistic.

Late update: About an hour and a half after the lock-in, Audrey went in to the bathroom and was playing with the big toilet. I checked on her a couple times. She had closed the lid to the big toilet, so couldn’t access the little insert seat. Eventually I heard tinkling on the floor. I sped in there and moved her to the little potty, where she finished, then I had her help clean up the mess. I actually think that this was her trying to self-initiate, and I’m pretty excited. I think she wanted to use the big potty but had already closed the lid, and it locks shut. At least she was in the bathroom! Wish me luck.

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Potty Training Twins, Part 1 of ?

Beautiful two-year-olds.

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.

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