I had this genius idea a month ago.
A well-intentioned friend told me about how she’d potty-trained her two boys, now four and six-years-old with this three-day training method. She then proceeded to gift me with her entire vast collection of little plastic toddler potties, including one that sings when you go.
“This method works best with children under 28 months of age,” the article stated. Well, my twin boys were already 26 months old. They were obsessed with talking about poop and insisting on invading the only remaining private space in our home to watch me and my husband, Kiran, go to the bathroom. In other words, they seemed ready. I figured we could get this potty training business done like a boss.
We picked a weekend when we could spend the better part of three entire days in our tiny apartment. We scattered plastic potties throughout the household. We rolled up our living room carpet and covered the couch with beach towels. I had new books, toys, stickers, and stamps ready to go for distractions and bribes. I even lined up visits from Grandpa and Grandma.
I am nothing in life if not prepared. We were ready. Three difficult days, and my boys would be out of diapers forever.
Not so fast.
It all started to go wrong on Day One. I scooped up a naked T mid-pee and rushed him to the potty to finish up. Kiran and I did a celebratory dance! He didn’t care, as the website said he would. He’d already moved on to playing with his backhoe.
Then there was Z. He was lying on the floor building a Lego tower when I noticed a tiny puddle next to his you-know-what. I helped him over to the toilet and said, “Pee goes in the potty! Not on the floor,” with a smile. He started to scream. For the next four hours, he did not go to the bathroom once. He waited for me to put his diaper on for nap. Talk about bladder control!
When I tried to take Z’s diaper off after nap, he pitched such a fit that I became convinced I was causing permanent psychological damage. Kiran suggested we give up then and there. “Z isn’t ready yet,” he said. I reluctantly agreed.
Training seemed to be going better for T, so we kept at it with him. By Day Two, he managed to get an entire bladder full of pee into the potty. But then, suddenly, a stinky smell wafted over me. What the heck? T had let loose while riding his PlasmaCar and, in the span of ten seconds, smeared poop all over our apartment like a Jackson Pollock painting. We had our ups and downs, but when, by Day Five, T was still regularly having accidents without seeming to care, we gave up on him, too.
Now, I have to add that we never before had spent an entire day cooped up inside our little two-bedroom apartment, much less three. We live in Hawaii, on the beach, and near a huge park. We are always outside. By the afternoon of Day One, we were tearing our hair out.
I’m not saying that the three-day potty training method is a no-go. It might work for your kids. It might work for one but not the others. But I will offer this advice, based on my limited experience. First off, since you have to keep an eye on your naked child constantly throughout the three days, it’s probably not a great idea to potty train more than one kid at a time. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible. Second, really consider the personality of your kids and your family’s usual routine. Maybe this technique will work well for you, maybe not.
Finally, as always, keep your sense of humor. When I finally let go of my own expectations and feelings of failure, I laughed until my belly ached. Poop everywhere! Potty jokes gone wild! This is what having kids is all about. If it isn’t fun and funny, what’s the point?
This post is part of a series of essays by the contributors to our second anthology, Multiples Illuminated: Life with Twins and Triplets, the Toddler to Twin Years. Subscribe to get new posts on your favorite reader as and when they’re published.
MeiMei Fox is a New York Times bestselling author who regularly blogs for The Huffington Post and MindBodyGreen, among other publications. Also, MeiMei works as a life coach, assisting clients in realizing their most ambitious dreams. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors and distinction from Stanford University, with a BA and MA in psychology. MeiMei lives in Hawaii with the Love of Her Life, her husband Kiran Ramchandran, and their twin boys. Her mantra is Fear Less, Love More! MeiMei writes about raising and traveling with twins in her blog, Adventures with Twins. Find MeiMei on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.