I Surrender! – How I QUIT Potty Training My Twins – boys are hard

I Surrender! – How I QUIT Potty Training My Twins – boys are hard

Child's Potty with note Baby Bjorn
Might as well get psyched the night before!

Overthrowing the diaper industrial complex one long day at a time.

We are-in-it-to-win-it. We decided to potty train our 21 month old twins because both boys seemed ready – talking about it when they peed and pooped, staying dry through nap, a couple potty runs, being aware of it when they peed on the floor after bath. And, let’s be honest, I am fucking over changing diapers. Our game plan is to do consistency and commitment during the day, diapers for naps, night, and car trips more than 1 hour.

This is NOT a how-to-potty-train your kid post. This is a WTF were we thinking post. And now that we quit, here are my notes I took at the time we tried this whole adventure. I hope you will chuckle at our misadventure.

Ultimately, we quit. And I am glad we did. So GLAD. My twins were clearly not ready despite many of the signs we saw. The neat part about this process was remembering that we, as parents, are the deciders. And that awareness of your kids’ needs cannot be overlooked. We could have continued and we might have seen incremental improvement over many many weeks. But the COST to our sanity and happiness wasn’t worth it. By day ten I was a nervous wreck. The twins were stressed but not averse. They were trying their very best. I need to remember when a task turns me into a giant snappy grump of a mom I should probably be reexamining the task itself.

Preparation: Potty Day Eve

Tonight is P-Day eve. I’m anxious and excited and it’s like election night. I’m hopeful for what tomorrow will bring, but worried it’s gonna mean a lot of changes and work on my part. Our plans at this point is to do daytime, waking hours only. Required materials include 4 (!) BABYBJORN Smart Potty

The only thing I still have to do tonight is roll up a rug and refill the bottle of Nature’s Miracle.

Reality: I did neither that night.

Picture of childs potty with a note
I should have guessed from my ominous snapshot the night before that there were dark times ahead.

It begins: DAY ONE

So, my husband is off work. We have our babysitter here to get the ratio of adults to children into the greater than 1 range. And morning arrives, we wake up the boys, and I think, “what the hell are we doing.” It’s in the 20’s F here today. We cranked the heat up, and got them naked after breakfast.

Of my twins, I expected one to be ready to knock this mess out of the park. The other, I expected struggles. As many things in life, I had it backwards. We mobilized with a pair of potties Poster Tacked to the floor so the boys couldn’t drive them around (Which was the first thing they tried to do.) So, some rules: no toys in the potty; no hands in the potty; no standing in the potty, no wearing the potty insert as a hat….

Then we waited. And watched. And played. And watched. And through as series of trial and errors managed to catch them as they peed and transferred them to the potty. Repeat for four hours. All the nice talk about what a bonding experience this can be with your kid don’t take twins into account. We elected a man to man defense. We tagged in and out as other duties dictated.

Nap time. Diapers back on. Nap time was shit. Short and grumpy. I burned that hour and half running errands, including a trip to the dollar aisle of Target to get fun stuff for sitting on the potty. The twins have logged more screen time today than ever before.


This is a boring. And intense. Intensely boring. Watch carefully for barely distinguishable signs of getting ready to pee. But don’t hover. And don’t over prompt. And let the boys play, but try to keep them off the rug. And half the house is waay to cold for them to run around naked. And discover that potty training is cranky work (for the twins and for mommy). I spent a good amount of time standing just around the corner obsessively re-reading the potty training book to find out what I’m doing wrong. DONT HOVER. OMG. I was hovering. seriously, my face was inches from their face while they sat on the potty. StAAAAP hovering.

Caspar Baby Pants, Baby Cloud, is a sweet soothing pooping jam. Mommy needed a soothing pooping jam.

Back in diapers and zip up PJs for bed. Leftovers and shots for mommy. Going again for naked potty time tomorrow.

Pro Tip:

When you put Butt Paste on your guy he will be sure to sit on your leg and pucker up leaving a distinct mark on your last clean pair of jeans. Stickers, stickers, and more stickers, stickers all over adorable naked bodies, and the floor, and me. Stickers floating in the bathtub tonight.

What can I say. It's a butt print
Actual Baby Butt Print. Medium: Butt Paste and Denim. No kidding. You were warned.

Day Two, cause in 40 hours we’ve only used six diapers.

We got up today with a can-do attitude! I put car seat liners in their booster seats to keep their tiny little butts warm and to keep sitting on a hard plastic booster seat from being confused with a hard plastic potty (rookie mistake from yesterday).

We took notes yesterday (with twins and more than one adult involved you ALWAYS take notes). And I kid you not, both boys peed within 10 min of their previous first pee yesterday. You better believe that at 11:20 and 11:40 tomorrow, both boys are sitting on the pot. I predict that 21 month old boys cannot tell time, and it probably won’t matter.

We caved in the middle of the day yesterday and busted out the games on iphones. And yes, we needed two (mommy’s and daddy’s). Today we alternated between My Caterpillar game and you tube videos of airplanes taking off and landing. Even this was not always enough. One twin learned the hard way that throwing himself backwards off the potty was a bad strategy.

We had out first floor poop. It only took the tiniest bit of hiding to accomplish. He was still visible, but went behind a toy and worked FAST. Poof, before we knew it, Floor poop. We had fighting and the need for WAY more cuddling. We had victories and lots of peeing on the floor. We had poop in the potty from both boys. We ARE WINNING THIS.

There was a remarkable but predictable amount of staring at toddler genitalia. Really, more than I ever expected to do in my entire life. Watching, but again, don’t hover. I got so excited when either guy got near a potty I scared them off at least some of the time. It was sort of like watching antelope at the watering hole.

Pro Tip:

Enable ‘Guided Access’ on your phone so the boys can’t buy anything from your Amazon cart. Also, naked farts are a thing. And they are shocking and way different than clothed toddler farts. They echo maybe, or something. And they will guarantee you to panic about floor poop. Your toddler will naked fart crop duster you.

Day Three: Forget all my so-called Pro Tips. I’m ready to surrender.

Little boy with spoon.
Pants off. Shirt on. Cause its 20 degrees outside and the heat is cranking but cant keep up.

In general, the twins acted today like 1) they have forgotten everything about the past two days; 2) the literally never have to pee; and 3) we are, in fact, torturing them by suggesting that they might need to go after four hours of not a drop. They are miserable. I am miserable. They are refusing to drink much. We even trotted out juice for the first time. NADA.

Dear Pampers, please take me back. It was me, I was wrong. We need you. Alone, I’d quit tonight. My babysitter says I need to pull up my big girl panties (admittedly usually still maternity panties because they are just so damn comfortable) and get ready for tomorrow.

Dresser full of diapers
Buying diapers for Twins is expensive. Also, Sposie Pads diaper liners are awesome.

I have one toddler who, after nearly 14 months without nursing, is suddenly obsessed with my breasts. And I have another toddler who has only eaten berries for 24 hours. Speaking of eating, plan on not doing that when you are potty training. But also plan on making up the missed calories in potato chips and booze after the kids go to bed.

My husband is on call this weekend. So can I PLEASE quit before the weekend? WHY AREN’T MY KIDS POTTY TRAINED ALREADY?

Humble suggestions from a coward:

White plastic potties go with all decor. But they get covered with the hair of the three dogs that live here and look gross. And toddlers are amazingly fastidious when it comes to excuses of why they can’t sit on the potty. Static electricity is a bitch. Confession Time: I may have used an empty beer bottle to convince my toddlers that I was putting “Papa’s beard” in their sippy cups. I swear it was only fruit punch mixed with water. I repeat: we gave our children NO BEER.

Day 4-6 The half assed weekend.

We took our boys out of town for the evening with a 1.5 hr drive. So we opted for ‘travel diapers’ and after some vehicle mishaps on the way we arrived 1 hr before bedtime and decided not to fuss with potties, even though we packed like we were invading a foreign country. It was a total cop out and we needed it. And I’m glad we didn’t fight it out for the hour because we had a vomit filled crib-escaping disaster of a bedtime at our friend’s house. The saving grace of the night was good company and grownup time after the boys finally settled down.

Sunday Morning we went to brunch at a different friend’s house. We tried commando for the first time. The car ride was a 50/50 split. I would highly recommend waterproof car seat liners, btw. Cheers to friends that understand letting toddlers run around without pants on and don’t blanche at showing up with a pair of potties. The victory of the weekend was making the 12 minute drive home with dry pants. A miserable afternoon capped out the weekend; and then sudden angel babies showed up as soon as Dad came home.

Funny Note:

there is nothing funny about this. Give me a drink and let me stare into the calming jars I made to entertain my toddlers on the potty.

Paper towel roll and Natures miracle
Remember to stock up on both before you start. Nature’s Miracle

Day 7 – a chance at hope

A doctor’s visit more than an hour away meant ‘travel diapers’ for the morning again. We had a mixed afternoon. Some successes. One twin learned that if he sits and squeezes out a few drops he can earn a Cheeto (thanks, Dada, btw for introducing bribing into the system *rolls eyes sarcastically*). The other guy is an EPIC camel. He held it from 3:30 until 8pm. The last hour he sat on the potty voluntarily. I think he was trying. He got to watch you tube videos. He actually started falling asleep on the potty. We wanted to let him have the chance to try so we skipped bath once he started tipping off the potty, did a quickie story and right to bed where they crashed immediately.

Nerves are fried, but we are in-it-to-win-it. Short tempered grownups and overtired kids.

An Actual helpful Tip:

When you make flushing stuff down the potty a reward you better be ready for kids who now know how to ruin your life. Thanks to my friends who supplied the toilet locks. Clearly label toilet lock with directions for the adults. Seriously, cause there is nothing more humbling than really needing to pee, being slightly intoxicated, and having to go downstairs because you can’t figure out how to operate the child toilet lock.

Toilet lock with directions.
Every toilet lock is different. Help the adults in your life out by putting the directions clearly on the lock or even the toilet lid.

The beginning of the end. Days 8-10. And why we quit.

Two more days of grumpy ass EVERYONE. My one toddler just gave up peeing until he gets a diaper on. At first this seemed like a win, but after 2 days it became obvious that he was uncomfortable holding it for so long. During Bath time on Day 10 two things happened. One twin peed in the bath (NBD, it happens) but as he urinated he didn’t notice until after is started making noise. He looked down at his penis with this look on his face like “how did that happen.” And his twin watched with a look of such longing that said, “Well, how in the hell did you do that?!” Twin #2 then proceeded to squat into the water and let the water drip off his penis as if that would somehow help him to urinate. He did this three or four times, I don’t know, maybe hoping he could get the pee to come out. They weren’t ‘getting’ it. They couldn’t connect the act and feeling of peeing together. They just weren’t ready.

Child expression
Truly from earlier in our toilet training journey. But this pic pretty much sums up what my toddlers were thinking.

Despite dithering for days 5-8 about it, I was finally convinced that we needed to quit. I pulled up all the potties and put them in the closet the moment I made the decision. I slept well for the first time in nearly 2 weeks. The next day we acted like the whole miserable 10 days hadn’t happened.

Baby Bjorn Potty
Baby Bjorn Potties waiting for our next try in a couple months. Note the yellow tack on the bottom to keep them from sliding around.

It was such a relief, it’s hard to articulate.

The boys haven’t mentioned it. And neither have we. Though we have introduced a few potty and pooping related books into the mix. I’ve bought two boxes of diapers since we quit – I am still ready to save money on that. Really, ready. Also, Dear LORD! our utility bill the month we did this was…. heart stopping. So maybe trying naked potty training in the dead of winter wasn’t the best idea financially.

Next Time

We are going to try again in a couple months (and we did, read about this great potty training hack here). This time, I’m not going to hesitate to quit again if we don’t see obvious success within 2-3 days. I’m not expecting them to be potty trained in 3 days. But if they don’t seem to be ‘getting it’ I’m pulling the plug again. And this time I will remember to be more gentle with myself and my family. I want to end with some quippy joke. But I feel like if you made it this far, I need to say I have a greater appreciation for families that struggle with this. Hang in there. Quit if it’s ruing your life. Start up again when you have the strength and energy to remember you are teaching your child a life skill, not racing a clock, or shooting for perfection.

Lots of Love, Leah





We share in Fort Birthday

8 Replies to “I Surrender! – How I QUIT Potty Training My Twins – boys are hard”

  1. The best part of trying something new is knowing when to go to another strategy. Torture is not supposed to be another name for potty training, so I think you gave it a valid try and made the right decision to try again later.

    1. Lol – there was one day that my family was SURE i was torturing one of my kids. Literally all I was doing was sitting on the floor with him in the bathroom while he screamed at me. Poor guy had to pee and just didn’t know how.

  2. Thank you for writing an honest potty training post!! We tried around that same age and she was cool with it for a couple days, and then it went way south. So, we tried every few months. The kickoff for the last time was making her wear a cloth diaper. She didn’t like how bulky it was, so I said it was that or panties. She chose panties.

    1. I feel like I see two kinds of potty training posts: 1) We are going to potty train this miracle method and 2) OMG our genius child potty trained herself in 3 days. Trying to keep it real, cause some parenting stuff sucks. And this was one of them.

    1. KP – Thanks. I love it when I’m funny on purpose instead of by accident. I’ve gotta keep it real because the idea that any parent has all the answers is laughable.

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