The Most Beautiful Weekend in SF, Valentine's Day and Potty Training

What a weekend in SF! While my facebook feed is filled with photos of snow storms and freezing temps, San Francisco was breaking records on the other extreme. We had an invitation to meet friends up in Healdsburg and almost went for it, but ultimately decided to stick to our plan: a 3-day potty training weekend. Ya, super fun way to spend a long, hot February weekend in the city. Oh well, I can justify it since it was actually warm enough for them to be running around outside without pants on.

I think it was about six months ago when I bought one potty and put it in their bathroom. They immediately loved sitting on it but I didn't expect to actually potty train them until well after two, maybe even not until three. As everyone always says, 'boys are harder to potty train and take longer'. They quickly took more interest in it, William in particular started going potty, both #1 and #2 pretty quickly without us saying much at all. Not consistently, mostly just before bathtime, but it was clear that he had control over his body. George was definitely more hit or miss but so far I was accomplishing the goal: getting them really comfortable around the potty and making it a fun, not scary, thing. Reading a couple potty books seemed to get them even more interested.

I was so surprised/impressed with their interest but also their success, that I thought maybe we would be potty training earlier than I expected. But then we moved and they seriously regressed. It was several weeks before the potty saw any action. We kept talking about it, reading the books and got more potties, so there were two upstairs and two downstairs.

After we were home several weeks, they started to settle into a routine again, W was doing better, G was still just going here and there. But they were obsessed with reading the potty books and in general were showing lots of other readiness signs, W especially.

Since I first heard about the 3-day method/potty training in a weekend, I knew that would be the approach we'd take. I feel like I'd rather just get this kind of stuff over with as quickly as possible, even if it means a lot of work in the beginning. It's how I got rid of the pacis, the bottle, etc. I knew a weekend of staying at home and not much fun for us would be worth it to get them (or even just one of them) far enough in the process that I could continue with them on my own once Dave went back to work. I did get some advice not to start until they were ready as it just drags out otherwise. That, I planned to follow, and I feel that I did.

It got to the point where I felt like I needed to capitalize on their interest and ability before they got to age two, or further when they wanted even more control, or decided they didn't like the potty anymore and got stubborn. Dave was onboard, but wasn't totally convinced they were ready. I asked for Jessica's advice, but only after telling her that we were going to try it -- I wanted to give it a try and didn't want advice against that, just wanted suggestions on how to do it. I figured the worst that could happen (besides cleaning up multiple messes, tears, etc), was that it wouldn't work and we would try again down the road.

I read up on some blogs about the 3-day method and potty training in a weekend and decided on a hybrid of various methods. My goal of the weekend was for them to learn the sensation of 'having to go' and begin to make the connection to actually make it to the potty. I didn't have high hopes of them being fully potty trained by the end of the three days, I fully prepared Dave for plenty of accidents and for it to be a really hard weekend with 'all hands on deck' the whole weekend. While I planned to attempt to train both of them, I had a feeling G wouldn't catch on and I was totally okay with that. I had talked to other twin moms and many trained separately when one was more ready than the other.

These are the main points we followed over the weekend:
  • Prep them by talking about how we were going to be saying 'bye bye diapers' and pretty soon they'd wear underwear and only go potty in the potty
  • Bottomless whenever we were home (no underwear)
  • Stay home for the majority of the weekend
  • Wear just pants/shorts when going out (no underwear)
  • Lots of (watered down) juice and salty snacks
  • Potty seats in the rooms we were playing in
  • We decided against using a timer and prompting them every 15 minutes to use the potty -- the goal was for them to learn when they had to go, even if that meant having accidents, instead of us just training them to sit on the potty every 15 minutes, possibly going
  • Avoid asking them if they had to go to the potty and let them figure it out
  • The idea was if they started having an accident, to take them to the potty and remind them that 'pee pee goes in the potty'. No shaming, just reminding. Also putting any poop accident in the potty and reminding them that poop goes in the potty.
  • Rewards - I went back and forth about whether I was going to reward them for going potty. I really didn't want to, but I did purchase a few packs of stickers in case I needed to resort to something.
  • They would continue to wear diapers for naps and nighttime
  • If we went out, they would use the potty before leaving, once we got to the location, before leaving and then when we got home

So here we are at the end of the 3-day weekend. How did is go? Well, Dave and I are absolutely exhausted. But oddly, I thought the actual potty training part of it was going to be a lot worse. Yes, there were plenty of accidents, but most of the time they finished in the potty which I consider a big success. I am all for the bottomless approach. I had to clean up one accident in pants and that was a disaster compared to wiping up a little pee on the hardwood floor (we put away the rug in the playroom). I had the waterproof picnic blanket on the couch, but they never peed on it. They sat on our laps multiples times making us pretty nervous, but again, never a problem there.

I'll recap the play-by-play below, but the toughest part was that it never felt like we were done. It required being so hands-on in entertaining them and playing with them, that when they finally went down for a nap (and both of us were longing for one too), we had to clean up multiple rooms of toys, snacks, juice cups, dishes from breakfast and lunch, etc., etc.

I think beyond potty training, they were thrown off in general. I'm not sure if W was mentally exhausted or actually feeling sick, but by 11:30 on Saturday, he was an absolute disaster. Neither napped well that day and the only benefit is that they went down without a peep that night. I would definitely agree that you shouldn't attempt potty training when anything else is off (new baby, new home, sick, starting new preschool, etc.).

Last night was the worst night Dave and I have had as parents, even tougher than the first days home from the hospital. We're still not sure what happened. They were playing and talking (I overheard multiple 'bye bye diapers' between the two of them). Then G got upset, Dave went in, then left. G still upset, I went in, tried to calm G and W then stood up getting upset (which never happens). This is all around 8pm. We had no idea that we were in for 4 long hours of trying everything we could think of. They demanded a banana, and had one in their bed. We tried milk, juice, water. Checked diapers. Read books, rocked, held. Even if they did calm down, they were very upset when we tried to put them back down and they weren't falling asleep in our arms. We tried just letting them cry, but felt bad for the neighbors. And of course our neighbors have been out of town for 2 weeks and this was their first night back from Japan... This seriously never happens. We had trouble after the move, but it's still rare when both are upset. Now it's even tougher as both want Dave, yet they don't want him to be holding the other one too. Dave tried a show in their room, but after trying to put them back to bed, realized that wasn't going to work either. We brought them into our bed (which never works) and again put on a show, but G wanted to hold it, so was finally happy when he was holding his own phone. At this point it's at least 11:30 and we had to cut it off somewhere. They still weren't falling asleep. Dave said it was time for shows to go off and G was actually pretty calm and starting to fall asleep on me, but W had a complete meltdown, again screaming at the top of his lungs. We finally put him in his bed and let him cry, nothing else was working. I took G downstairs and he immediately fell asleep. I moved him to his crib as I knew neither of us would sleep well if we stayed in bed like that. G did fine. W on the otherhand woke up screaming again at 3:45am. I can't remember what he was saying but it was clear he wasn't going to be shushed back to sleep. Brought him into our bed, can't remember if Dave did a show or not, but he went back to sleep until 5:50 when he woke up demanding oatmeal and would not stop screaming for it. Woke G up and we started Day 3 of potty training bright and early. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Definitely a good lesson that something as major as potty training can throw everything else off. We noticed eating was a little off too.

Anyway, so to get back to potty training, the days themselves were tiring in that we were both 'on' and got few breaks, but otherwise, despite accidents, I thought they went well. It was last night that killed me. I got nervous when G had a few minutes of whining before falling asleep but I'm praying that they'll sleep soundly for everyone's sake.

Here's a recap:

(diapers off after breakfast)
Not happy about going first thing in am
Not happy about no diaper (but over it soon enough)
7:55 poop on floor
9:15 when we were dumping g's, w took his to dump and I said he had to go in it first if he wanted to dump, came back with a full potty of pee
9:40 said he had to go potty, went a lot
11:10 a lot of pee outside on ground, I missed it so he was done 
11:30 pee on floor, I missed it
Tantrum, exhausted, thought he was sick, wanted to be rocked like a baby
12:45 Diaper on any early nap no lunch
2:45 - awake, VERY wet diaper with poop, not sure G ever napped. Wanted another diaper on so I said his choices were to have a diaper and stay in bed as diapers are for sleeping, or get up. He saw the Valentine's balloons so wanted to get up and play
Wagon ride
4:30 - double pee (but only after I suggested they sit on the potty while watching foxes on utube)
seemed like he had to go but wouldn't. Several accidents then went on big potty.
Ate ok at dinner, little soup, a little oatmeal
7 poop in overnite but did tell Dave he had to go so maybe didn't make it in time. New diaper for overnight, not very wet

Little pee in potty before breakfast
7:30 Lots of pee (on and off several times)
7:40 poop on floor then finished with lots in potty
8:20 poop in potty
8:45 pee on floor, stopped and went potty but very little overall
9:05 pee on floor, stopped and went potty but very little overall
9:10 said potty and ran and peed on potty
9:13 peed on the play kitchen, stopped, ran and peed a lot on the potty
9:40 same as 9:13
10:05 pee in potty
11:20 accident on floor, missed it
12:20 pee and poop in potty
12:30 pee and poop accident
1:15 pee on the big potty
2:45 (g down at 2, never napped, not totally dry, but lightly wet diaper)
4:30 - double pee (but only after I suggested they sit on the potty while watching foxes on utube)
Wagon ride
BOTH were dry for wagon ride and playing outside in shorts
5:30 double pee (to get 2 stickers)
No dinner, didn't even sit in chair, playing with kitchen 

Day 1 recap
  • Better than expected
  • G does really well with rewards, will sit down and go again to get another sticker
  • Neither seems to be scared of pooping
  • W seemed to have a harder time, especially after the morning, wanted to wear a diaper, didn’t want to use the potty
  • W can hold it longer (or maybe doesn't drink as much?)
  • G goes multiple times with just a little, but also can go a lot
  • Seem to be getting the hang of it despite accidents
  • Both were able to let us know they needed to use the potty at least once
  • Were able to get out for a short time without an accident!

No diapers at breakfast
Not thrilled but okay with it

9 pee on way to potty after saying he had to go, only a little in potty
9:30 sat on potty, not sure if he peed before going out in wagon
Accident outside in shorts
11:40 we made go pee before wagon ride
No accident but no pee when we got home  (didn’t get him to drink too much today; still no poop)
1:15 Asked him to pee before getting diaper on and he did
1:30 diaper on in bed/asleep by 1:45
up at 4:15 pretty dry diaper
5:45 pee in potty after G went
7pm Diaper on (thought for sure he'd poop in his diaper before going to sleep, but never did, even the next morning)

6:20 g went but only for sticker
7 pee in potty
7:45 little pee on floor, ran to potty, big poop
8:15 little pee on floor, ran to potty for lots more
8:30 pee accident when I ran up to get them more juice
9 pee in potty 
9:30 pee before going out in wagon to get coffee
Accident in shorts outside
11:40 pee in potty before wagon ride
12:30 pee when got home, no accident while gone
1:40 little pee in potty
1:45 poop accident when mom was out of room, very upset (he was, not me, but clearly understood poop goes in the potty)
up at 4:15
5:45 G told J he had to go potty, went
7pm overnite diaper
Very, very tough night (see above)

Hmm, whatever works!

Day 2 recap:
  • G definitely getting the hang of it and impressed he isn't holding his poop
  • W doesn't seem to go as freely, or doesn't need to go as often. Usually needs prompting or goes after G does and we celebrate

DAY 3:

Went a little around 7
7:30 pee in potty
8 Sat on potty several times but nothing
9 poop accident (but at least he finally went!)
10 poop on potty
10:30 little pee on potty at park 
11:45 potty before leaving park (gone for almost 2 hours without an accident)
12:30 playing and said potty, went pee on potty
12:45 diaper on for nap, napped 1-4:20, woke up very upset
5pm pee at childcare
7:15pm diaper for bedtime


7 pee in potty
7:30 poop in potty
10:30 little pee in potty at park
11 potty at park
11:45 potty before leaving park (no accident)
12:10 pee on potty, encouraged to sit and wait and did big poop
1:15 pee on potty, then diaper on for naptime
Slept 1:30-3, but wasn’t totally ready to get up. Kept diaper on until after 4pm
5 pee at childcare
poop accident - so bummed and didn't expect him to have a third big poop, at least one he wouldn't wait for a diaper
7:15 diaper for bedtime
So are the potty trained? Far from 100%. Are they out of diapers? Yes. Do I think they achieved the goal we set for the weekend, of them learning to feel when they had to go? I would say G made huge progress here. It's still hard to know with W since he doesn't go as much and I still feel like we're prompting. I'm so surprised though, as W I could actually watch control his body and know what to do to pee, etc., in the past months. G was pretty lost on this. At the various milestones, I've always been wrong though. After W rolled over first, I thought for sure he'd be the first to crawl. Nope, G.  Similar with talking but definitely I thought W would have it down by the weekend and G would quite possibly be back in diapers. I have to admit that I was totally thrown off with G's success, though I've learned that he's typical first child and clearly thrives on praise, is motivated by rewards, and in general wants to do it right. (W doesn't care about this stuff. The old, 'I'm gonna leave then' trick never works with him for example, he just say, 'buh-bye!' ;) I was disappointed about G's poop accident at the JCC childcare (though obviously didn't let him know) as if he had gotten through that as well, he would've been accident-free all day, including two outings.

So I think we'll continue to stay close to home, going to miss MyGym tomorrow and keep pants off as much as we can at home. I expect some regression somewhere along the line this week but I really hope that I'll see enough progress to feel confident that we made the right decision to attempt when we did. Despite how exhausting the weekend was (and again, not necessarily from the daytime potty training aspect), I still feel that it was worth it. I know it's going to be a lot more work for me to deal with keeping them dry, handling any accidents that occur, etc., instead of just changing diapers, but I still feel like I had to capitalize on the interest they've had for the past few months. I also know that the 3-day method is probably more final when training an older kid, but at this age, I expect it will take more practice to become accident-free.

  • You have to be 'on' the entire time if you really want to catch every accident and turn it into a success on the potty. I don't even mean physically carrying them but it was usually when I was in the other room that I'd hear an 'oh no' or an 'uh oh' and by the time I'd get there, they'd be done. Even if I was just sitting in the room and looked up, they'd know to go to the potty to finish, whereas if I wasn't there, they didn't sense it as much (at least on Day one)
  • Everyone who's involved needs to be fully committed. No 'let's just put on a diaper for a little bit'. Everyone should also have an idea of what to expect (lots of accidents, being 100% involved, staying home, etc.)
  • Make and plan and be consistent. There are multiple different approaches so you need to tweak so that you find something that you think will work for you and your child. Once you decide on that, stick to it. I didn't want to keep asking 'do you have to go potty?' every two minutes and for the most part, I stuck to that. I do feel like we talked about the potty constantly though -- 'oh, no one's sat on the potty for a while' or similar general statements.
  • Get a babysitter (and one who's experienced with potty training). I felt bad asking Jessica to come on the long weekend, especially when it turned out to be such amazing weather, but I'm so grateful Dave and I had a solid break. I think she got the easiest time slot though -- they woke up in a good mood after a long nap, only went potty once and had no accidents. Regardless, it was one night I didn't have to cook dinner (we went out which I also recommend doing), clean up or worry about helping with the whole bedtime routine.
  • Get some new toys. I'm so glad we saved the play kitchen until Friday night. They love it and has been so entertaining for them. Even new books, or small prizes from the dollar store could work though.
  • Get supplies - disinfecting wipes, old burp clothes, potties, any rewards, juice and salty snacks

  • Don't expect them to eat normally. I don't know if it was all the juice and endless snacks that they don't usually get, or just that they were distracted by the new play kitchen, but the first night G didn't even come to the table for dinner and I was totally fine with it.
  • Don't cook at all -- order take out, etc. It's not so much the cooking, but cleaning up, putting away food, etc., that just added to my already-full plate. Getting food from your favorite place is fun and a lot less work. Little rewards for yourself throughout the weekend are a good idea :)
  • Practice getting out of the house, starting with very short outings
  • Get some good hand lotion, I think I am washing my hands as much as I was when they were newborns

So yes, Valentine's Day this year was spent potty training, but Dave and I actually had a really nice day, or I guess night. I picked up heart-shaped steaks -- I know, sounds crazy, but these Prime steaks just happened to be connected to look like a heart.

Unfortunately they got slightly overcooked when I had to leave the kitchen, but the meat was so good they still tasted great. Plus, I somehow managed to make this chocolate cake in the afternoon while the boys were playing. So good!

When Daddy saw G later, he was hoping it was chocolate all over his face...
Top it off with a beautiful sunset viewed from our dining room and it really turned out to be a pretty nice Valentine's Day.

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