Life lessons in potty training

Life lessons in potty training

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SALT LAKE CITY — Somehow I ended up in the middle of potty training my twins this week. It was not a planned thing.

I hate potty training. It’s the one thing I wish a mother could outsource. I don’t plan it, I procrastinate it.

I have a daughter and son who are now well past the diaper stage, but getting them there was a long, long journey with lots and lots of tears — theirs and mine.

To be quite honest, this is a milestone I’ve been loathing since the day the doctor found two heartbeats instead of one. If I barely survived potty training one child, how in the world am I to survive potty training two at a time?

As I knelt in urine, I regretted every decision I made that day. But the very next day things started to click, and we only had one accident all day ...

The boys just turned 2 1/2 this month. They were showing mild interest in “big boy pants” so we decided to make an impromptu trip to the store to let them pick out their own underwear.

I had very little faith this would cause any kind of immediate, long-term reaction. But then we brought the underwear home and one little guy decided to try them on. What happened next was sibling rivalry at its best.

At the sight of his brother stepping into underwear, a loud little voice shouted, “Hey, wait a minute! I want mine!”

We had four accidents in two hours. As I knelt in urine, I regretted every decision I made that day. But the very next day things started to click, and we only had one accident all day — between both of them.

Days later we still don’t have this thing down completely, but I was able to haul the twins to Walmart and back without incident.

So what makes potty training these boys easier than my other children? Admitting I have nothing to do with it.

In fact, I am no better at potty training now than I was five years ago. And actually, the techniques that have worked this week didn’t make a dent with either of the last two children.

Through my experiences this week, I was reminded of two very important life lessons:

1. I can’t compare my children to each other.

This is not the first time I have expected my children to behave in similar fashion. I remember the day I found out the twins were boys. I panicked. At that time I had a 2-year-old son who was giving me a serious run for my money, and I knew I could not handle two more just like him.


I imagined myself hiding behind my bunker, waving my white surrender flag. Three boys would surely do me in.

Thankfully our children are all individual beings. I was not pregnant with two more boys like the one I already had. I was pregnant with two unique boys. Even though those boys share identical DNA, they are completely different souls with different expressions and personalities and passions.

I should know better than to think any of my future experiences with my children would be predictable by past experiences.

2. Their schedule often trumps my schedule.

This is one of the first lessons we learn as a first-time parent. I remember I was in tears the first time I tried to leave my house with a newborn. I didn’t know what I was doing and was so incredibly late. I thought I’d never be anywhere on time again.

With school-aged kids, everything revolves around drop-off and pick-up times. Next year my children will begin year-round school, where I have even less control over our schedule. We just have to adjust.

This applies to more than just calendar commitments but milestones too, like talking and walking and dating and driving, and of course potty training. Their schedule trumps my schedule.

The opportunity for potty training presented itself and I took it.

Main image: Picking out "big boy pants" (Photo: Nicole Carpenter)


About the Author: Nicole Carpenter ----------------------------------

Nicole Carpenter is the founder of and the creator of The MOMentity Process. She is a communications consultant, writer and speaker. She and her husband are raising four children, 8 years and younger, including twin toddlers.*

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