At two years one week my son pulled off his diaper and peed in his potty. We did a little research, decided to potty train him using the three-day diaper-free method, and I am not kidding when I say that in three days he was completely potty trained — no accidents!
So a few years later, when my twins began to show signs of potty-training readiness, I knew the pants-free, three-day bootcamp was in our future. Now, having twins definitely complicates things, but after months of procrastination we bit the bullet, and when the girls woke up two days after Christmas we said goodbye to their daytime diapers and began our three-day commando adventure.
This was, by far, the worst day, and by 9 a.m. I was in desperate need of a triple espresso. The day progressed at a snail’s pace, and by the time I had cleaned up one twin’s accident, the other quickly followed suit. After each accident, we didn’t scold (I may have dropped a few silent F bombs); we told them that “pee pee and poo poo go in the potty.” This slowly began to register with B, and, sure enough, she peed in the potty. Hoping that a little peer pressure would affect C, we rejoiced — clapping, singing, and praising B. But a battle of wills with C will never be won, and the potty remained her enemy.
The day came to an end with C still adamantly refusing to sit on the potty, and me falling asleep with three kids on my lap at 6:45 p.m. only to be awoken by my son asking my husband, “What’s wrong with Mommy?”
The day started off with a mid-breakfast accident and a loud proclamation of, “Ewwwwwww, yucky!” If you’re looking for progress, this is it — the girls verbally declared that having pee drip down their legs was not a good feeling. I decided to use the iPad to encourage the girls to sit on the potty, and by the end of the day B was about 50/50 accident/potty. Even C was coming around, agreeing to sit on the potty a few times without too much protest, including one time where her pee miraculously did not end up on the floor! Again, an early night for mom.
If there was a Nobel Peace Prize awarded for parenting, I deserved it this day. It was crazy, but something just clicked — and the introduction of a chocolate chip reward didn’t hurt. Throughout the entire day, C only had one accident (even if it was a large poop on the floor that I may or may not have stepped in) and B had zero! We were well on our way and might even be putting on some pants in the foreseeable future! I celebrated the only way I knew how with a large glass of wine and an early bedtime for everyone!
Here’s how to make the three-day method work for you:
You have to be committed to three days stuck in the house with no pants, pull-ups, or underwear. We went as far as to pull up our rug and cover our couch with a waterproof protector. This provides the best chance for success and the least chance of ruining your furniture.
Although most of the three-day potty training methods call for diaper-free days and nights, we only start with days. Our girls are still in cribs, and until they can get out of bed themselves, I don’t think it’s fair to expect them to hold it.
Accidents will happen — no matter what — but this is not something to get angry about. It’s a learning opportunity for everyone. And when there is success, make a big show of it every time!
I’d like to say we are above this, but we’re not. And if you’re going to use bribery while raising your children there is no more justified time than potty training. We used the iPad to get them to sit on the potty and a chocolate chip for each successful excretion.