Quad Potty Training: Take One (And Other Significant Milestones)

Eating dinner like big boys and girls

This morning in HEB (our grocery store), the cashier asked a question I hear often: "what went through your mind when you found out you were having quadruplets"?  The irony in this particular instance of this question was not lost. As I piled up pull-on diapers, big kid wipes, and a book about potties onto the conveyor belt, I gave her my best smile and politely answered "I was just shocked". 

The truth is, while initially so many things went through my mind, my biggest fear has always been potty training. As I connected with many moms of multiples on social media and pictures of four potty training chairs, little training pants, and other potty training equipment filled my Facebook newsfeed, I grew more and more paralyzed with fear that this would really be happening for us soon. When the kids were just a year and a half old and a cashier in Walmart informed me it was time to start thinking about potty training, I did what any mom with a $250 a month diaper bill would do when someone who didn't know her or her children beyond the 3 minutes she'd watched them in line and didn't even know the proper term for four babies born at once is not "quatriplets" piped up with parenting advice that I needed to potty train them would do: I politely asked her if she was volunteering to do it. 

Yet, the time has come. In a few short days, we will be 27 months old (yes, I hate people that use months beyond two years but for this milestone, it's relevant). My goal has always been to wait until the kids told me they're ready to use the potty. I knew they wouldn't go to school wearing diapers. 

 I'm not sure why, but I always just assumed that I would be potty training four kiddos at once. Now that the time has come, that's just not reality for us. I've spent the last week doing some research on the best ways to potty train. What I've learned is what I feel will work for us, as of right now. I'm going in with an open mind and a flexible approach. One thing I've learned is flexibility is what will keep me sane in all things. Initially, my goal was to use the three-day potty training method on each child whenever he or she told me they were ready. As I have one who is ready now, I figured I'd start with her and go from there. Then, I sat down and read the ebook completely. I no longer feel like that is the method for us. That method requires serious dedication to nothing but potty training. I'm serious. The book even recommends you have meals made in advance so you're not even distracted by cooking.  It even recommends that you have your spouse or a grandparent on hand to help with anything not related to potty training that specific child. If you've met me or talked to me lately, you know that I'm always going a million different directions and my life pretty much always feels like I'm juggling 15 basketballs at once and I struggle to keep them all in the air. My hands are full as it is and with Adam's work schedule frequently calling him away, I have no way of knowing when we will have three consecutive days to focus solely on potty training. So that nixed the three-day potty training method in our home.

Another quad mom I've grown close to over the past few years recommended that I Google "Potty Learning" instead of potty training. The result is that I've created an approach that I feel is going to work for us and is easily adaptable depending on where it takes us.

Where we are starting:
One of the girls is ready. She verbally tells us when she has used the restroom in her diaper. Recently, she's begun taking matters into her own hands. Yesterday, I found her completely naked, picking out a new outfit from the dresser and upon further investigation, found her dirty diaper on the floor of the bedroom next to her. She even tries to put on her own diapers. She can pretty much put on and take off her own clothes by herself and only needs a little bit of help getting her legs and arms into the right hole (though she will try on her own). The other three all know the terms for #1 and #2 and are all able to take off their clothes on their own but aren't as skilled with putting them on just yet. Everyone knows the poo poo and pee pee goes in the potty and that when you flush is goes "bye bye" but so far, no one has expressed an interest in sitting on the potty. My gut tells me that when I put pull-ups on one of the girls, the other is going to want to start wearing them too, but this is all just my speculation and what really happens remains to be seen. 

The plan:
I just can't bear the thought of four small potties sitting in my living room. We live in a relatively small duplex and we also have a dog. Personally, I felt that training them to use the actual potty from the start will work best for us. We purchased this potty seat from Home Depot to install in the kids' bathroom which also serves as our guest bathroom. We will use this potty in the van for times when someone has to go when we are out and about. When we start, we will introduce our rockstar little girl to her new "big girl panties" and teach her how to pull them up and down. We've laid the groundwork for the past few weeks by having her go to the bathroom with me and verbally explaining what I am doing. We've also begun making a big deal about diapers being "ack" and how pee and poo goes into the potty. The morning of the day we start, I plan to introduce her to the potty when she wakes up and we will try to go every 30 minutes to an hour that day, while offering constant praise and reminders. I realize this may be a long process but this is where will start and we will go from there. Initially, I plan to focus on potty training during the day and not worry too much about nighttime. In the meantime, we'll be making some adjustments to try to make waking up dry a more realistic possibility for us, by cutting out drinking later in the day and dropping our nighttime cup of milk. Initially, I do not plan to use any rewards other than praise. While tempting, because I'm doing the one at a time approach, I don't think a jar of skittles of lollipops will help the process as when one sees another get candy, they all think they need candy and it seems like more work for me than anything! Verbal praise feels like it can be just as motivating in our case so that's what I plan to start with and go with from there.

I can't believe we're actually about to try this but now that it's really happening, I'm excited! I feel so lucky to get to teach these little turkeys this new life skill. The past few months have just been an eruption of growth and development for us and it just keeps coming. As I write this, Adam is out in the garage working on refinishing our dining room table that's been in storage the last few years so that we can bid farewell to the quad table and sit down as a family of six to meals at a real table. We're making other changes so that Adam will not be traveling for work but will be home at night and be able to play a more active role in rearing our children. And just yesterday, we woke up to the pitter patter of little feet running up and down the hall which signals that our cribs will soon be transforming into toddler beds as well. It seems like just yesterday that I paced the floors of the NICU stressing and worrying about my babies and only days ago that I was up doing feedings around the clock. The old saying that the days are long but the years are quick is really true. I feel like those last little moments of infancy are quickly fading away and before I know it, these precious babies will be running off as little boys and girls. 


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