Chris and I were in the trenches of creating Tackling Triplets when we started potty training the Tagalongs. We knew that we wanted to detail our process, but finding the time to do so between work (Chris), freelancing (Marcella), running around after three toddlers (Chris and Marcella), collaborating with a website designer (Evan Leah Quinn of SixteenJuly), and completing the 50 billion responsibilities that come with being an adult was challenging.
Then a post popped up in Marcella’s triplet potty training Facebook group. A fellow triplet mom had detailed her potty training process with all three of her triplets. As it followed Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki. Someone did the work for me! Marcella thought, and made a mental note to revisit the post when things weren’t as crazy. (Cue hysterical laughing from triplet moms everywhere.)
That was in January; it is now October. The Tagalongs are a year past potty training, and the other trio is 10 months past it. And the triplet mom graciously agreed to let us use her writeup, insert commentary about our own journey, and share it with our readers. But first, an introduction.
The Lee Three
Mark and Kimberly Lee are parents to GBG triplets Aubrey, Oliver, and Avery. Known collectively as the Lee Three, the trio was born in November 2015 at 35w4d. Kimberly is a math specialist, and Mark stays home with the Lee Three while working part-time in radio advertising. The Lees follow a pretty strict schedule with their kids, so Glowacki’s no-nonsense approach to potty training fit very well with their style. Per the book’s recommendation, they potty trained at 25½ months, and … we’ll let them tell you the rest, with some added commentary from us.
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Potty Training Prep
The Lee Three
We used the method detailed in Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki. Kimberly had heard about the book through her social media triplet group, and a fellow triplet mom handed down the book to her. We read the book through various mediums (hardcopy and audiobook) several months in advance of starting to train. We were drawn to her style, and her reasoning about various potty training topics made good sense to us.
In the couple weeks leading up to potty training and during the first week or so, we let The Lee Three go into the bathroom with us. We never pushed them to do so, but we kept the door open and let them in whenever they wanted. We think being in the bathroom with Kimberly when she pooped (and dramatically struggled a bit) really helped one of our girls. Kimberly also peed in one of the potties on Day 2 because we wanted the kids to see how normal this having-a-potty-in-your-living-room thing could be. Seriously.
The day before we started potty training, we talked about no more diapers and how this meant that we were big kids. We kept this talk pretty casual without too much buildup or fanfare.
This was pretty in line with our approach to potty training. Chris didn’t read Oh Crap!, but Marcella outlined it for him, and we reviewed every block before beginning it. We contacted Glowacki about providing this outline as a resource for parents who don’t necessarily have time to read the book, and her assistant sent us the link to an abbreviated, more easily digestible resource as well as a link to online courses and consultations. You can find the links below:
The Lee Three
Another set of hands counts as a supply, right? We chose to potty train over Winter Break, so both of us were home in an all-hands-on-deck approach for about 10 days.
We used three Summer Infant potties* and had toilet paper, paper towels, wipes, and hand sanitizer easily accessible for parents but out of reach for kids.
We can’t advocate for the extra set of hands enough! You don’t need them for very long—about the first 3 days—but they make a world of difference. If you just can’t make that work, fear not! There are a few badass triplet moms who potty trained all three at once by themselves. From their comments, it’s a matter of knowing your kids, knowing your family dynamic, and knowing you.
*NOTE: The little potty both trios used (Summer Infant Lil’ Loo) is no longer available. However, the BABYBJORN Smart Potty is comparable in style and price.
The Lee Three
Following Oh Crap!, our first three days were naked and at home. We confined ourselves to one room—the room that had the floors we were least concerned about. While the room does have a couch in it, access to the couch was blocked. The potties were in the room with us.
We made those first crucial days all about having FUN as a family. The room was filled with activities for us to easily access throughout the day, and we gave the kids juice boxes for the first time in their lives. Then we sat back and … watched their every move.
We had to remind and encourage each other not to react too much when bodily functions started flowing. If we noticed a sign from one of The Lee Three, or if pee or poop started to come out, we told the child to hold it and moved them straight to a potty. If pee or poop got on the floor, we didn’t get upset—or at least we tried not to. Instead, we told them that it needs to go in the potty next time.
Note that during those first few days, we didn’t just wait for signs or their business to start coming out. We also didn’t ASK the kids if they needed to go potty. Instead, we took regular trips to the bathroom.
Every potty moment was a celebration. We clapped and cheered anytime one of The Lee Three sat on the potty without prompting. We had a clapping and viewing party anytime one of the kids actually got pee or poop in the potty, prompted or unprompted. And this wasn’t just us parents—the kids were almost as excited as we were!
We continued to use diapers at nap time and bedtime. We told the kids that they wear diapers when they sleep because pee and poop might come out, and we don’t want to have it in our bed. But we took the diapers off as soon as they woke up and went straight to a potty break.
Again, this was pretty much in line with how our first 3 days went. We ended up moving the potties into our eating area (SUPER sanitary, we know) because the kids wanted to play with them. While we did stay in one room most of the day, we allowed ourselves two half-hour “breaks” outside—one in the morning and one in the afternoon. When working with early intervention on James’s torticollis, our pediatric PT prefaced her coaching with some advice: “You can’t expect him to work every minute of the day. He needs breaks from doing his therapy.” We applied that to potty training. While we kept the kids naked, we weren’t as strict with watching and expecting them to use the potty. This gave everyone a much-needed breather.
We also continued to use diapers at nap time and bedtime—and in fact, a year later, we still use pull-ups at bedtime. We told the Tagalongs that those are long periods to go without using the potty, so we’d keep them on but take them right off and use the bathroom after waking up. The Tagalongs had no issues understanding this, and we even think it helped Caleb make this big transition. For the first week, he consistently “let the floodgates open” during sleep periods. But over time, those diapers were filled less and less, while the potty was filled more and more.
The Lee Three
We didn’t use rewards. Instead, we played up the “after” of going potty. After every pee or poop, the kid who went got to go to the bathroom with us, flush their business, and wash their hands. They were in love with the stepstool and faucet extender we had in the bathroom, and the watermelon-scented soap was a hit, too. Then, they brought out their clean potty and resumed life as usual. These simple, independence-building tasks made potty training so incredibly fun for them.
We did use stickers, but for entertainment only. Grandma blessed us with a bunch of stickers for Christmas, and the kids were in love with just peeling them off and putting them all over themselves and the potty. In fact, stickers kept them entertained while waiting many, many minutes for a pee or a poop over the first few weeks.
We also didn’t use rewards. Flushing was a reward in itself, and many a physical altercation was had over who got to flush the business down the big potty. At one point, we had to designate a “joint flush” if multiple kids had peed or pooped at the same time.
To encourage the Tagalongs to stay on the potty long enough to do their business, we used books and songs. The books tack may have backfired a little, as James can’t use the bathroom without toting along at least four books with him.
Days 4 and Beyond
The Lee Three
By about Day 14, our son didn’t need prompting to use the bathroom. He took healthy (really healthy) poops and peed on the potty multiple times every day, but he hadn’t had an accident since the first few days of potty training. So don’t believe the myth that boys are harder to train than girls!
The girls were a little hit and miss. One of our girls got so wrapped up in her play that she sometimes forgot to go potty when she felt she needed to. Our other girl was good about going on the potty, but by Day 14, she’d gone unprompted only a handful of times, so we still had some work to do with her. Being conscientious of how long it had been since the girls last went potty, really knowing their potty signals, and keeping in mind the average number of trips they took to the bathroom each day really helped us with them.
We also found regular bathroom times to be helpful. Usually, we made sure the kids went potty right when they got up in the morning and after nap time, soon after any meal, and right before nap time and bedtime. At least one of them almost always went at these times—and if we were lucky, they all did.
Oh Crap! recommends transitioning through naked, commando, and underwear (no pull-ups!) once kids can pee or poop on the potty. It also advises on when you can leave the house so you don’t go completely stir crazy. With the exception of a VERY fateful trip to the developmental pediatrician for our final visit, we followed this advice to the letter. We didn’t bust out undies until around Week 2, and while we were used to spending long periods outside the house every day, we limited our outings to very short trips (e.g., to the library ONLY to check out held books or to the park for a short playdate with friends) a few days a week and gradually built back up to our normal routine.
By about Week 2, the Tagalongs had the hang of it. There were still accidents, but they were few and far between. Like the Lees, we learned the individual needs of our kids and tried to stay on top of things as best we could.
We think that our attitude toward potty training played a big part in how things went. We knew this was a skill that we needed to teach The Lee Three. We celebrated every “victory,” and we reminded them that they knew what they needed to do and encouraged them to keep trying if they didn’t make it to the potty in time. We knew things wouldn’t always go smoothly and that we’d likely face regression with big life changes (e.g., starting preschool), but we believe we established a great foundation from which to tackle those issues.
Read our post “6 Tips to Make Potty Training Triplets Easy Pee-sy” to learn our biggest potty training tips. If we could add anything, it would be to be very intentional about coaching your kids through potty training and to involve them in the process beyond doing their business.
To help the Tagalongs make the connection between feeling the need to go potty and going potty, we pointed things out to them: “It’s been a while since you went potty, so your body needs to try.” OR “I see you holding yourself. That might mean you need to go potty. Let’s go try.” James really struggled to make this connection, but once we started reasoning aloud with him, he picked it up quickly.
Accident cleanup wasn’t relegated to just Mommy and Daddy—everyone helped clean up. This is where the potty station came in handy. Upon having an accident, the guilty party snagged a cleaning cloth from the potty station and helped Mommy and Daddy clean up. The exceptions to this were handling poop and stain remover. Our goal was to teach the kids the consequences of not doing their business in the potty.
We both know the choices we made aren’t for everyone, and we don’t think there is one perfect way that will work for everyone. But, these seem to be the things that worked for us.
For tips on potty training triplets and how to build your own potty station, visit the blog posts below:
Good luck on your own potty training journey!