Potty training

If I’ve been quiet lately it’s because I’ve spent the majority of my time and energy attempting to soothe the world’s worst teething baby and the remaining time and energy cleaning up puddles of piddle.

Ted’s nursery parents’ evening was great and his key worker had some really lovely things to say but one of the issues that cropped up was potty training. Miss Emily (as this stupid nursery stupidly makes kids refer to her) thinks he’s ready to go up to the next room but they prefer the children to be potty trained first. There was no pressure but we had a chat and realised that we don’t know how long we’ll be waiting if we keep waiting for his speech and language to improve. We didn’t even know what kind if arbitrary benchmark we’d set ourselves anyway. Then Miss Jen (as this stupid nursery stupidly makes kids refer to her) took him to see the new room and he loved it.

It was suggested that we could just send him to nursery in pants and with loads of extra clothes but that didn’t seem fair on Ted. He’s at nursery on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons so we waited for a Thursday and just stopped putting nappies on him.

He’s been doing really well. At first he asked for a nappy a couple of times and there were a few days when he wouldn’t *go* but he seems to have got past that for now. He has better days than others but on the whole I’m really proud of him. His speech and language could have been an issue if we hadn’t thought it all through first but we just make it all very clear, concise and simple.

Using short statements rather than questions, like “toilet time now, Ted” instead of “do you want a wee?” (the answer would always be no!), has really helped.

He doesn’t really care much about getting a star to stick on his picture of pants anymore but in the first few days it helped.

He loves the praise when he goes and has started praising us when we go too. Hearing “good girl, Mummy!” when I’m on the loo in a public toilet makes me really smile.

He’s got loads of cheap supermarket pants but he’s also got three pairs of Disney Planes pants that he loves. I don’t think they make much of a difference but he likes to tell me there’s a plane when he goes for a wee.

I was really scared of starting this process – and it’s definitely got its low points! – but it’s not as bad as I expected. At least, not yet.

We haven’t started bedtime yet because we’re scaredy cats but he’s woken up dry for the past couple of nights so we need to get ready for that stage.

It’s already costing us less in nappies and taking up less space in our wheelie bin. It’s only been a week and a half but it’s amazing to see the difference.

When he’s running around in his pants and wellies I can’t help but smile, but then I look again and I realise how much he’s grown and how far he’s come. I’m spending so much time worrying about him that I’m not sure I’m paying enough attention to him growing up.

Now he’s got a tiny bum in his jeans, nappy padding all gone, there’s no escaping the fact that he’s not my baby anymore. He’s not even a toddler. He’s a big boy who does big wees on the big toilet.

And I never knew how proud that would make me.

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Silent Sunday

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Silent Sunday

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An important lesson to learn

This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt throughout this parenting experiment: put grumpy kids in water.

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Why I Don’t Feel Guilty For Complaining About My Kids

I complain about my children. I complain about my children often. I complain when they don’t sleep. I complain when they cry for hours on end. I complain when they create nappies that make me feel ill. Sometimes I complain that they make me complain so much.

I also feel guilty often. I feel guilty for formula-feeding. I feel guilty for using disposable nappies. I feel guilty for taking medication throughout my pregnancies. I feel guilty for letting the littlest sleep on his front. I feel guilty for letting the biggest watch Cars so often.

But I don’t – and won’t – feel guilty for complaining about my children.

I’ve been told – directly, through facebook memes, via passive aggressive tweets – that as some people can’t have children I have no right to complain about the ones I am fortunate enough to have.

I call bullshit.

I am well aware of how lucky I am to have two healthy, boisterous, infuriating boys. I spent my first pregnancy in and out of hospital in constant fear that this scan was going to be the one that broke my heart. I have friends who have had that scan. I have friends who have lost babies during pregnancy, in infancy and in their teenage years. I have friends who have endured years of IVF, friends who have infertile partners or who have discovered their own infertility. Friends who have made the decision not to continue pregnancies they wished with all their hearts they could carry on.

I can’t even pretend to know how heartbreaking it is to want nothing more than to carry a child and to see that dream fade every month. I can’t begin to imagine how much that hurts.

Unfortunately, knowing all this doesn’t make parenting any easier.

During the first weeks of Ted’s life, when my milk was making him poorly and he was screaming and I didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to do to make him feel better and I’d had less than two hours’ sleep in the last twenty-four, I tried to tell myself that I shouldn’t complain. I tried to remember having clots removed from my cervix and counting down the minutes to the next scan.

The thing is, it’s not always enough. There were times when it was enough to remind myself how close I’d come to losing him, but there were many more times when it didn’t even enter my head; times when I was curled up at the side of his cot crying as hard as he was, or when I put him in his pram in the garden so I could just breathe for a few minutes, or when I’d beg him to tell me what it was he needed. At those times it didn’t matter that other people wouldn’t experience this.

If I’m exhausted because I’ve been up all night with a poorly baby you can bet I’m going to complain about how tired I am. I don’t understand the belief of some that I shouldn’t complain because some people can only wish for it. If I was exhausted because I’d been up all night with a poorly husband would it be offensive to unmarried people for me to complain about that?

If we start trying to censor people because of our own sensitivities there’s not going to be much left to say. No matter how good your life is, how much you feel grateful for, there will always be something you need to get off your chest. If you had to stop and ponder whether it might be possible that your complaint might be offensive to someone somewhere, anywhere, you’d never say anything at all.

The harsh reality is that if you can’t have children and it upsets you that people who do have them spend their time complaining then that’s your issue, not theirs. That’s for you to deal with, not them.

I hear “I only wish I could complain about that” and I think, “well there’s the thing, you see: you would complain about it”.

It doesn’t matter how much you want something; it doesn’t make the hard bits any easier. Desperately wanting a baby doesn’t make the screaming any less painful, or the sleep deprivation any less debilitating, or the tantrums any more bearable.

Check my Twitter feed and I’m sure you’ll find at least one whinge a day. It might be lack of sleep or it might just be Ted wanting to watch Cars for the five thousandth time. I do know how lucky I am to have those things to complain about. I know there are worse things in the world than his terrible haircut or the fact that he’s decided he’s gone off apples this week, or whatever it might be this time.

I am sorry if you wish watching Cars again was something you could complain about, but just remember that there’s every chance there’s someone out there looking at your Twitter feed thinking, “I wish I could complain about that”.

We never realise how good our lives look from the outside, and sometimes we need to stop and remember that from the inside those lives we’re envious of might not look so great. Whatever we complain about, we do it because we’re getting through it and not because we don’t care about what other people are getting through. When I complain about having to watch Cars again it says absolutely nothing of how I feel about the struggles you might be experiencing. It simply says that I really do not want to watch Cars again.

And I absolutely reserve the right to complain about that.

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Silent Sunday

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Craft: handmade calm-down jar

All two year olds have tantrums, I’m told. I don’t know how many two year olds really have tantrums because I’m always too busy wrangling my own to notice what anyone else is doing, but I’m going to go with all of them because it’s comforting.

I saw a post from a Facebook group recently about calm-down jars and thought it might be something that could work with Ted, because on top of just being two he also has the added frustrations of speech and language issues. If I can calm him down enough to talk more calmly that can only be a good thing.

I started out with a Jar Quest. I wanted something straight with a fitted lid, sturdy but not glass, and had no idea where to find one. My mum gave me a plastic container and I thought I’d give it a go. 20140520-210701-76021369.jpgNext I bought as much glitter as I could find and a friend gave me some food colouring. I hadn’t really worked out what I was doing with colours but thought I’d make it up as I went along. 20140520-210808-76088626.jpgI’d seen a calm-down jar with a Lego man in so I thought I’d try an animal in Ted’s. I chose a gorilla from his huge collection of animals because it was small and sturdy.

I didn’t really know what I was doing but thought I’d just make it up as I went along. I poured about 3/4 of a bottle of blue glitter glue and a shake (technical term) of silver and red glitter into the jar.

20140520-211049-76249442.jpgThen I added water, food colouring and the gorilla. It looked a bit like a lava lamp at that point and I just wanted to sit and watch it already.

20140520-211143-76303449.jpgThen the fun – the shaking! I discovered that the gorilla was too dark to be seen so I took it out and tried a zebra, but he was too light and floated to the top. At present the jar doesn’t have an animal but I might try something else. Maybe.

20140520-211258-76378831.jpgI felt as though everything was settling too quickly so I unscrewed the lid and added a bit more silver and red glitter, shook it up again and added more glitter glue. I’m leaving it for now so I can have a look at it tomorrow and see what I think, but it is very pretty.

20140520-212027-76827557.jpgIt remains to be seen whether it will have the desired effect of calming Ted down, but if not it might at least calm me down while I sit and rock in the corner.

Edit: the jar is leaking! I’m now on another Jar Quest. Suggestions welcome!

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Silent Sunday

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Bank holiday sunshine time

Today the weather was really lovely but we had lots of people coming over at various times to buy the baby items I’m slowly letting go of so we needed ways to keep Ted busy and also have fun as a family.

We had a tray of water to splash in, we played football and pushed Ted’s bubble mower around, and then he asked to paint. The table is current covered in stuff that’s being sold so I took a big roll of paper, a few paints and some brushes, animals and cars outside. Ben watched and we all played. I loved this time together.

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It was so popular we had to repeat it in the kitchen too.
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Silent Sunday

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