A relieved mum’s top 10 potty training essentials…

Potty trainingJust over a month ago Little Miss embarked on tackling her latest toddler milestone. It was the one I had been dreading most. Potty training. I’d filled my head with all kinds of chaotic and, frankly, quite disgusting images over how this one might go!

My own mother didn’t really help matters by telling me how awkward I’d been when I was little. Apparently my preference had been to hold on and hold on until I physically couldn’t hold any longer. I would stubbornly refuse to go for most of the day, so I’m told, before unleashing a torrent onto whichever floor I happened to be standing on. And that was just the ‘number ones’… I’ll stop there.

So, yes, I had been pretty apprehensive about toilet training Little Miss.

But I’ve been stunned at how well it went. Gobsmacked! And if you’re mainly desperate to know interested in what worked for us then you can scroll straight down to the ‘our top 10 potty training essentials’ section. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert but it might help.

Otherwise, here’s a bit of pre-amble…

We put off the much feared potty training over the summer as Little Miss just didn’t seem interested or ready and there were so many other things going on in our lives, most of them, so the parenting experts say, being completely incompatible with successful potty training.

There had been the arrival of Not-so-Little Mister in July. Then, just when she’d got used to having a baby brother (or as used to him as she could be in a couple of months), in September she moved from her cot into a bed. That one went better than expected so surely our luck was going to run out once we put her in knickers and asked her to ‘please use the potty now like a big girl’?!

We did start laying the groundwork for toilet training way back at the start of the year when we bought all the kit – potty, toilet seat and step – to get her used to it being around. We also got her the Princess Polly’s Potty book to read.

We’d been encouraging her to try and use the potty before her bath each night, and way back in May we had a few early potty triumphs. Then we hit a wall of refusal.  So, with me being hugely pregnant by then, we left it.

But, she was two-and-a-half at the end of September and she really was starting to feel too old for nappies (and once you go back to changing newborn nappies again, a toddler just feels so huge!), so we decided to give it a proper go. I kept my expectations rock bottom and braced myself for a literal sh*t storm!

And I’m stunned, amazed, proud and most of all relieved to say that, so far *nervously crosses fingers* it never came!

Top 10 potty training essentials

I think a huge dollop of good luck has played a part in our potty training success but, in the interest of helping others, here are a few observations as to what seemed to work well for us.

Our top 10 potty training essentials…

1. Clear your calendar

We blanked out a good three or four days to devote entirely to getting her using the pot. Thankfully the first two days coincided with solid rain anyway. On days three and four we ventured out to a very nearby park but otherwise we stayed home and focused on the job in hand.

2. Enlist support

My husband has been very keen to be fully involved in this (thank goodness!) and worked from home for the first two days. Working as a team is a huge help, especially with a second little one to look after at the same time. I would definitely recommend enlisting an extra pair of hands for the early days, even if it means taking holiday time off work.

3. Time it right 

As you can probably tell, we’ve taken a relaxed approach to this. Some might say I even avoided it a bit! I certainly haven’t let myself feel compelled to force Little Miss into any kind of schedule dictated by anyone else. We waited until we felt we were all ready to have the best chance of success. My mum said she always felt pressurised by her mother-in-law when I was little and believes she started potty training too soon with me and it all became a battle of wills.

4. Go cold turkey on the nappies

I know some people start off with pull-ups but, much as I loathed the idea of clearing up my toddler’s various bodily fluids, I do believe that going straight into her pretty pink knickers made her realise what she needed to do much quicker than having the extra reassurance of what still looks and feels a bit like a nappy.

Sure enough, we had one very early wet accident on the first day but once she realised what had happened the rest of that day passed incident free. We prompted her to use the potty every half hour or so and, with the lure of stickers, she soon got the hang of it.

Of course, we still have the odd wet pair of knickers to deal with. She is still learning after all. But generally accidents only happen when everyone loses concentration – either she or us become completely engrossed in an activity and forget to check whether or not she needs a wee.

Otherwise the huge pile of wet pants I’d been expecting hasn’t materialised. Yet at least.

A final word on pull-ups. We do use them for nap time as her soaking wet nappies after she’s slept are a tell-tale sign that she’s nowhere near ready to stay dry in bed yet. Pull-ups still feel more grown up than a nappy so are very useful for this. And for longer car journeys as I don’t much fancy having to clean a pee-soaked seat!

 5. Pretty pink knickers! 

Or whatever other colour/design is going to get your little one excited. We’ve got a huge pile of Peppa Pig ones as well. Little Miss loves choosing her knickers each day. She has a much nicer pants collection than me!

 6. Lots of stickers

We printed off this free ballerina potty training chart (I love a good Google search! This site has various reward chart options) and customised it ourselves, sticking a favourite pretty picture of Little Miss onto it. We then bought loads of different types of stickers – she loves stickers – and awarded these accordingly for each job well done on the pot (it’s up to you but we gave one for a wee, two for a poo and also saved the best ones for number twos as these seem to take the most, ahem, effort on her part!).

7. Drink up!

During the first few days we made sure Little Miss was drinking plenty, probably more than normal. The idea being that she’d be much more likely to definitely need the loo when she sat on the potty and her success would positively reinforce the idea of going to the toilet. After all, sitting on a potty is going to be pretty boring for everyone if nothing happens.

8. Have no great expectations 

As the song goes ‘a pessimist is never disappointed’. But hopefully, like us, you may also be pleasantly surprised. If, after a few days, it is clear it isn’t working then all the good advice I’d read was to stop and try again another time. I’d been fully prepared to admit defeat if I’d had to and just a few weeks breathing space can make a difference.

9. A word about poo…

Most of the little people I know find the prospect of pooing on a potty somewhat daunting. True to form, Little Miss refused to do so on day one and managed to hold it. We didn’t force the issue. Just braced ourselves!

The husband scored major brownie points (no pun intended. Well maybe it was intended!) when he managed to coax Little Miss into finally having a poo on day two. Time, patience and gentle reassurance did the trick. Plus the promise of a special present, a new dolly outfit I had stashed away. Bribery? Perhaps. I like to think of it as positive reinforcement. Either way, it gave the added incentive needed and helped her overcome the fear of The First Potty Poo. Lots of praise, not further gifts, helped encourage repeat performances.

10. Out and about with the Potette Plus 

Our main potty is a plain white Tippitoes one. Cheap (£5.99), cheerful and comfy and suitable for a boy or a girl as we were expecting our second when we bought it. But where we did splash out a bit more was on a Potette Plus travel potty (approx £15). I love it so much I’ll be posting a full review soon but it can be used as either an on-the-go potty, with disposable bags, or a toddler toiler set and has really has made getting out and about so much easier. It’s so compact and fits easily under the buggy with plenty of room left for all our other bits and bobs.

One month on…

After a week of being in knickers at home, I packed Little Miss off to nursery with her potty, about ten pairs of knickers and at least five pairs of leggings and socks. And I was stunned when she returned home wearing the exact same outfit she’d left in that morning! That was five weeks ago and she’s still yet to have an accident at nursery. She no longer takes her potty either as she prefers to use their toddler-size toilet.

With very little persuasion she has quickly progressed to generally using big toilets (with a toddler seat) almost all of the time. Early on my husband got her doing this for the, erm, messier numbers. For this I truly adore that man!

Of course we’ve had the odd accident. My favourite being when she announced she’d had a wee ‘in the Daddy bed’! As it turned out she had managed to get out of the bed before she’d wet herself which kind of ruins the story a bit.

So overall our first potty training experience has been far more positive than I dared imagine. But ever the pessimist, I’m now wondering if we’ve used up our loo good luck with The Girl. Surely her brother, affectionately known as The Boy, will be more difficult!
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Categories: Motherhood, Things I've learnt..., Toddlerdom | Tags: , , | 17 Comments

What we read in October…

Last time I posted about reading, I said our updates had slipped from weekly to monthly. Only problem is that I now seem to have got even further behind and, as you’ll see from the title, I’m still grappling with what we read back in October when we’ re now halfway through November!

Time is short these days – and our BT Broadband connection outrageously temperamental (I digress but it winds the hell up out of me *red mist descends* and I need to find the will to make them sort it out) – but I’m hoping things will get that little bit easier as Little Mister gets bigger and I can eke out just a teensy bit more time for this blog. Please bear with me folks!

Despite the recent irregular updates, reading still has a massive place in our house and we’ve been managing to get to the library more regularly again these last few weeks.

300 Picture Books Challenge October... www.mummystodolist.com

Our most recent batch of reads includes titles from some of our old favourites – Julia Donaldson and more Maisy mouse, by Lucy Collins.

There have also been a couple of good ones linked to important toddler milestones.

A Bed of Your Own is a gorgeous book, with lovely illustrations and wonderful rhyming text. And it’s amusing for parents and toddlers alike, as lead character Suzy Sue and her bed-invading animal friends grapple with settling down for a good night’s sleep. Little Miss quite recently made the transition from cot to bed and I’d recommend this book as a fun way to encourage little ones with bedtime.

Meanwhile Who’s On the Loo? was discovered just as we were getting to grips with potty/toilet training (more to come on that in another post!). This one’s pretty basic and features various animals sitting on ‘the throne’, as my mum used to call it, as little duck learns to make the transition from potty to big toilet. The major attraction with this book comes at the end when you press a button to hear the toilet flush. I defy any toddler to be able to resist the lure of a flushing toilet, real or otherwise!

Much loved by Little Miss has been Lovabye Dragon. It’s a current bedtime favourite that must be placed beside her bed each night (we drew the line at letting her sleep with it!) and I’ve had to repeatedly renew it. It’s about a little girl who dreams of having a dragon for a friend and a dragon who dreams of being friends with a little girl. It’s a gentle little tale, quite a calming book to read before sleep. It is perhaps just ever so slightly odd at times but maybe that’s just me! It clearly has masses of appeal for its target toddler audience.

And last, but by no means least, there’s been my latest personal favourite A Squash and a Squeeze by the fabulous Julia Donaldson, the moral of which I have to remind myself of daily as, like the little old lady in the book, I’m constantly grumbling about the size of our house these days! Come to think of it, I feel like a little old lady some days too! As with all of Julia Donaldson’s books, the text is so memorable. I could probably real off most of the story here for you now! She has a perfect knack for writing books that are loved by children but also entertaining for adults. And I love the underlying message of being grateful for what you’ve got.

Phew! So that’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll be able to write my November update before the end of the month this time!

We’re still recording all our reads for the 300 Picture Books Challenge and you can see them all on our Pinterest board. We’ve now read 258 and just collected a new batch from the library so I reckon we’re still on track to complete the challenge of reading 300 different picture books in a year.

In the meantime, I’d love to know what you’ve been reading lately. Are there any children’s books you’d recommend for us?

Categories: Baby bookworm | Tags: , | 2 Comments

The importance of a little bit of head space…

I started writing this post sat in the peaceful surrounds of a public library – always a reliable haven for mums with small children. Little Miss was at nursery and Little Mister was snoozing next to me in his cosy buggy.

For the first time in days, maybe a few weeks even, I felt able to just sit, still and calm, and be me.

Neither child was demanding anything from me and being out of the house removed the ever-present temptation to start filling this time with chores instead of taking a moment for myself.

It was bliss. The autumn sun was shining through the window. There may even have been a rainbow as I’d just ducked out of a heavy shower.

It was quiet. There was no CBeebies, Peppa Pig or nursery rhymes playing in the background! And, much as I adore her, no Little Miss asking constant questions or insisting I do or get something for her NOW!

I felt refreshed and it made me realise that I should prioritise trying to do this more often.

The importance of a little bit of head space... www.mummystodolist.com

Having two children is what I always wanted. I now have the perfect family I dreamt of, a girl and a boy, and I love them to infinity and beyond. But one of the things I have found most difficult these last few months is the lack of personal time and space.

I sometimes wonder if growing up as an only child has made the transition more difficult for me. Whereas my husband grew up in a busy household with three brothers (and a very naughty dog!), I suppose I’m just more accustomed to being on my own a lot. My dad worked long, irregular hours so it was often just my mum and I at home.

I am used to, and sometimes really need, time for peace and quiet. Incessant noise, after a while, makes my brain feel frazzled, my head ache and my thoughts feel all over the place.

Whenever we’ve done those personal development quizzes at work, the ones that try and categorise people by character traits, I always come out as an introvert. This used to surprise and slightly alarm me as I’m not especially shy and can be a terrible chatterbox at times. But I’ve grown to realise it means that I like, and need, my own space to function well.

But it’s not just a need for personal space that has made having two little ones feel overwhelming.

My other big problem is the demands I place upon myself. I crave time and space but when I have a chance to grab some I all too often fritter it away on some mundane household task that could, for the sake of my sanity, have waited. Or at best it could have been done much quicker if I wasn’t on a constant quest for perfection.

That’s why getting out of the house the other day was so good for me.

Usually on Little Miss’s nursery day I stay at home and set myself an impossibly long list of household jobs and admin tasks that I want to get done. I nearly always end up feeling disappointed not to have finished the list, even though it was unrealistic in the first place.

I also often spend too long trying to do simple chores to an unnecessarily high standard. And sometimes it feels easier not to start at all if I think my standards won’t be met in the time available.

It’s a catch 22 situation. I feel frustrated about my lack of time, yet when I have it I don’t use it wisely or get less done than I could have and end up feeling I must get even more done the next day. Ahhhhh!

Anyway, getting back to the point, taking myself out of my usual routine did me the world of good this week.

Instead of staying at home and filling my toddler-free day with hoovering, washing and housework – in between the nappies and feeds – I escaped our four walls, which can feel pretty claustrophobic even at the best of times.

My husband was heading to the quaint, historic Sussex town of Lewes for a work meeting and Little Mister and I went along for the ride, meeting him later for lunch. It’s a place I used to go with Little Miss when she was tiny too, so it brought back many happy memories and a strong sense of déjà vu.

I had a lovely, relaxing morning. I sat and fed Little Mister in a coffee shop – without having to chase a hyperactive toddler every few minutes, or bribe her into sitting still with biscuits or Peppa Pig on my phone. I drank a latte while it was still hot and I enjoyed a packet of crisps without having to share. Little luxuries, I know!

And then I hit the shops!

And although I was enjoying myself, the trip was very productive too and did actually enable me to tick quite a few things off my to-do list. It was a winner all round!

I bought Christmas cards and a fair few presents. With just under six weeks to go until the big day, I now feel that we’ve made a major dent in the shopping. Something my bank account was also clearly feeling when I checked last night. Whoops!

It was lovely to have time to look around for gifts – something which has become increasingly tricky when Little Miss is in tow.

Little Mister, when he’s awake, loves being out and about, with plenty to look at. And it’s nice for him to be complete centre of attention for once. He enjoyed smiling and gurgling at all the old ladies who stopped to admire him. He is a fantastic flirt – loves putting on his cutest performances for an audience!

It was lovely to be able to focus just on him for a while. He was rewarded with a nice new pair of Sock Ons! (for those not in the know, these are genius little things designed to keep babies’ footwear on their feet. Little Mister is terrible for rubbing his feet together to lose his socks).

And, once I was all shopped out, I still had time to start writing this, my first post in a while.

The day was a reminder, a wake-up call, that me-time matters. That, sometimes, it needs to be made more of a priority. My wellbeing is important and giving myself a bit of a day off from the housework was one of the best things I did this week.

It’s made me realise that I should try and carve out more time for myself – either to rest, relax or do nice things. If that means lowering my standards a bit at home then I think it will be worth it.

Having a bit of breathing space, time to clear my head, makes me a calmer, happier, more positive parent when I return to the joyful chaos of childcare.

So I will strive to do it more often.

I’m linking this post and the word ‘space’ with The Reading Residence’s fab Word of the Week linky. 

The Reading Residence
Pic credit: thaikrit/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Categories: Mind matters, Motherhood, Things I've learnt..., Word of the Week | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Celebrating Movember?!

Via the medium of chocolate cake…Celebrating Movember
I had asked her to smile for the photo (as I hovered nervously with the wet wipes) but this is clearly very serious stuff so there’s just a hint of a Mona Lisa smirk.

brummymummyof2
Categories: Toddlerdom | 17 Comments

Little Miss in the Autumn…

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this time of year. On a crisp, clear autumn day, full of crunchy leaves and glowing colours, I love it. On a damp, dark and dismal one (a bit like today!) it can make me feel a bit down in the dumps.

But thankfully we have had some nice, bright days lately and Little Miss has certainly been embracing the season. It’s been lovely to see those little autumnal things amuse and enthrall her, much more so than any of them did this time last year. Little Miss in the Autumn She loves spotting squirrels in our garden and always asks “what they doing?”, one of her favourite questions at the moment.

She loves walking in crunchy leaves.

She loves playing with leaves at the park, especially getting a bunch and pretending they’re a duster to clean the slide with!

She loves collecting leaves, taking note of the different colours and shapes. Every time we go out we seem to come back with a mini collection under the buggy.

She also loves collecting little sticks and sending them down the slide or playing a little game where she shares them out among family members.

She’s fascinated by things like acorns and sycamore tree aeroplanes. She’s yet to encounter conkers but I know she’d love them so I need to work on that one.

Little bugs are also ultra interesting. She spent ages (well toddler ages anyway!) looking at ladybirds at the park last week and catching them on one of her stash of leaves.

Little Miss with ladybird

She also loves wearing her bright yellow wellies and finding a muddy puddle to play in. This time last year she was still pretty unsteady on her feet and puddles, while enjoyed, often ended up being fallen into by accident, which kind of spoilt the fun! Now she can really play properly. Standing in them to see how far her feet get covered. And yet more leaf action as she loves collecting them to throw into puddles and see if they float.

And I mustn’t forget Little Mister. He, of course, always accompanies us on our little excursions and seems to like getting out and about. He’s very nosey and loves having a good look around. He’s always been keen on watching clouds and branches blowing in the breeze – such is life when you’re only a few months old!

This time next year I’m sure we’ll be chasing after him and trying to stop him eating stuff! He already seems to be a much more ‘mouthy’ baby than his sister was. But for now at least he often spends much of the time out dozing. So here’s one of the cutest pictures ever of him doing just that at the park back in September.

Little Mister sleeping at park

Categories: Mummy memories, Out and about, Toddlerdom | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

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