Category Archives: education

It’s time to start potty training – part 3

Day two and there was progress, though I wasn’t sure there would be until lunchtime.

It was another lovely hot sunny day, so we were outside from 9am, though over the next three hours he seemed to develop Potty Fear. This may be because at quarter to nine he grabbed himself, ran to the toilet, peed a little as he stepped up, slipped on it and sprawled across the toilet with his head in the bin. I persuaded him to sit on the moulded seat but he cried and complained and was not interested in singing the pee pee song.

Over the course of the morning he would hide to pee or point-blank refuse to go near the potty, even though he would tell me when he needed. I was getting a bit upset about it all, until, just before noon, I managed to grab the potty and catch the last of his stream in it. I was delighted he didn’t stop and run away, he just kept going, so I decided this was a bit of a breakthrough and made a big deal of it. He was delighted, we danced around and kissed and cuddled and took the potty to the toilet to flush it down and wave bye bye to the pee pee. He then got two chocolate buttons and did a little funny dance around the kitchen. Adorable.

Mummykimmy playing on the deck

We played all afternoon and I managed my Catch the Flow trick twice more. Both times we had big celebrations and I noticed he seemed less uncomfortable with the potty as a result. He’s still happier to go and stand by the toilet on his step, though he’s yet to get anything in.

At 2.15, shortly after a two-chocolate-button moment, he was running in circles round the whirligig pole in the middle of the patio. He stopped and I asked him if he needed a pee pee? He shook his head, started running again and, like a trotting pony, plopped three little poos behind him. I’d been dreading this moment so was very relieved at the lack of drama and the easy-clean surface he’d chosen.

Mummykimmy playing with shaving foam

At half four I realised too late that he was looking for something, and he started to puddle on the deck. Luckily the potty was within reach (hidden behind a box of toys though) and I managed to catch half the flow so the wee soul could have his chocolate buttons. He really is trying.

It may be slow, but there is progress happening. He also surprised me today by picking up a tangerine, wandering off with it and bringing it back to me half peeled! I watched as he carefully removed the rest of the skin and ate the segments as if it was no big deal. It was to me! He’s never done that before and on a day when I’m obsessively watching for any step forward at all in his development, this was a wee bonus.

Mummykimmy tangerine peeling

I’m definitely much calmer than I was this time yesterday. I feel much more positive and on top of things. I accept it won’t be done and dusted within three days but I’m satisfied he understands what we’re trying to do and that he’s becoming more familiar with the sensation of needing to go. Rod’s off tomorrow and we’re both looking forward to a whole day in the garden, just the three of us.

Read part 1 here and part 2 here

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It’s time to start potting training – part 2

Day one started so well.

We had the chat, he picked out his pants, he sat on the potty, he smiled and laughed, he seemed really excited about the whole event. He even ran to the toilet and stood on the step ready to ‘pee like daddy’ within half an hour. Nothing happened and he made a puddle a few minutes later as he brushed his teeth, but I gave him a chocolate button anyway. He’d tried.

This morning there were lots of encouraging signs. At 10.30am he told me before he needed and sat obligingly on the potty while we sang the pee pee song. Nothing happened, he made a little puddle a few minutes later but then he ran over and finished by peeing right next to the potty. So his aim’s a little off – he got another chocolate button for effort.

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As the day went on, I abandoned pants and trousers (it was a roasting hot day) and he seemed less and less tolerant of the potty. He was happier to stand on the step by the toilet, but always after a puddle and never with any success. By the end of the afternoon he was just peeing freely with no attempt to tell me until afterwards and no chance of sitting on the potty.

My friend and her wee boy came over for a couple of hours after lunch. He was clearly too distracted to think about it at all – but after hitting his pal and being placed on the naughty step he made a huge puddle and ran straight to the toilet. That was tricky – he was supposed to be in the middle of a punishment but I wanted to reward him for at least trying to make it to the loo. He got another button and was allowed back outside under strict instructions to behave himself.

The worst part was 4.30 to 5.30. By this point I was knackered. My bump was tender from all the bending down to clean up puddles. My patience was wearing thin. We were on the seventh set of pants (even though he’d been naked half the day) and it was still a good few hours until daddy was home. I thought if we made a pizza together the time would pass.

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Right in the middle of the messiest food prep ever, he suddenly stopped, looked at me guiltily and looked down. Instead of taking the three minutes to finish off the pizza, I started cleaning him up, and the chair, and the floor, and washing my hands, and washing his hands, and preventing him grabbing the half made pizzas and slipping and maybe shouting just a little bit too much. I eventually got the pizzas in the oven and was trying to put the kitchen back together when I glanced at the packet and realised I should have cooked the dough for ten minutes first.

So I pulled everything out again and made up two more bases and flung them in the oven while the wee man did some more peeing on the floor. At least he grabbed the mop and tried to clean it up. We then had to smear on more toppings and as I put the pizzas back in the oven he had another accident. After the requisite 15 minutes the pizzas came out looking great but with the dough clearly undercooked. By now it was 5.30 and I was about to completely lose it, so I reheated some spag bol and sat next to him checking Facebook while he happily munched the lot. And peed. I know I shouldn’t have been checking Facebook but I just needed to remember there was a whole world outside my urine soaked house.

After playing outside a little longer, I checked my watch, congratulated myself on reaching 6 o’clock and ran his bath.

He’s wearing a nappy in bed – I’m not even going to attempt dry nighttimes for at least another fortnight. I’ve mopped all the floors, tumble dried all the pants, made sure there are easy meals ready for tomorrow and now I’m going to bed.

Read part 1 here.

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It’s time to start potty training – part 1

Today was a rite of passage for the wee man – he picked out his first Big Boy Pants.

I have cleared the diary for three days, checked the weather is going to be good enough to play outside all day and stocked up on cheap joggers.

Tomorrow we begin potty training.

I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

I have a potty, a seat for the pan and a step for the toilet.

I intend to have a good chat with him in the morning, put him in his first pair of Big Boy Pants and prepare to clean up a lot of accidents.

The only signs he’s shown that he’s ‘ready’ are his habit of telling me when he’s dirty and his peals of laughter when we imitate daddy at the toilet before he jumps in the bath. He’s more than capable of pulling down his joggers and pants himself and he’s pretty clear in letting me know what he wants in every other area of his life, even if his words aren’t great yet.

So I am keeping an open mind. If, by Sunday night, I’m not convinced it’s been a success, I will put him back in nappies and try again in a few weeks.

I’m feeling a bit nervous about it. What if I don’t teach him the right way? What if he doesn’t get it? What if it upsets him? I’m not intending to take any car journeys. I’m not even thinking about walking to the park – though I will probably have to at some stage or risk going stir crazy.

We’re going to make pizza, draw on the patio with chalk, play with shaving foam and soapy water, do some digging in the garden and generally play for three days. After the crazy working week I’ve had, I’m actually really looking forward to spending proper quality time with him. It’ll be just him and me tomorrow and Saturday, but Daddy will be there too on Sunday and that’s a comfort.

I’m writing this as part one of a four part blog series just to document the process. I’ll be interested to see if my fears are unfounded – or if it turns out to be even more of a disaster than I anticipated. I’ve purposely not read too much on the internet – I’m just going to trust my instinct on this. Who knows – maybe one day a parent in the same boat will read how I get on and learn something from it. Even if it’s how NOT to potty train your child.

Deep breath.

Here we go.

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Why didn’t I think of this before?

I don’t know if it’s typical of three year old boys, or just mine, but concentration span is an issue.

I do remember mum frequently asking me, when I was wee, whether I had ants in my pants, so maybe it’s typical of small children full stop.

The wee man is a ball of energy. “Full of beans” is the standard nursery report.

“He’s been into everything,” the creche supervisor told me today.

“He’s non-stop,” my mum frequently agrees when I phone her in weary triumph, having finally packed him off to bed.

But today at 5.30am I made a break through – and now I’m wondering why the hell I didn’t think of this before.

It’s called Play-Doh.

mummykimmy playdoh

He’d received a four-pot-pack for his birthday two months ago and I’d thrown it into the bag when I was packing toys to amuse him while we were at Mum and Dad’s holiday house. (If only I’d thought to pack the black-out curtains we wouldn’t have been sitting waiting for the cartoons to begin at half five in the morning, but I digress.)

I’d pulled it out in the ambitious hope it would keep him  quiet until the magical hour of 6am.

It absolutely did – and the best bit was I enjoyed playing with it as much as he did!

The smell when I peeled back the first lid immediately awakened a very old, childish excitement and the sight of the perfect, untouched block was ridiculously tempting. We rolled and squidged and pressed and pulled and smacked and stuck the shapes together, laughing and passing the lumps back and forth, using the pots and lids and various bits of cutlery to make shapes. He copied my movements as I shaped the dough and gleefully destroyed all the little animals I built for him.

As it began to dawn on me what a long time had passed without a complaint, I remembered a client telling me about her new product, Jumping Clay. She was using it to hold classes for children with additional support needs and had some interesting observations about the power of clay. The senses it appealed to and the concentration it inspired, the skills it helped to teach and the calmness it promoted were just some of the reasons she said it was so effective with this particular group. I was seeing first hand how universal these qualities were – we were both engrossed and happy. I kicked myself for not connecting the dots before.

He did lose interest eventually and wander off to watch cartoons, but he came back to the table looking for the Play-Doh on three other occasions throughout the day. I need to watch he stays at the table and the wee bits don’t stray to the carpet or any other soft furnishings – and I pretty much have to sit there playing alongside him, but I’m still delighted we’ve discovered such an absorbing activity.

I have now put a pot into his wee rucksack and will consider it as essential as the iPad when it comes to keeping him entertained in public places.

playdoh bear

My Play-Doh bear in the three seconds it survived before being gleefully squashed

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Messy Play

My mum had a point when she asked: “Why does everything have to have a special name now? It used to be playing and animal noises, now it’s Messy Play, Tummy Time and Environmental Phonics.”

Well I’m sorry, but Messy Play deserves a moniker all of its own. A teenage foam party would be less hassle. But the look on the wee man’s face made it totally worth it:

Messy Play part 1: Cornflakes and Salt Dough

I made that salt dough myself – four parts salt to one part cornflower mixed with warm water over a low heat. I decided not to add food colouring after my primary teaching friend Jen admitted she once sent all her children home with blue hands. Of course, I offered it at the same time as a tray of cornflakes, and the resulting crispy balls wouldn’t really have been a problem had he not tried to eat them. His face was a picture. So I replaced the salt dough with a juice cup, which he drained, and then pulled out all the kitchen utensils:

Messy Play part 2: cornflakes and kitchen utensils

He crashed and smashed and ground the cornflakes into dust, giggling his head off. It kept him amused for a good 30 minutes, after which time I stuffed all his clothes in the washing machine, threw all the utensils in the dishwasher and pulled out the Dyson. Big mistake. It blew the cornflakes everywhere. I had to get down on my hands and knees with the nozzle and stick it under the fridge and everything. Next time I think I’ll play a new game called Outdoor Messy Play.

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Choosing a nursery

It was a surreal experience obediently following a chatty young woman through rooms draped with crepe and filled with children.

“Do you have any questions?” she perkily asked.

“Yes – what the hell am I doing here?” was what I didn’t say because I was trying very hard to pretend everything was totally normal.

I have a 14 month old child and I need to find him a nursery so that I can cope with the extra work I have slogged my guts out to win from several new clients.

I am not a child myself, however much I feel it. I am responsible for a hell of a lot all of a sudden, including a small person and a business. Therefore I have been diligently researching inspectorate reports, doing my sums, forward planning workloads and now visiting nurseries.

So far we’ve seen three, but the one I’m most excited about is scheduled for tomorrow. It’s the only one I had heard of when I started this sobering journey, so there’s a certain comfort in that. It’s also the closest, sits halfway between affordable and extortionate and the two staff I met when I popped in to make the appointment speak beautifully. I know we’re not really allowed to say things like that. The thought police forbid it. However, I am a journalist and a grammar pedant, it’s important to me that the wee man learns to speak properly.

I’ve been interested to see a baby asleep on a changing mat (that’s pretty bad, right?), toddlers with their hands pressed against the window watching other children playing outside and nursery staff whose breath smells strongly of cigarette smoke.

I’ve spent the first 14 months of the wee man’s life keeping him away from all conceivable dangers. I’m not prepared to hand him over to anyone who isn’t professional. Private nurseries are businesses and pretty lucrative ones at that. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the one I choose to have the same high standards as any other business I choose to spend my money with. The stakes are never higher than when they involve your children.

I’ll post tomorrow when we’ve visited the magical fourth – fingers crossed!Image

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Time travel

My youngest sister once told me: “No one will ever invent a time machine. If they had, they would have come back to tell us.”

I’ve always felt I could mentally time travel by reading my old diaries. I’ve written about my days since I was 11 years old; the box containing my scribblings is my prized possession. If I’m interrupted while engrossed, I can almost feel myself being sucked through time back to the present.

But it wasn’t until I became a mum that I felt that physical time travel was possible.

I first realised it when the wee man wouldn’t settle and, having run out of nursery rhymes, I suddenly started singing The Frog Chorus by Paul McCartney. The last time I sang that song I was five years old. As I concentrated on recalling the lyrics, I was vividly sitting on a pink carpet next to my brown Fisher Price tape recorder. I was wearing a pink and white striped cotton dress with Minnie Mouse on it and my Mum was calling up to me “not so loud Kimmy”. When the wee man stirred in my arms I nearly dropped him, I felt so completely in that moment.

It happened again when I was in a nightclub on Saturday night – one I hadn’t been to in years. I was with girlfriends I’ve known since I was at primary school and we were dancing to Superstition by Stevie Wonder. Jenny was laughing at the guy trying to dance with her, Steph was clutching two drinks and Kirstin was looking around making sure the Spanish guy she’d once met there wasn’t going to jump out at her from the shadows. I was 17 again, unmarried, without a single responsibility – my only worry whether I could drive to school in the morning without being over the limit.

The taxi ride home was like a journey through time and I headed straight up to the nursery to remind myself who I was. His sweet sleeping face grounded me like an anchor. I stared down at him and realised that every moment has been leading to this. Whenever I’m remembering, he will be the 1.21 jiggawatts I need to get home.

Sound!

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