Tag Archives: toddler

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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Another kid-friendly day out in Aberdeenshire discovered

“WOW!” the wee man shouted.

I don’t know why we hadn’t thought to bring him here before. For a little boisterous boy who just wants to zoom around pushing or riding on anything with wheels, it should have been an obvious choice. Today we went to a Transport Museum.

We left Glasgow around the time the fabulous new Museum of Transport opened by the Clyde – and to be honest, I hadn’t even known a Grampian Transport Museum existed. But there it is, only half an hour away from our Aberdeen abode in Alford and today it was surrounded by car enthusiasts and their toys.

One of Rod’s customers had told him about it and he casually suggested this morning that we pop by. I hadn’t expected to enjoy it so much. (The old Glasgow one had bored me as a child). I guess now my own happiness is defined by how well-entertained (and therefore least-troublesome) the wee man is.

He loved it.

He and his daddy admired all the Porsches, MGs, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Corvettes, Morgans and TVRs – he even got a shot in one of those

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while I was quite taken with the violet velvet interior and the fact the button to open the door was located under the wing mirror.

The highlight of this trip past hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of car and social history however, was a bus.

A double decker, cream and green, Grampian transport bus.

The wee man spent twenty minutes in here before we eventually had to bribe him with yoghurt raisins to get off.

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He was not happy to leave – he had another impressive tantrum as we tried to manoeuvre him out past the carriages, turn-of-the-century motor cars and Romani caravan – but the little play park at the entrance proved a small consolation.

We’ve been here over a year now and we’d never been to Alford. I reckon the museum (on those days the motor clubs gather) plus the lovely wee bistro across the road for lunch, makes for a really fun, kid-friendly day out.

Grammy, I just had the best day, wait til you hear...

Grammy, I just had the best day, wait til you hear…

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Testing, testing, count to 3

I was just telling my mum, when she visited last week, that I thought we were getting over the Terrible Twos and making real progress…

Then yesterday happened.

super-strength or just grim determination?

super-strength or just grim determination?

I think a devil must have temporarily possessed the wee man , because he has never behaved so badly for such a sustained period as he did on Thursday 28 November. He pulled the curtain off the wall for God’s sake! All I had done was put him down for a nap, at the usual time, after a busy, energetic morning. He should have been tired. Instead, he cried angry tears for half an hour, so I went in thinking he’d maybe thrown his favourite toy out. Instead I was confronted with a tear-stained toddler, his trousers round his ankles and the curtain hanging by a thread.

I had really needed him to nap. We’d spent the morning at the beach and play park – a treat I had thought. But no, he had moaned and cried and ripped off his gloves and hat and refused to walk beside me. He hadn’t even wanted to pick up shells and throw them in the waves for long. In fact, he was only happy when I gave him crisps.

all smiles now...

all smiles now…

So after the non-nap I decided there was no point taking him to the park (he’d be cold) or soft play (he’d misbehave) and bundled him into the car to go to the shopping centre. At least there he’d be warm and strapped into a buggy. He sat beautifully, I got lots of Christmas shopping done and I thought we were over it.

I made him cottage pie for dinner and we sat at the table. He pushed it away. He wanted juice. He tried a mouthful. He spat it out. He wanted more juice. He threw a carrot on the floor. He screamed for juice. He threw his fork on the floor. I tried the aeroplane trick – he swiped the spoon and sent it flying. I refused to refill the juice. He screamed. I tried to cajole him. He pressed his mouth tight shut. I turned away to get the juice. He picked up the bowl and hurled it against the wall. It smashed. Cottage pie splattered. I lost it.

“THAT WAS VERY NAUGHTY” I yelled. He burst into noisy tears. I lifted him up and placed him very gently (so as to prove to myself I was still in control, when I didn’t feel like it) on the naughty spot and told him through clenched teeth why he was there. I then walked to the sink and stood taking deep breaths and counting to ten, while he screamed blue murder. For the next fifteen minutes I avoided all eye contact and just replaced him, time and again, on the naughty spot. I cleaned up the mess and loaded the dishwasher. I wiped down the counter and tidied. Eventually, in our own ways, we calmed down, he sat for the two minutes and I went over to him.

“Mummy put you here because… look at mummy” He did. “Mummy put you here because you threw your plate at the wall. That was very naughty. You don’t throw your dinner. You eat nicely at the table. Do you understand?” He nodded. “Now say sorry”

He leaped into my arms, squeezing me tight and wiping snot all over my shoulder. I hugged him back and kissed his head.

Then I put the cartoons on and opened a bottle of wine.

 

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12 ways to survive Tenerife with a toddler (or three)

1 Don’t take plastic toys on the plane

A five hour flight with the wee man was always going to be a challenge for us – even if his cousin (R-Chopz), aunt and uncle were all there too. We packed a huge bag of tricks and rotated them. While R-Chopz, who’s 13 months, was peacefully sleeping, the wee man stood up in his seat, peered at the sleeping woman behind him and launched Thomas the Tank at her head. She woke with a shriek, we apologised profusely, the wee man started wailing, R-Chopz woke up, he started wailing, and we all had a very jolly time.

travel buddies Wee man and R-Chopz

travel buddies Wee man and R-Chopz

2 Accept you will become even more obsessed with sleep

We met the Wee Man’s other cousin (Shrimpy) and other aunt and uncle at the Tenerife resort, in the bar, where they were having a wee beer to help them through a day that had started with a 6am flight from London. Shrimpy (6 months) hadn’t really napped and the disrupted sleep pattern was to continue for all three children throughout the holiday. Only once did we all have breakfast together – someone was always getting an extra hour’s kip. R-Chopz woke at 5am every morning, the Wee Man at least waited til 6. We made a small breakthrough when we all discovered we could wheel the cots into the bathrooms. The wee man’s post-lunch snooze was always two hours, and dovetailed perfectly with the sun hitting our balcony, so I consoled myself with that.

3 Know that Cava at breakfast is acceptable behaviour

See above and remember, if you have paid for an all-inclusive holiday, it is your moral duty to ensure you get value for money.

4 Beware bare bums

It was hot, we were swimming and the floors in the rooms were tiled, so nappy-off-time was easy. Only once did we get caught out, one afternoon while eating chocolate, when Rod bent down to pick up a “truffle”. It wasn’t.

5 If falling off a chair, don’t grab the nearest child for balance

There were six adults and three children, so we’d usually end up pulling tables together and angling them so that we got the sun and the kids didn’t. We’d also usually rotate the drinking rota. Mealtimes were rowdy, messy and occasionally slightly tipsy, so when Rod swung on his chair and nearly tipped into a flower bed his reflex was to grab the nearest thing: R-Chopz in his high chair. If not for Uncle B’s quick thinking, it could all have been very messy indeed.

Mealtime at the zoo...

Mealtime at the zoo…

6 If leaving your toddler unattended (ie with dad) expect the unexpected

The girls and I spent a luxurious afternoon in the spa, having wonderful massages and then lounging by the adults-only pool on love seats overlooking the beach. We had a few glasses of Cava (efficiently clogging our freshly drained lymphatic system) and then, at 5, thought we’d better get back to help with dinner. Helen gasped as she spotted her 6 month old, covered head to toe in Ella’s Kitchen but at least her son wasn’t injured. The wee man was smiling through his wet fringe as Rod applied ice to a cracker of an egg on his forehead. “He didn’t cry – it could have happened to anyone,” Uncle B loyally exclaimed as I cried out and bit back the remonstrations. The wee man really was fine.

What? He's fine...

What? He’s fine…

7 If claiming golf took 6 hours, don’t post pub pics

Fair’s fair, so the boys went off for a morning’s golf. No children were injured in their absence. They strolled into the rooms six and a half hours later, claiming “the back 9 was really slow” and telling a long story about a German couple. Our suspicions were confirmed later that afternoon when a picture of them enjoying beers in the sunshine appeared on Facebook.

Post golf beers

Post golf beers

8 Choose restaurants with sober staff

We stayed in the resort for six nights out of seven, but ventured out once with two sleeping children and one boisterous toddler (the Wee Man) to the local town for tapas. At 9.15, when Rod and I had practically rocked ourselves to sleep and he was finally quiet, we parked him next to his slumbering cousins and eagerly perused the menu. The waiter bounced over and roared “Are you ready to order?” making us all jump over the buggies and pointedly whisper our requests. Perhaps on purpose, or perhaps because of his mate Charlie, he continued to screech at us until we were all holding onto each other laughing. The arrival of the last dish, Andrew’s “green pepper plate”, nearly ended us all.

Green Pepper Plate, sir?

Green Pepper Plate, sir?

9 When ordering a beer, remember the V

We couldn’t understand why Andrew came back from the bar the first night carrying five gin and tonics and what looked like pink lemonade. “I asked for a beer and I got this,” he said. When I asked exactly what he’d said, he answered, “una cereza”. I burst out laughing. “You forgot the V. Cereza means ‘cherry’!”

10 Anticipate holiday milestones

The best day of the holiday contained a hat trick of tricks. First Shrimpy sat all by himself for over a minute. Then R-Chopz took six whole steps towards me. Finally, at night, the Wee Man greeted his Uncle Andrew with a “hiya” – like it was the most normal thing in the world. Finally – another word!

Hanging out with his cousin

Hanging out with his cousin

11 Beware other children

Further to point 2 –  other families are most likely in the same boat. However, if they finally do get their 8 month old to sleep they should really park him somewhere other than the playpark. Otherwise it’s really inevitable that the wee man will joyously run over and squeal hello into the tot’s face. Oops.

12 Make sure everyone gets a date night

We each had the opportunity to have a meal at the “posh” restaurant at the resort, with the other two couples babysitting. It was nice to take the excuse to properly dress up and have a ‘date night’ but in the end, we cut ours short to rejoin the others. We decided we’d rather spend our last night with everyone.

Date night for cousins

The wee ones had a date night too…

The end of a holiday is always rubbish, but particularly so when you’re saying bye to your family, scattering across the UK and not sure of the exact date when you will all meet up again.

One thing’s for sure, we will definitely plan another holiday together – Tenerife was terrific.

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Disneyland Paris with a toddler

There is a moment before you go in which is even better than going in...

There is a moment before you go in which is even better than going in…

I couldn’t help it – my throat blocked and a tear escaped down my cheek. Luckily I was wearing sunglasses and no one noticed. The brass band was playing “Kiss the Girl” from the Little Mermaid, the wee man was running from Mickey-stuffed shop window to immaculate flowerbed to beaming Daddy and all I could do was gape at a scene so familiar and try to hold myself together.

12 years ago my now husband took me to Disneyland Paris, we bought my ‘engaged-to-be-engaged’ ring and planned our future. Now here we were with a two year old and it was all too much for this marshmallow.

Later, telling my friends Jenny and Al, I was gently ridiculed. It was Al’s idea of hell to spend five days in a place so cheesy, so false and so American. Well I am proud to say I embraced every last exit-through-the-giftshop. Disney was a huge part of my childhood and it means the world to me to be able to share it with my own wee boy. And let me tell you – anyone who said ‘why are you bothering? he won’t remember it’ totally missed the point. For five days the wee man was in sensory overload. The music, the characters, the rides, the colours, the overwhelmingly positive atmosphere, the two totally de-stressed parents – what’s not to love? So, if you are considering taking your little one to Disneyland Paris, here’s my “DO IT” report:

Daddy I want that one!

Daddy I want that one!

Accommodation:

We stayed in the New York hotel, just outside the Disney Village, so within walking distance from both parks. Our room was large with a great view across the lake, the staff were really helpful and the breakfasts were pretty good. The highlight was definitely the morning we walked out of the elevator to come face to face with Mickey Mouse in the lobby. We queued for about 3 minutes and got some great pics (which we forgot to go and get printed). Compare this to the 45 mins plus you’d have to wait in the park and it’s a pretty sweet deal. There was free wifi in the lobby (and occasionally accessible in the 8th floor room) and a fantastic bar with great cocktails. When the wee man’s cough wouldn’t let up, we called a doctor who came to the room within 15 minutes and prescribed antibiotics, which were delivered to the hotel within the hour. Now that’s good service.

Even the lobby feels like a celebration

Entertainment:

Man – where do I start? From Aladdin’s comment, “Oh, you’re so cheeky, just like Abu” to the nightly fireworks, there wasn’t a second of boredom. Watching the wee man experiencing It’s a Small World, the Teacups ride, Dumbo and the Flying Elephants, Pinocchio, Snow White and all the rest was even more fun than doing the rides ourselves. He was dumbstruck. Even the hormonal teenage Germans stopped their irritatingly loud flirting to melt at the wee man’s wee face. Then at night, when our awesome lie-flat City Mini buggy contained a sleeping toddler, Rod and I took it in turns to do all the roller coasters. I went on Space Mountain three times in a row, with a new challenge for the photo each time “OK this time grab the person beside you… NO! You didn’t do it properly, go on again!” The Walt Disney Studios park (a kind of MGM Studios next door) has several live shows, the best of which was undoubtedly Playhouse Disney. Featuring puppets from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny and Tales of Friendship with Winnie the Pooh – it was like the wee man’s TV schedule had come to life in front of him. He danced and clapped and shouted along – oblivious to the fact it was all in French.

Wave to Daddy!

Wave to Daddy!

Food and Drink

Rubbish. Expensive beyond belief and really disappointing. I mean, really, who pays 16 euros for a kid’s meal, he’s going to eat four chips and half a sandwich. We found this in Disney World Florida six years ago too – why can’t Disney get it right with their food offer? I actually cried out the day we came across Timone and Pumbaa’s banana stall – fresh fruit!!! My advice is to eat a huge breakfast and sneak a few sandwiches into the changing bag.

The characters

Outstanding. My personal highlight was Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast. He got so into the role of the arrogant, loud French hearthrob that he bellowed “ALLEZ, VIENS!” at a small child, making her jump half a foot in the air and drop her autograph book. He then flirted outrageously with her mother and winked at me. I reacted almost as badly as I did when we met Jack Sparrow. “Just one more pic, Rod, to be sure…”

So, fancy sharing a bottle of rum?

So, fancy sharing a bottle of rum?

The rides

A great mix of kids and adults’ rides with queues up to 55 mins, but usually around 20. Having been to Disney World Florida where every operator gets right into the spirit, I was disappointed with the French. They couldn’t have said: “I’m so bored pressing this button, when does my shift end?” more clearly if they printed it under their jaunty name badge. Queues practically disappeared after 8pm, hence the multiple roller coaster rides. The fireworks were at 10pm – save your spot from 9, though really there’s no need – they project images onto Cinderella’s castle so you can see what’s going on from most vantage points.

IMG_5039Getting there and back

We flew with EasyJet to Paris Charles de Gaulle then took a 9 minute train ride to Marne La Vallee. Why they insist on calling it after the town it was supposed to serve and never did seems to be to be a stubborn French quirk. Disneyland Station would make much more sense, tourists are the only people who use it. We flew back from Beauvais as the timings were better, but it involved a 75 minute taxi ride.

Five nights and four days was a little excessive, we could have done it all in four or even three days, but for once in our lives we weren’t in a rush. That in itself was a holiday. We loved every minute, the wee man loved every minute, and we savoured the Disney bubble of wishing on a star, believing in dreams, cuddling every character and wondering if life really were as simple as the dolls described in It’s a Small World.

For five days, it was.

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Why do toddlers bite?

I was pretty upset when I left the playgroup this morning. I had noticed one of the toddlers being rough with a baby in his walker and had been heading over to intervene when she grabbed him and bit his face. There was blood. There was a bellow from the biter’s mum and a cry from the baby’s mum. It was awful.

What made it worse was this same toddler had gone for the wee man twice this morning, once pinching his cheek and once grabbing his hood and pulling him down and along the floor. Neither time had the mother apologized. The wee man was crying after the first attack, though the second didn’t seem to bother him. It could have been him who was bitten in the face.

What is the right thing to do in this situation? My instinct was to take him far away from her. Should I have scolded her? Should I have gone to the mother to make her aware of what had happened?

It was a busy room, there were lots of parents and kids around. After the baby was bitten there was a really awkward hush as both children were hustled out.

We all, as parents, know that sometimes children are rough with each other and sometimes there are accidents. The wee man is going through a hugging phase, for example, and once or twice he has hugged another toddler and they’ve toppled over. Both times I’ve rushed over to pick them both up, make sure the other child is OK and apologized and explained to the parent that he’s just trying to cuddle. They’ve been fine with it and very understanding – but then there has never been an injury.

In the case of biting, it can be serious, yet I’m told it’s very common. “Bite them back,” was one piece of advice from a guy I used to work with. “Give them a spoonful of mustard as a punishment,” was the suggestion from a mum today. Yikes. Don’t fancy either of those solutions.

I’m reading Jo Frost’s Toddler SOS book (more on which later) and she offers three ways to deal with biting called the ‘Spit, Bit, Hit Technique’ (as spitting, biting and hitting are all physical behaviours arising from anger that hurt or are disrespectful to others)

  • If the child is under two, say ‘No, owie, that hurts’ then put him down away from you for a few minutes. When he comes back over to you, pick him up and say, ‘Owie, that hurt. Give Mummy a kiss.’
  • If he’s over two, use the naughty step technique
  • If he’s playing and hits, spits or bites another child, use the sideline technique

The ‘Sideline Technique’: Place him/her on the sideline of the activity, so he/she can see everyone else having fun; say ‘You did a naughty thing biting so now you have to sit out for a while before you can join back in’; keep him/her out long enough for them to get the point then explain ‘if you want to play then you have to play nicely’.

It’s good advice for a very awkward situation – what are your thoughts?

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