Comedy guide to potty training

Potty training is HARD WORK.  The potty training period may only be for a short period of time but places a lot of extra pressure on busy parents, especially when there’s an older sibling to look after (or more? And maybe a younger one, too? Argh! The mind boggles…).

I’m currently in the process of potty training my 2 ½ year old girl, with her 4 ½ year old sister in tow.  I’m not going to blog about the practicalities of potty training as there’s already a wealth of material, for example this handy guide from NHS Choices or this one from NetMums.

What I can do however is lighten the mood for any potty training Mum/Dad/Grandparent/anyone who happens to be in charge at the time by highlighting the sheer comedy of the whole thing.

The one principle of my guide is this: always keep your sense of humour to hand (otherwise you may cry/bang your head against the nearest wall/take solace in wine and cake).

The stage we’re at with the potty training is the ‘not quite out of nappies when outside the house, but doing reasonably well enough to wear knickers in the house’ stage i.e. the littlest one will do something on the toilet or potty if I take her there and sit her on it at relevant intervals, but she hasn’t quite twigged the bit about asking to go, when she needs it.

The other day, I had left her in knickers in the lounge with the potty in sight, saying “remember to sit on the potty when you feel wee wee coming”.  As I was making myself (yet another) coffee, I heard her shout “MUMMY I DONE A WEE WEE ON THE LEGO!!”  And yes indeed, that wasn’t the best place to have an accident as it then took me quite a decent length of time to disinfect every bit of urine-tainted Lego.

It struck me that there are infinite places to have wee accidents.  Here are just a few I’ve so far experienced (and I’m sure there’ll be many more):

  • On the leather sofa
  • Whilst standing up on a high chair, this sending an amazing cascade of wee whooshing down from a great height to the kitchen floor
  • Next to the actual toilet, on the floor
  • Next to the bath, discovered as I was about to step into my evening bath filled with essential oils (“ooh, it smells a bit different tonight, maybe the batch of lavender was a bit off?…oh…)
  • In our bed, amidst a Sunday morning breakfast in bed
  • In a plastic box containing pretend picnic-ware
  • In a play-tent
  • On the decking in the garden
  • At the foot of the stairs

Just yesterday, I counted 4 accidents in just one afternoon.  However on other days my littlest one is soooo good she gets loads of stickers on her reward chart (and a lot of chocolate treats!).

I’d like to hear your comedy experiences of potty training. It’s hard work, but I assure you that a slightly insane laugh here and there lightens the load!

Surviving the school holiday meltdown

I’m a bit late with this post, the Easter school holidays being over and all that, but hey – THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS ARE OVER AND I SURVIVED (just)!

Tear my hair out, me? Never.

Tear my hair out, me? Never.

School holidays must be difficult for a 4 year old to understand.  My little girl started preschool last September – so to her she gets used to one routine, then it stops and she’s plunged into another for a week or so.  It must be confusing.

Luckily, she does tend to take these things in her stride. She asked the odd question, such as “when is it school again?” or “when can I see my friends again?” but on the whole she’s ok.

I’ve heard other parents talk about it over the years, telling others how their kids turn into ‘excorcist child’ over holiday periods and I find it difficult to understand. Surely they love being on holiday? Why should it turn them into complete terrors that their parents find difficult to deal with?

My 4 year old, despite being generally laid back about the holidays, is nevertheless not immune to this school holiday meltdown ‘thing’, I recently found out.  

It was a usual Sunday.  4 year old had played up a little in the morning (should have seen the warning signs!) but nothing major.  It was raining and we were discussing what best to do.

Going to John Lewis to get both girls’ feet measured seemed like a good idea at the time.

It wasn’t. 

The journey in the car to John Lewis was reasonable.  A few screams relating to “I WANT A SNACK!!” and “I’VE DROPPED MY CAT!” jangled the nerves slightly, but still normal-ish.

We arrived at the Clarks shoe department in John Lewis.  It was busy as everyone had the same idea.  There was a ticketing system.  I got my ticket and ambled around looking at shoes, waiting.

At which point 4 year old decided to run around the whole shoe area in repeated circles, yelling “IS IT MY TURN?, IS IT MY TURN?”.  A few heads turned, looks of incredulity/pity on their faces.  I decided to calmly ask her to quieten down and wait her turn.

Mr Expression was already not coping well at this point.  I thought he’d make a swift exit to the Hi Fi department, but all credit to him. He stayed for the whole sorry episode.

It was our turn for foot measuring – phew! A kind (already slightly harassed from the amount of kids she’d dealt with that day) lady brought the ‘foot measuring tool’ over to us.  4 year old does sit down, although she’s wriggling like she’s got a whole bee hive in her pants. 

“Can you keep still a second?” the assistant said.  Luckily, 4 year old kept still for long enough for the measuring to be complete. 

At which point I made the mistake of asking for some sandals to try on.  Cue 4 year old running up and down pulling shoes off the shelves and shouting loudly. At this point I wanted to leave of course, but thought of the poor lady who had disappeared behind the scenes to find a neat little selection of sandals.

My nerves were in a heightened state by the time she returned, but 4 year old stayed still for long enough to try a pair on.  The lady said “could you walk up and down a bit?”

Wrong thing to say. 4 year old legs it.  LEGS it, to the sound of the lady saying, voice slightly strained and quite panicky “come back!!”

Everything went downhill from that point onwards of course, and ended with 4 year old lying on the floor shouting repeatedly “I WANT ALL OF THEM!” when asked which pair she liked best.  Many parents were looking over, feigning annoyance but no doubt thinking they were glad it wasn’t their child for once.

I should also point out that our youngest, 2 1/2, was rather savvy in spotting a point to make herself look positively angelic in the face of chaos.  In the midst of all this, she calmly walked up to a pair of silver sandals, pointed to them and said to me “Mummy, please may I have these for Christmas?”

It’s a difficult one.  I have to remember that my eldest is only 4 and the only way she has to vent her frustration is to…er run round department stores and cause mayhem.

Note to self: next time it’s a holiday rainy day, choose a soft play centre! Or at least somewhere my energetic girl can let off some steam and run around to her heart’s content.

(And I may invest in my own shoe measuring tool!)

Image credit: womenshealthmag.co.uk

Easter holiday activities: Sea Life Manchester

IMG_6320.JPG The Easter holidays are over for some of us, but for others there’s a week left. “Argh!”, I hear you say, “What shall we do with the kids?”.

May I introduce you to Sea Life based at the Intu Trafford Centre. It’s easily accessible via the M60 which provides a circular route around Manchester.  It’s also in the Barton Square area of the Trafford Centre which often has fairground rides and, very excitingly for my two girls, a large ornate fountain for them to throw coins in, make wishes and get me told off when I’ve suddenley realised they’ve taken their shoes and socks off, rolled up their pants and launched themselves in.

Sea Life itself isn’t cheap.  For a family of four you’re looking at £14.95 per person, although under 3s go free.
But there is a lot to see and do inside. There are 5000+ creatures, including sharks, jellyfish, seahorses, octopus and rays. The absolute favourite sight for my 4 year old and 2 year old is the underwater tunnel, where sharks and stingrays fly overhead, prompting a genius moment from my 2 year old where she called the shark an Aeroplane Fish.

That Aeroplane Fish again

That Aeroplane Fish again

Upon entering Sea Life, you’re taken on an interactive journey through ‘Turtle Bay’. This is a brilliant fusion of laser and 3d technology, bringing the turtles  and their story to life.
Then follows lots of colourfully lit tanks, with hidey holes for the children and some interactive games along the way. The children get the chance to handle some creatures, too, such as starfish and crabs.

In the middle of the tour there’s a soft play area to break it up a bit and let the children blow of some steam as it is educational, too, with a lot to take in.

What I like about Sea Life is it teaches the children (and us grown ups!) about the environment and our responsibility in maintaining that environment for the creatures that live in it. There’s a section on litter and its effect on our beaches – my two love this (although I do wonder if this is because they get to play with rhe sand).

If you’re at a loose end this week I’d advise checking out their website (www.visitsealife.com) and consider a visit.

Disclaimer: I’m an ambassador for Sea Life Manchester and was invited to attend free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Room on the Broom Live on Stage at The Lowry (review)

room on the broom live

Yesterday we went to see Room on the Broom Live at The Lowry in Manchester together with my fellow blogger Hodge Podge Days

Those with preschool children may be familiar with the book by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler.  It’s a simple and engaging tale of a witch and her cat, their broomstick and the animals they meet during an exciting journey to tackle a dragon.

I love The Lowry as a venue.  We’ve previously seen plays and pantomimes here.  The Lowry theatre is spacious and welcoming, the seating comfortable and facilities great.

But also, post-production there’s lots to see and do afterwards, whether it’s shopping, eating in one of many restaurants or simply taking scooters or bikes along the quays.

Room on the Broom Live was a great hit with my girls who are aged 4 and 2.  It’s not easy to keep the attention of children this age, but they were gripped for the full hour or so (I think it was just over an hour).

The production, by the Tall Stories Theatre Company, involved a mix of singing, puppetry and interaction with the audience. My two were singing “Iggety-Ziggety-Zaggety-Zoom” all the way home!

The dog, parrot and frog in the book were represented by the puppets which were cleverly handled by the four actors on stage. My favourite was the Frog, who sang his song in true cowboy style!

My little ones loved the Cat, however, played by Emma McLennan.  She was so funny and bossed the other animals (and the Witch) around brilliantly!

room on the broom live

Afterwards, we scooted around the quays, took a glimpse at the Blue Peter garden in the sun and my girls played in the play area while I had a well-deserved coffee! A brilliant day out!

Disclosure: We were provided with complimentary tickets to Room on the Broom Live by The Lowry.  All opinions expressed are my own.

How to fit a week’s worth of activities into one day

This probably seems like a silly title; who wants to fit a week’s worth of activities into one day?  Me, seemingly.  I’ve been finding it very difficult to unwind recently.  I’m always doing stuff – my life is a timetable of events and activity from washing and meal planning to remembering birthday parties and putting the school library book in the book bag on time.  It’s fun because I have two beautiful daughters; I’m doing this for them and I’m blessed to be able to spend this time with them. But it’s a mad and chaotic type of fun.

I was wondering why I was feeling like this one day recently, and that evening I happened to be at a friend’s house.  She asked me how my day had been so I reeled off what I’d done, after which she said “wow, that’s like a week’s worth of activity in one day!”

This is how that day went:

– Get up, get everyone ready and breakfasted for the school run.

– Do the school run.

– Take the littlest one, not yet of school age, with you for a coffee with a friend (phew- a sit down!).

– Finish coffee, take littlest one to her playgroup.

– Leave the playgroup to collect 4 1/2 year old from school at lunchtime.

– Remember with a slight panic that you need to go shopping and have left yourself very little time to do this in your schedule.  Decide to go shopping that minute, before lunch.

– Go shopping, two children in tow.

– Go home for lunch.

– Panic that it’s actually sunny and the children ought to be outdoors.

– Make a picnic lunch for them to eat in the garden.

– Panic that it’s a ‘good drying day’ and you need to get the washing on the line.

– Put washing on line and put more washing in the washer.

– Panic about an email you sent at work the other day.

– Check work emails.

– Get stuff together to take 4 1/2 year old for her swimming lesson.

– Take them both to the lesson. Sit watching, holding onto 2 1/2 year old while 4 1/2 year old swims.

– Bring them home.

– Make tea for them.

– Bring washing in off the line.

– Get the children in the bath.

– Put the washing away.

– Husband returns home; disappear to bath, shut the door firmly in everyone’s face and put earplugs in.

I did actually bore myself rather a lot writing that list.  I almost gave up in the middle to start writing about egg painting (another story).

We had a good time together that day, but it’s not surprising that after such exhaustive activity (I think I used the word ‘panic’ three times there?) my brain finds it difficult to switch off, regardless of earplugs and firm door-shutting.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that I’m looking for ways to become ‘calm parent’ rather than ‘frazzled parent’.  Do I put myself under too much pressure to have everything ‘just so’?

I’ve been reflecting recently on ways to wind down and I’ll be writing another post about this shortly.  In the meantime, here’s a photo of my escape room: every night, around 7:30pm you’ll find me in here.

 

bathroom roll top bath purple lighting

The sodding toddler step still made it into my haven of tranquility, didn’t it?!