Potty Training at Age 3

Conventional wisdom seems to be that when it comes to potty training you should wait until your child is ‘ready’ to do it. Yet despite this I think a lot of us still feel under immense pressure to do it as early as possible. Yes we want to get rid of the cost and faff of nappies but more than that I think a lot of us feel like we aren’t doing a very good job if we still have a child in nappies at age 3 or older. This may be because of ‘helpful’ comments from others or a feeling of competition with friends children who were potty trained by age 2. Whatever the cause, we put pressure on ourselves to do it early, we don’t trust our intincts and we rush into it.

Numerous friends of ours with older children have warned us of this and have time and again reiterated the “don’t do what I did, wait until they are ready” mantra. Of course some children are ready at age 2, all children are different after all, but some aren’t and that is the point and it really has to be about the child.

So with the very helpful advice ringing in our ears, we have waited. It hasn’t been easy and we did try too early. With comments such as “it’s about time he was potty trained” and the pressure of starting playgroup in January we decided to try to potty train Monkey then, when he was. And we failed. After 15 accidents in 3 hours it was clear he just wasn’t getting it bless him. He was clearly trying and was sat on the toilet for ages with nothing happening then as soon as the pants were back on he would go in his pants. With a tiny baby and constant mess we were stressed and he was stressed and we called time. Maybe people will say we gave up too easily but we knew it wasn’t right and for once we actually trusted our instincts and decided to relax about the whole thing.

I set a new vague goal in my mind of the summer (with ideas of running around naked in the garden and not having to worry about toilet training while at playgroup) and we took a new approach. I know people say that you should have potties around to get them used to them and we had done that but to be honest they were just gathering dust as Monkey was completely uninterested in them. We knew we needed to think about Monkey, rather than just general advice, and tailor our approach to him.

Monkey’s biggest problem in fact was that actually he didn’t like his privates. He didn’t like looking at them or touching them or us touching them. In many ways it is good as we know that he would never like anyone else touching his privates but he would get so upset if we went near them. So our starting point was helping him accept they were normal. I’m not sure why he felt like that but we started getting him to wipe his privates at nappy changes and Daddy spent a bit more time naked and talking about his bits to try and get Monkey to relax and realise thet are just another part of his body and totally normal.

20150818_104802Gradually he relaxed about this a little bit, and for a long time we had been talking to him about going to the toilet like a big boy and we continued with that. He started to hate nappy changes, especially pooey ones so we kept reiterating how much better it was to use the big boy toilet and kept asking him if he would like to use the toilet. His answer was always his singsong “nofankyouuuu” until one day at bathy time he stood looking at the bath and said to Daddy “I don’t want to do a wee in the bathy” and when Daddy immediately asked if he would like to do a wee wee on the toilet, he said yes. Daddy popped him on the toilet (we have a cute seat with steps) and he did it! Well done Monkey!!

The next day after playing out in the paddling pool, I let him roam about naked for a bit afterwards and asked if he would like to do a wee on the “wee bush” (a random bush we have picked for wees, apparently hubs and his brothers had one when they were learning) or go in the potty. He tried on the bush but nothing happened then sat on the potty and did a wee and a poo! (He is going to hate reading this when he is older!) Aah big surprise and cue Mummy feeling really proud (and wondering what to do with a pooey potty for the first time lol).

From then on he used the toilet every night before bathy for wees and poos and sometimes the potty during the day. But with still going to playgroup twice a week and a holiday with a long car journey coming up we held back and didn’t rush.

When we got back from our holiday and could spend a good few days pottering about at home (and just taking short walks nearby to get out of the house) it was no nappies day. Monkey knew it was coming and was excited to wear pants. He was now 3 yrs 2 months. And you know what, he was ready and it has actually been really, really easy.

He had 3 accidents on day 1 and another 3 on day 2 but had far, far more successes. We started taking him to the toilet more often and on day 3 we had no accidents and no more for the next few days. He was even dry at naptime and bedtime for a couple of days and we were just shocked but also massively relieved by how well it was going! There was a few strops about the frequency of toilet trips and I realised that actually he can hold it for quite a long time and that I have to trust him to know when he needs to go.

This has led to a few more accidents, mostly tiny drips in his pants when he realises he needs to go, and one big accident. Which is fine as he needs to learn and it is still very early days really! One of the key things for us though has been saying that accidents aren’t a good thing, without admonishing him. I have read that you shouldn’t say “ah that’s ok” or “never mind” as that gives mixed messages. So we try and say “oh dear, that’s a bit yucky, wee goes in the toilet not in your pants, doesn’t it?” So we don’t tell him off but don’t say it’s ok, if that makes sense? We also give him tonnes of praise for going to the toilet as we know that is a big motivator for him.

potty training

I’m no expert on child rearing and have only potty trained one child but here are my tips for smooth potty training:

  • Wait until they are ready and encourage them and talk to them about it but let them take the lead.
  • Don’t give into pressure from others (and yourself) and trust your intincts about when they are ready, and when you are ready to give it your proper attention.
  • Tailor your approach to your child. Do they like reward charts? Then use them. Is praise enough of a motivator? Then just use that. You know your child better than anyone so you will work out the best way to motivate them to potty train.
  • When they have accidents (because they will) don’t tell them off, but don’t say “it’s ok” either as it gives mixed messages.


Ethans EscapadesBest of Worst

Accepting that I have Postnatal Depression

PNDIn general I am quite an upbeat positive person but for some time I have been feeling very very low and not myself. I have felt very negative about pretty much everything and feared I was sounding like such a misery on my blog. I considered the possibility of Postnatal Depression but the label seemed too big, if that makes sense. I think of PND and I think of Mum’s suffering with it and I just feel like “no, not little old me, I’m just a daft woman struggling to cope. I just need to get on with it and sort myself out.” So for some time that is what I have been trying to do.

I’m a big believer in faking it till you make it. I felt if I told myself I was happy then eventually I would get there. So I kept trying and making myself take deep breaths and stay positive and fixed on my goals. But the problem is that anytime anything went the slightest bit wrong I would crash and be right back to rock bottom. My attempts weren’t working. My motivation for my diet has gone too and I have been comfort eating like crazy but not feeling any better.

A good friend of mine used a great analogy for depression recently. “It’s like you’re constantly cycling uphill and you’re giving all you’ve got. You can’t stop peddling as you know you’ll go downhill, but you can’t keep going the way you are either.” I felt this summed it up perfectly and I have been trying so so hard to just keep going but it wasn’t working. I know how lucky I am and I have a wonderful husband and 2 amazing kiddies but I really haven’t been enjoying, well, anything, for some time.

It has also started to affect Monkey too. The last couple of weeks in particular were really low for me and I have been in tears quite a lot and very snappy. Monkey is a sensitive little soul and he really takes it to heart when I shout at him or am upset. He obviously copes with the odd time but the frequency lately has had a cumulative effect on him. He has been going through a bit of separation anxiety at playgroup and crying a lot about going and when he is there. He is waking up some mornings crying. When we ask him why he just says “Mummy.” Which makes me feel awful I have to tell you.

So last week I finally accepted that this isn’t normal. That it was time to get some help. I went to the Dr and after a chat with a very lovely lady Dr she confirmed my suspicions. I am suffering from postnatal depression and it does need to be treated for my sake and the sake of the children.

As well as the low-dose antidepressants my lovely GP said I also need to let go of my need to be in control. I need to stop trying so hard to be a perfect Mummy all the time as I am dooming myself to failure. She said I need to remember that I am a person too and not just Mum and have to put myself first sometimes. I need to make time to do some exercise as that will help my mood too. She really was helpful and understood exactly how I felt.

I am a few days into the tablets and have felt a bit odd at times, which I think is normal. But in general I am already feeling better. I think even just the act of accepting that I need some help, and taking the pressure off myself instead of constantly trying to pretend all is fine has made a big difference.

Hubs has been great and supportive. He has said he feels guilty like it is his fault and he should have done more and of course that isn’t true. In true man style he wants a solution and he wants to ‘fix’ it but he is coming round to the fact that medication is the right thing for now. I never wanted to be on antidepressants and never thought I would be, not that there is anything wrong with them, I just didn’t think I would need them. But right now, I do. They are low dose, non-addictive so I can stop anytime, although my GP has recommended I use them for at least 4 months.

So we shall see how things go, hopefully the tablets will just help me stay a bit more level and stop the crashing lows I have been feeling, meaning I can enjoy my little ones, and everything, a bit more. The label of “postnatal depression” still feels a little uncomfortable, like I don’t deserve it, but I guess like anything it is a spectrum and there are varying depths of it. I still feel uncomfortable writing this post but I have accepted that I need some help and I will come through the other side of it, I know I will.

Have you suffered with postnatal depression? How did you feel about the label?

My word for the week is “acceptance.”

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Terrible Threes? Or Unmindful Parenting?

You may have read that Monkey had the mother of all meltdowns the other week. I have been semi-joking that he is having terrible threes rather than twos because he is contrary, argumentative and testing his boundaries constantly. Driving hubs and I to distraction, and honestly it isn’t like him, yes he has his moments but on the whole he is a very sweet natured boy. We have been re-reading a couple of parenting books and thinking about rules and discipline while also wondering if we are just in another inevitable phase that will pass in its own time.

Then a couple of really interesting articles popped up in my feed (spooky timing really) and made me stop and think.

Is it a natural phase? Is it really terrible threes? Or are we at fault? Not in an I am going to beat myself up about it way, but are we making the problem worse by unmindful parenting? Could we make some simple positive changes to our behaviour that will affect his behaviour?

The first post was Obedience: Why do you have to tell them five times on Aha! Parenting. Something a lot of us ask ourselves in despair and actually it was a really great read. A reminder that our kids are human, they don’t share are priorities and don’t always want to do something just because we have said they should. The bit that really spoke to me though was the section about kids feeling disconnected from us or worse they have given up on us.

“Children naturally look to their parents for nurturing and guidance. If they’re convinced that we’re on their side, they want to please us. So if your child is defiant, or you keep finding yourself in power struggles, that’s a red flag that your relationship needs strengthening.”

It’s been a really rough month with all of us being ill, especially hubs, meaning I have had to do everything else. The result of this is that I haven’t had as much time or energy for Monkey lately. He has been left to get on with it a lot more than normal so is it any wonder then that he is not wanting to do what I say?

Throughout the article there are some great tips, not just about reconnecting, but with ways to help kids transition from what they want to do to what we want them to do and it is definitely worth a read.

The other post was How to react when your kids are disrespectful on Parenting Chaos. A little less relevant but a HUGE reminder not to engage in arguments with Monke (which I am definitely guilty of doing when I am on a short fuse and he is arguing against every single thing I say). To remember that his feelings are valid and that I need to stay calm and be the parent rather than get dragged into a daft argument. Plus, linking back to the previous post, if he is being defiant, there is a reason for it.

For example, the meltdown over going to the birthday party. I had not given him any warning about going to the party and just announced we were going. He hadn’t had any snacks (as there would be food at the party) and I know my toddler. He likes to know in advance what is going on and he is always on a much more even keel when he is not hungry. So in hindsight I can see why it all kicked off. He didn’t have time to prepare himself for going to the party and he was hungry and grumpy.

Add to this the fact that I had been tired and grumpy for a good few days by this point and he was feeling a bit unsettled anyway and it all just went bonkers. A reminder to me to let him know in advance what is happening, to take the time to explain things to him, oh and make sure he isn’t hungry! That actually if I am feeling stressed and harassed that it is even more important to spend a bit of one on one time with Monkey and make sure he knows what is going on. Otherwise I will just end up feeling more stressed and harassed with a massively unhappy toddler on my hands!

We’ve also been watching the Channel 4 series of “Born Naughty” which I have found fascinating. The premise of the programme is looking at seemingly naughty children and asking whether they are born naughty, whether the parents are to blame, or whether there is something more to it. It really is interesting and an eye opener into the scope of Autism Spectrum Disorders and I guess a reminder not to judge parents with naughty kids as sometimes there is more to it, and even if not, sometimes they just don’t know how to solve their child’s particular problems.

One of the more interesting diagnoses on the programme is about pathological Demand Avoidance, or PDA, on the Autism spectrum, where children are so anxious that they are hardwired to refuse any demand made of them. Where their instincts literally tell them to run from the seemingly innocuous request. This can build up and when they feel trapped they often become violent and the stories from the parents were quite harrowing. For example a mother having to call the Police because she is terrified of her 6 year old who is coming at her with a kitchen knife. Her story literally brought tears to my eyes.

Obviously these are extreme cases but on the programme, whether they found children did have special needs, or if they just had what they described as behavioural problems, a lot of the advice they gave to parents (in addition with making sure they had the relevant support from health visitors and appropriate schools) was about techniques to use with their kids. For example with one of the PDA children, Mum started to use sand timers to let him know when it was dinner time etc. So when the sand ran out he would come downstairs. He had warning and time to transition from what he was doing to what needed to happen next and it worked, there were less violent eruptions.

The point being that the experts in the programme helped all of the parents think about their child and techniques that would work for them specifically. There are so many techniques out there but of course the same thing won’t work for all children as all children are different. I don’t think Monkey is on the autism spectrum or think he has PDA but I think he does have some traits which respond to the same techniques they used with children with PDA. Warning him what is going to happen. Phrasing demands in a different way that makes them fun or exciting, rather than making it sound like a demand.

I have found that these things work for him by trial and error over the last few years. But when I am tired and stressed or I don’t feel like I have the energy, it is easy to forget about this. Forget how it all is going to effect him and just expect him to do what I ask him to do. Which leads to meltdowns and aggravation.

So we have been a lot more mindful of Monkey and the way we are parenting him recently. We can’t expect him to just go along with what we are saying all the time. He just isn’t that child, and actually I’m not sure I want him to be. I want him to be confident and know his own mind as an adult and for that to happen he needs to be confident and know how own mind now. That may not always make life that easy but we just have to think a bit more about our behaviour and adapt the things we say or the way we do things.

Things have definitely improved. He is 3 so of course he is contrary sometimes but he isn’t quite as defiant. I have made sure I have been spending more time with him one on one while LM is asleep. The TV has been on a lot less as we were using that far too much while things were tough, in order to get things done.

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Silly Selfie Cuddle Time with Mummy


There are still a few issues as we have been in a really bad phase of fussy eating with him lately, but last night he ate all his dinner, which is huge for us, so we will see if we are moving out of that bad phase… I will talk more about that in a whole other post as there is too much to go into here!

Do you ever have times like this? Where you realise that your child’s behaviour is actually linked to your behaviour? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

MaternityMondaysAnd then the fun began...Mama and More

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The Twinkle Diaries

Making some positive changes

Positive changesRegular readers will know that I didn’t have the best week last week… by a long shot. I was feeling lower than I have felt in a long time and couldn’t see what my next step should be I felt I was sinking fast but a bit of a breakdown including much crying, and a very cathartic blog post… and I feel much better.

Friday was a pivotal moment. I got so angry with Monkey about not eating his lunch and really flew off the handle, which just isn’t like me at all. Hubs came home in the midst of this and took Monkey to playgroup, at which point I sat and sobbed as I felt awful. I didn’t like my behaviour at all and I think I knew I couldn’t allow myself to be like that all of the time.

I think it was a bit of a shock for hubs too seeing just how upset and angry I was and he really realised how much I have been struggling recently. Since then my mood has gradually improved and all I can say is that I don’t feel the same. I feel lighter and much more positive.

I have to give a huge thank you at this point to all of you wonderfully supportive readers out there. You have to take a lot of credit for helping me put things in perspective. I am so so grateful for the support of the blogging community and I don’t know where I would be without my blog. The tips, advice and just moral support I received from everyone has buoyed my confidence and helped me move on from the hole I was in.

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Struggling to find a balance

In many ways this week hasn’t been terrible, but in all honesty it hasn’t been great either. I really feel like I am struggling at the moment. Like a hamster in a wheel I am running as fast as I can but I don’t feel like I am getting anywhere. Do you ever feel like that?

I feel like I am spreading myself so thin with looking after both kids, trying to keep on top of everything at home and then with the blog. This ends up with me feeling like I am not doing any of those things very well which makes me feel even worse as I am trying so hard but I am coming up short in all areas.


Sometimes things are ok but all it takes is for one area to get a bit harder and the rest all falls apart.

LM has been really difficult lately and we have realised that it is the return of her reflux issues that is the cause of this. I have no idea why it has returned but she has been so irritable, unhappy and barely napping which has been exhausting. She was arching her back and then she started throwing up, quite frequently. As ever with babies it is guess work as to what is bothering them. Teeth? Tummy? But I had a feeling it was reflux before the throwing up and that convinced me.

So we are back using the infant Gaviscon again and have an appointment with a Dr in a day or two. The Gaviscon is helping but that comes with it’s own challeges as it is a faff getting that into every feed and it is also already slowing down her bowel movements so we will see what the way forward is in a few days.

WP_20150511_08_39_22_ProThe problem really is that I have had to put so much energy into LM that I feel like all the other areas are suffering like crazy. Monkey is sat watching TV or playing on the tablet far too much for my liking, but the alternative is him running around like a loony, climbing on me, questioning me every 5 seconds while I am trying to deal with a whining, wriggling, crying baby, or while I am trying to do some cleaning or put on some washing or just achieve something.

Of course it is not all the time, there are times he is happy playing with his toys by himself. But I hate how much he is in front of the screen and I feel like I am failing him. One of the reasons I am a SAHM is so I can do things with him, help him learn and develop and he is not doing that as much just sat playing on the Cars game on the tablet or watching cbeebies.

Now the Gaviscon is helping LM and she is sleeping more than half an hour at a time again I am trying to refocus my energies on Monkey. To spend a bit more time playing and learning with him. Yesterday we did some painting with different textures and playing with letters and words so that was good but right now he is sat on the tablet as I write this. (Not the whole post, I can never get a post written in one sitting at the mo!)

Because my blog is another area that I just don’t feel I am doing that well with at the moment. On the one hand I feel that it isn’t important so I shouldn’t worry and that there are much more important things I should be doing. But my blog is for me, it is the one thing that is mine and so it is important. I don’t want to give it up as I feel I have a lot to say, but I also don’t feel I can dedicate the time I want to dedicate to it.

I am struggling to find the time to read and comment on as many other posts as I want to. I haven’t replied to any emails from PRs or people who want to contribute in ages. I could spend time on that instead of writing, but I need  to write. I need to share things as it helps me get things off my chest and makes me feel like what I am going through has a purpose. But as a result I am letting opportunities pass me by, because I don’t have the time or energy to devote to doing a good job at any of them.

WP_20150428_11_09_54_ProI also feel like I am failing LM with weaning. I know many people are big fans of baby-led weaning and I wanted to try more of that this time around but honestly there is so much of BLW that I don’t understand, and I have no idea when I am supposed to find the time to learn it, so we are sticking with purees. But even then I feel like I am failing. I want to be doing so much more and introducing her to different textures of finger food as well as making more homemade purees. But I don’t know when I am supposed to have the time to do any of it.

Monkey has always been a fussy eater and I worry that because I can’t find the time to devote to it that LM is going to be fussy too, and that that is going to be my fault. (Pause to sit and sob)

Hubs and I have been trying to do a bit better with the housework too. When the kids are in bed, instead of loading the dishwasher and then just collapsing we are trying to do any washing up that needs doing (instead of leaving it to the next morning) and actually tidy up toys and anything else that needs tidying. We both feel better when the house is tidy so it is a good thing… But also at the end of the witching hour when the kids are both in bed, we are both knackered to be honest and just want to sit.

I don’t know what the solution to any of this is. Hubs is doing as much as he can as he has a demanding job and as soon as he comes in he is pounced on by Monkey and/or handed the baby so I can get on with dinner and it is then full on until bedtime. Mornings are taken in turns to get ready while the other looks after the kids and get bottles made and do jobs then he leaves for work.

I also want to try and do some more exercise but the “when” question is there again. I know people say you have to make time for things but the only way I can make time at the moment would either be by:

a) Not spending any time relaxing in the evening with hubs, which I think is important for my sanity and for our relationship, and is only around an hour a day. Plus it is the only time we actually get to talk about birthdays and holidays and anything else that needs planning or discussion.

b) Sleeping less. But as I am shattered in general I am not sure how less sleep will help anyone?

So I am struggling. Struggling to find a way to balance everything that I need/want to do. For a while I have just been getting on with things and getting more and more snappy and irritable. A conversation with a friend this morning led to me finally admitting just how much I am struggling and breaking down and having a good cry and finally telling hubs everything that is on my mind.

Friends and family are very kind and tell me I am doing a fab job and that I am doing what I need to to cope and that I am not failing. But I just can’t stop feeling like I am failing. At everything. Writing this has been cathertic and I feel lighter for getting it out in the open, but it hasn’t solved anything.

Maybe I am expecting too much for myself or putting too much pressure on myself but that’s just who I am. I always want to try my best and I don’t know how to expect less from myself.

How do you balance everything? Does it get easier as the kids get older?

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Am I bad mother? Or just a different one?

I have found that one of the hardest and most unexpected aspects of motherhood is judgement.. from other mothers. When Monkey was a baby I struggled a lot with this as I had honestly never expected that I would be so judged by other women in the same position as me. Judged about how I am feeding, what our routine is, how we got our baby to sleep, what he wore… literally everything. As he has grown and I have become a bit more confident it doesn’t affect me as much.. but every now and then I will read something that does affect me.

Because it is happening all the time. Mothers judging other Mothers over their parenting methods just because it is different to the way they have chosen. And it drives me mad.

Am I a bad motherI am a huge believer that all babies are different and that different things work for different children. There is not one method that is right for all babies. The same goes for parents. We are all unique individuals with different strengths and weaknesses so how can we possibly all parent the same? The point is surely that we are doing our best to raise healthy and happy children. I am sure we will all make mistakes along the way because we are human beings and we are imperfect. But we make the decisions that we feel are right at the time.

That is what bugs me most about all the judgement. The holier than thou attitude. The conviction of “I am right and you are wrong.” That somehow your choices make you a better parent than others. How can you possibly, possibly know this? You don’t live their life. You haven’t raised their child. You are living your life and raising your child. You are different so inevitably you make different choices. The right choices for you are not necessarily the right choices for others but that doesn’t make them wrong and it certainly doesn’t make them bad parents.

To illustrate my point I am going to highlight some of our choices, and the reasons we made them. These are choices we have made for us and our children and I am not saying that everyone should make the same choices, but I want to know if you think these choices make me a bad mother.

Natural birth vs Caesarean

I had two C-sections. I have a bicornuate uterus which meant that both Monkey and LM were breech and unable to turn head down. The medical advice was to have C-sections for the safety of both myself and my babies. I did a lot of research into natural breech births and learned that because most breech babies are delivered by c-section, that the skill of naturally delivering breech babies has fallen out of practice. Of course many midwives are skilled and capable of this but my research suggested that not all are and that it can be luck of the draw of who you get on the day. For me that wasn’t good enough and I chose the c-sections.


This wasn’t what I wanted, I had hoped for a water birth with only gas and air. But sometimes what we want comes second to making sure my babies were safe. It turned out Monkey had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck 5 times, so I can’t regret the decision to have a c-section as I had my beautiful boy safely in my arms, whereas it could have been very different.

There have been some awful posters circulating the internet about women who have had c-sections being lesser Mothers, for taking the “easy” road. Some even go as far to say that we will go to hell because we have gone against God’s plan. That we should have had a natural delivery and if God wanted us or our baby to die then we should have allowed it to happen. I don’t even know where to begin arguing against this.

Do you think having C-sections made me a bad Mother?

Breastfeeding/Bottle feeding

Breastfeeding is seriously hard work. I persevered through some very difficult days when Monkey was a baby, mainly due to my own stubbornness and breastfed him until 6-7mths old. I stopped for many reasons. He had teeth from 4 mths and his lower teeth grazed on the underside of my breast giving me horrible sores. But mainly I stopped because I wanted my body back. I struggled with baby blues and needed to feel like myself. Selfish? Maybe. Human beings are selfish. I battled on for a while but eventually realised that my negative feelings about breastfeeding weren’t good for Monkey and I didn’t want to resent him.

With LM I breastfed for 6 weeks. With her reflux and (thankfully) temporary Lactose Intolerance, breastfeeding her was a nightmare and a lactose free formula was the right choice for us at that time. There are times when I look back and wish I could have breastfed her longer… but I couldn’t. I was at the end of my tether. Other women may be stronger and may have been able to persevere. But couldn’t and she was miserable and in pain. So I chose the next best thing for my baby. A happier Mummy and formula. Does that make me a bad Mother?

Babywearing or not

I love the idea of baby-wearing and always have. With Monkey we tried various slings and carriers but let me tell you he was not happy in there for long so it was a bit of a non-starter. With LM she did like our Beco Gemini carrier and so we did baby-wear to a point.

But the truth is I have a bad back and so does hubs, so baby-wearing hurts. It’s alright for a while but gradually it started wearing me down. I started suffering with my knee too from the jiggling and bouncing it usually took to get her to sleep in there. We found it exhausting and being exhausted does not make us better parents. We were more irritable and snappy with each other and our children so we realised it had to stop.

Does this make us bad parents?

Co-sleeping or not

Co-sleeping, quite simply, is not for me. I’m not the greatest sleeper at the best of times and have a bit of a weird claustrophobia type thing where I hate being cuddled or touched when I sleep. I find it suffocating and have to have my own space. I would rather sleep on my own on the floor than with a child on me. Obviously there have been nights where I have had a poorly child sleep on me in a chair so I can comfort them and they can sleep, but I don’t sleep. Again perhaps it is selfish but I just can’t do it. Does that make me a bad Mother?

Sleep Training

DSC_0552When Monkey was born I couldn’t bear the idea of cry it out, controlled crying, progressive wait, whatever you want to call it. I couldn’t bear the sound of his crying. So we did anything and everything else we could to get Monkey to sleep.

And we failed.

It got to the point where Monkey would spend around 4 hours every night crying in our arms.

We had a bedtime routine around 7pm and then we would spend the next few hours rocking him to sleep, shushing, patting, cuddling, singing letting him suck our fingers…. Taking it in turns to do whatever the hell we could to get him to sleep. Occasionally something would work but we could never make it work consistently and in general he would pass out from exhaustion around 11.

We would then be up regularly throughout the night with either hubs or I leaning over the cot with our little finger in his mouth to suck as that was the best way of keeping him asleep (yes we tried a dummy, many times, but he wasn’t having any of it). This led to me getting mastitis 3 times as I spent so much time pressed up against the side of his cot, crushing my milk ducts so I could reach his mouth to let him suck my finger. (Anyone who has had Mastitis will know that the pain and delirium is not a pleasant experience).

He also woke up miserable in the morning and was grouchy much of the time. In desperation we read Ferber’s book (it was one of many methods we had tried) and as I have said before, we liked the tone of the book and we gave it a go.

The first night it took 20 minutes. 20 minutes of him crying in his bed, with us going in every few minutes to comfort, reassure and soothe. 20 minutes of hell and soul searching and self-doubting and crying and chocolate eating as his cries hurt my soul….

But then he fell asleep.

It took 20 minutes rather than the 4 hours we were used to. He slept through the night and then woke up happy. For the first time since he was a newborn.

The next night it took a bit less time and so on for the next few days until he didn’t cry at all. He has been an amazing sleeper ever since and now when he cries in the night we go to him because we know that something is wrong.


If Monkey had been content to fall asleep in our arms and then be transferred to his bed then I doubt we would ever have felt the need to try the technique. We have repeated the technique with LM as we have had similar struggles with sleep and it has worked for her. We didn’t try every other technique that we tried with Monkey and maybe we should have. She is a different baby and maybe a different technique would have worked for her. But we made the decision we felt was right at the time and she now loves her bed and falls asleep very easily at naptimes and bedtimes.

Does this make me a bad Mother?

I could go on and on. There’s weaning – purees or babyled? I know someone whose friend told her she was “disappointed in her” for not babyled weaning, even though she weaned her baby at 4 1/2 mths under Drs advice. Then if you do choose purees there’s whether you make them at home or use jars. I’m not even going to begin going into the whole being a stay at home mum vs being a working mother. You can read about why I made that choice here but just because I am a SAHM I certainly don’t think that everyone else should be.

Think what you will about my choices, but my children are happy, healthy and know they are loved. We are not perfect parents by a long shot and we are not raising perfect children, as that is impossible (though I do think they are pretty perfect I suspect I am slightly biased), but we are doing the absolute best we can.

edited 3

I just don’t understand why some Mothers feel they can only justify their choice by disparaging the choices of others., because I don’t see why you need to.

Of course we compare ourselves to each other and we questions our choices and their choices, because we all want to be the best we can be. But before you cast aspersions or treat someone who has made different choices to you like they are a bad mother, stop. Think about why  they may have made the choices that they made. Remember that they have made those choices in an effort to do what is best for them and their child. Remember that their child is not your child and different things work with different children

Also remember that they are not you and they have their own strengths and weaknesses. We don’t become perfect when we become a Mother. We don’t miracuously turn into selfless saints. We do love our children above all else and while many of us try and put everyone else’s needs above our own many of us find that is not sustainable and that to be the best Mother we can be we actually need to put ourselves first sometimes too. So sometimes we make the choice that is best for us as well as our children.

Maybe you disagree with this, maybe you disagree with a lot of what I have said here, and that’s fine. Because you are you and I am me and no doubt our life experiences are very different. If you are happy with the choices you have made and convinced that you are right, then good for you. I’m happy for you, honestly. But please don’t make other women feel bad or less than you because something different works for them.

MaternityMondaysMama and MoreAnd then the fun began...
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Charity and Children

WP_20150316_15_50_04_ProLast Friday at playgroup Monkey did some Red Nose Day activities. He decorated some lovely biscuits (which sadly I didn’t get a photo of as he scoffed them almost as soon as he got home and I didn’t think to take a piccy) and made a funny face plate which he loves.

It was our first foray into the mixture of charity and childcare/school. I don’t think they asked for any donations for Comic Relief (hubs took him and collected him so am not 100% sure) and I’m not sure if they explained to the kids what it was all in aid of, I am sure the toddlers just thought it was another fun activity. They were asked to make Mother’s Day cards and Red Nose Day Biscuits. It probably all just felt the same to them.

It got me thinking though in a way I never have before, about the way certain charities have become so connected to schools and childcare. It was the same when I was a kid. We had a mufti day for Children in Need (where you wear your normal clothes) and there was always fancy dress and activites for Comic Relief. I’m sure there were others but they were the biggest ones. As a kid you don’t really think about it and I guess now I am a parent I realised something that I hadn’t thought of before. Which is that, as a parent, you suddenly have very little control over whether you give to these charities.

Now, I am not saying by any means that you shouldn’t give to these charities, or that they are undeserving in anyway, or that this should stop, but I guess, as a bit of a control freak I always hate when decisions or choice is taken away from me. Of course you do have a choice but I also don’t want to be the parent that makes my child the odd one out who isn’t wearing special clothes or who isn’t participating in something, so it does feel like we are a little forced into it. I know we aren’t generally talking about a lot of money here but it does all add up and I guess it is about the principle of it.

There are so many causes and charities out thereyou could choose to give to. The British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research, Sue Ryder, Oxfam to name but a few. What if you would prefer to give to those charities? What if you already do give to those charities? Most of us don’t have the luxury to be able to afford to give to every charity so what if you would prefer to give to a different charity, but don’t because you already feel that you have to donate to charities connected with schools and that almost target your children?

I personally don’t like sponsored activities, I hate asking people for money and I feel that there are so many things now that you can almost be sponsoring someone to do something every day of the week. (That’s not to say I don’t sponsor people, I do, I just don’t like asking other people to sponsor me.) But I do give to charity and have given to Cancer Research monthly for a long time. I donate things to charity shops and buy things from chairty shops. As Monkey grows older I will no doubt be donating to the various charities on his behalf that are connected with fun days and bake days and sponsored events.

Because actually I think it is a good lesson for kids. To understand the idea of giving. of doing something on somebody else’s behalf. To understand that there are many people who are less fortunate than we are and that if we can help them in some then we should. Much as I don’t like sponsored activities on a personal level I know they work and are a good way of fundraising so again I am not saying we should stop any of it.

I guess I just don’t like the fact that I don’t have a choice in where that money goes. Do you ever feel like this? Maybe it is just because we haven’t had to experience it before!

Mama and More
And then the fun began...

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Blurring Behavioural Boundaries

I may have mentioned (once or twice ;)) that Monkey has been poorly over the last few weeks. When your little one is poorly and just not themself it is impossible to be as firm about some issues as you would normally be. When they are irrationally upset about everything because they don’t feel well, there are some things that just aren’t worth pushing.

WP_20150224_11_23_51_ProYou see their forlorn little face and you would do anything to make them happy and you certainly don’t want them to be more upset, so you relax some of the boundaries a little. You want to eat on the sofa? Ok darling. You want to wear your PJs all day? Ok sweet pea. You want to drink more milk (the 10th cup that day)? Of course my darling. You got loads of toys out but now want to cuddle back on the sofa as you don’t feel well? Don’t worry. You don’t want to have a bath tonight? Ok my love.

It makes sense, obviously there are some things that are never ok, but then there are things that aren’t that important. That aren’t worth causing any more upset. There are some things they are only doing because they are poorly and so little and don’t understand what is wrong with them. Your nurturing instincts kick in and you snuggle and coddle and reassure our little darlings until they feel better…

The problem is though, strengthening those boundaries again when they are well. Or rather when to start again. Where do you draw the line? How do you know they are 100% better? Or, more to the point, how do you know whether they are still poorly, or whether they are trying to pull a fast one? Toddlers are clever little mites and if you give them an inch they will take a mile and once they recognise they can get away with a little more because they are poorly they are bound to take advantage.

We have the same struggle with discipline whenever Monkey has been poorly and we have been a bit softer with him. Because he is a fussy eater and we struggle with food with him at times, food is one area where we do soften the rules when he is poorly. We still try to keep him eating healthily and keep up with his faves such as veggie burgers, but with a reduced appetite you can’t help being pleased that they are eating anything. So there has been many more occasions where he has eaten cheese on toast, or peanut butter on crackerbread (he loves the stuff) instead of something more substantial. Because he needs to keep his strength up and is just not in the right frame of mind to be persuaded to eat things he is less sure of.

But we are all too aware that we can’t let this go on for long, otherwise it undoes all of our hard work to keep mealtimes happy and we end with battlegrounds over food again. Like I say though, the trouble is knowing when to start enforcing the normal rules again. While he has been poorly we haven’t always enforced the rule aboout eating at the table, or the rule about not drinking milk right before dinner time (as he will happily survive on milk in the evening and won’t touch dinner if he has milk) as we know he needs something inside him to avoid meltdowns and keep his strength up. But there comes a time when we have to enforce these rules again.

No use crying over a cup of milk...

No use crying over a cup of milk…

We decided to enforce them one day last week, and in hindsight it was a day too early. I won’t go into details but it descended into carnage with our boy wailing and crying so much and both hubs and I eating cold dinners by the time we had calmed him down and done what we never do – we backed down and gave up on the naughty spot (for the first time ever it just didn’t work and was chaos) and gave him what he wanted. A cup of milk. He didn’t eat his dinner and we felt thoroughly dejected and miserable  that
a) we had enforced the rules too early and he had overreacted massively which meant that
b) we had to go back on what we said and give in, which feels totally wrong. We felt like terrible parents just getting it so wrong.

I remember watching supernanny before I had kids and scoffing, thinking the mistakes of the parents were so obvious and avoidable. Little did I know how hard the reality actually was! But sometimes I think to myself “what would supernanny say?” because I can see in us the parents I had happily scoffed at back in the day. Sometimes though I don’t know what she would say. Would she say  “Well of course it didn’t work, he’s not very well” or would she say “You should have persisted, you can’t give up!”

The less we enforce discipline in general, the worse Monkey’s behaviour gets. We aren’t massively strict or anything but he actually reacts really well to boundaries in general and is for the most part a good boy, but a bit of laxity from us and his behaviour can descend quite rapidly.

The day after the cup of milk incident we saw the evidence of our mistake. Monkey hit me. Not hard, but in our house, hitting is not acceptable, under any circumstances. Not by accident, not in jest, just not acceptable. I told him off, explained that hitting is wrong and threatened the naughty spot if he did it again. We are very much in the “Why” zone with him at the moment and he said “Why not?” and hit me again. I had to be firm on this so put him on the naughty spot and after only a couple of tries he did stay put and it did work. The difference a day makes as he was definitely feeling more himself again and it showed. He cried and kicked off but accepted the naughty spot and apologised afterwards.

It was a turning point and he has been a lot better behaved since. Not all the time, obviously, and we have our moments but although we have threatened the naughty spot a few times we haven’t had to use it again. So I guess our relaxing of the rules, and our mistake and failed naughty spot attempt haven’t caused any problems long term. He is back to himself and the boundaries have been restored. Will he test them again? Of course. Will we go through all of this again next time he is poorly? Without a doubt. We will keep learning at this parenting lark and maybe one day we will know what we are doing without everything being a bit trial and error!

Do you relax the boundaries when your little one is ill? Do they ever try and take advantage?

And then the fun began...

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Settling in to playgroup

As regular readers will know, Monkey started playgroup in January. Other than a few blips he has settled in so well and we are hugely proud of him.This is a little boy who has always been quite clingy, he had very bad separation anxiety and alwyas wanted his Mummy there. At soft play or at the playpark I have long been the mum with a child clinging to her legs unless I am clambering up the slide with him. I have wondered in the past if it is my fault because I am a SAHM and wondered if a nursery setting would have been better for him, or worse!

My fears and worries have subsided over the past year as he has grown up a bit and become more and more independant. I was still very nervous of him starting playgroup and he was originally due to start in November when he turned 2 1/2. Becuase this coincided very much with LM being born we decided to defer it a couple of months and start after Christmas. As the date neared, although a little apprehensive, I was quietly confident as he seemed to grow up a lot in the few short months since his baby sister was born and get that little bit more independant, I guess he had to really!

For Christmas we got him a lovely book to help him get excited about starting playgroup and in the week or so before he started we read it over and over again. He loved it and was definitely excited to go. The book was great too as it explained about Mummy going away, and then coming back again.

The big day dawned and it went pretty well. He pulled a sad face as I left but didn’t scream or cling, Apparently he was very unhappy throughout the session and he did cry when we picked him up but that was to be expected and we were so proud of him. The second day was much like the first and although he wasn’t too bad when I left him, they did say he had again been quite upset throughout and he cried when I collected him. On the walk home he was quite positive and saying he loved playgroup so I was comforted by that and was just praying things would improve.

running to playgroup with daddy on his first day

running to playgroup with daddy on his first day

Dropping him off for the 3rd session was the real low point. He cried a little before we left home but then cheered up and practically ran all the way there, very excited. He then cried when they opened the doors even though he had been saying he was excited to go in. He then cried for ages and clung to me, dragged me inside to where they read stories and didn’t want me to leave. I found that so hard but had to be strong and smile and promise I would pick him up. I smiled and left him in the care of the playgroup despite every instinct telling me it was wrong. I came home and struggled. I took to facebook for some reassurance, to hear from other Mummies that this was a low point and that it would get better. (Huge thanks to the lovely ladies who supported me through this.) I know that him going to playgroup is really good for him but I just worried that he wasn’t ready for it.

I was anxious the whole time he was there and concerned that it was getting worse rather than better. To my relief though, when I went to pick him up, one of the staff immediately said he had been better that day. He had been getting involved in activities and had not been upset. Phew! I nearly cried right then as it had felt worse at the drop off and I was concerned he would have been upset throughout again. To know he wasn’t was wonderful! He balled his head off when he came out and I really had to choke back the tears and not show him how upset I was, especially as my tears were more of relief than anything else!

On the way home that day he was telling me what he had done that day and he said “I cry a bit… don’t like cry” which nearly broke my heart and I told him it is ok to cry sometimes but that there was no need to cry at playgroup because playgroup is fun and Mummy will always come back and get him afterwards. He seemed pretty content with that.

On the 4th session he was again a little unhappy leaving home then excitedly running all the way there. He was so excited that unfortunately he tripped and cut his lip open halfway there! Not good timing! I had no tissues or wipes or anything ( as it is literally a 5 minute walk) so had to use my gloves and his scarf to mop up the blood pouring from his poor lip. I carried him the rest of the way and thankfully some other mummies had wipes to clean us up as we were both covered in blood at this point. I was really concerned about how upset he was but as soon as they opened the door he bounded right in. I explained to the staff about it but he seemed fine so I left him to it. The best thing was that that afternoon there was no tears at all when I picked him up, hooray!

And, well that was it. Since then he has not cried when I have dropped him off, or when I picked him up, and the news from the staff is that he is getting more and more confident. He goes outside to play and he loves joining in with the singing at the end. He is just loving it! He keeps saying “Is it playgroup tomorrow?” and “I do singing at playgroup” and he picks up toys and says “we have this at playgroup.” He is so proud of all the things he has made at playgroup and wants to show anyone and everyone all of his creations.

A few of Monkey's creations at playgroup!

A few of Monkey’s creations at playgroup!

It is such a relief to know he enjoys it so much and he is growing up more and more as the weeks go by so it was definitely the right thing to do!

Ethans Escapades
Mini Creations

Not My Year Off


The best word to describe this week is troublesome. It hasn’t been a bad week and some parts of it have been really quite good, and lovely, but the children at least have definitely been a bit troublesome at times.

Monkey’s behaviour has certainly kept us on our toes this week. I’m not sure exactly why but since starting playgroup (which is going really well, more on that next week as I don’t want to tempt fate at the moment!) his behaviour had home has gone a little downhill. Whether it is because he is more tired as now twice a week he has busy afternoons, whereas before he nearly always had quiet, restful afternoons, whether it is because he is seeing other children’s behaviour at playgroup, or whether he is just acting up because we have started taking him to playgrup and because his baby sister is taking up a lot of my attention, I am really not sure.

Or it could just he growing into the terrible twos which we have been lucky with up until this point. Either way, the tantrums have stepped up a notch as has the yelling of no and don’t want to at every opportunity. It is taking threats to get him to eat even his favourite foods. That sounds worse than it is, I basically just threaten to throw it away (and he knows we are serious as we have done it in the past) which makes him suddenly realise he does want to eat it after all when he likes the food anyway, if he doesn’t want to eat it at all he just says ok, so I have to follow through!). He has been on the naughty spot after daddy lost it with him on a car journey when he was trying to get out of his car seat. He is threatened with going straight to bed with no stories every night  in order to get him to have a bath, which is getting old. We then have another tantrum when it is time to get out of the bath,. He doesn’t want to get in but then loves it so much he doesn’t want to get out.

Sometimes in addition to the threats his toys “talk” to him and they are often much more successful at persuading him to eat something or do something than Mummy and Daddy are! His postman pat toy (and this morning LM’s squeaky crocodile) helps at mealtimes and Herbie the hedgehog (a hand puppet) helps persuade him to do things in the evenings. In some ways I really don’t like doing this, but also I just can’t handle the stress of having stand-offs when trying to get him to do the simplest things. As at the moment there is about a hundred stand-offs a day and I don’t have the energy!

I do feel for him though as I know a lot of it is just attention seeking. His baby sister is also being troublesome this week which is taking a lot of my attention. I am trying really hard to focus on him too but it’s not easy when she won’t stay asleep for more than half an hour at a time and is also fussy when she is awake. Not entirely sure why this is,but she is starting to teethe and is dribbling loads and chewing her teeth constantly. Monkey got his 1st tooth at 4 mths so I guess it is not a complete surprise but she is definitely more restless too.

It’s difficult to know if this is because of the teething or something else but I do feel like it is potentially giving her tummy aches, (apparently this is due to the properties in their drool, which when swallowed creates gas in their intestines(?)) so am on the hunt for teething remedies. We used ashton and parsons powders with Monkey but they contain lactose and while she is fussy anyway it doesn’t seem the right time to re-introduce lactose to her diet. Thanks to all the twitter peeps for their help with suggestions, fingers crossed we find something that works. I am intrigued by amber necklaces and anklets but not convinced yet, we have some teethers from Dr Brown’s on the way and have just started using Chamomilla by Weleda, so I am sure I will keep you posted!

The Reading Residence