Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Trials and Tribulations of Toilet Training

And I do mean toilet training.  None of my boys have been very interested in using the potty so we've gone straight to the toilet.  It involves a few weeks of them desperately holding onto me for dear life, but they do learn to balance themselves.  Eventually.

I'm in the process of getting my third son ready to make the transition from wearing nappies to wearing pants.  You'd think I'd know exactly what I'm doing as it's my third time, but as all children are different, so is each experience.

I've always been quite relaxed with toilet training and prefer to take the childs' lead.  My eldest son took to it quite quickly and loved to copy his daddy by standing on his little stool to wee in the toilet.  It was great at home but not so great when we went out.  I remember one thirty minute car journey where we went through four pairs of trousers and I realised that he wasn't quite ready and put him back into nappies.  I know this is against what all the textbooks say, but it worked for us.  About a month later he decided that he wanted to try again and this time it worked.  Apart from the occasional accident (usually at night) we never looked back.

When it was time to do the same with my next boy, I stupidly assumed it would be just as easy as before.  How wrong I was.  He would wee on the toilet but absolutely refused to poo.  He would hold it in to the point where he couldn't eat and he felt ill.  He used to leak (sorry if you're eating) and I had no idea what to do with him.  We tried everything that we could think of; we would let him watch us on the toilet, we discussed, begged, comforted and shouted at him; we bought books about what happens when you poo, and discussed it with the health visitor.  We even let him poo in the garden.  We were at our wits end.  He started to smell and I was worried about him being teased because of this.  Everywhere we went became stressful as we usually ended up in a big mess as bits would leak through.

The only thing that worked in the end was watching him every second, which was difficult as he would try to hide it, and as soon as he showed signs of holding it in, I would rush him to the toilet and make him sit there.  He would sob and I would feel guilty, but he wasn't able to hold it in when sat on the toilet and it would all come out.  It was terrible and I hoped I would never have to go through this again.  He did overcome it eventually, though he is still a very private person when using the toilet.

I was prepared for anything with my youngest son, but was still a bit gutted when he started to withhold his poo.  The difference this time was that my previous experience helped and I run him to the toilet as soon as he starts to hold it in.  At two and a half he is getting much better thankfully.

But now I have a different problem.  He stubbornly refuses to wear pants.  He asks to use the toilet when at home and is well controlled and well aware of when he needs to go.  He just won't wear pants.  It's easy at home, I can just leave him with nothing on, but I can't exactly do that to go out.  He also refuses to wear trousers with nothing on underneath so that's not an option.

We've had conversations around whether big boys wear nappies or pants, but he is adamant that he is still a baby who wears nappies (at any other time he insists that he's a big boy).  My mother suggested that it could be that he sees his brothers wearing boxer shorts so he wants the same, so I tried that but it didn't work either.  I bought him Thomas the Tank Engine pants as this is his favourite character, but it still didn't tempt him.

I've tried pull ups in the hope that it'll make the transition easier, but he just calls them nappy pants.  I've tried putting pants on over his nappy but he screamed until I took them off.

Experience tells me that I should just wait until he understands a little bit better , and to be honest, I'm not at all concerned.  I just wonder why.  What has caused him to not want to wear pants?  What causes any issue that a child has with toileting?  Is it something that we've said, or done?  Something they've seen on TV?  I'll probably never know.

All I do know is that children who are brought up in seemingly the same way, all have different issues.  I may as well throw that textbook away.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Terrible Twos

My littlest one is 22 months old now and he is adorable, funny and very, very cheeky.  He's going through an amazing transformation from a baby who would nurse for hours, to taking his first steps, and now starting to talk and develop his own unique personality.

Of course, I've been through this process twice before so I should know what to expect, shouldn't I?  If only I did!  Every child is different, and they have all challenged me in different ways.  I never know what to expect and I certainly haven't got all the answers.  Every single day I need to adapt and learn about my children and how to deal with their behaviour .  Sometimes I get it right, but I suspect that it's down to more luck than judgement.

My children constantly test me in every way imaginable.   I left school quite a few years ago and thought I'd left all the exams behind me.  Oh no.  Not with my boys.  I get spelling tests, maths tests and English language tests.  Then they'll move on to religious studies, history, geography..... The list goes on.  I really wish I'd concentrated more in school.

But the biggest test of all is the parenting one.

Some things were easy to pick up.  How to feed a baby, change their nappy, hold them properly.  I can manage all that.  In fact, anything to do with a tiny little baby  I can deal with.  It's when they become independent little beings trying to assert their independence that I start searching for that manual that all babies should come with.

I remember my oldest having his first ever toddler tantrum at the age of 15 months.  He wanted a Postman Pat van in a shop in Centre Parc and I told him that he would have to wait.  He lay face down on the floor and started screaming at the top of his lungs.  I felt like everything was moving in slow motion except for the thoughts racing through my sleep deprived, pregnancy (35 weeks with number 2) addled brain.  I felt like everyone had stopped and was watching and waiting to see how I would react.  Would I give in?  Would I ignore him?  What should I do?  It was my First Big Test.

I didn't give in.  I picked him up and took him out of the shop.  I also quickly learned not to care about what others think.  There were plenty more of those tantrums to come.

So back to my youngest.  I think I can safely say that in the last two weeks he has entered that unknown territory called the Terrible Twos.  He shouts, he pouts, he demands.  He too lies face down on the floor in a fit of temper if he doesn't get his own way.

He has gone from this......
to this..........

in what seems like a very short space of time.  Luckily there's lots of this in between........

I don't think that it matters how many children you have; it never seems to get any easier.  In fact, as my children get older, their behaviour becomes more complex, and more difficult to manage.  I reflect on everything I've done with them and analyse my parenting skills (or lack thereof), to see if I could have done something differently.  Why is my oldest so cheeky?  Why does my middle boy still have temper tantrums?  Can I avoid this with my youngest?

The only answer I can ever come up with is that they will be what they will be.  I made them all (with a little bit of help from hubby of course), I am raising them all in the same way, but they are each unique little people.  They are growing into their personalities and they fascinate me as I watch how they learn and develop.  For better or worse, I love them for who they are.

But if someone ever finds that manual, please pass it on!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Muddling through

Since I've had my third child I've had lots of people say to me "I don't know how you do it".  The truth of the matter is, neither do I!  I suppose I don't really think about things too much.  Quite frankly, I don't get much time to think.  But I've just got through a really busy few weeks what with two of my children having birthdays, which obviously involved the obligatory birthday party.  As they are only two weeks apart I decided to have a joint party for them.  So I spent quite some time organising a venue, a bouncy castle and face painting, making the food, ordering cakes (I'm determined to make my own one day), sending invites and agonising over the choice of paper plates and party bags (why do I do it to myself?).  And all this doesn't include the family parties for the days of their actual birthdays.

So now it's all over and I've finally got a bit of time to sit down and think about things.  I do try not to do this much purely because the amount of time I get to think directly correlates to amount of stress I feel.  As I'm sat here eating Nutella straight from jar, I do wonder what the hell I'm doing.  I go from day to day doing school runs, going to baby groups, running the older boys around to kick-boxing / swimming / gymnastics, working, making food for the clan, cleaning, washing and ironing without any real thought about what I'm doing.

Well, I'm onto the Haribo now and still wondering where this post is going.  See, I said I do things without any real thought, and writing my blog posts are much the same.  I try to come up with a topic, but can never think of anything so I just start writing.  Sometimes I realise what I want to write about quite quickly, but others, like tonight, I just feel confused and unsure.  It doesn't help that in between writing this I've been reading posts by some great bloggers and wishing I could be as funny and write as well as them.

Anyway, I digress, or have I?  I don't know.  Ah yes, I've been thinking.  Maybe I should take more time to be aware of what is going on around me instead of floating around in a (busy) bubble trying to juggle all of my roles.  Most days I just feel too tired.  I'm woken up very early by the baby demanding milk, then I have to drag myself out of bed to get the older two ready for school.  Breakfast time is challenging and it's a fine art getting them all to eat and then get dressed in time.  Some mornings are okay, but others I get a sore throat from shouting by the time I've dropped them off.  Not that they listen......

Then depending on what day it is, it's either back home with the baby and get ready for baby group (with a bit of cleaning and ironing thrown in), or off to work.  Work is easier.  I get to sit down without feeling guilty, and I sometimes even manage to read some of my book while having lunch (in peace)!

On my non-work days, it's only a few short hours before it's back to school to pick the boys up, home for food, help with reading/school work, more cleaning/washing/ironing (delete as appropriate)  and then starts the agony of trying to get them in the bath and eventually into bed.  By the time I get to sit down I'm exhausted and sometimes just end up staring numbly at my twitter screen and thinking that I really need to blog.

Now I know I'm not unique, and that most mums do exactly the same as, if not more than me.  I just feel that I don't know what I'm doing.  Surely, I should know by now?

So, to everyone who's ever commented on me being so calm, and being a 'natural mum', I appear to be calm because I'm knackered, and I'm just muddling through, trying to do my best.  Having three children doesn't make me any more knowledgeable than my friends with one child.  I can't remember what I did with my first, and it's just a blur from when my second came along so soon after.  I manage because I've got to, because my children need me.  Just like all the other mums out there.

Monday, 10 October 2011

When is it the right time to stop?

I'm still breastfeeding Ollie, and he will be one on Wednesday.  Now, with my other two boys I always said that I would breastfeed for a year, but they both stopped themselves just before they were a year old.  So I've never done the whole weaning process.  But Ollie is still going strong.  He only has two feeds a day usually, but he loves those feeds.  In fact, he demands them.  He's showing no sign of wanting to drop them.

But this morning, he bit me. Ouch!  I'm not planning on stopping just because he bit me. But it has started me thinking about what I want to do. I just can't make my mind up.  Today has made me think about it a bit more too as (other than the biting incident) Ollie isn't very well.  He's got an upset tummy and it seems the only thing he wants is breast milk.  So that's what he's getting.  He's still so little, and still a baby.  My baby.

I recently trained as breastfeeding peer support worker so I know all the positive benefits of extended breastfeeding, and that the World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of two years (  It just isn't as easy as knowing all that.  I feel pulled in different directions by other peoples opinions, and also by myself.

Am I planning on continuing to feed for myself (as suggested by a certain someone very close to me)?  Ollie could be my last baby so maybe I don't want to give up the attachment?  He is still very much my baby, and I don't think it's because I don't want to lose the attachment, more that I know he really wants to breastfeed and I don't want to deny him.  Is that so wrong?

Or is it time to wean him to...... (I'm trying to think of the reasons) ..Do you know, I can't think of a valid reason why.  I don't feel like my body is not my own because I'm breastfeeding, and I think that my reasons for stopping now would just be to suit other people.  And that's no reason.  Surely the only reason to stop now would be because either Ollie, or I, decide that we don't want to do it any more.  Shouldn't it come down to personal choice?

I wouldn't dream of telling another mum how to raise their child, so why do I feel criticised by others just because i want to breastfeed past the age of one?  Breastfeeding in itself is not very common in my area, so extended breastfeeding is practically unheard of!  Thank goodness for my breastfeeding support group, and most of my close friends and family.  Without them I may give in to peer pressure.

I think there's always an element of guilt when it comes to making decisions about the children.  I know that doesn't just apply to me either.  I've got friends who feel guilty about how they fed their baby, when they started weaning onto solids, where their baby sleeps, even that their baby fell and hurt themselves (some of these also apply to me!)  I do think that guilt is a natural part of parenting, and it helps to have friends who are going through the same things in order to rationalise and discuss concerns.  In fact, I think it's extremely important for me to have this support.   It helps me to feel happy and comfortable with my decisions.

When I started writing this post, I wasn't sure where it was going.  Part of me wanted advice, but I don't think I need it any more.  I'm happy, Ollie's happy, and that's all that matters.  Writing this has helped me to realise that.  So, we'll keep going a bit longer.  And stop when it's ready for us, and not when it suits other people.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

I've taken a big step........

.......and turned off the TV!!

Admittedly it started as a punishment for Zac and Ethan's bad behaviour.  And, I know, it shouldn't have been on in the first place.  But (here come the excuses), I needed to be able to get on with other things and it was just easier to turn the TV on for them.  Okay, that's very lazy parenting.  I admit it.

So, Zac and Ethan have been so naughty since they've gone back to school that I've started withdrawing privileges.  And not just threatening it like I used to.  I'm actually going through with it (even though it makes me feel like a very mean mummy sometimes).  But I really feel like I need a bit of control.  The boys are wild sometimes.  Individually, they're great.  They listen, play nicely, and are as well behaved as I can expect them to be.  But put them together and they turn into whirlwinds of destruction.  They fight, everything gets thrown around, the noise level goes up about 20 notches, and they are completely uncontrollable.  I try talking calmly, shouting at the top of my voice, sending one of them to their room to separate them, but they don't take a blind bit of notice of anything I say.  They seem lost in their own world of naughtiness.  So it was time to change tact.  It was time for Meanie Mum!

As usual, they got wound up and started fighting.  I asked them to stop and they didn't listen.  I told them that if they didn't stop now that there would be no TV the next day.  They didn't care.  They carried on fighting.  I put them both to bed (it was actually bedtime) and left them to it.

When they got up for school the next morning and asked for the TV on, I said no.  NO!  They looked at me in horror, then started nagging.  But I stood my ground and refused.  They ate their breakfast, I got them ready and took them to school.  Easy! Yeah, right!!

After school, they asked for the TV again (they have very short memories!)  Again, I said no and after a bit of complaining, they went to play with their toys.  Now, another *BAD MUMMY ALERT*, they usually sit in the lounge and watch TV while having dinner.  So when I told them they had to eat in the kitchen they cried, and begged, and refused to eat.  They did eventually give in (I suspect little tummies were rumbling), but they made me pay for it.  For the whole meal they argued and messed around.  It took them over an hour to eat their food.  I was frustrated, annoyed, and near the point of giving in!  I realised that they usually spent their meal times shovelling food into their mouths while staring dumbly at the TV.  Now they had nothing to distract them, so they were winding each other up instead.  I only had myself to blame.  I had always taken the easy option and now it was coming back to haunt me.

So I've realised it's me that's needs to change my behaviour.  I need to become a Better Mummy and stop using the TV as a babysitter.  It's now all meals at the table and they are getting better.  They don't misbehave (as much).  And they are getting faster at eating their food.  The baby is loving it as he loves the interaction at the kitchen table.  And I love the chance to sit with my three boys and chat to them.  It's a shame my husband can't be there too, but long working hours get in the way.  We can't have it all I suppose!