Baby/Toddler stuff, Milestones

Potty training

People say potty training is one of the most stressful parts of parenthood; so no wonder why I’ve been putting it off!

Dot is nearly 3.5years- so yes we are ‘late’ to the game I think. But our potty training journey actually started years ago! The summer after she was 1 Dot was regularly using the potty and doing a poo, but wees have always been elusive- at the end of that summer she suddenly lost interest.

I vowed not to start again until I thought she was ready; I thought she’d suddenly show an interest, but that didn’t happen. So on her turning 3 I thought I’d start to get the wheels in motion, toilet seats were purchased for each loo (Peppa Pig- in the hope of encouraging her), we slowly started to encourage her to use the loo- starting with morning, bath time and bedtime- but no luck and no interest.

As lockdown started I had every intention to start again and really ‘train’ her- but again I never really found the motivation.

But then one night I decided the next day was it- no more nappies!

That morning after removing Dots bedtime nappy I told her she’d be wearing pants (after all we’d been talking about pants/potties/potty books/songs for ages) …..

MELTDOWN

It lasted about an hour- with her screaming ‘ no thank you Mummy’ (she’s very polite) crying, shutting herself in her room and begging ‘put a nappy on please’. After that she calmed and I just let her wander nude (obviously at home and with summer weather) – soon afterwards she asked for pants.

Since then every morning she asks for her nappy off and to pick out some new pants and get dressed.

Our biggest surprise of potty training has been how quickly Dorothea was happy to leave the house with her ‘big girl’ pants on. Initially our plan was to only potty train at home- and wear pull ups when out, but Dot was super keen and kept with pants from day one.

I’ve been reassuring Dot about accidents; saying they are all part of learning- and if she has an accident she doesn’t get too upset.

It’s totally annoying; but we ask Dot is she needs the toilet every 20 mins, after the first few days you’ll start noticing cues. Dots cues are asking what’s happens if I have an accident’ and doing a little leg cross dance- we then get her to sit on the potty every 5-10 mins until she wees.

Dot loves her cheerleaders! Her grandparents know she’s potty training, encourage her and celebrate her successes. She therefore likes to excitedly FaceTime them when she does a wee or to show them her new pants. Toddlers just love yo be good at something and receive praise.

Tips for potty training a 3 year old:

  • Get loads of pants! Toddlers love being picky/having a choice. We have about 15 pairs- H&M, peacocks and next offer good choice. It’s less pressure to wash everyday too.
  • Dot prefers the mi potty as it’s taller than most (probably very relevant to those training older toddlers) and she says is comfier and shuns the others.
  • Aqua wipes are great for accidents, potty wipe outs and bottom wiping.
  • Get a stock of leggings- supermarket or preloved. In the early days we’d get through 3/4 a day.
  • I can imagine warmer weather is much easier to train in, nudity and the garden have been big helpers.
  • Reward charts and giving your child a goal seems to work really well (Dot really wanted the Ben and Holly castle)
  • Patience – toddlers are very trying- and using the potty can be delaying tactics for all sorts- keep ya cool mama.
  • After a week everything seems to smell of pee! If you have carpets then a stock of carpet freshener (make your own with baking soda and essential oils) is great- and maybe plan to hire a carpet cleaner when the job is done. (We have a vax so I’m planning a blitz when we get her dry)

So as a finish writing this blog we have been potty training for two weeks; we’ve been accident free for 6 days. I’m so proud of Dot and she’s proud of herself.

We still put bed Dot to bed in nappy pants; often in the morning she is dry anyway, and has already asked me when she can wear nappies to bed.

Wishing anyone luck starting potty training.

Life of a Mum

Shielding (from your emotions)

If you’ve read my previous blog on shielding you’d know that I’ve been doing so since March 23rd- this is due to being on medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis that cause me to be immunosuppressed.

 

Shielding and social distancing aren’t the same 

There are two levels of higher risk—the “clinically vulnerable” which includes, among others, all over 70s, and the “clinically extremely vulnerable” who are people with certain conditions who have been contacted by the NHS. I’m classed as clinically extremely vulnerable: and as such I’ve received two letters from the government advising what I can and can’t do- this is very restrictive. This includes things such as

·        Cannot go outside of the house

·        Must work from home if at all

·        Unable to go to the shops

·        Unable to see family unless I live with them

·        Must try to socially distance from those I live with (i.e. Use different bathrooms and bedrooms)

 

As of July 6th the advice has changed which means I can see groups of up to 6 people outside (hurrah for seeing the grandparents in the garden.) But those a few miles away in Leicester, cannot have these restrictions dropped due to a new lockdown. So in theory I can see people, but in practise can’t see a lot of my friends as they live in the lockdown zone.

From August 1st (unless this changes- likely as I live near Leicester and work in Leicester) advice means I’m no longer advised to shield, and can return to work, but should still socially distance and avoid socialisation whilst COVID 19 is still around. I’m not really liking the sound of the ‘new normal’ – for life as a immunocompromised person is going to be quite restrictive and isolating- TBH I want to rewind a year!

 

I’m a chatty, sociable person, that usually sees up to 100 people a day    

Therefore I’ve found the last 14 weeks very hard. My  only company has been the wonderfully chatty Dorothea (aged 3) and my husband ( usually busy working from home). Social media including zoom has really helped, but really doesn’t cut it. I’m desperate for a coffee and cake with friends, pizza and wine out or a play date meet up at the farm park.

 

Some people don’t care- think COVID doesn’t exist

This is so frustrating; bearing in mind I’ve almost been housebound for 16weeks. So many people simply believe COVID ‘doesn’t exist’, is a ‘big hoax- there’s so many conspiracy theories going around- which rather messes with my head! Should I really be depriving myself of normal, when lots of the world don’t even believe there’s a problem. Of course I KNOW the virus is real (obviously as I worked in a hospital in the run up to lockdown).

 

Guilt- others have it harder

I appreciate that I’m lucky- as a shielder I have good support from family and friends, I have a nice house and garden to spend time in and my health is reasonable. But whoever you are, and wherever you live shielding we be hard. It’s a complete loss of independence- you can’t just pop anywhere anymore, cant just drop something off to family, see people on their birthdays, accept any form of childcare, and have to rely on others to have contact with the outside world for you.

Guilt- should be at work

One of the hardest things initially was the massive guilt I felt for not being at work! As you may know my role is a frontline nursing position, so high risk but very much a ‘keyworker’ – the feeling of suddenly ‘letting my team down’ was immense- I went from working hands on with COVID patients on a Tuesday- but on the Thursday was shielding for at least 12 weeks. From an outsiders perspective you would not expect me to be shielding; I don’t look sick, I’m fairly young (for a senior nurse), slim and fit and ‘healthy’- I expect some people would feel I don’t need to be off at all.

Will people think I’m a cop out? A skiver? Pulling a sicky?

Should I ‘weigh up the risks’ and return to work earlier than advised.

Will the mental impact of shielding affect me way more than the physical aspects of COVID would have?

My mind is busy with so many thoughts; part of me doesn’t know if I can, or should ever return to my previous job. Does our ‘new normal’ mean that a nursing role is just not sensible for a person who is immunocompromised?

 

Emotive- lost my purpose

After working for all of my adult life (apart from maternity leave) the loss of my daily work life is immense. Going from having important role with great job satisfaction to sitting at home day in day out is very demoralising. My employer has offered me limited opportunity to do any ‘working from home’ roles, so I really feel I’ve lost my purpose.

My goodness I love Dorothea, and after trying so hard to get her of course I value my role as a mother- but for me that wasn’t all I was put on this earth for. I’m made for nursing- and not nursing when nurses are needed the most make me feel inadequate, a let down and useless. My weeks are full of ups and downs; some weeks I speak to colleague’s, read emails enthusiastically and keep up to date- but other weeks I struggle to wash and dress, feel tearful and think about my first Gin to early. To be honest my head is a mess.

 

Guilt- get annoyed with myself for not enjoying my ‘time ‘off’

Lets be fair- this isn’t the best ‘time off’ – it’s really not like maternity leave when you can visit friends and family, go to baby groups and out for lunch or afternoon tea. This is isolation- please don’t describe it as time off- it doesn’t feel like a holiday- it feels like a punishment.

Yes some days I feel blessed and really lucky that I have all this ‘bonus’ time with Dotty, but others I’m exhausted! Being a stay at home mum must be the hardest job ever- 15weeks in and I’ve barely been a different room to Dot- because let’s face it- toddlers will watch you wee and they rarely stop asking questions. I can’t even escape fo a few minutes peace to the shop or for a coffee- as that’s not allowed.

Mental health 

I think the mental health impact of shielding is huge – I can’t speak for others; but know for me, that the longer I stay at home, the more anxious I get about returning to the ‘real world’. My bubble feels safe, shopping deliveries feel safe, locking myself away feels safe. Even driving my car (with sole purpose of ‘giving it a run’) makes me anxious- fast breathing, palpitation, paranoia and second guessing myself.

I feel everything in life from now on is going to involve some sort of risk assessment! And how exhausting will that be.

What shop should we go to?

Is the park safe?

Should Dot return to preschool?

Can I take the dog to the vets?

I really need to see the dentist- but that can’t be socially distanced!

Shielding or not shielding, worried or not worried- all I know for certain is life is going to be very different for all of us from now on. Please be kind to others- don’t be condescending or demeaning about their concerns or anxieties- after all, all of us have been through a very difficult few months. 

Some useful links:

Government Shielding advice

Covid and anxiety- NHS advice

COVID anxiety- MIND advice