Family time, Life of a Mum

West Lodge Farm Park- post lockdown family day out

For our ‘first’ day out we decided to head to West Lodge- I’d been ‘watching from afar’ and concluded they had the whole ‘social distsncing’ thing well managed. I wanted our day to feel safe but fun.

It turns out I wasn’t far wrong. Although our ‘normal’ day out at west lodge would include indoor play, coffee and chats with friends- we all admit life is much different now. A degree of isolation and fresh air feels so safe- and that’s what west lodge offers.

We booked an afternoon session; it was expectedly busy on our arrival- no one in the busy queue seemed to be wearing masks or caring much about distancing; so (having been shielding for 16 weeks) I felt a little wary. But the staff managed the queue quickly, effectively and safely; with hand gel and advice leaflets given- and once inside the farm park felt incredible spacious and distancing from others was easy.

As we arrived at lunchtime we headed straight to the picnic/den building area- and enjoyed the space- no one was around (in fact 8 picnic benches around us) Dot enjoyed the pre built dens and cute toad stool seats.

We then headed over to the animals when Dot (and Nanna, to be fair) enjoyed feeding and petting the incredibly tame, cute and often bouncy goats. We also took our dog Woody; despite being a total plonker, he was incredibly well behaved and enjoyed watching the goats and pigs!

Dogs are surprisingly welcome at West Lodge Farm Park- a blessing to doggy families- of course they cannot cuddle the bunnies or try the swings (that would just be weird) but there’s a multitude of walks to wear them (and their chatty sidekicks) out.

Talking of walks- we then snuck off to an old memory of Mummy’s- the witches house (I remember bring my nephews here 18-20yrs ago- and not much has changed). Dot and Nanna loved spotting the super cute fairy doors, toadstools and the badgers crossing- making a 4km walk a breeze.

There’s a fairy trail and a dinosaur trail for those with older kids; you get a worksheet and a reward if you find them all.

Dot found the witches house, but she was out. A little girl we saw shortly before told us the witch had gone to mend a poorly deer with her magic potions! Dot liked this idea, and although her legs were tired, her imagination carried her up the many steps and back to the farm for an ice cream.

Visiting, what you think is going to a busy family attraction post lockdown was very anxiety inducing for me, but after a hour I felt incredible safe. West lodge have obviously got this all in hand; staff regularly spraying down areas of high use, very clear signage, great leaflets, hand washing facilities, one way paths marked out, and enough space to very safely distance.

Seeing your child’s face enter a play park for the first time in 16 ish weeks was pretty epic, Dot was so happy, so full of energy and she literally loved every minute. She’s keen to go back- so hopefully we can make it a weekly trip.

Dots favourite bits:

– the incredibly tame and friendly goats

– a beautiful walk to the witches house and spying all the fairy doors

– the maze; so impressed with herself that she found the way out

– her first whippy ice cream with flake

– being ‘king of the castle’ in the outdoor play area

Mums top tips:

– take a picnic; there’s so many great picnicking spots

– you have to book your visit online(don’t disappoint the the kids)

– pre book your tractor your online (we didn’t know this and missed out)

– buy some animal food on arrival so the little ones get a hands on experience

– a few quid for the shop is a good idea; they’re beautifully stocked including Lanka kade and cute wellies

– grandparents will also love the on-site garden centre (we left with a huge olive tree!)

– if you live local-ish then membership is a must have (costs 14p a day!)

West Lodge Farm Park is just outside Desborough in Northamptonshire

West Lodge Insta drop them a follow

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.