Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Once upon a potty...

A few years ago, I wrote a potty training post and the whole experience feels like just yesterday! Recently, we have embarked on potty training for the second time and I was expecting it to be very different, both because we have a boy this time and because he's a second child, but you know what, it was remarkably similar.

With both my children, I had pinpointed the summer holidays after their second birthday as an ideal time to start but was obviously prepared to be flexible if they didn't seem ready. As if on cue, a few weeks before the holidays, Ace started to tell us every time he did a poo and ask to be changed immediately. We had placed a couple of potties in strategic places around the house a few months previously, just so he could get used to them and slowly buy surely, he asked to sit on them at bedtime and would put his dolls and toys on them so they would wee too.

Potty training will be a different experience for everyone, but here are some of the things we have tried and tested with two children and that may inspire you if you're just about to start!

Differences:

My biggest tip for potty training a second child would be to wait until the family is ready. I was reluctant to go full steam ahead at first, as we had a camping trip and numerous, exciting day trips planned for the start of the holidays. In the end, we waited until we came back from camping and one day when our plans were cancelled due to a friend's poorly child, we went for it. 

Unlike with Honey, when the two of us spent about 4 days sitting on the living room floor visiting the potty every 20 minutes, with Ace we were out and about from day one. Having time to be organised before leaving the house, as well as to deal with the inevitable extra loads of washing for the first few days is useful, but carrying on as normal means that number 1 doesn't miss out on their routine and any extra holiday fun. I found it reassuring to get him to sit on a hand towel for the first week or so if he was in the buggy or car seat and I think we will put him in a pull up when we go down to Cornwall, as it would be such a pain to have to wash the car seat covers while away!

Ace found doing a poo on the potty a bit strange at first. With Honey, it was the other way round and she was very aware of being dirty from the outset. The first two days, he went on the floor (all praise wipe clean, laminate flooring) and didn't even seem to register that he had been. The third day, he started to go on the fioor, realised what was going on and ran to the potty to finish off. Kids are so clever! We know now that if he tells us his bottom is a bit stinky, something is on its way!

With boys, there are certainly more 'external clues' when they need a wee. Even Honey knows to remind Ace to go and sit on his potty if his hands start straying to his pants and Ace comments on what's going on 'down there' every time he sits down for a wee.

Honey lived in dresses and long t-shirts while she was potty training, so she could quickly and easily pull her pants down when she needed to use the potty. While we were at home, Ace was mainly in tops and pants (or just tops) for the first week or so, but when out and about and now he's used to using a potty, we try to put him in bottoms that are easy to pull down. We've given him some pulling up and down lessons but he still needs help with some bottoms. 

Similarities:

Save muslins and reusable wipes to use for fast clean ups. We rinsed them and put them straight in the washing machine, no fuss, no waste, no drama. I used so much kitchen roll the first time round, why didn't I think of this sooner?  For wees in the potty, we use reusable wipes and throw them straight in the washing machine. I keep a pack of tissues in the bag for out and about. Obviously if you're going straight for the toilet, toilet roll is the way forwards! For poos, flushable toddler wipes are our go to product at home or away.

Have some Dettol wipes (or similar) to hand. Again, this ensures minimal fuss when it comes to clean ups and you also know that the surface will be properly clean. Our floors were super shiny for the first few days, as they were getting wiped with disinfectant wipes throughout the day and then steam mopped in the evening. I also use these to wipe the potty after a poo.

Invest in a travel potty (or an adventure potty as Ace calls his). We used a My Carry Potty with Honey and loved it, but had a couple of issues with it sliding across the floor on occasion and also with one of the hinges breaking in the end. Fast forward a few years and the newer model we bought for Ace still has all the great features from before, but with non slip pads underneath and a new, improved hinge system which is super sturdy! Oh and when I was getting the link for this post, I noticed that they now do a dinosaur one... You're welcome!

Books were a huge part of Honey's potty training journey and Ace has definitely followed in her footsteps with his love of reading and listening to stories, so we made sure we stocked up on themed books (from selling sites and the library), as well as keeping a few old favourites nearby for when he needed to sit there for a while.

 

We stuck a huge sheet of coloured paper to the back of the door near Ace's potty and used stickers as a reward each time he did a wee there. At first, we used a random selection of stickers we already had, but when he got through most of those, we took him to Pound Land to choose his own (tractors, diggers and fire engines obviously). This renewed his excitement to earn them! We also purchased a little pack of Thomas the Tank Engine Minis in the Argos sale to use as rewards for a poo in the potty or toilet and he was so proud every time he got to add another train or carriage to his line up! The staff at Ace's nursery have been really supportive and even made him his own sticker chart for when he's there. 

Plenty of pants is a must! I purchased two packs of super cheap pants from Pound Land (what would we do without that place), which means that there's no pressure to try and save them if it all goes a bit wrong! We have a stash of pull ups for night time at the moment too, after trying a range, we have found Huggies to be the best fitting for Ace. A great side effect of potty training is that you can often bring back clothes that were too small, Ace is currently getting some wear out of his old 18-24 month trousers which fit again now there's no bulky nappy taking up room!

I keep the dry bag that came with our old reusable nappies in my bag just incase of any accidents. It folds up really small and saves scrabbling around looking for a carrier bag to put wet or dirty clothes in.

It may sound odd, but try to ensure that your hand soap is easy to press down. Our current dispenser is really tricky to push, it was a panic buy when our usual Child's Farm soap ran out. The Child's Farm soap is ideal for helping little ones wash their hands independently as it has a larger area to press down on. I wind a small hair bobble round the pump to stop over zealous little hands pumping out too much (thanks to Honey's lovely childminder for that life hack)!

The biggest tip I can give you is to keep calm and carry on. However odd it may feel to pull out a potty in the middle of a street, surely it's better than the alternative and if they're shy or it feels too public, you can always shield them with the buggy, your body or pop the potty down behind a wall or similar. However inconvenient an accident may be, what's done is done. If you're prepared for it with spare clothes, wipes and somewhere to put the wet or soiled clothing, there's nothing more you can do. Finally, however many spills you wipe or pairs of pants you end up throwing away, the look on that little person's face when they get it right, makes it all worthwhile!

Ace wears... Multicolour Zebra shorts by Bonnie Pop Makes






Monday, 13 August 2018

Life through a lense...

Back in April, I was lucky enough to win the Feelgood category at The Cotswold Blogger Awards. You can read my post about the awards here, but suffice to say that the win was a huge surprise and I am truly thankful to everyone who took the time to vote and help me win!

As well as a fabulous trophy, I was also awarded the generous prize of a photo shoot with Cheltenham based photographer Chui King Li. I was familiar with Chui's work as she has previously done shoots for some friends of ours and the results were beautiful, candid portraits of family life.

I chose the Pilley Bridge Nature Reserve as the destination for our shoot, as I felt that we would all feel more comfortable having our photo taken by a someone new, if we were outdoors, doing what normally we do on a family adventure.

Ace and I had done a recce the weekend before the shoot, Ace always enjoys things more if he knows what to expect and has an idea of where he can go and what he can do there, so he lead the way when we arrived on the day of the shoot. Walking through the reserve, we naturally stopped to watch butterflies and pick up sticks, just as we would at any other time. Honey and Ace found steps and paths they wanted to explore and we spent some time making a den of sticks more homely (adding a camp fire, cooker and a set of 'stairs'). All in all, we tried our best to 'act normal'.

We chatted to Chui as if she were an old friend and quickly forgot that this was someone Honey and Ace had never met before and that my husband and I had only met once, on the evening of The Cotswold Blogger Awards (I was ever so slightly tipsy after a few 'Blogger' cocktails at Babel). Before the shoot, Chui emailed me a questionnaire so she could find out more about us as individuals and as a family and on the day, we spent time singing the 'Waffle the Wonder Dog' theme tune (Ace's current favourite song) and chatting about Scouts (where my husband and I met each other for the first time as kids). This helped us to feel relaxed and meant that we weren't under pressure to pose unnaturally as we were just hanging out and having a chat! 

Chui encouraged the children to do more of what they were enjoying, which meant that the expressions she captured were those of pure job and she even followed Honey and Ace into a muddy clearing (they were wearing wellies, she wasn't) and captured their excited faces and they got themselves (and her) covered in mud.

Without further ado, I'll share some of the amazing photos from the day, we are so pleased with them and can't wait to make our final image choices and get them up on the wall alongside our cherished family bump and newborn pictures!








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