Saturday, 25 June 2011

Oh bum!

I always swore I would leave potty training until my children were absolutely ready, able to tell me they need to go, then tackle it in a week. I suppose I thought they would be ready a bit sooner. Especially as both their dad and me were out of nappies by the time we were 2 (or so we are told).

Felix turns 3 this week and despite being perfectly capable of using the potty or toilet (he's been sitting on it every day since he was 18 months old), he shows no sign of actually wanting to get rid of nappies. Not only has he taken to telling us "I not big boy", but he actively refuses to poo on the toilet. I put him on when I know he needs to go: before nap-time story, after nap-time story and nothing. As soon as I tuck him into bed and head downstairs there comes a small voice "I do my poopoo" and t'is done.

Well, I had concluded we were just going to have to bite the bullet, probably over the summer, and put him in pants. Then... the lovely Jenny Paulin from Mummy Mishaps offered me the chance to review an all-singing, all-dancing potty and I wondered if it could provide our last chance to persuade him that he really does want to be a big boy before giving him no choice.

Our Smart Rewards Potty arrived on Monday and I have to say, first impressions were fab! Putting it together was easy, one electronic connection and then slot the 'cistern' into the back of the bowl. Felix had great fun sitting down and making the 'welcome' song play. Of course, I have been singing it around the house all week... but that happens with ANYthing musical in this house.

It's been a bit of a hectic week for any serious effort to be put into potty training... what with me turning 30 and the baby running a high temperature... but we've made a bit more effort than usual to encourage toilet usage and even worn "big boy pants" on a couple of occasions.

Let me run you through the "likes" first. The four step learning system is great. The child is rewarded for sitting, then for 'making a deposit' (what a great turn of phrase), flushing, then rewarded with a sticker to chart progress. So if you're starting potty training fresh, you don't have to think about it at all. The Smart Rewards Potty will tell you exactly how to do it! Easy.

We LOVE the removable bowl. It makes disposing of the 'deposit' SO much easier than with a cumbersome normal potty. And cleaning too.

I was impressed that it came with more than one reward chart and a second roll of stickers (refills can be purchased online). Because how many parents buy a new potty when training their second child, eh? The seat can also be removed and used as a trainer seat on the real toilet. Very sensible of the designers to make it a one-stop solution.

And do you know what? It's a lot more stylish than the average potty too. I found it quite cute having a 'mini toilet' sitting in our bathroom all week. It doesn't take up anymore space but looks at home.

The negatives are few and only minor. The "parent-activated" sticker dispenser was unfortunately, not quite parent-cotrolled enough for my sticker loving child. In fact, I think pulling the roll out, releasing 10 or so stickers, was the first thing Felix did after I opened the box. And as I couldn't wind them back in (I possibly could have if I'd bothered to unscrew the cover) they got torn off and stored elsewhere.

He also found the boys deflector shield great fun for taking off and dropping in the bowl. Maybe it's only my child who's that annoying but I would have liked a better way of fixing it on so it was less easy for Felix to remove.

One final, jovial criticism. Wouldn't it be nice if you could choose an English accent version of things like this. Why are they always American? In fact, wouldn't it be good if you could choose the voice. Personally, I think Stephen Fry would make an excellent "Voice of the Potty".

Disclaimer: I was sent a Smart Rewards Potty to review free of charge, but I received no other compensation for this article. The views are my honest opinions.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Breastfeeding Leper

I had this grand idea that for national breastfeeding awareness week (if it still exists without the funding), I would publish a blog post every day on the subject. Then I remembered I barely find time to post once a month at the moment so I forgot the idea.

However, I thought I'd try for at least one post. But there is so much to discuss about breastfeeding as it's such an emotive subject, so I thought I'd take a different angle, to show that we breastfeeders sometimes feel excluded and despised too.

Now don't get me wrong, I am a confident breastfeeder. I don't feel the need to hide away and will happily breastfeed in a coffee shop, restaurant, well, wherever I need to really. But there have been times when I haven't found it so easy.

For example, when Felix was still tiny and I was trying to find my feet, getting used to being at home and having to find friends to spend my days with (either that or never speak to another adult ever again!), I went along to a local baby group. At first the breast/bottle divide was about 50-50. After the first couple of sessions though, I don't remember seeing anyone else breastfeeding. The plastic chairs (think school hall) were set out in a circle in the middle of the room. So there was no opportunity for discretion, and there was no way of making yourself comfortable. Nobody spoke to me whilst I was feeding either. I felt ostracised from the group, like an intruder with a disgusting habit.

I believe I gave the group one more chance after this. Nothing any worse happened but I felt no real desire to attend again. I went on a mission to find other breastfeeding mums to befriend and thankfully my antenatal class members came good (they weren't an obvious first choice as we were sent to an NCT group the other side of the city and we only made it to one class before Mr Premature decided to enter the world).

My point is, that it's often the formula-feeders that feel the breastfeeders look down on them, pity them or criticise them. It happens to breastfeeders too y'know. Nicknames like the Breastapo come from our need to display confidence in our decision to breastfeed. It's a defence mechanism to any negativity we may feel.

I think our own inner feelings of guilt or insecurity can make us imagine other people's prejudice in these situations. I know formula feeders who never even considered breastfeeding and are more than confident in their decision. They don't feel belittled by me and I don't feel embarrassed about breastfeeding in their presence.

How about you? Breastfeeders: did you ever feel excluded by the bottle-feeders? Formula mums: have you ever felt pity for or judgemental about another mums decision to breastfeed?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Thick and Creamy

Ladies and Gentlemen, please be advised that the nappy consistency has changed. I repeat, the nappy consistency has changed.

Oh my. In fact, that particular nappy was much like the parsnip and apple that I have just pureed to a smooth mush.

The change in nappy contents, was one of many reasons that I was not looking forward to beginning weaning. Alas, it is not considered polite for a child to go on being exclusively breastfed into adulthood, nor is it healthy for the child. So I suppose weaning must commence.

And so it did, last week. Along with the increase in laundry, there was a noticeable increase in my stress levels too. I had forgotten quite how little I had enjoyed weaning my eldest. Could this be to blame for his picky eating now he is nearly 3?

I will not let this happen again. Just in case it was to blame. And so, when I sit down to introduce the baby's palate to a world of new flavours, I will take a deep breath, I will relax my shoulders and I will NOT let the mess annoy me. I will put out of mind that this will be his third outfit change of the day and I will allow my own hands and clothes to be wiped, spat and dribbled on.

I will not get cross when his hands or his bib find their way into his mouth instead of the spoon and I will smile and sing merrily (not at all through gritted teeth) to regain his attention when he non-chalantly gazes out of the window or arches his back in frustration. When a fully loaded spoon is knocked flying from my hand, I shall laugh in the face of the cleaning cloth. Food will be fun. And mummy will be calm.

Spoons at the ready. Let the culinary battle commence.