No more baby days 

I’m on the sofa this morning, after dropping my biggest girl at nursery. The smallest one is fast asleep on me after a rough night of wide awake snuggles and sore teeth. I’m suddenly overwhelmed by how big and clever and grown up the two of them are now. And it hurts. 
I don’t have a baby anymore. The days of having two under two are long behind me, and Iris is very nearly three. She starts nursery class at a school this September, with a tiny school uniform and everything. She’s excited. I’m excited too, because I know she’s going to have such a fabulous time, but I’m also sad and a tiny bit terrified. Astrid is 16 months old now, and like a tiny wrecking ball. She is sturdy and speedy, and charges through life at 100 miles per hour. She climbs and runs and has no fear of hurting herself. I can’t leave her alone in a room for even a minute. Not even if I can’t see a single hazard. She will find one. It’s not unusual to catch her dancing on tables or scaling window sills. 
They are not babies. 
The first year after Astrid was born I went to bed every single night feeling like I’d been hit by a bus. Seriously. While they pleasantly surprised me often and it wasn’t always as hard as I’d imagined, it was exhausting. Iris needed constant interactions at the time, too young yet to create games and play alone while I fed Astrid. Little one was a screamer, and a complete mystery to me a lot of the time. I didn’t instinctively know what she was crying for like I had with Iris. I had PND (I can see now in hindsight) and was having a huge identity crisis when I should have been focussing on my babies. 
I really feel like it’s over now. The hard bit. Obviously I know there are many many many hard bits to come. I’m not daft. But I can’t imagine it being that consistently hard again for such a long period of time. I can’t imagine slipping back into the black cloud I lived in for a long time either. I’ve been making sure I look after myself too, and I plan to keep it up. 
Besides some health issues (for another day) life is really very good at the moment, but I can’t help but feel some sadness at the baby days being behind us.


A diary of January’s happy things – part two 

Monday 23rd January

I haven’t written anything down in quite a few days. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been happy. I just didn’t feel like writing. 

Tonight I went to my second roller derby fresh meat session (I missed last week with a rotten cold). There were a whole bunch of new people tonight, and I joined their group to recap a bit. It seems that the only thing I really missed was skating backwards, which I just couldn’t figure out at all! 

Despite that, I had the best time. I feel like I’ve done some real exercise this evening and there’s every chance I’ll be quite sore tomorrow! 

Friday 27th January 

It’s been a weird week. We’ve all been a bit under the weather so haven’t been out of the house much. Plus it’s freezing out there! We did manage to find the energy for fresh air, the mountains and muddy puddles on Wednesday for an hour or so. It was a glorious freezing cold day, and the air was just what we needed. We’re also experiencing our usual end-of-the-month skintness which is another reason to stay home a lot. 

Today both of my little ones are tired from coughing all night so are sleeping the day away, while I lie on the end of the bed reading a book and writing this. Tonight the Roller Derby team are having a bit of a party to celebrate their 4th birthday. I so want to skate to let off some steam, but I’m currently battling with the guilt of leaving poorly babies behind to go out and enjoy myself. 

Saturday 28th January 

So roller skating has become my happy place as to be honest I’m not feeling the happy this week. Iris has been hugely challenging and Astrid has pushed me to my limits too. I’m tired because they both have a cough that keeps us all up all night. It’s partly just me, being hormonal and grumpy. But it’s partly being stuck in the house too. With the little ones having colds and with all the decluttering effort, we haven’t been out much. I have to change that, because Iris needs fresh air and adventures. That’s my aim for next week. Just get out and do stuff. 

The party at roller derby was so much fun last night. We played games, and one of them involved lots of deliberate falling. It was so much fun, I was giggling like a little kid the whole time. I’m a bit bruised today but I can cope with that. Totally worth it. Tomorrow I’m skating again, taking the big girls with me for recreational skating. Then Monday is fresh meat training again. Lots of skating! It’s great, and it’s given me a way to let off steam. 

I can’t stop thinking about buying my own boots already. I know where my birthday money will be going this year! 

Being Mum 

It’s 2am and I can’t sleep. This is a regular thing for me, always has been. Even before kids. My brain whirs and clicks and I just can’t relax. In a past life I spent these hours reading books, watching films, baking or out dancing in a club. Tonight I’m cleaning out the fridge. Times have changed. 

It’s hard to put my finger on what’s keeping me up. It’s not just one thing. It never is. 

Years ago, during a period of suffering very badly with anxiety, I did a course on mindfulness. It was a freebie, put on by some charity. My GP recommended it. It was bloody brilliant actually. I learnt lots of coping strategies, and that although I can’t control my thoughts I can control how I feel about them. It sounds so simple, but I was bogged down so badly that it felt like a huge revelation. 

One thing that they told me that stayed with me was the full glass theory. That’s probably not its real name but it’s what I’ve called it. The little things aren’t so bad. One their own they can’t do much to bring me down. But I’ve only got so much room in my glass for water. Put too much in and it’ll overflow. 

I’m overflowing. 

Although I always kind of thought I’d be a parent one day, this isn’t quite the circumstances I imagined. Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m lucky. I know I’ve got everything most people dream of. I am grateful, honestly I am. 

I just pictured it differently. I think we probably all do that. 

Wales was never on my radar. There’s nothing wrong with Wales. I love it here now, and think of it as home in the way Bristol used to be. If everything fell apart and my family broke up now (oh how I hope that never happens) I would probably still stay around here. I miss my few close friends and of course my family so very much. But I’ve worked so so bloody hard on life here that I couldn’t just quit. 

My two closest friends hooked up, got married, and had a baby before I met Trevor. I remember thinking that if I had a kid, we’d raise our kids together. They’d be close, like cousins. Of course they are still my closest friends and the people I love most dearly, and their kids are ace too, but I don’t live nearby and our kids are best buddies like I dreamed. My sister’s kids aren’t around my kids all the time like I pictured either. It isn’t what I hoped for, but it is ok. 

It’s been almost 3 years since I made the move across the bridge now, and I’m still not over it. It’s still hard. At the best of times, parenting can be completely isolating. I can be quite socially awkward, and if I don’t click with new people pretty quickly I tend to feel anxious and then avoid them. It’s so hard trying hard to make conversation, and I think how hard I’m trying shows on my face. I come across as a bit weird then, and possibly a bit rude too. I can’t help it. 

Despite that, I’ve chucked myself right into valleys life and have an excellent supportive network of other mum friends that have been life saving. I mean that quite literally. They may not keep me alive, but they are essential in me maintinaing any kind of life outside of our home. 

I imagined myself as a working mother. I thought I’d maybe go part time at the nursery I worked at, and take my kids with me on work days. I couldn’t see myself as a stay at home mum at all. I am so rubbish at the whole maintaining a house thing. I’d be better off earning some cash and employing a cleaner. There’s not really any jobs here though, and definitely not ones where I could take my kids to work. I’d never earn enough working with children to afford childcare for both of my little ones. I’d work simply to hand the money over to a nursery or childminder and that seems so illogical. I’d do it for a great job, but not for just a job. 

So I am a stay at home mum and, although I never doubted that it was hard for a second, it’s much much harder than I thought. It’s constant. It’s a 24 hours a day thing. Obviously it’d still be 24 hours a day if I had a paid job too,  but spending 24 hours a day constantly with my children exhausts me. I literally can’t do anything without them. If I try to do housework at least one of them will cling to my ankle and cry until I stop. If I want to go out we go to the child friendly places because they are always with me. If I go to the loo they watch, if I take a shower they cry. I love them dearly but they are like little cheese graters, just grating away at my very being. 

I’m not too ashamed to admit that I don’t always enjoy every minute. 

I am only a human being after all. And a human being in near constant pain too. I still can’t get to the bottom of my aches and pains, and my doctor isn’t interested. I should move surgeries or get a second opinion but the very idea of it fills moth dread and makes me feel tired. I’m exhausted. So painfully run down and exhausted. The medications that work for me are starting to lose their power. I should up my dosage but they are making me gain weight so rapidly, and the weight gain is making me unhappy. I’d love to stop taking them all together, but the fear of migraines returning and having panic attacks in public makes me doubt that idea. 

The guilt is a horrendous. I feel guilty every single day for almost every single thing I do. I can’t do a thing without worrying endlessly about how it’ll affect my kids, Trevor, my step kids. To make up for it I work hard on trying to make life all fun and games, but I just don’t seem to be able to win. I thought we were having a ball as a family, but apparently everybody was annoyed that we don’t relax around the house enough. So I try to make the house nicer for us to be in, and that causes fights too. I just don’t understand what I’m supposed to do. 

In a few short weeks Astrid turns one. I don’t have a tiny baby anymore. My days of being a parent to two under two are long gone, and I’m running out of excuses not to sort my life out. 

I feel so pathetic. 

Writing all of this down makes it feel even sillier, but it also gets it out. I can’t talk. I can’t talk to anybody. The people surrounding me don’t understand, and the people who do understand have their own things to worry about. I can’t offload without feeling guilty, so the writing is essential. I don’t worry that nobody reads it. It doesn’t matter. 

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. I know it’s all quite normal stuff really. It helps to know that I’m not a weirdo, even though I regularly feel like one. 

I’m so many ways, for so many people, 2016 has been awful. I’m trying to have hope for 2017 but it’s so hard to imagine it being all sunshine and rainbows. I’d settle for less guilt and more sleep. 

Staying in hospital with a toddler

photo-11-11-2016-11-09-22It was obvious when I picked Iris up from nursery on the Tuesday morning that she was ill. She came out after her 2 and a half hour session looking absolutely wrecked. I put it down to her getting up at 4:30 that morning and the beginnings of a cold. We hadn’t been out anywhere since the weekend and I was desperate to get out of the house and get some fresh air, but that didn’t seem fair on Iris so we stayed at home, and she slept. On Wednesday she seemed to have a full blown cold so we didn’t do very much. We watched movies under blankets and I got a bit of housework done. On Thursday she was worse again. My nap-avoiding toddler had a huge nap in the morning, and another one in the afternoon then asked to go to bed at 6:30. In between times she wanted to watch films, which was great but she was feeling very sensitive and kept getting very upset at the sad bits. I was even beginning to miss Peppa Pig, because nobody ever gets their heart frozen by their sister in Peppa Pig.

I took her up to bed. She was asleep quickly, but I noticed that she seemed to be struggling to breathe. She hadn’t eaten a thing or drank much all day, and she’d slept so much. I decided to try to wake her only to find that I couldn’t. She would briefly open her eyes and glance at me before closing them again. She was all limp. Her chest looked weird, like it was caving in every time she took a breath. I remembered her asking for the living room lights to be turned down earlier in the evening, and suddenly I panicked.

What if she has meningitis? A friend of Iris’s contracted meningitis at the beginning of this year. He was in hospital for about 4 months, most of which was spent clinging on to life and only just. He survived, but it was touch and go for a long time. Now he’s learning to walk again on a prosthetic leg. He’s not even 2. Him and Iris missed out on the new vaccine by just months, and I keep feeling guilty that we haven’t managed to find the money to have it done privately.

I text Trevor, who was downstairs with Astrid asleep on his lap, and he came up. We called the NHS advice number, but waiting for an answer I nearly gave in and got Trevor to just drive us to A&E. They answered, asked questions, and tried to get me to wake her while I was on the line. I couldn’t. So they sent an ambulance.

Iris loves ambulances. Fire engines and bin lorries and tractors too. Had she been awake she’d have loved the ambulance, but she missed the whole thing. She slept on my lap and we were strapped onto a bed. The blue lights were flashing. I was terrified, but couldn’t stop thinking about how strange it feels to be in a moving vehicle and not be able to see where you are going.

In A&E, Trevor and Astrid (who had stayed asleep, thankfully) found us. We waited on a chair in the corridor as there were no beds free. A doctor called us into a room and checked her over. They gave her more Calpol and she came around a little bit. The doctor suspected pneumonia, and sent us off to X-ray. Trevor took her in because Astrid woke and wanted to be fed, and he said she just cooperated. She’s not one for cooperating usually, so she was definitely not right! Thankfully the X-ray looked pretty clear and she definitely didn’t have pneumonia. What a relief! She still wasn’t really with it, and was red hot, so I was quite worried when the doctor said we could leave. A lovely nurse wasn’t happy with how she looked and did her obs one last time before we could leave, and thank goodness she did. 

She wasn’t happy, and requested a second opinion. I wish I’d caught her name because I’d love to thank her. I dread to think how much worse Iris could have got if we’d just gone home. 

On the children’s ward, Iris was immediately admitted. After examination she was given an inhaler and put on a course of nebulisers, one every 20 minutes. The first one was easy, because Iris was so drowsy. She fought the second one and cried quite a lot. She was clearly terrified. However, she perked up immediately afterwards and even said she was hungry. She wolfed down half a sandwich, more than she’s eaten in 2 days. The doctor said that she was barely aware of her surroundings previously because it was taking all of her effort to just breathe, and the nebulisers  and inhalers had opened her up and made it easier. They weren’t happy with her oxygen levels though, so she’d have to spend the night on oxygen. My poor little darling fought the tubes so hard. The nurse took a long time to get the tubes taped to her little cheeks and it broke my heart to see her so scared. 

She fell asleep not long after, but wasn’t allowed to just sleep. She had nebulisers hourly through the night, and for every one I had to hold her still with all my strength while gently trying to convince her that she was safe and the mask was making her better. I’m not sure she believed me! In between nebulisers she kept waking up and crying, while trying to pull the tubes from her nose. She gave herself a nosebleed in the process. 

It all worked though. Although she was shattered the next morning, she had improved loads. So much so that they decided to stop the nebulisers all together and see how she got on without. They decided it was probably a severe chest infection and gave her antibiotics. One dose a day for three days. It was a huge relief to here chest infection instead of pneumonia or meningitis or any of the other really scary things. Not that chest infections aren’t scary. I was certainly scared, and so was Iris. 

She still wouldn’t eat, and wouldn’t drink without lots of persuasion. She hadn’t done a wee all night so dehydration was a worry. Because she was wired up to oxygen and a monitor she couldn’t use the loo, so I’d put her in a nappy. I think that was the problem, because at 1pm when they decided to try her without oxygen for a bit and I could take her to the loo, she did the biggest wee ever. I was as relieved as she was. 

A nurse told us that if she could keep the oxygen number on the screen above 92 for 24 hours she could probably go home. It was only at that point that I realised we were definitely in for another night. The monitor was attached to Iris’s toe (that she later started referring to as her ‘magic toe’) but as the day went on they let her take it off in between having her obs done. She could go and play! 

Parents of patients don’t get fed, and no hot drinks are allowed on the ward. I was so tired, and had a pretty bad caffeine withdrawal headache. Trevor and Astrid needed lunch so fetched me some of those cold coffees in cans. They saved the day for me, and kept me going. Well, combined with lots of biscuits they did anyway. 

I was feeling incredibly guilty (I still am actually) for being away from 10 month old Astrid for two whole nights. I knew she was fine with Trevor, and thankfully we had enough expressed milk in the freezer. She breastfeeds all through the night usually, so I knew she’d find it hard. After not leaving the hospital with Trevor until around midnight she had slept pretty well and taken some milk from a cup. Little monster still won’t take a bottle. I’ve only ever left Iris for one night (when I was in labour!) so knowing I’d be leaving Astrid for a second night was getting to me. 

Iris slept a lot through the day on the Friday, but her stats stayed up and she continued to improve. I watched the monitor really closely, and although her heart rate was still quite high she maintained a great oxygen level without the tubes. By the evening she was running around and playing with the other children. Trevor and Astrid left as Iris’s dinner arrived (that she didn’t eat) and I attempted to get a shattered Iris to sleep. 

I failed. She kept getting into bed, demanding the curtains be closed, and closing her eyes. A few minutes later she’d leap up and ask to go and play. She was tired. So tired. But wanted to make up for days of not being able to play, and I could understand that! I was fed up with being stuck indoors doing nothing too. She eventually nodded off 20 minutes before the nurse had said she’d be round to check her stats, which obviously meant they’d wake her again! 

The ward was really noisy until after 11, but when it went quiet it was a quieter night. The snoring parent that had annoyed me so much the first night wasn’t there, and there were only toddlers. No babies. Apart from being woken often when they took Iris’s stats, we slept. Squeezing into a tiny single hospital bed with Iris, who sleeps in starfish position, wasn’t great. She wouldn’t let me sleep on the parent chair bed thingy, and I really wanted to hold her anyway. 

You can imagine how annoyed I was when at 8:30 the next morning, they turned the big lights on and opened our curtain all the way around. It wasn’t the nicest wake up and Iris was quite upset! 

She didn’t touch breakfast again, but nibbled on a couple of cookies and had started to drink a bit more. She was still coughing and breathing heavily, but was clearly itching to get home. Thankfully the doctor immediately discharged her. A dad of a little boy on the ward started up a game of ‘where is Postman Pat?’ and all four children on the ward got involved while we waited for Iris prescription to arrive so that we could go home.  

By lunchtime, we were in the van on our way home. 

The whole experience left Iris tired and tearful for days afterwards. She’s only just getting her appetite and her energy back now, two weeks later. 

It takes a village 

DSCF1482.JPGThat’s the saying, isn’t it? I think long ago parents did have a village, living close to their own parents and siblings and other members of the extended family. I often wonder how things would be different for me if I’d had my children in Bristol. I suspect my kids and my sister’s kids would spend a lot of time together. I imagine shared babysitting duties meaning we’d all get a bit more time off. I’d have my mum too, and my little ones would probably have sleepovers at her house the way my sister’s children do.

That’s not how it worked out for me though, and two years and five months into parenting I’ve just realised that I do have a village. Right here in the valleys.

Parenting can be isolating. I often wonder if I’d actually be happier if I had a job outside the home. Would the contact with other adult humans make me feel better? In reality, I doubt it. I have no idea what I’d do. I wouldn’t earn enough to cover childcare for two making it pointless from a financial point of view. Plus, I actually really do love that I can spend all of my days with my children until they go to school.

We’re good, me and my two, at getting out of the house. Between playgroups, going to the library, having lunch in a cafe occasionally and spending as much time as we can outdoors in all weathers, we don’t sit around the house much at all. Now that Iris is in nursery two mornings a week, I get some time alone with Astrid. I have some time alone with Iris during Astrid’s many naps. Things are calmer. We still have horrendous days when I just can’t cope with them at all (last Monday was a real bitch) but generally I’m not stressed out or struggling to get through the days.

Last week I went to see a show. Ballet and circus skills and beautiful music. It was so beautiful. It was written by a friend I met through breastfeeding group, and so many of us turned up for it. To support her. That’s when I realised that they’d turn up for me too. These wonderful women are my village. Some of them brought gifts when Astrid was born. A few offered to bring us cooked meals. One looked after our guinea pig when we were away. We’ve been away camping with some of them. They’ve passed on clothes and toys when they don’t need them anymore, and we’ve passed ours on too. We started a crochet club and taught each other.

More than anything though, I’m so grateful for them just being there. 

We set up a private Facebook group last year, with just a handful of mums in it. I know I can post about anything in there. Even if it’s just a little rant about lack of sleep, or advice about weaning or nappies or something. Somebody will reply. Every time.

You need other parents when you become a parent. Well, I did anyway. I was sure my current friends would do just fine after having kids, but actually I did need the ones who had kids more. You can’t understand the guilt or the worry or the love before your children come along. I thought you could, but you definitely can’t.

I know I’m not the only parent who quietly bubbles with anger when a childless person says they are tired.

You can’t bother your childless friends at 3am when your baby won’t sleep and you’ve worked yourself up into a bit of a state. At least one of your parent friends will be up anyway, in a similar boat. You can’t worry about breastfeeding, weaning, nappy rash, school applications, birthday parties, not being the weirdo mum at the school gate, teething or potty training with somebody without kids. You’ll just bore them to sleep. I know, because I used to be bored by parents and how much they talk about their little ones.

It’d be really  wonderful to have my mum, my sister, my best friends and their kids all on my doorstep. There have been so many occasions when I’ve longed for that, and even a few times when I’ve got overwhelmed and gone back for a bit of a break. I imagine I’ll always feel like that to some extent. Last week my closest friends ever made the drive over the bridge and hanging out with them and their little ones was just so great. I will always always wish we could do that more often.

But we can do it. Not every week because the trains are expensive and so is the bridge toll. But it is possible.

And even when we can’t, I have my new village now. A village within a town in the valleys of South Wales.

It feels like home.

Starting at meithrin 

Last week Iris started at the the local meithrin, two mornings a week. I think it’s fair to say that she handled it better than I did. You could be fooled into thinking she was dreading it by the expression on her face in this picture! Actually I think she was just puzzled by me and Trevor taking so many pictures of her on the doorstep! 

We’ve been talking to her about starting ‘school’ all summer, and she remembers the day we popped in to fill in the forms and she played with some of the toys. She also remembered the big fancy bikes in the garden and has been desperate to start so that she can try them out. 

On her first morning, she walked in and sat in the sandpit. Trevor came with us, and we told her we were leaving and would be back to pick her up in a little while. “Alright, bye” was her response, and she barely even looked up. I was gutted and relived and so very proud all at once. There were no short sessions or settling in visits for my girl. She didn’t need it. (I’m choosing to believe that my attachment style of parenting – that so many people said would make her clingy – has made her confident, and safe in the knowledge that I’ll always come back  and be there when she needs me).

I have very mixed feelings about using childcare. I’m not working. I didn’t need childcare. I feel guilty for spending two and a half hours twice a week without her. But I’m doing it for her. She’s a very sociable girl, and we don’t always make it to groups and stuff. Often Astrid, me and Trevor are the only people she speaks to for days. I don’t think that’s enough for her! I’m also hoping that starting school next year will be less of a shock, both because she’ll be used to being away from me and because she’ll hopefully already know some of her classmates. 

While she’s there, me and Astrid have some time to play the baby games she’s no longer interested in. It feels like such a break to have just one baby again for a bit! 

Potty learning – why I’m following her lead 

“You need to start potty training her soon” is a phrase I’ve heard way too much in the last few months. While I was a little worried that kids start school at 3 here and need to be reliably using the loo by then, I was in no rush to get Iris out of her nappies. I think part of the reason people have been encouraging me to potty train is because they assume having two in nappies is really hard work, when in fact it really isn’t. I haven’t found it to be anyway. 

My niece was out of nappies pretty early, because she took my sister by surprise and announced that she’d be wearing pants, and not nappies, one day out of the blue. Her accidents were minimal and she was dry and using the loo every time within a few days. Following her lead had worked. It reinforced my belief that there’s not a lot of point in trying to force children to do things they aren’t ready for. 

I’ve worked in nurseries most of my adult life so I have contributed to the potty training of probably hundreds of children. I’ve met loads who have been put in pants too early. They have loads of accidents and it knocks their confidence. This has the complete opposite result to what the parents hoped for. 

Honestly, I see nothing wrong with children wearing nappies until they’re three or four or whatever. Had Iris wanted to stay in nappies a lot longer I’d have rolled with it. Actually, I wasn’t ready for this. As usual, she’s way ahead of me. 

The week before we went away camping Iris just started using her potty. Just like that. It’s been kicking around the house for a while, so it’s become familiar and she’s used it on a few occasions here and there when she’s felt like it. This time was different because she didn’t want to put her nappy back on, preferring to stay naked from the waist down. We stayed at home and she used the potty all afternoon. We even took the potty out with us to walk the dog, and Iris wore a dress and a bare bum underneath. Luckily the weather was warm! 

Her timing was dreadful. With a camping holiday starting a few days later, and then her first sessions at nursery the following week. I’d obviously rather waited until we were back from our holiday and she had settled in at nursery. 

I needn’t have worried. Her wet accidents were few and far between, and camping turned out to be a good time for it. Most of her few accidents happened in the great outdoors! She still isn’t quite there with her poo, and although she’s making it to the potty for most of them now, she isn’t reliable yet. I don’t see it as any more of a chore than changing a dirty nappy so it’s not worrying me. When she does manage it on the potty or the loo she’s so chuffed with herself! I’m so confident in her ability to ask when she needs a wee that I’ve stopped putting puppy pads in her car seat and pushchair, and I’ve even taken her on a train journey to Bristol in pants. She’s pretty much cracked it. 

These are my tips for potty ‘learning’. I’m no expert, but these things have worked so well for Iris that I thought I’d share. 

  • Just wait. Leave a potty lying around by all means, and definitely use the loo in front of them as much as possible. But don’t put any pressure on. Just wait for them to show interest. 
  • Get the Pirate Pete potty book out from the library. Iris really liked the parts where he picked out his potty and his pants. One day she just asked if we could go to the shops and choose pants for her, and we did. Even though she didn’t actually want to wear them yet. 
  • Let them choose the pants. Iris has a mixture of Peppa Pig, monsters, and vehicles. All her choices, and most of them from the boys section. I wasn’t going to tell her that she couldn’t have the pants with diggers on just because some idiot somewhere has decided that only boys can like diggers. 
  • Leave the pants around. Iris has a basket of pants in the living room. They get put on dolls and played with a lot. They’re very familiar to her now. 
  • Invest in a travel potty. We have the ‘carry potty’. It is sealed when you shut the lid and apparently doesn’t leak if you have to carry a wee around with you. I’ve never actually had to test this out though! Every time we go out I remind Iris every so often that the potty is right there in the bottom of the pushchair if she needs it. 
  • Keep a potty near the toys and another one in the bathroom. When they first start learning they can’t hold the wee long! A potty where they play helps with this. 
  • Buy a wet bag or two for storing soiled clothes when you’re out. They’re very cheap, and will save a lot of plastic nappy sacks. You can turn them inside out and chuck them in the washing machine with the pants. 
  • Ditch all in one pyjamas and dungarees. Choose leggings and jogging bottoms, or dresses. They need to be able to get them out of the way quickly and by themselves. 
  • Iris wouldn’t use the loo at nursery to start with so she took her own potty in so that she’d have somewhere familiar to go. She didn’t use it and started using their loo pretty quickly, but it might be helpful for other little ones. 
  • Cheer and congratulate when they do it, but clean it away quickly and without making a big deal when they don’t. It really doesn’t matter. 
  • Think carefully about using sticker charts or other rewards. I’ve used them lots of times with lots of children over the years, but I’ve found they’re not usually helpful. Some kids really respond to them, but just remember that at some point you have to take it away. 

Despite being incredibly proud of Iris for tackling this at such a young age, I’m a little bit emotional too. No nappies definitely means she’s not a baby anymore!