Diary of a potty training newbie.

Sleep routine? Yep. Weening? Absolutely. Getting rid of that dummy? No problem! Since having Holly I’ve been fairly relaxed with milestones but potty training seemed to make me nervous like no other. Maybe it was because I was worried I wouldn’t be responsive enough whilst juggling baby Lily, maybe it was because I felt like I didn’t want to let her down by not being up for the job. Either way I was nervous and found the internet full of conflicting information, strong opinions and to be honest, a plethora of contradictions! I needed a ‘one stop shop’ for this and wanted something that would cover EVERYTHING that we might face so I picked up a copy of Potty Training Magic and a Potty Training Academy pack and got to work studying this so I would know what to expect before sh*t hit the fan…..literally.

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Once we agreed that Holly was showing all the right signs we decided to go for it – get rid of those nappies! So here’s a little breakdown of what the first few days of potty training looked like for us…..

Day 1

This morning I told Holly it was time to choose her big girl pants and put them on and I give her a choice of some pants to wear. Today has been a day in the garden and although we have had a couple of wee accidents she is asking lots of questions about how she gets stars in her reward box and watched the George and Hollie DVD a couple of times (it helps that her potty is the same as Hollie’s in the animation).

We were all very proud when there was a wee in the toilet just before bath time while singing some songs to distract her (Old McDonald was running out of animals on his farm…).

Day 2

Eager to earn some more stars there was lots of sitting on the potty and she managed 2 drips of wee. I’ve been giving Holly lots of praise for sitting on the potty, asking for the potty and for any wees or poos, I’m ready to celebrate.

This morning there was a pooh accident in her pants and I got a little worried that this might demotivate her so I didn’t make a big deal out of it and reassured her that accidents happen and she can tell Mummy when she needs a poo or wee.

Being completely honest though, after a couple of accidents I was inwardly struggling to stay motivated. Being so happy and supportive whilst mopping up wee is exhausting!

Then after playing with her squishy toy from her distraction box on the toilet she did a poo…..*bring out the pom poms* GO HOLLY!!

Day 3

It seemed like she had lost interest and we were flagging too, Potty Training is bloody exhausting!

Thrown in with 2 year old tantrums it was a challenge but she did her first full wee on the potty which was amazing! I let her phone grandad and tell him how she was getting on which she loved as a little incentive.

Both myself and my husband took it in turns to take ‘time out’ from watching Holly so we weren’t completely knackered!

Day 4

Nursery day!!!! I was so nervous about her being away from me today and hoped all her progress wouldn’t regress with the fun surroundings of nursery. We went in with everything she would need for the day, I’m not joking when I say it looked like she was moving in. She had a couple of accidents but the lovely ladies there said they were very impressed with her progress and found the system easy to follow.

No accidents in the car either!!!!

Day 5

The distraction boxes have been amazing and help pass the time when she’s sat on the loo, otherwise I think Holly would be more conscious of sitting there long enough to do anything but she managed a pooh on the toilet before her ballet class!

This afternoon we had a very slight accident but after what I think is technically called a ‘shart’ I popped her on the loo for a nice healthy poo and then 2 stars in her box after a clean up and a round of applause.

15 mins later she took off her pants and went for a wee on her potty so maybe she’s getting the hang of it!

I’ve cleaned everywhere and I can still smell pooh….

Day 6

Nursery day again and when Holly comes home tonight she is not herself at all. She has had a couple of accidents at nursery (one massive one) today so maybe this is affecting her mood?

Day 7

OK…..Something is up here. She doesn’t want to go near the potty or the toilet, she’s crying and holding in her wee so I’m not going to pressure her at all. Following Amanda’s tips I’ve asked Holly how she’s feeling and as she is getting so upset I’m putting on a pull up. Holding her wee in can lead to an infection and I want to avoid this at all costs. I still keep her potty and magic box very visual and language very very positive about this.

Day 8

This morning we had a wee and a poo on the toilet after about 5 minutes of being sat there and playing with the distraction toys. Sundays tend to be a busy day for us so we have taken the potty out and about with us, she’s been very keen to show family we see her potty and reward box.

Day 9

Wow today has felt like a real breakthrough, no accidents and most importantly Holly has been asking for the toilet or potty and is SO proud of herself, even asking everyone for a high 5 after going on the toilet!

fullsizeoutput_1f6cWhat I found out during this time…..

*Take the time to sit down with your little one and explain the training system you are using, keep talking about it and ask them how they are feeling about it every day (this was such an invaluable tip from Amanda!).

*There’s no I in team – Make sure you, your partner, nursery and any other carer that spends time with your little one knows the system you are following. Read ahead so you both know this. I would highly recommend Potty Training Magic! If you’re all singing from the same hymn sheet it makes for a more harmonious tune.

*Get your jazz hands at the ready, you’re about to become the most positive person you know around your little one. It’s exhausting but it’s worth it to make sure that all the support and encouragement is there. If this is too much just remember it’s only until bedtime and then you can balance it out by binge watching Line of Duty with a glass of wine!

*It’s a learning curve and accidents happen. I can guarantee that just when you feel like you’ll never get there your little one will have a wee or poo on the potty and you’ll feel like doing a happy dance.

*Communication is everything, telling your little one how proud you are with them makes a BIG difference.

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Nothing changes if nothing changes.

So you may (or may not!) have noticed that I’ve been very quiet on the blogging and even posting front for the past few months on here and now it’s time to let you all know what I’ve been up to.

After being made redundant just before I returned from my maternity I decided to make the most of the opportunity and use what I think is always the most precious commodity you can have….time! I took time to really absorb Holly growing up, focus on one of our personal goals of adding to the family and also use the time to really reflect on what it was I wanted to do next. I’ve always maintained that it’s equally important to feel like myself as much as I can as well as a Mama and this opportunity gave me everything I needed to consider my next move.

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But what would that move be? I was missing being in a work environment and getting involved in conversations around self-development and coaching as oppose to weaning and milestones. Becoming a Mama was the best thing that has ever happened to me but I also wanted to get back to work, to building on what I had previously achieved and earning some money. I decided to write down a ‘wish list’ of what I would love from my next step; it included learning some new skills, having client interaction and also having the flexibility I now needed with family life.

For a couple of months I toyed with almost every idea under the sun, all just as impractical as the next and then one day whilst scrolling the ‘gram an ad popped up in my feed for Digital Mums. I clicked through and had a read; here was a way to retrain in the wonderful world of social media and it was focused around Mums! Digital Mums clearly recognised the huge amount of talent out there from Mum’s not being able to, or not wanting to, return to their previous roles and also the vast amount of businesses out there screaming out for some social media help but not necessarily needing to employ someone on a full-time basis.

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I called them up and spoke with the wonderful Christine who listened to what I was looking for and what I had come from, we discussed how I would fit the study time in to my week and loosely started talking about a business plan for when I graduate.

I started the course in February this year with a mix of excitement, nervousness and self-doubt. Could I really fit in the study time of 25 hours a week and would I be able to run a successful campaign as part of the course? Thankfully Digital Mums know that these feelings are normal to lots of the students and they group you up so you always have someone to talk to who is going through the same thing as you (this is a godsend!) and get you started on designing your campaign fairly swiftly to reduce your procrastination. Think feel the fear and do it anyway!

Since February I’ve been running a local food campaign called Scrumptious South Coast and it’s been better than I could have ever imagined. I’ve been to foodie events, invited to launch nights, interviewed some of the top Chefs in the area for the accompanying blog and of course had the burden of trying some of the most delicious food on the South Coast!

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It’s been challenging, I’ve had to work in the nooks of time I never knew existed and I’ve had to think on my feet for content but I’ve loved it. It was totally out of my comfort zone but with each week completed I knew I was on the right track for what I wanted from my future career. The other challenge is of course life happening at the same time; I’ve been pregnant for pretty much my entire course, we’ve moved house and of course had weeks where we had 0 childcare but this is what happens right?

In terms of the future I’m planning on building my own social media consultancy, working with the incredible small to medium local business we have to help them connect more than ever with their audience. It’s something I’ve never done before but the new skills I have teamed with my experience as a coach marry up well.

I would recommend anyone even thinking about the Digital Mums course to give them a ring to see how it can work for them. It’s been challenging, stressful and at times nauseating (running a food campaign is not always the one when you’re in the first trimester!) but I’m finishing the summer feeling very proud of achieving something that I didn’t know would be possible at the beginning of the year.

In the meantime watch this space for updates on my new chapter, new baby and a new business!

Thanks for reading,

Em x

 

 

 

18 Summers

The past few weeks have seen a beautiful spell of warm weather, light evenings and gorgeous sunshine and one of the things I have seen circulating quite a lot on social media is this picture around how you only have 18 summers with your children.

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Now I’m not one to rain on anyone’s parade here and I understand that this is only my second Summer as a Mumma, but I’m calling bullshit on this one.

Do we really need another quote or post on social media to add to the pressure that is parenting? What about all of those people out there wishing they could even have just one more day with their child let alone a summer? What about all of those who were wishing they could have a baby and not even in their mind dividing up that time to seasons?

A huge majority of parents have to work and divide up their annual leave to spend time with their children, some of which only get a week with their children…. are all those hard working parents only looking at 18 weeks and not 18 summers?

For parents that stay and parent at home, the summer doesn’t necessarily break up what can be the monotony of day to day life. The summer can be long and glorious but also not every day is going to be ‘insta’ worthy or look like something from a Pinterest board. You will still have days, like any other time of the year where you are counting down to bedtime and popping on Peppa Pig for some peace and quiet and that is totally normal.

I know that in reality this is only a picture that’s turned up on Instagram and the sentiment behind it is probably intended to be sweet but we should savour all of our lives, not just the summers with our children. It’s about Christmases as a family, Easters with friends who feel like family and all those summers past our ‘allocated 18′ when we do spend time with our children, and then their children.

When I look back at my ’18’ childhood summers I’m really lucky to say I have some beautiful memories that I will always cherish but they’re with family and friends, especially after the age of about 15. Does this mean my Mum didn’t make the most out of my childhood? Of course not! I’ve spent weekends away and holidays abroad with my Mum in my 20s and 30s and I really hope I will be able to say the same one day with my own children.

I think what I’m trying to get across is more along the lines of this quote (there’s a theme here);

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If you saw that first quote on social media and it made you smile then that’s wonderful but if you made you feel afraid that you’re not making the most of every summer or moment then please give yourself a break. We are all trying our best and we all should be a bit kinder to ourselves.

Thanks as always for reading,

Em x

 

 

A letter to New Mum Me.

It’s going to happen, you’re going to be a Mummy. It’s what you’ve been waiting for and praying for a long time now.

The rush of love that everyone tells you about is true. You’re going to place her above everyone else you’ve ever known and you’ll understand what it’s like to love someone with every fibre of your being. But there are some things we need to talk about first….

She won’t arrive on her due date, she’s going to be here 3 weeks before which will throw you off and she’s going to make you work for it. Labour is going to be painful and long and exhausting but it’s going to be worth every second and you won’t care about your birth plan or any ridiculous expectations you’ve set upon yourself or you feel others have set on you….. because that’s all bullshit and the only thing you will care about is welcoming her safely into the world.

The first few days and weeks are going to be tough, you’ll feel like she is made of glass and you’ll find out that she isn’t. It’s going to feel like everyone is on your case from midwives to health visitors to family and friends and this is because you’re going to be more tired than you ever thought was possible. You will spend the whole day looking forward to getting some ‘sleep when she sleeps’ but when it comes to it you’re just going to sit there and stare at her. Watch her little chest fall up and down while she breathes and you’ll marvel at how astonishing she is to you.

At some stage and at least once, you are going to feel like you’ve failed her / yourself / the world. It’s only natural because what you’re doing is completely new. There are no manuals or instructions and you’ll be trying to operate on sleep deprivation and chocolate but if you are trying to do a good job then you will be. Please be kind to yourself and understand that this is one of the rare times in life when you will get out what you put into this.

Any expectations you are feeling have probably being placed there by yourself….the house can stay a mess, there can always be another deliveroo ordered and who cares if you don’t shower until bed time? Nobody minds, everyone wants you to do well and if you don’t shower for a day and remain covered in sick then guess what….the world will still turn.

This is going to be a really tough one for you, please try not to blame yourself. If she cries non-stop, if she doesn’t settle, if she won’t latch on. These are all things part and parcel of her finding her way and you finding yours, in the same way you wouldn’t dream of apportioning blame onto her you should cut yourself some slack. You will both find your way together and that journey should be full of learnings and blame free. It’s no-one fault it’s just your new life as a family finding it’s way.

Limit the amount of fucks you give to the things that really do not matter as you’ll end up giving yourself a hard time over this. She is your daughter and you are her mother, if you want to give her a dummy then give her a dummy. Likewise if you don’t want the hassle of the under 1s group when she is 4 weeks old then don’t go. You’ll only use the pressure of being there as another weapon for beating yourself up when you turn up late and the nappy explodes and you don’t know any of the words to wind the sodding bobbin up. You’ve got so much time for that in the weeks and months ahead, right now all she needs is you to cuddle and feed her.

Everyone will give you well-meaning advice, all you need to do is nod and smile. This sounds easy but your hormone cocktail can make this tricky, but just nod and smile. Take on some of the advice and don’t worry if it’s not for you. Remember that generally people are basing this on their own experiences of their own children (which is usually a maximum of 3 or 4) and one day you’ll find yourself doing the same.

Lastly but by no means least, just go with it. Every late night, every awkward or painful feed, every time you both get through more outfits than you thought possible because theres a stain and you can’t recall in your sleep deprived mind if it’s pooh or sick. Just go with it, keep at it and know that if you’re sat caring about whether you’re doing a good job then it pretty much means you are.

 

Love,

Em xx

 

The Blame Game

So it’s no mystery to anyone around here that we had to try for a long time to have Holly and I was delighted when we welcomed her into our lives. Here’s something that not many people know; when Holly was 4 days old she slipped from my arm onto the floor whilst I sat breastfeeding her. It makes me feel so uneasy sharing this but I know I’m not the first new parent to do this, it was a total unfortunate accident but I completely blame myself for it.

When it happened I was in a state beyond tired, I never knew that level of exhaustion existed before I had Holly and within a split second of letting my eyes ‘rest’ she slipped and landed on the (thankfully) carpeted floor still all swaddled up. It’s hard for me to explain how I felt in that moment but it’s one of the worst places I have ever been. Of course I immediately scooped her up and checked her over whilst waking my husband for help, once I could be as certain as I could have been that there was nothing desperately wrong with her I threw a hoodie on and we jumped in the car to head to A&E. On the way there I spent the journey sobbing, for some reason I was convinced that she would be taken away from me. That we would walk into A&E with a huge sign above my head reading ‘AWFUL MOTHER’, something would be wrong with her and it would be entirely my fault for ‘not being able to cope’ with the long and sometimes unforgiving nights with a newborn baby.

The nurse and Dr we saw within those 4 hours could not have been nicer, they checked everything was fine, reassured me that these things happen and I wasn’t the first, nor would I be the last, to have an accident like this. They recognised that I was tired, hormonal and effectively distraught over what had happened. I remember the Dr telling me that both Holly and I had been through much worse only 4 days beforehand and we had coped with that but for some reason this seemed worse to me, because this was my fault, my failure in parenting.

We had spent years trying for this baby and then within 4 days I bloody drop her!

Once we were home I couldn’t bare to sit in the feeding chair, night time feeds happened downstairs sat bolt upright with a cold glass of water to keep me alert, I took every chance I could to sleep to avoid any other accidents and focused on all of the other wonderful parts of our new life as a family. But whilst Holly’s sleep improved mine only became worse; to begin with it was almost every time I tried to go to sleep and then it decreased to affecting my main sleep only but pretty much every night and now it’s every now and then.

It’s always along the same vane, I have Holly in my arms and then all of a sudden she is not there, usually she has disappeared in the covers and despite searching through them frantically I can’t find her. At it’s worst I’ve woken up in tears / screaming but now it’s just a sad jolt that my mind is still back there reliving it.

During the summer months Holly was crawling around and face planted the coffee table, it was the smallest of bumps on her face but it bled and I once again my mind goes straight to this being my fault. Even though I had ‘baby proofed’ the lounge and I was next to her when it happened. Once again I found myself in the car on the way to the Drs surgery apologising for something that in all reality could have happened to anyone and I felt guilt while her little chops recovered.

This week has seen the sickness bug visit our house and it started with Holly on Tuesday night, whilst I was looking after her and getting the sheets washed at a speed that only a desperate parent knows, I was running through my mind what I had fed her that had made her sick. The next morning I called her nursery to explain that she wouldn’t be in and they informed me that a sickness bug had been going around the baby room that week, I got off the phone and realised I had been blaming myself for this too.

So in an attempt to retire from the blame game I wrote a letter to myself as a new Mum and it’s been cathartic to say the least. Writing it down and then reading it back to myself, trying to understand that I would never be this harsh with anyone else so I need to start being a bit kinder to myself. It doesn’t need to be a well put together letter, a sonnet or even make sense as long as I am ‘spring cleaning’ this self blame from my mind I know I’m going in the right direction.

Thank you for reading,

Love Em xx

Love, Love, Love

It’s Valentines Day once again folks, the day of a cheeky card, a soppy romcom and the M&S meal deal. I know there are some non-believers in Valentines that think that the day was invented by Clintons and that’s cool if that’s your bag but I love ‘love’ and therefore I’m a fan of Valentines.

We’ve always celebrated Valentines Day in pretty much the same way, Rob cooking me a delicious meal and enjoying a decent bottle of wine avec candles and lurved up playlist. It’s something just for us and we love our cosy night in. Because of this we haven’t seen much of a change in the way we celebrate it since having Holly so therefore the way that I feel about the day shouldn’t have changed much either, but it has. I feel different towards Rob because I love seeing him being a great Dad, balancing out a demanding job and being home for as many bath times in the week as he can. In some ways I respect him a lot more and appreciate the time we have together.

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The other thing that’s different is my heart, it no longer has any barriers around it that I had put in place for self-preservation purposes. Holly arrived and smashed all of those down with her gorgeous big eyes looking up at me and her tiny chubby hands wrapped around my fingers. There’s no agenda or pretence with her and I have no control over my feelings for her. People told me that having children is like nothing else and they were so right, it’s overwhelming, all indulging and beautifully simplistic.

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Having Holly in my life means I love in HD, my heart is full and everyday I feel like the luckiest Mama alive.

Because of this going forward I’m going to spend Valentines celebrating with my little Holly during the day, listening to some songs about love, making a valentines card and me basically cutting all of her food into heart shapes…. Predictable yes, unoriginal yes and I will be like a little piggy in poop all day. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, she completes me. Because of her my heart will always be huge and my arms always open.

She is a love that brings me pure joy. She doesn’t care if I’m tired, having a bad hair day, have a to do list the size of my arm or if I didn’t get the right starter from the meal deal. She just loves me (don’t worry I’m not about to get all Gwyneth) and makes being crazy in love with her the most natural thing in the world.

So however you are celebrating Valentines and whoever you are with I hope you are feeling the love in some way. Be it a night out on the town or just a nice relaxing bath with no interruptions. Enjoy lovers!

 

Love Em x

You and Me, always and forever.

Just before Christmas I decided it had already been a long winter and that me and my husband needed some time away from it all. It’s so easy when you have a baby for the relationship to change in its dynamics; instead of talking about your day, current news and mutual friends, your communication with each other slides into the competition of who had the least sleep and who has changed the most nappies.

I think this has been made even more obvious with us after I didn’t go back to work. I’m spending longer at home with Holly (massive win) which I am loving but it has meant that I’m having less adult conversations day to day as my ‘Mummy tribe’ have gone back to work. I feel like when Rob asks me about my day all I can give him is an update of what the day has entailed for Holly. We used to talk non-stop for hours endlessly, I just don’t know where that person is anymore.

So in the quest to rediscover if she was still in there I booked us a weekend away and arranged with my Dad to have Holly. Booking it made me feel excited and nervous all at the same time but I knew we needed some time as ‘us’, Rob works incredibly hard all week and we hadn’t had any quality time in what felt like a long time. As selfish as it may seem to some, this was going to be just what the Dr ordered.

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We drove off on Saturday morning full of hope and anticipation for what the next couple of days had in store and arrived at our beautiful hotel an hour and a half later with only 1 call to Grandad and a couple of messages under my belt. We had a leisurely lunch and a glass of wine, neither of us checked our phones and our conversation was only interrupted by someone letting us know our room was ready.

The next 48 hours included walks without a buggy, sitting in front of the fire with a glass of wine and a book (DURING THE DAY!), and a swim….with no baby, no swimming songs and just the beautiful Somerset landscape overlooking us.

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Did I miss Holly? Of course I did, it was like not having my left arm, but she was safe and being fantastically looked after. We talked and talked and talked, not about the sleep pattern of the night before but about our goals for the year. What we wanted to achieve this year both individually and as a couple and how we planned to do it. We reminisced on the weekends away we used to have, we slept like logs with no baby monitor in the background and enjoyed tea in bed without fear of a hot drink being grabbed by a gorgeous little hand.

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I felt more relaxed and chilled than I have in a long time, of course it’s easy to have the patience of a saint when you’re on a weekend away but little things like having time to get ready, having a bath on my time and not needing to worry about waking in the night has left me feeling rejuvenated. For us we’ve come away feeling more connected, I even found a couple of things out about my husband that I never knew before… which after 9 years together is pretty impressive! I actively listened to what he was saying, no cosmetic listening while I feed Holly and get our dinner ready.

With a busy family life like so many others its easy for the edges to blur in the day to day life but this time we have spent together has reintroduced the definition to our relationship, not as Mum and Dad but as Husband and Wife. I hope this is something we can do every year, its special time together that counts. Where you’re not having to ‘share’ each other, you’re not checking the time until you need to get back to a babysitter and you rediscover the things that made you fall bat shit crazy in love with each other in the first place.

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Love Em xx