So while I like/love writing about days out and exciting things like that, sometimes real life takes over, in this case, toilet training!
Toilet training has never been forced onto Heidi, she has taken her own pace to it all. In fact, the first time she used a potty was in public, when one of her friends went and she decided to copy.
That was 2 months ago and after being caught a bit behind, we started doing the right things and things have been up and down. The holiday to the South Coast (read here) put the breaks on before we could really get into the habits, and we have good days and bad days.
In fact, yesterday was a good day and she was dry throughout for the first time. Success!
However, within that was an occasion where she went stood up (yes!) and once where I had to bribe her to sit on the training seat with sweets!
Today has been a disaster with wetness throughout and the only way I would have got her to sit on the toilet was by forcibly restraining her on it! (I didn’t, by the way!)
As a result, I don’t know what to do. She is physically scared to go to the toilet at times, both at home and out but at times she is a happy little toddler who takes great pleasure in keeping herself dry.
I’m sure that it will get better and maybe part of this is me being impatient, as all of her peers have pretty much mastered it. However, any advice is much appreciated (either in comments or [email protected]) and I’m sure I’ll post an update in due course!
“Flying with a Toddler” is the first of a series of posts telling the story of Heidi’s first “proper” holiday. This will hopefully give some hints and tips to those planning on taking a toddler away, as well as making you smile along the way.
The other parts of my mini-break review can be found here:
So the idea was to go on a short haul flight as a test for a longer trip in the near future. After hearing about Peppa Pig World near Southampton, the destination was set. It sounded quite simple, but it never is!
The night before
Flying Manchester to Southampton at 8.30am on a Friday meant that we decided to stay close to the airport the night before. We chose the Premier Inn South, which is a mile from the airport and relatively handy. You can never go too far wrong with a Premier Inn and the room was everything we really needed. However, the adjoining restaurant wasn’t….
I completely understand that some places are not meant to be child appropriate, and we made a wrong decision to go to that restaurant! The food took an age to come and when you’re finishing at 9pm, that isn’t the best start to a holiday! To be fair, the staff were great. Our waitress had a slight scouse accent and a hairband /bandana and was brilliant! The food was good, but it was all a bit drawn out. This meant that we had quite a late night…
So an early start took us to Manchester Airport, Terminal 3 to check in and get through security with a tired toddler – great! It took us 40 minutes to get from going through to doors to get past all security so something to bear in mind.
The security staff were brilliantly understanding, given the job that they have to do. We were ushered to the priority security lane, probably because we looked a little stressed out and this definitely helped. At Terminal 3, there are lots of shops to pass the time with. There is also a small, basic children’s area, but is was a quiet part of the airport and allows children to be children for a bit!
Given that Manchester Airport is one of the biggest in the country, the changing facilities were good. They also seemed to be cleaned at regular intervals, which is a must!!! If you have some time to kill, I would try and find a quiet part of the terminal. This means that you don’t feel rushed and everyone can relax a bit.
As Heidi is a good walker and aged 2 3/4, we decided not to take a pushchair. This would have taken an extra pair of hands and made getting through security a bit more difficult. I imagine if you have a small child who is happy to be in a pushchair, it would help to have one going through security . However, it would have been a nightmare for us!
So, now to the “exciting” bit – actually Flying with a Toddler! Having done my research (aircraft geek!) I knew the plane wouldn’t be the biggest and we would have to walk on the tarmac. With it being late February, we wore an extra layer of clothes! I also informed Flybe (our airline) that Heidi was a first time flyer, just so the flight crew were aware in case Heidi got freaked out!
This proved to be a masterstroke as the flight attendants were brilliant (Alex and Alice). Every time they walked past and the opportunity arose, they talked to Heidi, making sure that she was ok and keeping her entertained and engaged with the flight. This additional interaction really helped break up the flight (even though it was only 50 minutes!) and made sure we had trouble free flight.
Flybe do an excellent “Flying with a Toddler” guide here and this helped, but I would give the following advice as well:
– talk about the journey beforehand with your child (if possible) so they understand what is going to happen.
– plan your hand luggage very carefully. Know exactly where your wipes, nappies, changing pads, change of clothes etc are. As such, in case of an emergency change, you know without thinking.
– pack quiet entertainment. I packed thin paperback books to read to Heidi and that worked well, as did a teddy and other small toys.
– plan for a delay. Carrying an extra pack of wipes or trousers isn’t going to cause any issues, but a 2 hour delay might.
– don’t forget the liquids! Unfortunately, security procedures mean that you can’t take more than 100mls of liquid past security. Make sure your hand luggage is packed accordingly and buy a bottle of water for your child after security. No chocolates, sweets or fizzy pop!)
I did try and take Heidi to the toilets on the plane, to see how she would react,. It’s safe to say that she didn’t like them! They are particularly small and I am not sure how you would go on changing a nappy. This is one to ask for the help of the flight attendants, as there might be some spare seats that you could use.
The flight was so smooth, that Heidi was asleep for the last 10 minutes of it, including the landing!
As a special treat, we were also granted access to the cockpit after taxiing to the terminal. However, the conversation was very limited with a groggy toddler!!
And that was it. Heidi’s first flight and Flying with a Toddler went remarkably smoothly. Onto the car hire and then Bournemouth for a day at the seaside!
Inspiration for this post came from a Twitter conversation started by @DadandTwo about the level of dad involvement in playgroups and it did really hit home with regards to playgroups.
Working Monday to Friday means that most of my playgroup interaction comes at a weekend with Rhythm Time. This is a weekly group where you sign up in advance for the term and as such you have stability and as such, it is easier to talk to people, mainly because you know you’ll be spending the next 10 Saturday mornings together! There are a good mix of parents who come, but still probably a 70:30 split between mums and dads. This is a bit strange as given that it is a Saturday class, both mum and dad must work Monday to Friday and so you would have thought that dad would want to spend time with their child at a class… – I realise that is a huge stereotype and assumption!
Compare this to a weekday class that I sometimes attend – I am the only dad on 90% of the time. I remember on Tuesday drop-in class, I was the only dad out of 40 children/parents and yes, it was daunting at times.
At the time of writing, I am 31, white man – in British society, I have never been in the minority. Yet for the first time in my life, I was – in a church hall in Leeds!! It wasn’t pleasant at all. I felt like I was a foreigner, an alien, even though I was a dad having a day off and going out and about with my little girl.
This cannot be right.
As a society, we must do more to promote dads interacting and going out and about with their children. The wonderful thing about social media is that you see examples of such dads doing this and it is brilliant. However, they are shining lights in a sea of darkness.
But what can be done?
The shared maternity leave is a good start, but given what Mum has to go through throughout pregnancy, it can only go so far. We have to go further, we have to change the culture of society and challenge the preconceptions of parenting. If we can change the culture around smoking, we can do anything. A promotional campaign encouraging dads to get involved with children would be a good start, to challenge existing behaviours.
However, it must go further… Big business targets their products for mums and not dads – how is that encouraging dads to get involved? When was the last time you saw dad and child on a baby product? I realise that companies are looking after their own business and market research plays a huge part in all this, but it is a sign of the society and culture that we live in.
However, dads must take responsibility themselves. You only get one chance at bringing out a particular child and you must grab it with both hands. The formative years are so important. Yes, working full time is difficult and tiring but going out and about with your child is uplifting and energising. You will both benefit from it and the memories will last so much longer than most other things you would have done instead.
You might ask “What are you doing to change this?”. My situation is slightly different to the norm, but I work Monday to Friday 9-5 with little scope for flexitime etc. I am on a decent wage and financially it doesn’t make sense for me to drop my hours (for many there is the issue of the glass ceiling…)
As a result, I have 2 days off a week and my annual leave. On my weekends, myself and Heidi are inseparable going here and there and everywhere, as well as attending the aforementioned Rhythm Time on a Saturday, so she gets her social interaction with children her own age.
On days where I have annual leave during the week, we do the same. We go out to places and drop-in playgroups and it is difficult. Parenting is difficult. Life is difficult. But I would do whatever it takes for Heidi to have a good day and as she enjoys playgroups, I can put up with feeling out of place for a couple of hours…
As a footer, if you’re wanting a survival guide to playgroups, this link is so much better than what I could write:
This post was inspired by a tweet I saw from The Best Start twitter account (@thebeststart) announcing their 2015 show in Halifax (The Shay Stadium) and I had not realised that it was a year since I went with H and given the impact it had on the last 12 months, I had to talk about it.
Rewind 12 months ago – H was 15 months old and we spent the weekend going for a walk to the park on a Saturday and then spending Sunday going somewhere. We didn’t have any particular plans and we didn’t go to any classes or groups or anything really as there is very little on a Saturday/Sunday for working parents. However, as a result of going to the show, we picked up a leaflet and saw that one of the exhibitors had a class on a Saturday relatively near – fast forward 12 months and H has come on so much as a result of the classes, she has got the best friend in the world and I have other ‘mum and dad’ friends to talk to and share the parenting experience and these classes are the highlight of the week.
I would not have got this if I hadn’t “plucked up the courage” to go to the Best Start Show. I use that phrase because going into an exhibition as a single dad, carrying a child is a bit unusual! There are either mums carrying/pushing children, mums/dads to be or mums and dads with children – which is what you would expect and so it feels a bit strange (NB – these are internally generated feelings, everyone was lovely there!). Anyway, part 1 of this post is to encourage everyone, regardless of circumstances, to go to this event (or similar) it might just be the best thing you ever did!
Part 2 is actually talking/explaining about the exhibition. There are about 20 stands in a banqueting suite, and apparently, there is a breakout area for specific talks although we never got to that stage, so it isn’t massive, but certainly not tiny. My advice would be the following:
Listen to your child. This is much easier if they aren’t yet born!! You may find talking to a stall holder very interesting, but if your child wants feeding etc, you might be best to have a few minutes out.
Don’t take a pram/pushchair if possible. The venue does get busy and unless you are an expert driver with the patience of a saint, please think about leaving it in the car. Obviously needs must, but think about it!
Have a plan. Do you want to hear about weening, or take part in a demonstration class or have your childs photo taken etc? There are big queues for some things therefore discuss what you want before you go
Talk!! The stallholders won’t bite! They obviously want to sell their products, but they are a wonderful resource to tap into, even if you are not specifically interested in their product
Get leaflets. Tied into the one above, if you can’t talk to a stallholder because of a queue, get a leaflet. they can help you later on, when you get home and have time to digest it all
As I say, going to this event was a turning point for me and I hope that a few people have similar success stories from it going forward because it is a wonderful event and hopefully in the future it will go from strength to strength, even though I know in the next year or so, me and H will be too old for it!!!
After a good 30 minutes of setting this up, I “think” that I am making the first post on this blog.
I have never blogged before, and so please forgive me if things so a little astray. For me, I have decided to do this so that I can speak about my experiences and be able to interact with others in my position. Also, after being on a journey over the last 12 months or so, I want to be able to show off my adventures with my daughter, and subsequently, promote and support the places which I have enjoyed so much, so others will enjoy them as well in the future.
As a brief introduction, I am “Dad”. Dad to a brilliant girl who was born in June 2013. She is brilliant and my best friend and my entire life and perhaps more importantly, my social life! We have had so many adventures and after looking through photos, felt that it would be good to show them off.
I am an accountant during the day and love my sports and exercise, and while the blog won’t be about those interests, per se, they may make an appearance now and again.