Toilet Training

We have been actively toilet training since Easter way back in April. We are not trying any particular method as such other than “Nappy free”. Luckily we live in the tropics so we can do this with out too much effort. We regularly take our little monkey to the toilet and we ask him if he needs to go. Mostly we do ok. He still hasn’t grasped the idea that he can go by himself.

It most certainly has not been smooth sailing. Anecdotally people say that boys generally learn slower than girls. I wouldn’t know I don’t have a daughter and certainly can’t remember my own toilet training days. For instance the asking to go to the toilet has now turned into an epic fail. Our little monkey seems to be exercising his control over toilet training. So any questions no matter how worded pertaining to the toilet usually ends in a loud and resounding NO. Usually the toilet questioning goes like this:

“Little monkey do you need to go to the toilet?”

“no”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure”

“Are you really sure?”

“Sure sure”

Just today I could see  a little bit of (sorry TMI coming up) poop hanging out (thank goodness he was outside) and I said “Little monkey let’s go to the toilet” “No” “But you need to go” “No” “I can see the poo” “No”.  I then sat in both horror and surprise as he crawled across the ground trying examine the poop coming out of him. Other times He will say no and then promptly wee. I don’t recall reading about how to deal with this situation in any child rearing book or toilet training guide.

Usually though we see the signs and get him to the toilet on time. I must also confess Day Care is wearing the brunt of toilet training as he is nappy free at day care (he actually does REALLY well at day care). But he seems to really respond to going with other kiddies on those little children toilets so at day care he rarely has an accident.

Like everything else concerning parenting there are so many different methods to how to toilet training. We are using of a mixture of a few techniques. Unsure if it is working but it is doing the trick so far. I have a couple of tips that we have found out fist hand (and anecdotally):

  1. Do not lose it and yell when your child has an accident – This one is hard especially hard when your tired and its the 3rd wee on the floor in a row. But it is probably the most important as I have heard to many stories of toddlers who refuse to go to the toilet after being yelled at.
  2. If necessary try different potties – your child might just not like the style of potty you have. We had little success with out potty but as soon as we got the step-ladder that attaches to your toilet we had a lot more success.
  3. Your toddler will probably regress – this seems to be almost a certain. So many people have told me that their fully toilet trained toddler will all of sudden stop being toilet trained. Usually due to stress, illness or a major change in the family.
  4. Use rewards – Find out what makes your little one tick. Maybe just applause and praise will work, or stickers, or treats. Our little monkey only gets stickers when he goes to the toilet so it is a reward for him.

Either way I can see we have a long way to go before we can claim our little man to be fully toilet trained.

Any tips for toilet training is appreciated.

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Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day May 15

May 15 2012 will be the first ever annual hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) awareness day. The day is being run by the organisation Hyperemesis Education & Research Foundation (HER). HG sends some 285,000 women to the hospital in the U.S. each year.

There is virtually nothing known about hyperemesis gravidarum. There are theories as to what causes it (but no one knows for sure), there are some remedies that may help but usually do not, and a vague link to it being genetic. Recent studies have also indicated that HG can affect our children into their adult lives. There is certainly no cure, and no real effective treatment. So as you can see for an illness that effects so many women and can be potentially fatal.

I suffered terribly with HG during my pregnancy with my little monkey and have talked about my own HG experience previously and the after effects a year later.

I urge you all to go to the HER website and read about what HG is and how it affects a sufferers life (and the lives of those around them). Assist with their research programs where possible, and most of all promote awareness where you can.

The Work/Life Balance Myth

One of the greatest myths that the modern working world has, that experts and businesses alike would like you to believe is real, would be the work/life balance. You will see it mentioned every where. It is the latest Corporate buzz word, and everyone is talking about ways you can go about achieving it. The sad reality is most of us (I am prepared to admit there are a minor few who seem to achieve this mythological balance) will never reach it.

The fact is very few workplaces are really flexible. Most workplaces think working part-time  and giving parental leave is being flexible enough. Some workplaces will even let you work from home if you are at the executive level or maybe even a web designer but only really if your child is sick or you are sick. While this is a good start it is not really meeting the ongoing needs of working parents and the work life parent.

Even if your work place has part-time work arrangement policies the actual staff may be resentful of you using it.I remember when I returned to work part-time after my maternity leave having immense pressure put on me to be there when they wanted me to be there and to do the same level of work as a full-time worker because resources and staff was stretched.

But what happens if you don’t have a choice for working part-time? what if you are a single parent, or you have debt (like a home loan), or perhaps you are the main wage earner in your family and going part-time simply is not an option. What do you do then?

You hear of rare stories where some work places are introducing innovative ideas to help their staff get back to work. Some companies have either a child care centre on site for their workers children or they an arrangement with a nearby child care for their workers. Some work places have breast-feeding room for their working mothers and even allow them to take time out from work to express breast milk with out it coming out of their lunch break time (but if your work has a breast-feeding room please check what your HR policy is and your bosses expectation is of you taking time out to express. For example I worked previously in an office that an allocated breast-feeding room yet if I were to use it then it was considered my own personal time and I would have to make up any time spent in there).

Ita Buttrose was recently slammed by feminists for suggesting women can have included in salary packages cleaning or nanny services. Personally I think it is a great idea. There is nothing more disheartening coming home from a full day of work to a messy house and knowing you then have to spend at least 3 hours cooking and cleaning for the family. Then its bed time routine and whammy there goes your day and any chance of real time with your family. So a cleaner in my house cleaning yes please I will take it!

What about working remotely as well? I hear from plenty of friends that they could easily do their jobs from home. My job for example is 90% computer based. It is working in databases and processing information on a shared network. I do not physically need to be in an office other than for meetings and maybe to do filing. However the idea of someone for a big company working most of the time from home is crazy talk, businesses and people are still very resistant to the idea especially if you are “only” at a lower level. For some reason people still seem to think if you work for a big company you really need to have a presence in the office.

Family friendly can be more than just the obvious. It can be as simple as giving their staff some flexibility in the workplace. Like working perhaps 7am-3pm. Or having a cafe or cafeteria on site with healthy menus that are free for staff to use and save the worker time and money. A friend of mine worked in a place in europe where the office had a games room, yes a games room, so staff could take time out have a game of pool or a round of Mario Kart. And you know what they were not in there for hours, they would pop in for 10 minutes (or their lunch breaks) and relax then go back to their desks. Maybe we can do what the Spanish do and have 20 minute siesta during the day.

I heard the Facebook office has a staff pick up service where a bus collects its staff and drives them to work. Giving staff time to access emails and complete small tasks before they even get to work and thus starting the day in a bit of a better mood (and it saves them on transportation costs).

We have all seen the photographs of Google’s offices where are designed to almost be a home away from home with fun break out areas, indoor gardens, and even encourage working away from your desk.

All those little things would make your working life just a little easier and might leave you in a better frame of mind for when you got home. Because in this day an age of limited resources, and limited staff in the work place the pressures on individual worker is greater and greater. I wouldn’t even want to contemplate trying to find workplace/home life balance if I was a single parent, or a carer of a family member with a disability or illness.

As a culture both working and society we need to have a serious rethink of how we work and how we can stop intruding into personal lives. We need to stop looking at work practices that are out dated and out of touch, and change the working culture and perception to support these changes. Because ultimately you can have the most innovative practices, policies, and office in the world, but if your managers and staff do not support it then it will fail.

Toddler Craft – Paper City by Made by Joel

I like thousands of others have discovered Pinterest. So I thought I would blog about some of the things I had found while on pinterest, and have tried.

So I am starting with the activity called Paper City.It is pretty simple, you print out the templates, cut them out and stand them up. Voila instant city to entertain your little one. There were lots of templates to choose from; a plain city scape, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Luna Fun Park, plus Paris. Look at the beautiful photographs below of how it should look when complete.

I saw this and thought this would be something easy I could do. Well I should have known better really. Now something you need to know about me, I have ZERO craft skill. In fact if it is possible I would be in the negative figures when it comes to skill level. Despite heaps of enthusiasm I just can’t do even the simplest crafts. I am pretty sure my home ec/arts teachers used to cringe when I walked in the room as I would break sewing needles, burn food, end up with paint virtually every where but my canvas and wood work. And finally I think my wood works teacher actually cried when I showed him my spice rack. So based on that you are probably now thinking this ended in an epic fail.

Well you would be close. Firstly my finished folded standing city did not look anywhere near as lovely as those in the photographs posted on Made by Joels website. But hey it was my first attempt and I was pretty proud of my efforts (it resembled what it was supposed to look like and I was impressed with that, for me it is a huge win lol).

Secondly this activity is relatively disaster proof. You just need thick paper (or thing cardboard), a printer, scissors and about 20 minutes to print, cut and fold. One of the problems I had is that i had ceiling fans in my house, so they easily blew over in the gale force produced by my fans going at full title. So I had to modify the template a teeny tiny bit and make a little stand out of cardboard to make it stand for longer then 5 seconds.

Now for the final test drive, is it a win for my toddler to play with? Yes! little monkey liked it. He happily drove his toy cars in front of the buildings. The he turned into Godzilla and knocked everything over. All up an hour of distraction and quiet time for me. Winning all round.

So for a free easy game to entertain your child this would be hard to pass up. My little one is 2 and so was probably a little too young to fully appreciate it but I think older children will enjoy it much more.

Well I hope you liked this post as they will become semi regular as I trial different stuff I find on Pinterest.

If you have any simple crafts I could take a stab at please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments section.

Let’s Talk About Privacy

I think I am the only person out of my friends who does not put photographs of my child on Facebook. Now I have nothing against those who do, I love looking at their photographs, and it’s not because I think Facebook is evil (In fact I love Facebook). It’s because I am a little bit paranoid. For a number of reasons. One I am not comfortable with Facebooks changing privacy policies and all that personal information in one place.

But my main problem is my concern about my son’s future privacy. What do I mean? well all those photographs and posts (“oooo little monkey  built a robot and called it Bob today and it built us a jacuzzi“), all those things you put on Facebook and twitter which detail yours and your child’s life. It is all there documented online, there forever even if for the average user it is hard to find.

So where am I going with this? well I often wonder could this innocent sounding post or photograph be used against my child later on life? Can a criminal  use some of the information I post to  easily steal his identity? Can a Pedophile or kidnapper use the information I put on there to lure my child into their clutches? I know these are horrific and extreme examples and I don’t want to scare anyone, but the possibility is there, even if it is very distant and it is something I think about periodically.

Also we do not know how the future of social media will look in 20 years time when my son will be heading out into the world. There are already reports of employers asking future employees for their Facebook logins and passwords as part of the recruitment process. It is well-known employers check Facebook and twitter pages to get a sense of their employee already. People have also lost jobs to after being “caught out” on Facebook doing something they shouldn’t have been. It seems we move faster and faster towards a future where all our information and life are live on online.

Just stepping back in time a bit, when I was about 12 and the internet as we know it was shiny and new, I started to use online chat rooms and online chat programs. This was to meet new people from around the world my own age as back then the chat program used a sort of old school pen pal system. People just wanted to meet, chat on-line and send emails. I actually met a lovely girl the same age as me and we have been friends ever since. I vividly remember my mother though lecturing my sister and I at length about the dangers of “dirty old men” on the internet. We were never to give out our names, address or phone number. Stranger danger was alive and well and we heard it over and over “DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR PERSONAL DETAILS”. Somewhere along the line this message has become diluted, we have lost our fear of the internet and as a result our caution.

Fast forward 20 odd years and the social media and smart phone revolution is here. Smart phones like iPhones, and websites such as Facebook and Twitter have revolutionised how we communicate, what we share, and how we share it. Love it or hate it you can’t deny the impact these things have had on society, business and family/friends. At the basic level family and friends who live far away can easily keep in touch. At it’s bigger picture level it has helped begin and fuel revolution sin the middle east, and recently brought to the spot light  a war lord in Africa and sparked a movement to bring this man to justice.

But it is clear that Governments, law makers and police have not kept up with this explosion and to be honest it seems currently, unless you are an internet pirate (as in distributing illegal copies of movies and music) or a pedophile, there is not much police can do to help you if you do get in trouble or protect you from trouble. But it is not all doom and gloom technology has helped capture criminals as well. People with iPhones can download a program that lets them track and locate their phones if they are stolen or go missing. Criminals have been caught this way.

But we do seem to be on an edge, an edge of where society is changing and something will need to happen (like a huge law suit for privacy breach or a law in some country will shape the way an online business operates. In the mean time I urge you to have a serious think about your (and your child’s) internet presence and security.

If you would like some tips here is a useful page I found on 12 Ways To Protect Your Online Privacy.

What do you think? Are you comfortable with the level of information shared online? Or had you just never thought about it before?

Shopping Centre’s Are A New Kind Of Nightmare

Shopping centres must surely be some diabolical level of hell. I was never a huge fan of shopping centres even in my  teen “hang around doing nothing but looking oh so cool even if we are the only ones who think so” phase. Usually food was just about the only way to get me there, oh and the promise of buying a book.

But when going to a shopping centre with a child it just takes on a whole new level of torture.

Yesterday we stopped in at the small shopping “town” (because mall sounds to low brow) to duck into our local grocery store and buy a few things. In the fifteen minutes we were there (yes we actually did a quick food shop with a toddler in tow. I am as surprised as you are) we still managed to get a toddlers arm stuck in the chair, nearly run over by a rampaging shopping trolley, get trampled over by hurumphing adults, and then navigate through a cloud of cigarette smoke. Sadly this was a good shop.

Shopping centres in general are just one big hazard. I will not go near one if I know its going to be packed with crowds (so lunch time is pretty much ruled out). You have an obstacle course of shopping trolley’s, prams, harassed other parents, teenagers, ice cream shops, delivery people, shop attendants, and then entertainment/game machines (you know those rides or toy dispensers with the claw).

Phew, and amongst all of this people (strangely enough, more often then not, those WITH kids) seem to think you should have this well-behaved child. When in reality the shopping centre is one massive sensory (and temptation) overload and it would be (I think) impossible to realistically expect your child to not go bat guano crazy. Which leads me to the next point;  you can almost guarantee that when you are trying to do your fastest shop, and/or your nerves are frayed there will be a tantrum/melt down/accident involving your child that will make you just want to die of shame or punch the glaring, pain in the ass stranger next to you.

A lot of the time family rooms (for changes and feeds if your baby is young enough) are so revolting you wouldn’t step foot in there without knowing your vaccinations were all up to date, let alone take a child in there. That’s if they even have a family room. There were many a time I trudged back to the car to feed little monkey because the family rooms grossed me out and I wasn’t going to sit in full view of everyone to breast feed.

But wait it gets even worse once your child can actually walk. Clothes shopping is just as traumatic with those high clothes racks that kiddies can easily and quickly slide under. Seriously you would swear someone had rolled your child in lard and pushed them hard as they sail with gay merriment under the racks. Do not underestimate the speed of a child who knows they have gotten away! I can guarantee, once your child can walk, that you will probably lose your child at least once during it’s child hood, which wont make you feel better when it happens but at least you have a small comfort in knowing you are not the only one. Loosing your child a the shopping centre will make every everything pale in comparison even if your child is only gone for a few minutes, you will feel the worst that you have felt ever.

Some shopping centres have a small children’s play area which is great, fantastic even except you can’t leave your kids there to do your shopping (you can’t right? Right? No I am sure someone would object). Oh and there are those little kiddie trolley things which are impractical (you can’t put much shopping in it) and uncomfortable for the kids.

So these days any joy I did used to have going to a shopping centre is long gone as a simple trip usually involves a degree of planning that would leave an army general in the middle of a battle blushing at his inadequacies. Find a system that works for you and stick with it, as it will go some way towards saving your sanity. But also be prepared for the fact that shopping is not going to be enjoyable for you with a child in tow for quite some time.

Emergency Plan

We recently had a bit of a scare in that I got very sick late at night last weekend (edited – I am now ok it was a 24 hour thing thank goodness). We had to go to the emergency department at our local hospital because I got very sick very quickly and there were no GP’s open at that time of night. My parents who are normally our back up plan for caring for the little monkey if we are unable to, were away on holidays. Our close friend who is back up number 2 was also away. So we were stuck with a sleeping toddler and an urgent need to get me to hospital. Thankfully we were able to call a friend of ours and his girlfriend who were happy to come over at 11pm and keep an eye on our little money (despite our attack cat going bonkers at them).

This made us realise we really need to think of some emergency contingency plans for the future. We can not just assume that our default back up carers will be around. You really do need a network of people you can rely on. But this is easier said then done I know. Especially when you are the first out of your closest friends to have kids (and your friends don’t have kids), you live alone, are a single parent and so on (you get the picture). How you over come these barriers I have no idea and I am sorry I have no recommendations on what to do if you are in that situation (will be happy to hear suggestions). But long story short you need to have a serious think and have a network of trusted people you can call on if needed.

But one thing this situation made me realise is that this goes bigger picture then just who would care for my child if we can not. Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes. In some ways I am prepared, we have a first aid kit for instance but I’ll be honest, if something bad happened where I actually needed to use it for anything other than applying a band-aid, well I wouldn’t know what to do. There is a very good chance the poor person requiring first aid would get slathered in antiseptic cream and wrapped head to toe in bandages and band-aids. We have a smoke alarm but what would we actually do if we woke up one night and the alarm was going and smoke was pouring in under our door? But while you are on your planning kick you should look at the bigger  bigger picture and what would we do during a disaster like a cyclone or zombie apocalypse?? (ok this one IS already mapped up. I clearly have priorities).

I guess we all have a vague idea of what we should do in an emergency, and would like to think when it is crunch time we would be so awesome and be a fantastic emergency responder in our household. But when it comes to crunch time do we really know? I used to laugh in the movies where the “crazy” dad or mum would make the family do emergency drills. In fact Big Bang Theory recently had an episode where Sheldon did just this. Was hilarious at the time. Not laughing so hard now. Now I think this might not be such a crazy idea. We do drills at school and work so why not in the home?

So over the next month or so we are going to develop some real emergency situation plans (fire, accident, cyclone, zombie apocalypse etc) and have them in an easily accessible place. Discuss with friends/family about care arrangements in the event both myself and hubby are not able to care for our little monkey. I feel silly for having one but at the same time it is a very real issue that needs to be addressed, because in an emergency situation the last thing you want to be thinking about is “who do we call?…..what do we do?”. One thing I know for certain I do not want to be in the situation we were in that night the other weekend where we stood there looking at each other (well I was not really standing was kind of crumpled in the living room but that’s off topic) and saying “what do we do??”. That was certainly up there in the top ten of my most scary moments and I don’t want it to happen again…EVER.

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