Going potty over pants.

So I’ve been a bit neglectful of my blog over the past three months recently, but for real good reasons. Honestly.

My time has been mainly consumed by house-hunting (don’t even get me started on this) and potty-training – as well as the chaos that is my everyday life. Training a 2.5 year old boy to urinate and excrete in the ‘right’ place wasn’t an easy ride, there have been tears on both sides. I say ‘right’ with inverted commas, because, in DS’ mind, who am I to decide where is and isn’t appropriate to take a p*ss when over the 200,000 years since humans graced the earth, the majority of the population have let go wherever they so please. I can only imagine that kind of philosophical thinking in a 2.5 year old has such a deep and wonderful meaning that it occurs in the most condensed and simplest form.

So we played hardball with potty training, mainly because I only had 5 days where I wasn’t working so I didn’t have endless weeks to faff around. We didn’t leave the house for four days, until we felt we could trust DS would give us some kind of indication of needing the toilet. Even then we only went to other people’s houses, as the stress of venturing anywhere public was inconceivable.

I won’t give a blow-by-blow account of DS’ toilet habits, but he very quickly learnt to use the potty and the toilet (hurrah!). At home, when he is out the house with us or looked after by Grandma, he doesn’t have accidents at all. At nursery, he does use the potty for wees but it seems to still soil his pants on more occasions than not, which leads me nicely into the crux of this blog post.

The majority of the time DS is unable to hold his bowels for the day and ends up poo-ing himself, nursery have taken the decision to bin his pants. It is not every time, on occasion they bag it up, but I have noticed DS’ pants collection decreasing by the day. What was once a nice assortment of twenty M&S and Gap undies, has now diminished to ten. Needless to say, I have replaced them with Asda George and Primark.

I am yet to read the policy on binning soiled pants, but I do think throwing away DS’ clothes without my permission is a bridge too far. They are not disposable, they are expensive items of clothing. Regardless where they are from, parents cannot afford to constantly replace pants, just when they thought a saving had been made on no longer buying nappies.

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

A paper Easter basket filled with mini Lindor chocolate eggs, made by my little sister.

The Easter holidays are upon us, which usually means time off, free chocolate and some kind of religious festivity. Though I am somewhat excluded from all three, in consideration that I don’t work in the education sector, am an atheist and not much of a chocolate fanatic. DS naturally falls into my latter three, being a baby and not having much of a choice himself.

I am aware that as he grows older, he will gain interest in the things I try to shield him from (i.e. Easter eggs). But the thought of giving my baby boy an Easter egg, or anything else sugary coated, horrifies me. Children have the rest of their adult lives to eat, or do, whatever they like; it seems ridiculous to give a baby chocolate just because it’s mean not to. He doesn’t think it’s mean, because he doesn’t know any better.

DS has only tried chocolate once or twice, because nursery had slipped up, and he is not overly crazed about it. Honestly, he would happily devour an apple and not think I was cruel. My line of thought is that all children are inquisitive and it is our job as parents to guide them down the right path. If we start as we mean to go on, children will trust their routine, take comfort in the rules set and hopefully grow up not being all that phased by the junk that is constantly shoved in their faces.

So now you know my stance on the matter (though you could have probably guessed), rest assured any chocolate presented to DS will not be wasted, it will be thoroughly enjoyed by DH and I.

A Fresh Start.

As you are probably aware, DS has had a tough time at nursery in the past couple of months. He struggled to settle in and there were ongoing issues with the lack of food they were giving him. The communication was poor and I was left not knowing what my baby boy was getting up to for large chunks of the day. Yes he survived the day each time, but considering the amount we pay for childcare, we should receive a little more than the bare essentials; even then he would regularly come home crying for water.

But enough with the bitching, I am happy to section that part of DS’ life away to a dark corner and move forward. After an erratic week of finishing one nursery and having settling-in sessions at another, DS been exceedingly good at his new nursery today. I was doubtful at first, as he would kick and scream at the drop offs for settling-in sessions. But today he walked in calmly and did not shed a tear. My boy did me proud.

I have high hopes for this nursery, they are very confident in the way they conduct themselves and how they communicate with parents. I was a little annoyed that they did not apply Sudo cream because I had not signed a form (even though I gave them verbal authorisation), but I guess it is good to be strict with rules. I had a little spy on DS on the nursery cam and he seemed pretty happy running about with the other children. They only allow fifteen minutes a day per parent to view, which is good as we all need that little bit of reassurance, but we also need to get on with the reasons why they are there in the first place.

Here's what you could have won - What we gave to DS' first nursery when we left.

Please, Sir, I STILL Want Some More.

Since my last nursery post on the 9th September, I am saddened to say nothing much has changed. DS is still coming home hungry despite my incessant complaints to the nursery. Wednesday 21st September sets a fine example of how his nursery fails to address DS’ needs.

Needless to say, my boy came home starving that day. DS has been eating two full Weetabixs since forever, yet somehow, he had only managed half of one on Wednesday. Following breakfast, he had a pathetic minimal snack which he obviously ate all of. He most probably did not reject lunch, but was neglected and left to fend for himself. I can only imagine the worst because there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. DS has always been a hungry boy, to the point that he tries to lick the bowl clean, failing that, he puts his face in the bowl instead.

This incident does not stand alone, as illustrated in my previous post, this is a regular occurrence. The food DS eats with me is not a one-off, I place him before myself and always ensure he has the best meals filled with nutritious goodness. Today he ate a whole bowl of porridge for breakfast, followed by three quarters of an apple and a cracker for his snack. For lunch he devoured a bowl of smoked haddock, spring greens, spinach, carrots and leek with cous cous. He is currently eating half a banana after he gobbled up whole croissant for a snack. For dinner he will share our roast beef with potatoes, carrots and whatever else I throw in the mix. It is incredible how little he eats at nursery in comparison to at home.

After much upset, DH wrote a response:

This is not new information to them; when he started nursery we made them very aware of our angst. DS started at twenty months old in an aged two to three room, with children who were capable of feeding themselves without aid, spoke clearly and were able to communicate their needs. DS can string a few words together and can demand things like a car and a ball. He would not demand food, water or a nappy change though – those things are not fun. He needs to be sat down and fed, given water accordingly and changed regularly without being asked. Adults often speak to children as though they should control themselves and have their own answers, however I believe children of all ages should be told, not asked; especially not rhetorically. I have witnessed one or two nursery workers who ask the children if they would like food and the conversation always goes along the lines of, “are you going to eat that?” .. “no” .. “fine I will take it away”. What kind of ‘looking after’ is that?

If it was a matter of survival then yes, I will hand it to them, they are doing a brilliant job. However, I am paying extortionate fees for my boy to be well looked after and I expect a certain level of standard. I do not scrimp and save, work my arse off all week, just to come home to an unhappy boy who has been neglected by people who are meant to be his carers. The staff are meant to bond with the children, engage them in learning activities, encourage them to read, and above all, energise them with nutritious foods. I do not see this happening, or at least, I am not hearing about it. Their 2010 Ofsted report states they should improve to ‘further develop the regular, two way flow of information with parents to maintain and support communication with parents and users of the service‘; a year on, a shabby school book they ordered especially for us because other parents receive feedback verbally does not constitute as a ‘regular, two way flow of information‘ I’m afraid.

The Luxuries in Life.

The costly expense of childcare and how many families are suffering as a result, hit our screens as breaking news last week. I did not need a study and some arbitrary statistic to tell me sending DS to nursery is expensive, I just have to review my finances.

This is hardly breaking news; I could have told you last week, last month and I can tell you today, that families are feeling the crunch. There were once a time when being a housewife and a kept woman was seen as a privilege. You did not need to work because your husband could support the family on a single income, so you would spend your days shopping, baking cakes and reading classic stories to the children. You would consider yourself as lucky to be in such a position and dismiss the world accordingly for an afternoon episode of Loose Women.

Nowadays, being a housewife is probably cheaper on the whole for families. It is ludicrous to think the expense of working makes getting a job not worthwhile; surely having a duel income should better your family financially, rather than be a hinderance? Childcare has become a luxury and exclusive to those families who can pay.

The Guardian states, ‘for four out of 10 families the cost of childcare is on a par with mortgage or rent payments’; on par is probably your limits, because you would not pay more for childcare than the cost of your home. But the reality is, if DS was to attend nursery full-time five days a week, it would set us back £835 a month. The average cost of a two bedroom property in Gravesend is somewhere between £650 – £800 a month, do the math. Fortunately DS only goes to nursery three days a week, but the cost is still excessively high for not much return.

The cost of a commute (be it trains or topping up on petrol) has drastically risen over the past few years, coupled with the increase in rent/mortgage repayments, electricity, food, childcare, the list goes on. With stagnant salaries, low wages and pay freezes, how is the average family going to survive in the long-run, Mr Cameron?

Please, Sir, I Want Some More.

Over the past couple of weeks, DS has been settling into his new nursery. There have been a few hiccups to say the least, but that is to be expected in a new setting. Sometimes though, I feel such errors could be avoided if they had thought about their actions or used their common sense.

'wet and creamed' refers to DS' wet nappy and the moisturiser they applied to his eczema.

Take his meals for the day as an example (please refer to DS’ notes pictured on the right, click to enlarge). Daddy dropped him off at 9AM after DS had breakfast at home, yet they still gave him rice crispies; breakfast is usually scheduled for 8AM at nursery, do they think we starved our child from the time he woke (5AM)? Regardless of this, rice crispies is hardly a filling breakfast to set you up for the day.

We had asked for bread to be given when DS fails to eat at least 3/4 of his lunch; DS loves bread and it is a good solid substitute for any missed meals. From the information provided, Common Sense would tell you not to use a substitute as part of the main meal, as inevitably the other part would not be eaten. Another thing Common Sense would certainly point out is if you are stupidly going to give him bread as part of the main meal, change the substitute.

‘Snack’ and ‘Tea’ has been left empty as DS was promptly rescued by Daddy after his dentist appointment. For the rest of the day, he had a pear, a hot cross bun and homemade lasagne for dinner.

Now for comparison, let me enlighten you on DS’ meals for today (Friday 9th September).

Breakfast – porridge (all)

Snack – A whole pear and two buttered crackers (all)

Lunch – Mince, sweetcorn, marrow, broccoli in a tomato sauce with rice (I made too much, he ate his usual portion and a little bit more. I stopped him before he burst)

Snack – A whole apple (all)

Snack 2 – Crumpet and a plum (all)

Dinner – Roast consisting of chicken, potatoes, carrots, an onion and cauliflower and cheese (all)

He also had four poos today and only one yesterday at home, which only parents would really understand the significance of that.

I have a hungry boy on my hands and clearly the nursery is not delivering. I worry for my boy, whether he tells them he is hungry, whether he is ignored or whether he just does not have the appetite for the revolting food they supply. It is not the nursery workers’ fault in entirety; I understand they are young, childless and are unable to fully empathise with us mothers. But it is management who oversee these workers and should enforce better customer service, more attention given to each child’s individual needs and encourage initiative. He had the same difficulties at the start of his previous nursery, which means things can only get better..

A Mother’s Guilt.

In a world full of unpredictability, constraints and constant setbacks, decisions have to be made in order for progression. Our decision to both be in full-time employment has not come easy. Weighing up the pros and cons, the now seems almost insignificant amidst the wider picture.

Yet the majority of the time we must live in the present; residing in the past permits life to drift on by and living in the future is merely a daydream. I find it easier to deal with particular circumstances when I set these categories. Sometimes you lose perspective in whichever time frame you find yourself in and it helps to outline goals, reasons, justifications.

I paint the wider picture with images of a big house, fast cars, private schooling and exotic holidays. The prospect of a duel income and security seems more inviting than living on a budget and just getting by until DS goes to a state school. With the long shot in mind, I push aside my anxieties of DS being at nursery three days a week and not having any meals with him Monday to Thursday. Of course these are my fears, not his. He will be absolutely fine playing with the other kids and an endless mountain of toys.

I am playing full-time Mummy this month whilst I await my turn to go to work. DH has already been summoned to the daily grind, rushing in the morning to catch the 6:47AM train and not returning until 7:30PM. He sees DS briefly in the morning in between getting dressed and eating breakfast, and for five minutes in the evening just to say hello. Sometimes DS is so worn out from the day, he is already in bed by the time DH returns. That is when the sadness sets in and work becomes a forlorn attempt to escape. The tough work, long days and late nights hardly feels worth while when an overwhelming sense of the present hits you in the face.

It is easy for individuals without children to disregard this angst we feel, as something we can push aside or just get over. Missing your children is not the same as missing your other half; I dislike not seeing DH, but it is heart breaking knowing my baby is growing up in our absence. Maybe I am being overdramatic, as we will see him at weekends and I will be home on Fridays. It is also inevitable he will go to school full-time and spend the majority of each day without us anyway.

Whatever the reasoning, no matter how many times you justify it to yourself, it does not get easier. We become each others priorities and the weekends are golden. We owe this to the eighteen year old DS going to university and, god forbid, the thirty-nine and forty-one year old parents we will inevitably become.

Let me give the world to you.