How do I deal with potty training?

I was once on a train from London to Brighton; in the seats across from me was a small family, looked like a mother, father, grandmother and the cutest, wide eyed little girl. It looked like they were on a day trip, they were surrounded by back packs and shopping bags. They spoke in a language foreign to me but the tone and rhythm of family chatter was instantly recognisable as was the sense of urgency as without warning they began changing seats and clawing through their bags. Eventually the father let out an exclamation of triumph and held a potty aloft, within seconds the girl was stripped and seated and her carers clapped as she relieved herself in the aisle. It was a bit gross but also very impressive, the commitment to her training but also her ability to perform under pressure. This is the kind of mindset that get’s toilet training completed swiftly, to prioritise poop above all else.

But not all of us have time to dedicate to the ones and twos even though it’s high on a lot of parental agendas. Research suggests that children are now getting toilet trained almost two years later than they were fifty years ago. Don’t listen to your elders, this is not because parents today are too indulgent it’s because parents across the ages have opted for the easy life. Fifty years ago, nappies meant leaks, washing, drying and discomfort for all parties, now nappies are so hi tech it’s sometimes hard to tell if anything has happened. Additionally, the increase in working mothers (Yay!) means that there is often less time to dedicate to training and time is really all you need. So you need to work out how you prefer to spend your time.

Are you a hincher? Do you like to clean little and often, do you enjoy dedicating a particular night to your favourite hobby? Is your Christmas shopping finished by November? You are a slow and steady trainer. Introduce the potty gently, leave it in the bathroom, real casual and start some conversations about how cool potty time is. Offer your child frequent opportunities to sit on the pot and throw a parade if anything, anything at all happens in there. Hope that the kid catches on that nappy poops are a lot less fun.

Do you prefer to wait until your house resembles a jumble sale before deep cleaning? Did you binge watch the latest season of Orange is the New Black? Do you end up buying birthday presents because you forgot to post a card? You need the potty boot camp. Three to four days with a free bottom and a lot of disinfectant is generally enough to get your child down with the programme.
Summer is the season for washing soiled clothes, so choose your weapon wisely. Remember the vast majority of children are potty trained by four – all you need is time.

How do I get my kid to eat more veg?

I have this theory that parents have no choice but to have anxiety about their children. Like, the moment you become responsible for another human you’re awarded a substantial anxiety retainer which must be allocated to something at any given moment. If things are generally good – your child is healthy, your home is secure – the anxiety allocation is still available to be distributed and it makes sense that you might land on eating. Food is a basic need, failing to feed your child feels like flunking out of introductory parenting; at the same time, it’s an arena that’s difficult to control. You can take the mountain to Mohammed but if Mohammed looks at said mound and says, Urgh, yucky!’ whatcha gonna do? 

What I’m trying to say it that veg is good, veg is great, lets all aim for the five, seven, nine or whatever number of portions the government reckon we should be consuming each day but veg is not love; veg is not freedom, a life without veg is a life worth living. There are many children with severe eating issues, issues that result in malnutrition and growth problems but the vast majority of parents that worry about peas do not have these children, they have healthy, energetic, strong willed kids that don’t eat peas. In summary, if you are worried about vegetables but you have access to fresh veg and the finances to purchase it, you don’t have much to worry about at all. Not only this but your stress will create a bigger problem because your child will begin to associate green beans with angst and carrots with conflict and end up having nightmares about kale chasing them down the street. 

What to do? Buy a multivitamin, Bassets chewables are like sweets, and then give up. Focus on all the other issues that come along with being a parent in this scary, dark society we’ve all played a part in creating. I’m not saying to abandon the idea of veg, keep them in rotation, by all means eat plenty yourself, goodness knows you’ll need the energy. If you have the patience for it sneak them into sauces and smoothies but don’t beat yourself up about it if you can’t. Those other parents with happy eaters – their time will come. When my son started solids he ate anything, any darn thing. I was so smug about his ultra-mature palate; so eager to shout about all the olives and mushrooms and asparagus he was mainlining. These days, if it ain’t beige, it ain’t safe and I’ve steeled myself for many more protests. This is the start of a litany of battles, when your child complains, tell them to pick out the sweetcorn and then change the subject, when they learn that their eating habits are no longer getting under your skin, they’ll move onto something else.  Children are only happy when they’re tormenting you – don’t make it easy for them.