This was written for the June 2021 issue of ‘Alice and the Mums’ magazine. With our issues ongoing, I wanted to give you this potted poop history of our journey before I go in to our more medical intervention. Possibly best read after food!
There’s no getting away from it, once you’ve birthed a baby, you have begun an intimate relationship with… poop.
Yep, no matter how you package it – code brown, poonami, faecal matter – it becomes part of everything from your Google searches to teatime discussion.
This all-consuming fascination with excretion is in my eyes a healthy obsession. Everyone told me that I’d understand my little man’s cries; I’d learn to communicate with him. But although I couldn’t always differentiate between a ‘hungry cry’ and a ‘tired cry’, I was always enlightened by the contents of a nappy.
His poops told me when he was teething. The distinct hue of orange told me we needed to cut back on the carrot puree. It was like a friendly, yet stinky, heads up.
It’s not all been smooth sailing however. There have been times when the number-twos have trounced me.
Every parent is surely familiar with the up-the-back explosion. You can bet your bottom dollar it has happened when:a) You’re running late for a health visitor/baby class/essential-can’t-be-late-for appointmentb) They are wearing a brand new, cute-as-a-button outfit you’ve not yet had chance to photograph/Instagram the life out ofc) You are wearing white jeans (OK… possibly just me stupid enough the brave white jeggings with a baby but you get the gist)
Then there’s of course been the extreme changing.
You can keep your bungy-jumping and wake boarding. There should be an extreme sports category for changing bums. From car boots to underground trains, I fear every parent has had the misfortune of having an out-and-about, no changing facility poonami situation.
Who hasn’t had to navigate the Herculian feat of holding a baby’s legs up, whilst simultaneously grabbing 24 wipes (they never come out singly), holding open a nappy sack, trying to circular breathe through your mouth like an over-enthusiastic didgeridoo player and balancing precariously on the playground bench in the winter?
Little darlings. Faces so sweet and innocent. Backsides that resemble the ‘Bog of Eternal Stench.’ They don’t like to make it easy for us parents.
Brave New World
And no sooner than you have learned all the tricks of the stealth change, then comes that mucky milestone where you wave goodbye to the nappies and enter a new realm of portable potties and asking incessantly “do you need to the toilet?”
Potty training has been the steepest learning curve so far for me as a parent. Some kids just get it. A week and they’re off – pants down, piddle, poop, flush and wash.
This. Is. Not. My. Child.
There have been reward charts. Bribes of epic proportions. Endless replaying of the “Poo Goes to Pooland” app. Tears (mine). Frustrations (both of us). Happy dances. Glimmers of success.
I didn’t start him super early. He was three when we began potty training. He showed enough of the signs of readiness to get cracking. But what I didn’t factor was the psychological side to pooping outside of the security of a nappy.
It feels different. Suddenly everything is exposed.
For us, it just didn’t click. He could do it. He did do it. But something mentally was stopping him from doing it where I wanted it.
And this led to him not doing it. For days. At which point it becomes really, really scary.
With the help of prescribed medicine, we are now through that dark, dark place. And Daddy is almost over the trauma of sharing a bath with a pre-schooler and a poop that could’ve frankly sunk ships. We are still not 100% successful with unleashing hell on the potty but it’s looking far more promising for when he starts school in September.
I don’t want others to suffer the slings and soils we have had to, so I want to leave this glorious adventure into excrement with my top tips for keeping it on the regular and keeping it in the potty…
Top Tips for Number Twos
- As hard as it is, don’t put on the pressure! Try not to keep asking “do you need a poop?” It will help them recognise their own body cues as well as not feel performance fright!
- Buy lots of pants. Lots of them. Have them on hand
- Pimp your potty. Give them stickers to make it their own
- Consider somewhere for it to go where it’s a little more private – who wants to plop in front of an audience?
- All the fibre – sneak it in wherever you can. We are a fan of raspberries and all things wholemeal. Then do the sneaky mum trick: bran in muffins, a spoon of milled flaxseed in porridge
- All the water – flavoured water, ice lollies, watermelon… wherever and however you can get liquid down.
- Do a happy dance when there’s success
- Let them watch you poop. Leave aside any squeamishness – make it an ordinary thing.
And remember, they will get it! I keep telling myself that.