Blogversary: MummyTries Turns Five

I can’t quite believe that it’s my half decade blogversary

This little space of mine has been going strong for five whole years, and I’ve packed quite a bit in during that time. I set the blog up on a whim one evening, for a multitude of reasons, and had a great response from my very first post. You can read it here if you like.

The blog served me largely for catharsis at first. It quickly became therapy – both writing the posts and interacting with the blogging community. If I had to choose my favourite thing that blogging has brought to my life, it would be the genuine friendships that I’ve made along the way. I have a handful of very close friends that I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for MummyTries.

Integrity is everything to me

When I took voluntary redundancy in 2015 I decided to take a leap of faith and monetised my blog. Whilst I’ve never earned enough to pay tax on it, the income has been invaluable. It’s meant that I can work around the children and my home education commitments, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted from a job.

I’m proud that I’ve never sold my soul for a collaboration. I only work with brands I genuinely love and turn down offers every week that aren’t right for me.

No plans to go anywhere anytime soon

The thing that’s taken me by surprise the most, is that five years on I still get a thrill from blogging. I’m excited about seeing my colleagues at a big event next weekend. I’m beside myself about going on a yoga retreat in France in September. I have absolutely loved working with the brands I’ve collaborated with this year. I still squeal with delight when a client says they’ve really enjoyed my work, and better still, want to work with me again.

I still have a love hate relationship with social media, but doesn’t everyone? I’m in a better place with it than ever before, and factor in whole days where I completely switch off. Occasionally things get chaotic, but mostly I have finally achieved the elusive balance between work and family.

Huge thanks to you!

I’m exceptionally grateful to you lovely lot for reading my musings. Nothing brings me greater pleasure (outside my family) than being told my words have made a difference. As a little thank you, and to celebrate my blogversary, I’ve got a giveaway running over on Instagram. Be sure to enter for your chance to win an Amazon Fire tablet. Best of luck 🤞

~Giveaway time~ ♥️ We all need an ace card from time to time, and having the tablet for the kids to watch a bit of telly or a film has been mine on numerous occasions. To celebrate five years of Mummy Tries, I’m giving one lucky reader the chance to win the fabulous Amazon Fire 7. ♥️ All you need to do to enter is like @mummytries and like this post. Please also tag any friends who you think would be interested to let them know. If you fancy having a nose at the rest of my feed feel free to also dish out the 💕 (although it’s not a requirement for this comp you could enjoy what you find). ♥️ T’s & C’s: – winner will be chosen randomly on April 29th, my official blogversary. – the prize for this giveaway has been paid for by myself, and was not given to me by Amazon or another brand – UK entries only please – winner will be notified by DM and asked for details of where to send the prize, and also tagged at the start of this post ♥️ Best of luck!

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Potty Training with Huggies® Pull-Ups® and Some Night Time Tips #ad

Potty Training as Huggies® Pull-Ups® Brand AmbassadorsWhen I was asked by Huggies® Pull-Ups® to come onboard as a brand ambassador for six months, I jumped at the chance. Freddy was almost two and a half, needed to potty train, and the timing was perfect for us.

To be completely honest I’d allowed myself to get caught up in the idea that boys are harder to train than girls, and was absolutely dreading it. I had two very different experiences with Polly and Clara, and learning from past mistakes, wanted to be as child-led as I possibly could with Freddy.

I was adamant that we’d start potty training when Freddy was properly ready, and it would take as long as it took.

Then I went and got all over excited, and our first attempt in July did not go too well. Freddy was super keen to switch from nappies to Huggies® Pull-Ups®, which was great. He wanted to use the potty at every opportunity, but his enthusiasm only lasted for a few days, then he rapidly lost interest. One morning he sat on the potty with his arms folded across his chest like a grumpy teenager, giving me daggers.

Potty Training as Huggies® Pull-Ups® Brand AmbassadorsI asked him ‘don’t you want to be a big boy?’ He looked at me sadly and replied ‘no, I’m a baby.’

I knew that we needed to take a break because he wasn’t ready. Leading child expert Dr. Heather Wittenberg says that readiness is the first of six steps to potty success. Check out all six steps here. It’s absolutely imperative that both of you are ready before starting your journey. We continued using the Huggies® Pull-Ups®, but put the potty away and stopped talking about training.

When Freddy started asking after his potty about two months later, I knew the time was right to try again.

Once we put Freddy in pants we didn’t look back, and I’m pleased to say that I kept my promise to myself, and approached potty training in a calm and laid back way. When he had accidents I didn’t make a fuss over them, just cleaned him up and said ‘never mind’. We had accidents daily in those first few weeks, but after a month the accidents became less and less.

Incentivisation really worked for us. We started with cutting a square of dark chocolate into four pieces, and Freddy received one piece for a wee and two for a poo. This kept him motivated for about two weeks, then we moved onto a reward chart and stickers, which lasted another fortnight or so. This post goes into detail about we did during that time.

Our most effective incentive was television. We stopped dishing out rewards for wees after the first few weeks, but each time Freddy did a poo in the toilet or potty, he would be given the tablet to watch a few of his favourite TV programmes. This saw an almost immediate end to the accidents he was still having.

Now, three months after we started potty training in earnest, I honestly can’t remember the last time he had an accident.

This officially puts us on step six of six – keep up the great work. It’s nice to be able to tick potty training off the never ending to do list!

Potty Training as Huggies® Pull-Ups® Brand AmbassadorsOther things that helped us was a musical potty, which he loved using. Also buying special pants with his favourite characters on them. I think above all else though, my calmness was a huge factor in our success.

Freddy absolutely blew my mind by taking his pull-up off when we were getting ready for bed, about a month into potty training. I went with it, but was fully expecting him to be back in them a few days later. It didn’t work out that way though, and apart from a couple of wet beds in the first week, he’s been dry at night since.

All in all, we had an easy and stress free potty training experience. I found the no nonsense six step approach really easy to navigate. The advice and tools on the website came in very useful. Even though I had been through potty training twice already, it was completely different third time around. Thank you Huggies!   

Potty Training as Huggies® Pull-Ups® Brand AmbassadorsSome tips on helping your little one through night time training from Dr. Heather.

Once you have day time dryness underway, it’s time to focus on how to help your little one stay dry through the night.

Night-time dryness always takes a little longer to master. This is because the bladder needs to be strong enough to hold on until morning, while also be able to send clear signals that it’s full so that your child wakes up to go to the toilet.

To help your little one succeed, it’s important to take a consistent and relaxed approached.

Support him/her with these simple steps

· Create a calming bedtime routine and get them into the habit of having a last wee before bed.

· From the very beginning of a toddler’s potty training journey the key is consistency, so stick with training pants once you’ve made the switch.

· While it’s not necessary to restrict drinks in the evening, it is best to avoid fizzy or caffeinated drinks as these can stimulate the bladder into action.

· Make sure your little one can get out of bed by themselves, should they need to visit the toilet during the night.

· Help them to see where they are going by switching on a nightlight or with glow in the dark stickers.

· When you notice that their Huggies® Pull-Ups® are dry for a few mornings in a row, try without. If they have an accident in bed, go back to Pull-Ups® Night-time pants and try again later on. Remember, wetting at night can be common up to the age of five or more.

Potty Training as Huggies® Pull-Ups® Brand Ambassadors

Accidents are normal, so it’s best to handle these with patience, reassurance and support. With this in mind, Huggies® Pull-Ups® Night-time are extra absorbent for increased protection against little accidents.

Slim fitting and with cute Disney designs, Huggies® Pull-Ups® Night-time also feature clever fading graphics to help kids understand when they’ve had a dry night and encourage them to achieve this final stage of potty training.

The fuss-free approach to night-time accidents

· Prepare – put spare pyjamas and bedding somewhere that’s easily accessible so accidents can be sorted quickly and calmly.

· Reassure – while frustrating, night-time accidents aren’t your child’s fault. Help him stay on track by reassuring him that it’s nothing to worry about.

· Stay calm – your toddler will sense if you’re stressed, which will add to his own feelings of failure. If you’re OK with it, he’ll be OK with it too.

· Don’t be disheartened – accidents at night are common in young children and the odd accident every now and again is not a sign of failure.

Wishing you the best of luck on your potty training journey!

**Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post. Click here for my full disclosure policy.**

The Things I Wish I had Known Between My First Mental Breakdown and Hitting Rock Bottom Four Years Later

things-i-wish-id-known-between-breakdownsThe ten year anniversary of my second mental breakdown is coming up in a few weeks, so it seems fitting to share this post for World Mental Health Day. My first breakdown happened in 2002. It was triggered by a silly decision, which led to falling out with a lot of my then closest friends.

Over the next four years I unravelled in the most spectacular of ways

My finger was firmly attached to the self-destruct button, and my mental state slowly deteriorated. Cutting ties with my entire family in 2005 took me to a seriously dark place. By November 2006 I properly fell apart, and truly hit rock bottom.

As the anniversary approaches, the date has been playing heavily on my mind. In the last ten years I have fundamentally changed as a person, and have become the type of me I could only dream of being prior to 2006. It took a lot of hard work, but once I was determined to turn my life around, it was clear what I needed to do. I wrote about the entire journey in my book Become the Best You

Here are the things I wish that I’d known between my two mental breakdowns

bad things happen to lead us to the best thingsDon’t doubt him. Ever! He loves you more than you allow yourself to believe could be true, and he will give you a wonderful future if you let him. Marriage, kids, the whole works. You don’t think you deserve him, and that kind of life, but you do.

Real friends will not care that you’ve screwed up, they will love you regardless. They’ll forgive your drunkarn mistakes, offer a shoulder to cry on, and be there in your hour of need.

Blood isn’t always thicker than water. Tough decisions will be made, and you’ll come to realise that walking away from the people who are supposed to love you the most is the only way you will get to be the person you want to be.

The first step of moving on is making peace with the past. No-one drinks themselves into oblivion or takes shed loads of drugs just for sh*ts and giggles. Behind every addict, or person with a drinking problem there is a story. To truly forget the sins of the past, you have to face them head-on, and make peace with them. Unless you do this, they will haunt you forever.

in-the-flush-of-loves-light-we-dare-be-brave-and-suddenly-we-see-that-love-costs-all-we-are-and-will-ever-be-yet-it-i-1Eating well really does help. Cutting out the junk food and refined sugar will do more for your mental state than you could possibly imagine. Changing the way you’re eating sounds scary, but once you get started it’ll be just fine. Gone will be the brain fog and wading through treacle feeling, and you’ll have proper energy for the first time in your life.

No amount of booze or drugs will make you forget. They might do temporarily, but when the hangover and/or comedown kicks in you’ll hate yourself even more. The answers will never be found at the bottom of a bottle, or in a strangers bed.

Counselling costs a lot, but it’s a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things. You’ll get over the money as soon as you see how much sense Nina talks. That woman will be sunshine on a rainy day, and you’ll be eternally grateful to her.

What you need and what you want are NOT the same thing. Once you learn to distinguish between the two, and separate them, you’ll notice a dramatic improvement to your quality of life.

in-the-flush-of-loves-light-we-dare-be-brave-and-suddenly-we-see-that-love-costs-all-we-are-and-will-ever-be-yet-it-is-onMaking yourself look good won’t guarantee happiness. Losing weight, fixing your teeth and having a perpetual suntan might occasionally boost your self-esteem, but you’ll learn that there is much more to it than superficial looks.

Self-help books are awesome, but you need to be ready to take the information you’re being given on-board. It’s all well and good reading these enlightening, inspirational books, but you also have to be in a position to implement the advice afterwards.

No-one else can make the changes for you. No man, or woman will save you. You need to make the agonising decisions, and not be afraid to jump in head first, and have the courage of your convictions. A brand new, much happier, life is there for the taking, but you need to really want it, for it to become attainable.

Sending love today to anyone who needs it 💗

The Do’s and Don’ts of Potty Training and a Competition to Kick Start your Adventure #ad

the-dos-and-donts-of-potty-training-and-a-competition-to-kick-start-your-adventureI’ve been through potty training three times now, and have had three completely different experiences. This time around we followed the Six Steps to Potty Success, so had clear milestones, advice and tools for each stage of our journey. You can read my previous posts here and here.

If I were going back in time to potty training round one, I know this list of do’s and don’ts would have really helped me. Hope you find them useful.

Do ensure it’s the right time for you to both embark on potty training. This is most important of all, because as I learnt the hard way with my eldest Polly, if they aren’t ready then you’re in for a shocker. I had two failed attempts before I realised that I was the only one of the two of us who was actually ready, so kicked off the third attempt upon her request. Check out child expert Dr. Heather Wittenberg’s advice on getting ready here.

Don’t get disheartened if things aren’t moving as quickly as you’d hoped they would. Looking back I can see that I put too much pressure on myself with Polly, who was just two years and a week old when I first attempted potty training. I had friends whose kids were slightly older, and either fully trained or doing really well, and thought there must be something wrong with us for it not happening. With Clara I waited until she was almost three and had a much more pleasant experience. Freddy was exactly two and a half, and being ready made all the difference.

Do make life easier by using Huggies® Pull-Ups® to get them used to wearing pants/knickers. We had a little ceremony to get rid of the nappies, to make Freddy feel like a big boy, and he absolutely loved his Huggies® Pull-Ups® with the fab car design from day one. Check out Dr. Heather’s advice on saying goodbye to nappies here.

huggies-success-chartDon’t waste money on expensive pants/knickers too early. Again, make sure they are properly ready to move on from the pull-ups before switching them to underwear. I’d also suggest buying a huge pack of the cheapest undies you can find for the first few weeks, that way you won’t feel bad about chucking them straight in the bin if needs be.

Do praise and encourage until you get bored of the sound of your own voice. Potty training children absolutely adore being told how much of a great job they are doing. Give them tons of high fives and ‘you clever boy/girl’. Check out Dr. Heather’s advice on practising here.

Don’t give negative attention to accidents. This is my big regret from first time around, because I know I gave accidents too much air time back then. Polly had been doing amazingly well, and had been dry during the day for about three or four months when her little sister was born. She regressed massively, which I now know is a completely natural response to something so new and exciting, and should actually be expected.

cars-sticker-chartDo take a potty, toilet paper, wipes and nappy bags out with you, everywhere you go, for at least the first month. You never know when you’ll get caught short, and some children just do not like public toilets. It’s also good for them to practice telling you when they need to go without you constantly prompting them. If you are still using pull-ups, then you get the best of both worlds. Your little one will still be learning when they are wet when you’re out and about, but you have peace of mind that they are protected from accidents. Check out Dr. Heather’s advice on learning wet from dry here.

Don’t assume that just because they’ve had a couple of days accident free that you’re out of the water. If you expect them, and are prepared for them, they won’t come as a shock or be upsetting.

Do incentivise. Talk to your child in their language, and figure out what they respond to. Would a chocolate button be a good reward for potty successes, stickers, a play doh session, or perhaps watching their favourite TV show? Check out Dr. Heather’s advice on consistency here.

Don’t change the rules. Consistency is key when it comes to potty training, and changing the rules will confuse them at a time when they already have a lot to learn.

freddy-accident-chartDo keep a record. It’s really good to chart your success and see how far you’ve come. I would suggest creating a small, basic chart where you simply pop a tick or cross in the box for the day. As you will see from our own chart, Freddy was having one or two accident-free days at a time for almost a month, then the frequency of the accident-free days rapidly increased. Now, two months into potty training, he is going around seven days without having an accident. Check out Dr. Heather’s advice on keeping up the good work here.

Don’t even waste time thinking about the nights until you’ve got the days sussed! I personally believe that going to the toilet in the night is less about training, and more about whether the child is physiologically ready. Each child is completely different, and you can’t rush these things. I wouldn’t even be entertaining thoughts about the nights until you have the days sewn up. At that point, if their night time pull-ups are dry every morning for at least a week, then consider taking them away.

To win a potty training starter kit, worth £50, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below! 

Competition rules
– winner will be notified by email, please ensure you promptly reply with your preference of girls/boys pull ups and delivery address for fast despatch    
– over 18’s only
– UK residents only
– no cash alternative given
– prize will be sent directly by the Huggies Pull-Ups PR Team

Listing this competition on: U, Me & The Kids, Super Lucky, Competition Database, Tots100 and The Prize Finder

**Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post, for my full disclosure policy, please click here.**

How We Overcame Potty Training Regression and Are Completely Nailing it Now #ad

overcoming potty training regression blog titleIt’s been two months since we embarked on Freddy’s potty training adventure, using the Huggies 6 Steps to Potty Success.

At two and a half he was more than ready. He was super keen to switch from nappies to pull ups, and loved wearing his big boy pants over the top. He would also happily sit on the potty at first, although didn’t leave much behind. We had an absolutely flying start, then the regression came out of nowhere.

I thought I’d capitalise on Freddy’s enthusiasm one quiet day at home, a couple of weeks in, and just put him in pants that morning. It soon became apparent that he did not want to oblige, and in four hours had half a dozen accidents without a single success. It was obvious that the idea of going to the toilet was stressing him out. Then he told me this… 

“I don’t want to be a big boy, I want to be a baby!”

The regression was a shock, but not at the same time. As much as Freddy usually can’t wait to join in with his older sisters, and copy everything they do, he’s a third child and his place in our family is to be the baby. I felt terrible to tell you the truth, and didn’t want to cause more upset, so completely backed off.

A little break was what was needed

For a whole month I didn’t even mention the word potty, or put pants over his pull ups. Then last week we had another quiet day at home, and Freddy after his potty, so I thought I’d try again. He was an absolute star, sitting on the potty without fuss – doing ones and twos all day without a single tear or bit of stress.

Some tips from a mum of three

Reward success in a language your child understands. For the first three days we gave Freddy a small nibble of dark chocolate every time he did anything on the potty. It was an incentive he wanted more of, and worked fantastically for us. From day four we did car stickers on his Huggies reward chart, you can download your printable chart here.

Ignore the accidents. This can be tricky, but is absolutely essential to ensure that they don’t end up having negative associations. My girls are very loud, and loved to shout from the rooftops when Freddy didn’t quite make it to the potty in time. Hubby and I had to explain to them more than once how important it was to not make their brother feel bad for having an accident. Seven years into parenting, I’ve not been phased at all by the little puddles. In fact I’m glad my floor is nice and clean – every cloud and all that.

fred sitting on the potty watching tellyBe completely child-led. If there is one thing I’ve learnt it’s that potty training on their terms will garner the best results.     

Be creative. Here’s a photo of Freddy sitting on the potty while watching television. Nuff said. 

Don’t complicate the clothing. Fortunately in the height of summer you can get away with dresses without tights, or t-shirts and pants. 

You can’t remind them enough. In the first week of potty training in earnest I don’t think you can ask them too many times if they need to go. It’s a huge change for them, and I think it’s a bit much to expect a two year old to not just know that they need the loo, but also tell you in enough time to not have an accident. They need constant reminding at first, but in my experience the amount you need to ask dwindles down quickly. Before you know it you’ll realise you haven’t asked them for a whole hour (happy days).     

You can’t praise them enough. Tell them they are clever and that you’re proud of them as much as you possibly can. Small children love high fives and smiles, and knowing they’ve done something awesome. 

Resign yourself to a few days at home. I personally think that leaving the house during the first couple of days can lead to failure. Staying home, and allowing Freddy to wander around half naked made all the difference for us.   

Face the fear. Venturing out for the first time can be super stressful, and could prompt a regression in itself. Make sure you’re prepared by taking out several changes of clothes, a full pack of wipes, and a travel potty if you can.

Don’t get upset if they have a regression. Days ones and two went so well, but on day three Freddy had more accidents than the first two put together. It was disappointing, but we persevered, and day four was really successful. We were so confident by day five that we went out for most of it and he coped just fine.  

Have faith. They will all get there in their own good time end. Try not to compare your child with other kids (as tempting as it might be).            

Some expert advice on regression from Dr. Heather Wittenberg

What triggers regression?

Fred sitting in the pottyRegression can happen for a variety of reasons, but is usually stress-related. A big change to their routine, moving house, starting nursery, a painful bowel movement or other unpleasant experience on the toilet, or being teased or punished for an accident can all cause a phase of regression.

Another common reason is the arrival of a new sibling as feelings of jealousy can make the older child revert to baby-like behaviour in an attempt to win back some attention. Regression can sometimes be simply about wanting attention, even without the arrival of a new sibling.

A urinary tract infection can make it difficult and painful to control the bladder, which results in accidents. Seek medical advice if you’re at all concerned that your child might have an infection.

Getting back on track

Going back to basics is the best way to overcome a period of regression. With plenty of support and praise when appropriate, revert to your earlier routine of regular potty use and marking her progress together on a reward chart. Remind her to go to the potty when she’s busy playing and look out for signs that she needs a wee so that you can encourage her to go. If the accidents go on for more than a few days, or if it’s upsetting your child, going back to Huggies® Pull-Ups® for a while can also help.

Beware of negative reinforcement, as getting lots of attention for accidents may encourage that behaviour. While children prefer positive attention, they’ll take negative attention over none at all. Praise your toddler for returning to good habits, but do your best to make little fuss of accidents and to ignore bad behaviour so that she doesn’t come to use it as a way of getting your attention.

Huggies® Pull-Ups® are currently on offer at Morrisons, so stock up now while they last! 

**Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, for my full disclosure policy, please click here.**

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