The Toddler Resistance Movement – A Guide to International Travel

As a member of the Resistance you should know by now that our objective is to create as much fuss, noise and disruption as possible whilst maintaining continuous supply lines of yoghurt, entertainment, snacks and sweets. So follow the guidelines on international travel below and you will be in receipt of a bumper payday of all things good my fellow toddling travellers.

On the way to the airport

  1. Vomiting just as the Ugly Giants are leaving the house is a great way of reminding them who is in control of this family holiday. Extra points will be gained for vomiting on carpet. At the very least it will result in the Ugly Giants cracking the DVD player our early doors, which means hours of Finding Nemo for you, my jet-setting friend.
  2. A couple of well-timed requests for toilet breaks during the car journey is a good way of keeping the pressure on. Refuse to go and then request a toilet break EXACTLY at the point where the Ugly Giants have just passed a service station.
  3. Regardless of the toilet break outcome, go in your pants. ALWAYS go in your pants.

At the airport

  1. Implement the four point plan as follows i) Demand to press the button for the car park ticket. ii) Demand to see the car park ticket. iii) Demand to play with the car park ticket. iv) Lose the car park ticket. The four point plan is just for kicks people.
  2. Refuse to go anywhere in the airport without either a piggyback or a ride on a luggage trolley. You are goddam toddler royalty and walking is for TWATS and LOSERS.

At passport control

  1. Demand passports. Chew passports. Hide passports. Lose passports. Your job here is done.

At the security check

  1. At a high and persistent volume, randomly complain about something i.e. your ears. Demand to have them replaced. This is just for kicks people.
  2. Stick metallic objects in the Ugly Giants pockets. Keep doing this until the scary looking man with the baton has stripped your daddy down to his underwear, and has him bent over the conveyor belt.
  3. When all medicines and liquids are out in the open, mainline the Calpol. You will feel the benefits in 10minutes.
  4. Insist on being last through the X-Ray scanners. Throw a tantrum if you have to. Just be the last through. When you are sure that all the Ugly Giants have gone through, make a break for the bastard car-park. This is not just about snacks, this is also about Freedom, my itinerant friends.

At Duty Free

  1. At a high and persistent volume complain about your shoelaces. Keep the pressure on. The Ugly Giants are weaker under pressure and more prone to cracking open the entertainment and sweets.

On the flight

  1. During boarding it is a good idea to loudly and repeatedly request items of clothing that you know have been left at home. Become inconsolable until the treat jar is cracked open. Boom! Payload!
  2. On the flight, kick the back of the chair in front of you as hard and as frequently as you can. The Ugly Giants love this.
  3. When the seat belt lights come on everyone will sit down. This is a perfect opportunity to get up and go for a stroll. The aisles will be clear of idiots, leaving you to have a gentle and unimpeded walk. Ignore the shouting from the flight crew.
  4. Demand stuff from the painted ladies. They are paid to have more patience than your Ugly Giant. And they have a trolley. A trolley full of salty snacks and fizzy drinks. And they CANT SAY NO! Boom!
  5. Half way through the flight, just as everyone has settled in, run up and down the aisles shouting. This is one way to freak the Ugly Giants. If you can learn to shout the word “BOMB!”, even better.
  6. Stay awake the WHOLE bastard journey. The Ugly Giants will be like putty in your hands by the end.

Before landing

  1. Scream loudly every time the PA breaks into episode 47 of Peppa Pig. Make the pilot adopt a perpetual holding pattern over the Middle East until episode 50 of Peppa Pig is finished. The pilot is your bitch now.
  2. Go for another stroll when the seat belt lights are on. Pull as many levers and press as many buttons as possible. Innocently ask why the engines are on fire. Disrupt and disobey. This is your role, live up to it.
  3. Refuse to hand over the headphones, blanket, in-flight magazine and soft toys. They are YOURS goddamit.
  4. Fall asleep two minutes before landing.

On arrival

  1. React badly to being woken up. This should result in a snack pay-out.
  2. The luggage carousel is your objective now. All roads lead to the luggage carousel. Once at the luggage carousel jump on board. Enjoy the ride! Don’t get off unless there are snacks proffered.
  3. Finally, once through passport control, demand to go back home. Keep this up throughout the duration of your stay. The Ugly Giants love these constant reminders of who is actually in control of this goddam family.

 

If you are reading this, you are the resistance.

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The Toddler Resistance Movement – Guide to the Supermarket

Fellow comrades, listen up. For the Ugly Giants, the supermarket is a necessary chore, but if you follow the guidelines below the supermarket can become your own personal playground with added food and fizzy drinks. If you follow the steps below you will be in line for a juggernaut payday from the Holy Trinity of Toddlerdome – snacks, fun and attention. BOOM!

  1. Before even entering the supermarket, seek out the children’s rides and demand a go on whatever flashing monstrosity is at the entrance. Run screaming into the carpark if you don’t get your way.
  2. At the entrance insist on riding in a shopping trolley. Subsequently demand to get in / out of the shopping trolley every 10metres or so. The Ugly Giants love the exercise. Twats.
  3. Once inside, alternate between dawdling painfully slowly in some aisles and sprinting like a cackling loon down others. If you run into other shoppers, throw yourself to the floor and scream hysterically until they realise it was their fault. This should result in a yoghurt or muesli bar payoff.
  4. Take off all your clothes and randomly distribute them around the store. Socks, pants and soiled nappies are known as #aislemines and should be deployed near fresh produce. This is just for kicks people.
  5. Find the aisle with glass jars, crockery or high value electronics and insist on spontaneous and robust play with all items. NB dropping plates on the aisle floor and then screaming hysterically will result in a snack payday.
  6. Your role is “The Confuseriser”. Create Maximum Confusion by offloading items that the Ugly Giant puts into the trolley and uploading other unwanted items. Not only is this great fun, but it could also lead to a placating bag of Minstrels. Every little helps, my supermarket warriors.
  7. Make it your priority to find the pastry, cake and bread aisle. Quickly stuff your cheeks with whatever comes to hand. Teeth marks count as possession in the cake aisle, so a half eaten croissant is effectively yours. Bite everything until you are stopped. THE PASTRIES ARE YOURS!
  8. Situational awareness is key in our struggle, comrades, so be sure to make a note of the aisles where the yoghurt and cheerio’s are kept. You will need this information for the POWERPLAY.
  9. The powerplay approaches. Prepare for the powerplay by getting properly lost.
  10. Next find a security guard and put on your best Lost Child Look – tear streaked eyes, finger in mouth, lispy, half formed words….you know the drill comrades, we are talking CHARM OFFENSIVE, defcom one.
  11. Once taken to the customer services desk, all stars are now aligned for the powerplay. As soon as staff backs are turned, grab the intercom and shout the following words “This is a customer announcement: All Gin is now three for one in aisle seventeen. I repeat, THREE FOR ONE ON GIN”. 
  12. In the resulting madness, find your way back to the Cheerios and yoghurts and GO. NUTS. You should be able to do a couple of packs before you are busted.
  13. If you and your Ugly Giant have not yet been arrested, congratulations, you are still in the game. So insist on helping* at the checkout. If denied, find a pensioner and wedge your head between their legs whilst screaming “IT’S SO DARK! I CANT BREATHE!” until security is called to break up the #pensionerwedgie
  14. Make a loud beeping noise every time the till operator scans an item. Carry on BEEPING LOUDLY. For ever. Or as long as it takes to get a chocolate profiterole.
  15. On the way out, carefully place cigarettes, batteries and alcohol miniatures in your Ugly Giant’s pockets and then alert a security guard. Again, not for snacks people, this is just for fun.
  16. At the exit, find the children’s rides and stage a sit in. HOLD. YOUR. NERVE. You know it and the Ugly Giants know it – they cannot leave without you. BOOM! Before you know it you will be riding off into the Cheerio and yoghurt coated sunset with Postman Pat and his black and white cat as accomplices.

*helping broadly defined as – “eat all consumables”

#aislemines

#pensionerwedgie

The Toddler Resistance Movement Guide to the School Run

The Toddler Resistance Movement Guide to the School Run

Latest update from the front lines comrades – it’s September and that means school has started. Now we all know school is great – tonnes of snacks, loads of shouting and running about and the mud pie kitchen. Oh yes, the mud pie kitchen! I mean, what’s not to like?!

But we all know that we can’t let on that we like school too much. We are a Resistance Movement after all, and we can’t resist something if we outwardly show the Ugly Giants that we like it. You feel me? So here’s the deal. Follow these instructions and resist, my schooled chums, resist!

1/. Wake up late and refuse to get out of bed until all your favourite clothes are laid out on the floor for you. Preferably in the shape of Olaf from Frozen.

2/. Swap out your pants / knickers at least sixty seven times. It’s an autumnal underwear palette you are after. Refuse the monochrome look, it’s so last year.

3/. Stuff your school jumper down the back of the sofa. This is an important plant that you can call upon later (see 15 below).

4/. Refuse to wear socks. Hold out for a multi-vitamin. Force the Ugly Giants to play their trump card early.

5/. Once you have the multi-vitamin, demand, in increasing levels of volume, to wear socks. Insist on putting socks on yourself. Scream at anyone who breaches your 5 metre perimeter until you have satisfactorily aligned your socks with your chi, any nearby ley lines and the eight planets of the solar system.

6/. At breakfast scream for Cheerio’s. A resistance movement cannot be sustained on an empty stomach and these little sugary O’s are perfect marching fodder. Half way through your bowl of sugary, salty breakfast cereal, stop and demand a fried egg on toast or anything else that requires the Ugly Giants to break open the cooking gear. Sprinkle Cheerio’s on the floor until you get what you want.

7/. You are holding out for an important Verbal Signal of Weakness (VSoW) from the Ugly Giants so procrastinate as much as you can. Use these precious minutes to discover a brand new hobby (such as dust inspecting or cognitive complexity theory), ask some important questions and demand answers (e.g. “why are big things big?” or a variation “How can big things be so big?”) or if you have a younger brother or sister simply hide him / her in a cupboard until the Ugly Giants are about to call the Police.

8/. If you have done everything right my learned friends you are probably nearing the point of VSoW so adjust your socks. The Toddler Resistance Movement demands sartorial perfection so get it right. Twenty minutes of committed sock fiddling should just about do it. Listen out for the Ugly Giant’s VSoW.

9/. “Come ON, we’re REALLY late”. There it is! BOOM! You’ve done it. The VSoW. The reveal. The Ugly Giants are now putty in your hands. You can hold out for pretty much any type of bribery. Whatever you want from the snack tin, it’s yours my fellow schoolers.

10/. They are weak. They are vulnerable. Now is the time to hit them with the Holy Trinity. Tell them you don’t want to go to school, you want to change your socks and that you are so tired that you need one of the Ugly Giants to give you a piggy back from the breakfast table to the front door. That should get you an oat bar, at the least.

11/. When brushing your teeth, the Ugly Giants will shout “BRUSH, DON’T CHEW”. They don’t really mean it. Chew, like your life depends on it.

12/. Before leaving the house, demand the micro scooter. Demand every single piece of safety kit and clothing to go with it.

13/. Take off the safety kit and clothing. It’s clashing with your autumnal palette.

14/. On the walk to school, stop off and talk to cats, pick flowers and inspect beetles. Feed the flowers to the beetles and feed the beetles to the cats. Try and eat the cats yourself.

15/. At the school gates make one last stand. Ask difficult questions, ask for your jumper (which is stuffed down the back of the sofa. BOOM! Payload!) or adjust your socks. Anything to avoid actual school.

16/. If you have followed all the steps above you should be entering the school just as the gates to your classroom are locked. This will cause the Ugly Giants an embarrassing trip to School Admin to plead their case and get the gates unlocked.
If you have achieved this then congratulations, YOU ARE THE RESISTANCE!

#VSoW
#sockfiddling
#toddlerresistancemovement

NEVER let the total amount of toddlers outnumber the total amount of parents (and other truths about fatherhood)

I am three years and two toddlers into Fatherhood. I somehow made it this far, but in case I don’t make it any further, I thought it was time to document and share this tongue-in-cheek list of truisms from my experience of being a father. So here you go, these are my 40 truths about fatherhood.

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Out and about

  1. When out pushing a pram you are giving legitimate and unconditional permission for complete strangers to come and talk to you.
  2. The MORE opinionated the stranger, the LESS children they have.
  3. SOME strangers can be hot, single, childless women.
  4. Despite what the received wisdom suggests, hot, single childless women often have the “BEST” advice for bringing up babies and toddlers.
  5. Society blindly trusts a man with a pram, despite the fact that the man might be a child-stealing pram thief.

At the park

  1. At any play park, there is ALWAYS one piece of badly designed equipment that is a toddler death trap.
  2. It is GUARANTEED that toddlers will always choose to play (for hours) on the one piece of equipment in the play park that is a toddler death trap.
  3. If there is dog poo, sharp glass, poisonous substances or hypodermic needles lying on the ground, a toddler will IMMEDIATELY find it, touch it, eat it / shoot up with it.

Car journeys

  1. Any trip that involves more than four toddler insertions / withdrawals from a car seat in a twelve hour period should NOT be taken.
  2. DONT argue with the sat-nav lady. Shouting at an automated voice robot is not a good example to set your children. Save that for your wife instead.
  3. “Are we nearly there yet?” is a legitimate question that can be asked at any point on the journey, including even before the journey has started.

Alcohol

  1. If you do decide to treat yourself to a few beers / glasses of wine of an evening that will be the night that your baby / toddler subsequently decides to wake up screaming every 45 minutes.
  2. Never fly solo on a hangover with two toddlers. EVER.

Work

  1. Toddlers will wait for your important meeting / job interview / wedding / long awaited holiday before going down with extreme diarrhoea and vomiting.
  2. Pink-glitter-in-the-beard is NOT currently an on-trend office style.
  3. NEITHER is the hello-kitty-sticker-on-butt look.

Food

  1. Although tempting, when out in a restaurant with your toddler NEVER shout “Seal the exits and set up a perimeter!”
  2. NEVER believe a toddler, especially when it comes to food. If they demand chicken, give them pork. They would have changed their mind anyway.
  3. A toddler ALWAYS waits for you to sit down at the dinner table before pointing out that you have forgotten something.
  4. When your toddler is screaming with hunger, you will ALWAYS overheat the meal.
  5. Yoghurt is toddler crack cocaine. NEVER run out. CULTIVATE a reliable dealer. ENSURE constant supply lines.

Changing nappies

  1. The parent HOLDING the baby / toddler when it has a poo is responsible for changing the nappy.
  2. If the baby / toddler is on the floor at the time of the poo, the nappy change becomes the responsibility of the NEAREST available parent.
  3. For obvious reasons ALWAYS wait for a baby or toddler to finish coughing or sneezing before changing their nappy.

Toys

  1. Regardless of the quality and amount of toys you purchase, it is GUARANTEED that at some point your toddlers favourite toy will be one, or all, of the following; a) an empty shampoo bottle b) a cardboard box c) a toilet roll d) food scraps from the floor e) dead flies and spiders.
  2. The more an adult hates a particular toy, the more a toddler will play with it.

Television

  1. Television should only be used as a LAST RESORT option to placate a melting-down toddler.
  2. The last resort is often the only resort.

Around the house

  1. Houses without stair gates are both liberating and petrifying.
  2. Football shin and knee pads ARE acceptable accessories for adults in stair-gated houses.
  3. 98% of carpet surface area in a house containing a three year old toddler is held together by stale milk, faeces, teething drool and nose bogies. FACT
  4. NEVER follow the five second rule (see 31 above)
  5. Child services FROWN on the concept of using a padlocked broom cupboard as a children’s “play area”

Birthday parties

  1. More parental love, care and attention goes into creating a toddlers birthday cake than actually into looking after the toddler.
  2. Male adults who say they are enjoying a toddlers birthday party are either a) drunk b) insane c) gate-crashers d) from the bouncy castle hire company

Communication

  1. It is perfectly acceptable and normal for a toddler to shout “I WANT TO GO OUTSIDE” and “I WANT TO GO INSIDE” in the same sentence.
  2. NEVER bank on your toddler keeping a secret. One of their primary life objectives is to bust their fathers as often, publicly and as awkwardly as possible.
  3. Toddlers are ALWAYS listening. They KNOW more than you think.
  4. Head butting a wall is an acceptable toddler method for expressing mild displeasure.
  5. You will spend the first two years looking forward to hearing your baby’s inner voice, and the next sixteen trying to SILENCE it.

And finally, the one GOLDEN universal rule applicable to all events and circumstances

NEVER let the total amount of toddlers outnumber the total amount of parents.

I would love to hear what you have learnt about being a father / mother and what universal rules you have learned from your experience.

Potty training; It’s more than just the ones and twos

Change is never easy, and potty training – one of the major milestones in any young child’s life – can be one of the more challenging and frustrating change phases for everyone involved. It is much more than just taking off their nappies and showing them where the toilet is. It is the beginning of the process that will eventually see your child walk out of the door and off into the great wide world on their own. No wonder it can feel so stressful.

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There were three indicators that my daughter was ready to start potty training

  • She started to express an interest
  • She was becoming conscious of the urge, shifting around and fussing when she needed to go.
  • She was regularly waking up with a dry nappy

And there were three good reasons to start potty training

  • She was getting stronger, and at 26 months old, we were fed up with fighting her on the change table.
  • It was summer. Much easier for potty training
  • Her best friend was potty training too, which provided a great peer pressure incentive

We were initially quite fearful as our daughter likes routine, doesn’t like change and expresses displeasure openly, frequently and assertively. In other words she can be a Todzilla.

However the transition to grown-up pull up pants made my daughter happy as she felt like a grown up girl. Equally my wife and I felt an immediate relief and liberation from the dreaded nappies (not to mention happiness at the thought of the expense saved).

However despite these early quick wins, the first two weeks didn’t go very well at all. In fact I would describe them as a disaster.

My daughter found it very difficult and was having accidents all day at nursery and also at home in the evenings. We tried to be patient and adopted the line to never scold an accident, but instead gently reassure and encourage her to get it right the next time. This is difficult though when yet another poo ends up on the kitchen floor.

My daughter became increasingly frustrated, unable to vocalise her angst. In hindsight, and judging by her reactions to each accident, I am also pretty sure she found the whole process quite humiliating – after all, who would want to be seen wetting or soiling themselves in public?

This went on for two weeks. Fortunately we have tiles and exposed floor boards at home in the majority of the family space in the house, so the damage from the many accidents was easily cleaned up. However the emotional scars were much harder to deal with. My daughter still couldn’t work out what was happening and became tense and stroppy.

My wife and I were also frazzled from following her around the house and garden with a potty. I began to hate those words “Do you need to go to the toilet?” which had become a burdensome mantra.

We tried lots of ideas, but even the sticker chart (which we thought would be the failsafe technique given her love for stickers) didn’t work. Each day the situation report from our key worker at nursery made depressing listening. We began to dread the daily briefing of failure and the exchange of yet another plastic bag full of soiled clothes.

Then one day, as we entered the third week of potty training, our nursery key worker pulled us to one side with our daughter, and suggested that it wasn’t working and that we should revert back to nappies. She said my daughter was not ready.

We were gutted.

I was actually at the point where I was also willing to cave in but thank goodness my wife provided the spine on this occasion and argued that we had put so much energy into potty training, and that this was NOT the time to give up.

My wife was also aware that my daughter’s friend had successfully transitioned from nappies to potty pretty easily in the meantime, and this provided further incentive for all of us.

And the very next day something amazing happened.

We were stood in the nursery, explaining our decision to our daughter’s key worker and my daughter toddled off into the bathroom. After a few moments I decided to follow her. When I turned the corner I cried out in amazement! My daughter was sat on the potty, big grin on her face, HAVING A WEE! I could not contain my excitement and called the others in to see. Of course I am not sure this was the right move as it temporarily made my daughter a little shy of her achievement.

However, amazingly she had no more accidents that day, nor the next, nor for many days after that.

By the end of it my daughter had cracked number ones within three weeks and number twos within two months. Accidents, when they did come, were generally during periods of intense play and excitement, when her mind was on something else, but within a couple of months these became incredibly rare. She suffered a couple of viruses in the time, which also seemed to set her back, but generally the learning trajectory was extremely sharp after that initial success.

I look back upon that period with mixed feelings. I was pleased that my wife had been tenacious enough to persuade me to stick with it. I was also proud that my daughter had decided to prove us all wrong, determined to do things in her own time, in her own way; but I also know it was a tough and stressful time, and a time when there were also many other challenges such as teething and sleep issues to deal with.

However, looking back, the overwhelming sense for us all is one of celebrating a victory; for my wife and I it was about having survived one of the key transition phases in early childhood development and for having successfully supported and coached my daughter through it.

But more importantly the victory was for my daughter; my daughter who assertively and confidently took her own decision to take yet another step on the path towards autonomy and independence; for my daughter who took a step closer to understanding and taking control over her own body; for my daughter who became closer to understanding her own needs and shaping her own independent future.

We learnt that potty training is more than just removing their nappies and showing your child where the toilet is. It is about empowerment, trust and preparing your child for the next stages in their life. These are big issues and big concepts, and introducing them so early on in their little lives is bound to cause tension, friction and challenges. And it is no surprise then, that it can feel all consuming.

And as we now stand on the verge of embarking on the potty training process with my son, who will soon embark on his own little war of (nappy) independence, we are preparing and steeling ourselves for a long, and sometimes stressful, journey. We will be prepared for setbacks on the way. We will be prepared for another summer of running around the house with a potty in one hand, and a bottle of disinfectant and brush in the other. We will be prepared for the inevitable accidents.

But ultimately, given what an incredible achievement it is for a child to throw off the lumpy shackles of nappies and to be able to stride confidently, with bare buttocks, out into the big wide world, we will be prepared for our children to (once again) amaze us.

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This post appeared in its original format for a series of guest posts on Potty Training on the @Mummy_loves blog page (thismummyloves.com). Go check it out, there’s some great stuff on there. And why not follow Sonia on Twitter @Mummy_loves, she’s ace!