The Smeds and the Smoos During Lockdown 2020

This is based on Julia Donaldson’s book The Smeds and The Smoos and my version of what would happen to them during this lockdown.


By a cordoned off park on an infected planet,
There lived a young Smed
And her name was Janet.

Not far away on a stockpiled hill,
There lived a young Smoo
By the name of Bill.

Janet like all the other Smeds was red
And this is what her grandfather said:

“Never, never go near the Smoos
They stay in pyjamas and don’t watch the news
so they stand too close in supermarket queues.
Never, never play with the Smoos!

Bill, like the other Smoos, was blue
and these were the words of Granny Smoo:

“Never, never go near the Smeds
They think they’re clever because of Facebook posts they’ve read,
but I saw one buying 3 loaves of bread!
Never, never play with a Smed!

The Smeds always stayed indoors and liked nothing better.
They cheered when they received Boris Johnson’s letter.
But Janet grew bored with forced-fun and play
And, before the acrylics came out, she tiptoed away.

The Smoos jumped about on their stockpiled hill
and swam around in loo roll, hand wash and pills,
but Bill was beginning to think it was boring:
“There must be more to life than hoarding!”

Janet met Bill in an abandoned wood.
Expecting to find sunbathers, alone they stood.
The two tapped elbows and then fell in love:
She fluttered her face mask; he flexed his gloves.

Until who should disturb them but Grandfather Smed.
Shaking some hand gel, he angrily said:

“Never, never go near a Smoo!
Does social distancing mean nothing to you?
Your face mask only got a one star review!
Never, never go near a Smoo!”

Granny Smoo stood two metres behind
(She didn’t want to risk being fined):

“Never never play with a Smed!
Can you not see her blotchy spots of red?
Goodness knows what germs they spread!
Never, never go near a Smed!”

Months went by on the infected planet.
Janet missed Bill and Bill missed Janet.
And like something out of a film from Bollywood,
they met in secret whenever they could.

The two of them soon decided to wed,
but what do you think their grandparents said?

“You could never, never marry a Smoo!
It will be just two witnesses and you!
We’ll have to watch a live-stream view!
You’ll never never marry a Smoo!”

“You can’t possibly marry a Smed!
Where would you do it? In their rainbow-painted shed?
With a registrar wearing a plastic guard over her head?
You’re never never going to marry a smed!”

Janet and Bill stole out late at night
So their neighbours couldn’t report them if they caught sight
of them leaving the house twice in the same day
because they were planning to run away!

When the families awoke and discovered their plans,
they set off to find them, but not before washing their hands.

The Smeds said, “Your Bill must have stolen our Janet!
Isn’t it enough that you have a year’s supply of pomegranate?”

The Smoos said, “It’s Janet who’s stolen our Bill!
We’d arranged for him to marry his second-cousin Gill!”

They immediately set off to search high and low,
getting spooked every time someone sneezed into their elbow.
Suspicious and scowling, they would always tut
At others walking by: “Why can’t people just stay put?”
“Don’t they know how many people have died?”
“We are the only ones with good reason to be outside!”

But they soon discovered it wasn’t just treason.
Most people did have a good reason.
Some had to work, others needed to try
to check on the vulnerable to see how they were getting by.

They searched and searched but eventually decided home they should dash.
The Smeds were missing their rainbows; the Smoos their great stash.
They realised all everyone wanted was for an end to this unpleasant mess,
but in the meantime, they needed to support each other and our wonderful NHS.
The Smeds saw everyone was suffering on the infected planet
and were delighted to be offered half the Smoo’s pomegranate,
but just as the disinfectant appeared, who should they see but Bill and Janet!

There was joy, there was laughter – they were jumping with glee.
Then Janet said, “I’ve brought something special back with me…”
Expecting a new arrival, the families held their breath nervously,
but what they got was even better….



Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan is here in all its beauty,
‘No moon sighted cuz it was cloudy’
I’m glad that I don’t follow Saudi,
As I would have missed the finale of Line of Duty.

We try to give up all that religion forbids,
Give away to charity many, many quids,
Mums try extra worship through closing eyelids,
Then settle for trying to not shout at the kids.

We decorate our houses so that they look cute,
Getting kids involved is a constant persuit,
In no other month do we eat so much fruit,
And do the men become suddenly so hirsute.

We show love and kindness as much as we are able,
Netflix may temporarily be disabled,
Dates will be found on every Iftaar table,
But don’t forget to check the label!

It’s a month where our devotion is put to the test,
It’s not a competition so don’t get stressed,
Samosas are just an unnecessary pest,
Wishing you a Ramadan that is uplifting and blessed.

Ramadan Mubarak to you all.


A Brush With Glamour

For some time now, my Facebook newsfeed has been flooded with people doing make-up tutorials.
I’ve had mixed feelings about this.
To begin with, all I could think was, ‘Are they actually going somewhere? What kind of occasion would justify that much effort? Insulated walls have fewer layers! WTF kind of black magic is contouring? How does making yourself look like you’re about to break into some remote, tribal dance give you high cheekbones? The binned wipes that have removed make-up on them are probably worth more than my house!’
However, I have to say, I have warmed to them. Painting yourself like a zebra really does give you nice cheekbones and they make it look so easy. I’ve always been a simple eyeliner and lipstick girl and, that too, only on a special occasion but I was seduced by these tutorials.
They drew me in like one of those Facebook adverts that make every product seem remarkable and revolutionary instead of the pound shop tat that they actually are.
You know, like the ones that show completely hairless people applying hair removal cream to show you how quick and effective their hair removal cream is because it doesn’t induce instant hair growth on hairless people who are actually only hairless because they used a razor to remove their hair and not the hair removal cream that’s being advertised.
Or the ones that promise instant thinness by taking various lotions, potions and pills and tell you that ’99/100 people saw a difference within a day’, but fail to mention that ’99/100′ is actually a projection because they only asked 2 people and only 1 of those noticed a difference and even then she wasn’t sure if it was because she initially weighed herself after having a takeaway and then again the next day after recovering from the diarrhea said takeaway caused.
The ‘discreet’ nose strips to help with snoring that turn out to look like a speculum for your nostrils, the serum that makes your eyelashes grow but only while you’re wearing false ones and the ‘automatic’ machinery that ONLY requires you to pour things into it/wipe things off it/remove things from it/spend 20 minutes hovering over it ect ect.
Anyway, I digress….
Inspired by these glamorous visions, I purchased some liquid foundation and a brush as I believed these were the necessary construction tools one must acquire to make one appear to be partially ‘on fleek’.
Unfortunately, I fell at this first hurdle.
The £1 foundation that I bought took 4 weeks to arrive because it came from China (I bought it after seeing a Facebook advert) and ended up being completely the wrong colour.
The brushes didn’t turn out to be the way I expected either…
Now, I know that I am a long way off having the lofty and prestigious MUA initials at the end of my name, but something tells me these ones I bought from Amazon aren’t quite right…


In my defence, I did not see the picture of someone using a brush around a light switch. I’d like to think even I would have worked out that I was buying the wrong type of brush then… But, then again, in the words of hazrat Sherlock Holmes, “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”

Warnings and Symptoms of Mum Brain

I am aware that I have neglected my blog somewhat in the past year. It’s not because I don’t enjoy writing any more or because I don’t care about it. I’ve even got out my laptop quite a few times with the intention to share my insightful musings, but I feel like I have nothing to write to about.

Now it can’t be the case that in this vast universe full of unanswered questions and life-changing debates with the likes of Brexit and whether we should negotiate a good deal or walk away with nothing (because that will really stick it to our enemies), what we will pack and take with us when the Home Secretary decides we are no longer British or whether it’s ever acceptable to put crisps inside a sandwich, that there is genuinely nothing for me to write about.

I have realised that what I am facing is an incomparable evil called Mum Brain. For those of you that are unfamiliar with this plague, Mum Brain takes over your ability to function as normal human being once you’ve had children.

It is a non-life-threatening disease (which may actually be a threat to others) that makes you forget how to function as a normal human being and can cause insurmountable rage for no apparent reason. Unfortunately, there is no cure.

If you feel that you could have been affected by this, some of the most serious symptoms have been listed below. May you find solace in the knowledge that you are not alone.

God help us. All.

mum brain pic

1) You can never remember anything.

Ever. The school sends so many texts, letters, notices home about a specific event that you get fed up of reading about them and feel it’s insulting that they feel the need to tell you so many times.

On the day of the event, it will have started and finished and you will still be blissfully unaware that you needed to be somewhere else.

2) You use baby wipes for everything.
Cleaning bums, hands, faces (though hopefully not the same one for all three), mopping up spills, mopping the floor, dusting, cleaning sofas, cleaning windows etc. etc.

3) You put everything in the bin/fridge.

I don’t mean things that should be in the fridge. I mean things like cereal, biscuits, the kettle, your phone. Speaking of your phone, you’ve spent time looking for it while you are on it.

4) You forget what you’re doing while you’re doing it

I’ve been a forgetful person for most of my life, but it was only once I became a mother that I would start doing something and forget the purpose before I finish. Or, I would remember that there was something I need to do right away and still somehow forget to do it.

5) You can cry and laugh in the same sentence

This may be more common during pregnancy and the post-partum period, but it can make an appearance anytime. You are so fed up and tired that you cry over the smallest things like there not being any chocolate in the house. Then you remember something funny that one of the kids said or did and start laughing and, when it stops being funny, you remember that there’s still no chocolate and you’re back to crying again.

6) You never say the right name when you’re trying to call your children and then you call your husband Dad.

I only have two children so, really, I should be second time lucky when trying to call out the correct name and yet I end up calling the names of everyone I’ve ever met before saying the right one.

7) You look like you’re trying to flee a warzone whilst doing the school run.

It’s a combination of the fact that you always underestimate how long it takes to get from the car and into school, the same children who you have to fight with to take an interest in anything now decide that they are naturalists* and would like to investigate everything on Mother Earth that they encounter on the way and the fact that your children act like every day at school is their first, so have no idea what to do unless you tell them that leaves you with Resting Bitch Face.

I once wrote on my Facebook page: ‘To all those people that I encounter in the mornings on the way to school, I am honestly so much nicer than my school-run-face would suggest!’

*I did originally write ‘naturist’ but then realised that this means something else. They sometimes are this too though, thankfully, not on the way to school…yet.

8) You leave useless items lying around the house for weeks/months at a time, but throw away things that you actually need immediately.

If you take a look around my house, at any given time, you will find an array of useless items that have been there far longer than they should. Sometimes they are there because I have just stopped noticing them, sometimes I am hoping someone else will move them and sometimes I keep them just IN CASE they end up being important.

However, if there is ever an important letter, a gift voucher or a receipt I need, you can guarantee I’ll go into full-on Marie Kondo mode and throw it away right away.

9) You spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to organize the rubbish in your house and then spend even longer trying to remember where you put those things when you need them.

I am not sure that this one needs any further comment except that it is so bloody frustrating that it will leave you wanting to scream into a pillow!

10) You are the type of parent that your pre-child self said that they would never be

You bribe/silence with chocolate, threaten to cancel everything that might happen…ever, you only ever eat the same few meals on rotation because they’re guaranteed to be eaten and you shout…a lot!


If you are experiencing some or all of these symptoms, post a highly orchestrated photo on social media of you are your kids looking happy just to be in each others company. No one will ever know.

Seasonal Greetings From The Muslamics


We wish you a merry Xmas,
We wish you a merry Xmas,
We wish you a merry Xmas,
But we’re not celebrating.

Good tidings we bring,
But no gift or anything,
We wish you a merry Xmas,
But we’re not celebrating.

Now we’ll all make our poor mums host,
We’ll probably have some spicy ‘roast’
Spend time with those we love the most,
And be fed up by evening.

Good tidings we bring,
But no gift or anything,
We wish you a merry Xmas,
But we’re not celebrating.

Kids ask why Santa doesn’t come,
We convince them Eid’s just as fun,
Force them to watch the films that are on,
They find tablets more engaging.

Good tidings we bring,
But no gift or anything,
We wish you a merry Xmas,
But we’re not celebrating.


We may not be celebrating, but our day is probably still pretty similar. Hope those that are have a great day!

A problem shared is a problem ‘shared’

A while ago, I took the kids out for one of those spontaneous ‘fun days out’ that turned out to be anything but. My only consolation was that we ended up near a place to eat and, recalling the events of the day, I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity to eat food that was probably going to shorten my lifespan by a few years.

As we were waiting for our food to arrive, a group of young (late teens/early twenties) sat at the table adjacent to ours. One was pouring her heart out to the others about boyfriend trouble. Something along the lines of:

‘Oh, I just don’t think I could forgive him for this.’

‘It just hurts so much!’

‘But we’ve been together so long, how can I just throw it all away?’

‘I wish I could walk away, but I just love him so much!’

‘Blah, blah, boo hoo!’

Amid all her dramatic proclamations of love and tears of sorrow, her two friends were trying their best to console her. They had perfected the look of wistful sympathy that anyone telling a tale of woe wants to see from their confidants (as much as eyebrows that come courtesy of a stencil allow anyway) and one even shed an empathetic tear.

Cue a flurry of tearful sobs, claims of him not deserving her and lots of hugs.

In the middle of the tears, the waiter delivered the mocktails they had ordered. At this point, all was forgotten and all 3 simultaneously took out their phones, took a picture of their drinks and (I presume) added them to social media, before putting their phones on the table and continuing to discuss their heartbreak, like this was just a natural course of action.

Because, clearly, it doesn’t matter what tragedy befalls you, it pales into insignificance when there is a possibility that your beverage may go ‘unshared’.

So, I am sharing mine.

After all, if your drink doesn’t have your toddler’s grubby pasta fingerprints all over it, is it even worth sharing?



School Drop-Off Drama

I was dropping my little one off at nursery the other morning, which is on the same premises as a busy primary school in a residential area, so parking is always a bit tight.
He only goes one day a week, and I don’t always take the car, so it’s still new to us and I’m yet to become one of those expert parents who can turn up a minute before school starts and know exactly where they can find a space.
To my delight, I found a space close to the school so I pulled in, but soon realised that there were many overgrown trees close to the passenger’s side and I would have struggled to get my little one out of his car seat. I could see there was a space just a couple of metres down the road so I pulled back out and parked there instead. (There is a point to all this mundane detail, I promise!)
After I had dropped my boy off and returned to the car, I was confronted by an angry lady claiming that I had hit her car and ‘run away’. She pointed at some scuff marks on my car and said that there were also some on hers.
I apologised, explained that I hadn’t realised I had made contact with her car and gave her my details to pay for whatever damage had been done to hers.
Now, for most people, this would have sufficed but this lady had obviously watched a few too many episodes of The Bill in her day and clearly felt that this qualified her to conduct an interrogation.
She didn’t believe that I hadn’t realised that I’d scratched her car, and kept repeating that I had ‘run away’.
I am, undoubtedly, stupid, as I scraped a car and didn’t even realise, but even I am not stupid enough to do a ‘hit and run’, where both sides of the street were full of parents as potential witnesses, and ‘run away’ just a couple of metres down the road and then park up, with the owner of the car watching me from across the road. (I could see some women staring at me as I was pulling out, but assumed they were belittling my questionable parking skills.)

Further supposed proof of my guilt was that I had been ‘loitering’ at the bottom of the street once I had come out of the school grounds without any reasonable cause, other than to hide.
I had actually gone to buy sanitary towels from the Tesco Express that’s on the corner, realised I’d left my bag in the car and turned back around again. (Although I omitted this detail in my explanation to her, mostly because it was none of her business, but also for fear that she would want me to produce a bloodied tampon as evidence.)
She then thanked me for ruining her day and was off on her jolly way. I later got a text with a pretty steep quote for repair that also stated that police had been informed because I fled the scene of the crime.
I did feel like she was being unreasonably aggressive, but then she did believe that I had damaged her car and then went to great lengths to evade captivity, by moving just a couple of metres away with the owner of the car watching me, so perhaps that’s understandable (even if it is stupid).
What isn’t reasonable though is the conversation that took place between this lady and another one.
As I was making my way back towards my car, I noticed two women standing by my car and gesturing at me.
As they saw me approaching, one said:
‘She’s one of them. She probably won’t even speak English.’
While the lady who the car belonged to responded with:
‘It’s probably not even legal or got insurance.’
(I’m assuming ‘it’ was a reference to the car rather than me.)

They took one look at me, saw someone with brown skin that’s dressed a bit differently and assumed that I was an illiterate, criminal, immigrant. I’m about as ‘by the book’ as a person can be and, given that I am an English teacher (in theory more than in practice these days), I probably have a better command of the English language than the two of these imbeciles put together, so it’s almost laughable that they would assume these things.
Almost laughable.
Because I can’t help but wonder if they would make these same assumptions if I had been white. Certainly, they would have had unsavoury things to say about me, but would they really have assumed that an unfortunate accident was part of a criminal lifestyle where I drive stolen, uninsured cars and then feign ignorance to get out of it.
I very much doubt it.

It’s perfectly understandable that she was annoyed about the damage to her car and there are many acceptable ways of expressing justified annoyance, but throwing about casually racist stereotypes is not one of them.

I’m not accusing anyone of racism (the two of them may well be, but I’m not suggesting that our exchange is evidence of it), but they did have prejudicial views that affect how they see other people and these views are far more common in society than anyone is comfortable to admit. Especially when it comes to women who look and dress like me.
I’m not, by the way, claiming that the beholders of these prejudicial views are always white while the victims are always brown. Prejudice exists in all walks of life and across all societies. We all know that. But making assumptions and stereotyping entire groups of people based on trivial details is far too common and, more worryingly, far too accepted.

I doubt either of the Middle Class ladies I came across yesterday would consider themselves as having prejudicial views and I doubt they would proudly declare the stereotypes they believe to be true about other races in normal circumstances. Yet when one of them saw me and made a derogatory comment based on my skin colour and outfit, the other was quick to add that I was probably also a criminal too.
So,  I have some advice for these two ladies, which would probably benefit us all. The next time any of you see someone that’s a bit different to you, see them for what they are – a human being with flaws just like you and a life that is every bit as complicated and nuanced as yours. If they do something wrong, judge that one action instead of making assumptions about their entire lifestyle or seeing it as a typical trait of an entire race.

They may be your cup of tea, they may not, but you’ll only discover which is the case if you approach them and accept that they are made up of more than just a skin colour/religion/type of dress and you don’t know anything about them.
And to those people that have taken one look at me and made assumptions that perhaps I may be too daft to hold a conversation, or have links to the mafia like the delightful lady I met yesterday, let me tell you that it is completely and utterly your loss because I am a hoot, even if I do say so myself!

You Know You’re a Mum During Ramadhan When…

  1. You’re having caffeine withdrawal headaches. Let’s face it, a strong coffee or tea is a trusted companion of most mums, and not being able to have one whilst you SELRES_6e15bea4-2923-42ee-8bb0-8348393f94a7SELRES_d5579fee-4cb4-41c5-8419-8d06576eac6bprepare for warSELRES_d5579fee-4cb4-41c5-8419-8d06576eac6bSELRES_6e15bea4-2923-42ee-8bb0-8348393f94a7 get the kids ready and start the school-run takes some getting used to.




2. You instantly regret not eating or drinking much at suhoor when you wake up feeling both hungry and thirsty and wonder how you’re going to get through the day (although it’s usually fine).




3. Your iftaar meals become a little less elaborate and ambitious as the month goes on.




4.You spend the day teaching your kids the importance of being kind and patient, but then lose your s*** (I mean sabr, of course!) over something as trivial as a misplaced sock because you’re soooooooo tired.




5. You’re sooooooooo tired.




6. Your fridge is suddenly full of fruit! You find yourself eating more fruit in this month than in the rest of the year combined.




7. You have to stop yourself from licking your fingers or nibbling at something from the kids’ plates every time you give them something to eat.




8. While you appreciate that it’s hard for your husband to go to work whilst fasting, you secretly resent him a little for being able to rest for a few hours when he gets back even though you both wake up at the same time.




9. Kids’ bedtimes have suddenly become a little earlier and all bedtime rituals are now governed by what takes the least amount of time.




10. The various forms of worship you do throughout the month have become a little more basic in comparison to what they were during the serene, pre-kids Ramadhans of yesteryear.


(Though hopefully not quite as basic as this!)

How to Make an Engaging Ramadhan Calendar in Five Easy Steps

As Ramadhan is fast approaching, and in an attempt to get into the right frame of mind, I thought I would take a break from my usual pointless rants and do a blog post that may actually be considered useful.

My eldest is almost 5 and now takes an interest in learning new things. As I have started teaching her to read Arabic over the past year and she has started learning many of the short surahs from the Quran, I wanted to get her involved in Ramadhan this year. She’s obviously too young to fast, but I wanted to do something that would help create a sense of excitement and allow her to feel as though she was participating.

I did a ‘good deed jar’ a while back so she sees the importance of doing nice things and being good to others. We just decorated an old bolognaise jar:


She gets to put a marble in the jar every time she does a ‘good deed’ and, once it’s full, she’ll get to choose a day out for us all. Although, knowing my luck, she’ll probably say she wants to go to somewhere like Disneyland and feel cheated when I say no.

It’s probably worth noting that, if you’re planning to do something similar, choose the size of your jar carefully. I think ours is perhaps too big as we started a couple of months ago and, although she has almost 30 marbles in it, it still looks like there’s hardly anything in there.

I’d seen a few online posts about Good Deed Calendars and thought doing something similar would be a good way of getting her involved and a good way of getting a few more marbles in the jar before she decides she doesn’t care about it any more. I decided I would take it a step further and include a short fact about Islam, as well as the good deed suggestion, and a treat for each day. Each of these would be placed in a small envelope and attached to the calendar. This way, she can look forward to opening them each day, will learn something new (even if she doesn’t remember the fact itself, it will still give us something to talk about and she’s bound to retain some of our conversation) and she’ll be getting involved by intending to do a good deed each day.

I wrote and drew pictures for the good deed cards myself. She’s only 4 so including pictures is important as it will help her work out what the card is asking her to do. If drawing isn’t your thing, or you just don’t have time, you can go on a site called and download a free printout with 30 good deeds – it’s what I used as inspiration for the 30 deeds I included.

The calendar itself can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Mine took over an entire week of very late nights, after putting the kids to bed, to finish. I get that not everyone is in a position to be able to do that, but it can be easily adjusted and simplified so that it is less time consuming.

So, here’s how you can make your own:

STEP ONE – Decide what you are going to call it. I called mine, ’30 good deeds, 30 facts and 30 treats for 30 days of Ramadhan’. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, I know, but at least there’ll be no doubt about exactly what it is! And it’s better than my original thought of 30 good deeds, 30 facts and 30 treats for 29 or 30 days of Ramadhan depending on when the moon is sighted/whether you trust who sighted it/whether it can be seen in your particular country/what school of thought you follow/if you just want unity.

STEP TWO – Create a backdrop for the calendar. I did this:


It doesn’t have to be a picture though, it could be patterns or you could even just use coloured paper instead – it just depends on how creative you feel like being and how much time you have, so do whatever tickles your fancy! (What an incredibly strange phrase!)

STEP THREE: Decide which 30 deeds and facts you are going to include and write/draw them into boxes, ensuring that they are not too big, as you need to fit 30 of them onto your calendar and they need to fit in the envelopes. Unfortunately, I’d already finished doing mine, cut them up and placed them inside envelopes by the time I had decided to do this blog post so I don’t have a picture of them all, but here’s an example of what I mean:

good deed

Sorry about the writing. I laminated my fact cards so that they would last longer and I could use them for other purposes later on, but it means they don’t photograph very well.

If any of you are interested in knowing what I included for each day, I will be posting a photo of each fact and good deed on my Facebook page ( each day once my daughter has opened the envelope for that day.

STEP FOUR: Place a fact, a good deed and a treat (if you wish) into a small envelope and then write what day of Ramadhan it is for on the outside. Something like this:


STEP FIVE: Decide how you’re going to attach the envelopes to the calendar. The easiest thing to do would be to stick the envelopes directly onto the calendar. I decided to feed twine through holes that I’d placed on opposite sides and then attach the envelopes onto the twine using small, decorated pegs because I like to make life as difficult as possible for myself.

And voila! Here is your finished product:

finished calendar

If you choose to do it my way, you will need to add more sheets of paper/card to the back to make it stronger, as the weight of the envelopes on the string will make the calendar curve inwards.

May I also take this opportunity to wish all those that have subscribed/followed/liked/disliked/ignored my blog/Facebook page a very happy and blessed Ramadhan. May it be filled with barakah, gratitude, generosity and not too much bad breath! If you know, you know!

An Amateur’s Guide to Potty Training – Potty Training in 4 Steps

There’s lots of ups and downs when potty training a child. Your emotions will fluctuate between having high hopes to wishing you never started. Generally, you will feel something like this:

InkedPotty training_LI

I am in the process of potty training my youngest child and have found it so much easier than I did the last time around. I think I’ve supressed a lot of the memories from before, but I just remember saying, seeing, smelling, cleaning and getting stressed about wee and poo a lot.

We got there in the end, as does everyone eventually, but it wasn’t a particularly enjoyable time for either of us and I wish I had been more relaxed during the process.

Well, I have done it differently this time and it has been so much better for both of us. I know it can be daunting when you decide your child is ‘ready’ but then don’t really know how to go about it, so I’m sharing what worked for me in the hope that it may work for others of you too.

1) Potty or toilet seat:
I guess this decision will partly depend on how old/big the child is. My daughter wasn’t quite 2 when I started potty training her and was, quite literally, scared shitless of the toilet (she withheld poo for days on end).

I decided it was best that she started off on a potty. I bought her an all singing and dancing one that looked like a mini toilet, played a tune when she sat on it, had a sensor that detected faecal matter and provided a drumroll (which actually made her jump most of the time and meant that most of the aforementioned matter ended up on the floor), would say encouraging phrases when she got up without doing anything which I was usually too annoyed to do and even dispensed stickers.

Sounds great, right? Well, maybe it was to begin with, but the novelty soon wore off. It took my daughter 3 months to transition from a potty to a toilet and she refused to sit on anything else which meant that, FOR THREE WHOLE MONTHS, rather than lovingly carrying my child on any outing we went on, I had a small toilet attached to me hip instead!

Although, I do remember once taking her to use the potty in the public toilets at the park. After she had done a wee, the potty recognised her achievement with the phrase, “Well done, you did it! Don’t forget to flush and wash your hands!” At which point the lady in the cubicle flushed obligingly and rushed to the sink, whilst looking around very confused. So, it may have made me look like an utter twat every time I left the house, but at least it was entertaining!

Unsurprisingly, I decided to skip the potty stage this time. My son was a little afraid of the toilet seat to begin with, but I tried to get him used to it before potty training, so would just put him on there for about 30 seconds before bath times and he gradually began to hate it less  get used to it.

It also helped that he regularly saw a sibling using it because I think this makes it more normal. This is especially true when said sibling likes to leave the door wide open when using the downstairs bathroom opposite the glass panelled porch so that, not only can her brother see what she’s doing, but anyone walking past our house can too. The postman has been greeted with a straining faced waving child a few times.

2) Establish:
I accept that this method may not be for everyone, but I didn’t bother with pullups at home and immediately put him in pants.

According to potty training literature, choosing pants is supposed to a big, ceremonial occasion where you allow your child to choose his own pants, which represent his transition from toddler to little boy, and enables him to be involved in the decision-making process and even take a little control over it.

We went to Asda where I picked out some Batman pants and said, “Shall we get these?” to which he replied, “Quack! Quack!” and threw a lollipop at my head, so Batman it was!

Next comes the feral bit. You put them in their pants, or just leave them naked from the waist down, and let whatever happens happen. It’s probably best to keep them in one room at this stage and lay a sheet down over the carpet and some old towels on the sofa.

Tell him that he’s not going to wear a nappy anymore and that he’s going to use the toilet like you do. When he inevitably wets himself, you say, in your cheeriest voice, something along the lines of, “Well done for pissing all over yourself and my carpet doing a wee outside your nappy. Next time, let’s try to do in the toilet.”

I then let him just play as usual for the next couple of hours, saying the same drivel whenever he had an accident, but encouraging him to sit on the toilet every 40 minutes, or 20 minutes after a drink, for no more than a few minutes each time. I know it’s a bit weird, but I made a note of it every time he did anything. Something like this (excuse my son’s scribbles):


It should help establish a pattern so you’ll know how long he can go without a wee or how soon after a drink he needs to go. It means that you don’t have to continuously say, “Do you need a wee?” which can quickly become tiresome for both of you, and he will probably start ignoring you if you say it too often.

I can imagine if someone repeatedly asked me that question,I’d find it quite irritating after a while. Although, if they did, thanks to a lack of pelvic floor exercises and the thought of a little rest, my answer would almost always be yes.

If your child is reluctant to sit on the toilet/potty, the wise ones suggest an incentive, such as stickers or marbles in a jar every time they go. They might lose interest after a couple of days, but hopefully by then they will be more willing anyway. By the end of the second day, my boy started putting the stickers in the toilet so I didn’t bother continuing with them after that.

There’s no need to hold your child hostage either. Short outings are fine but encourage a trip to the toilet before you go and as soon as you come back. I did put a pullup on at this stage but took it off as soon as we got home. If you are hardcore and go without a pullup, make sure you take spare pants, trousers and socks with you.

Likewise, going to the toilet before and after meals is probably a good idea too.

It’s very unlikely that there will be any lightbulb moment at this stage, so if you’ve managed to get him to understand that the toilet is for wees and poos and he’s happy to sit on it, even if he doesn’t do much/anything on there, you’ve done well. It’s funny what counts as an achievement when you’re a parent, isn’t it?

Now time to get the Dettol out!

3) Practise:
Because I could see that there was a gradual increase in the length of time between wees the day before, I waited an hour before taking him to the toilet on the second day, unless he’d had a substantial amount to drink. I added an extra 5 minutes to the wait each time to begin with but never let him go more than an hour and a half.

I let him play as normal throughout the day and we even went out to feed the ducks. I tried not to hover over him too much and just started looking for signs that he needed to go. It was very quick, but he would usually stop what he was doing, stick his bum out a little and have a glazed look on his face. As soon as I saw the beginnings of this process, I suggested, in my nicest voice, that we go to the toilet and the response was almost always, “No, I don’t like it!” At which point, I just picked him up and placed him on the toilet. Being nice all the time is far too exhausting!

The main aim for this day was to get more wees in the toilet than in the holy pants.

After doing a wee on the toilet, my boy started to say, “Finished Mama!” which told me that he knew what he was expected to do when he was on there so I was happy with the way things were going.


4) Reinforce:
The third day consisted of more of the same, really. I was still making a note of every wee and poo so had a good idea of when he needed to go.

During this day, he managed to tell me twice that he needed a wee. We’re on day 5 as I write this and he hasn’t told me again since, but I’m still pleased that we managed to achieve this. If he didn’t say anything, I took him to the toilet every two hours. He didn’t have any accidents throughout this day and did something every time I put him on the toilet so I knew that the hardest part of our potty-training journey was over.

In fact, I was basking in smugness over how well it was going that evening while I was reading a bedtime story to both kids. I noticed him starting to strain but, by the time I got to the bathroom, it was too late. Fortunately, he already had his night-time pullup on so there was no damage done.

I removed the soiled pullup, cleaned him and then sent him downstairs to tell his dad to put another one on whilst I continued to read to my daughter. I then heard the muffled sound of my husband’s voice, which went from sounding pleased to see him to screaming in horror.

My boy hadn’t been feeling too well that day and I had heard him coughing on the way down the stairs so assumed he had perhaps vomited. It turns out that was wishful thinking.

When I left my daughter’s room, I saw blobs of runny poo trickled the whole way down the staircase, which then descended into blobs of poo, spaced between poo footprints, across the hallway and culminated with a poo bum print on my husband’s clothes!

I’ve not been smug since except for when I saw there was a poo bum print on my husband’s clothes instead of mine.

Things to remember:

  • They will have good and bad days. It’s a completely new skill and it will take time for them to master it.
  • It is likely that, to begin with, there will be occasions where they will not do anything on the toilet and then wee on the floor as soon you take them off. It will make you want to scream into a pillow after they’ve done it a few times, but take comfort in the fact that you’re not doing anything wrong, all kids do it and they’re not doing it on purpose even though it will sometimes feel that way.
  • When they have accidents, remember that it’s only a little person’s wee you’re cleaning and it’s not a big deal. Keep telling yourself this until you actually believe it.
  • It may help to continue keeping a record for a while. On days where they have a few accidents, it can be easy to lose perspective and start thinking that things are worse than they actually are. If you can look at the record at the end of the day and see that they’ve done more in the toilet/potty than in their pants, things are going well.
  • All the generic potty training cliches: Waiting until they’ve shown signs of ‘readiness’ before you start, consistency is key – starting and stopping will only make the process longer, don’t start if they are going through any kind of change etc etc. They are cliches because they are true even though hearing them will make you want to poke the eyes out of the person saying them.

Forecast for the the next few months:

Mainly dry with the occasional showery spells.