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Kirsty McCabe: "Being a parent can mean having to 'grin and bear it'"

Our weekly columnist, Kirsty McCabe, discusses the trials and tribulations of potty training and how she deals with the less glamourous side of parenting

Posted: 25 April 2014
by Catherine Hudson

Ethan and Logan - as if butter wouldn't melt...
Kirsty's must-have Potette Travel Potty
Kirsty and Ethan roar their way through the trials of toilet training

It goes without saying that once you have children, your life changes forever. First to go is your dignity, usually in tandem with your pelvic floor, swiftly followed by any fear of changing nappies.

Actually, that's not quite true. There is always that moment of fear that a nappy might have leaked and the contents will have shot up the back and/or front, requiring careful extraction of baby from clothes without getting poo everywhere. But the reality is, that you simply get on with it. Although it's definitely easier to deal with your own children than others.

The same goes for all the other fluids young children leak at alarming rates. I am now always in possession of baby wipes, tissues and muslins, ready to mop up, wipe a runny nose or deal with a larger spill - like the puddle of wee next to the trains in the toy shop that occurred when my toddler literally couldn't contain his excitement.

Yes, our toilet training saga continues. I know you're not meant to compare your child to others, but it feels like everyone else's offspring all got the knack of it after a few days. My mum tells me that we started it too late, that I was sitting on the potty at six months old. I think that was because my mum was fed up dealing with terry towelling cloth nappies, but it also explains why I never crawled as a baby. Instead, I shuffled round the house sitting on my potty. Thanks mum!

My son Ethan, 3, will stay dry all day but when I come to collect him from nursery he wees in excitement the minute he sees me. It's kind of flattering...but mostly annoying as it's me that does all the laundry and, to be honest, I'm getting sick of the smell of wee. Given I have three boys in my house I imagine this smell will haunt me unless I get very strict about their aim.

Lately Ethan has been getting better, possibly thanks to sticker reward charts and some outright bribery, so hopefully we'll get there. My husband suspects some of his accidents are more about jealousy of his little brother and trying to get attention. In the meantime, I take our Potette travel potty everywhere and I bought lots of cheap pants that can be thrown away if too disgusting.

As well as cleaning up after your little ones, the other role of a parent seems to be keeping calm in the face of adversity. Easier said than done when your child is screaming in your face because they want something you've said no to, bopping you with a toy car or refusing to eat the food you have spent hours making. Even worse is when these events happen in public and other parents eagerly watch to see how you will cope.

My husband and I tend to tag team. When we can see the other one is about to blow, we swap over so that the calmer parent can deal with the tantrum while the really annoyed parent can escape the situation and hopefully calm down. But I can't stay angry for too long, especially when my wayward toddler smiles and says sorry and gives me a big cuddle.

Everyone tells me that these childhood years will go by in a flash, so I console myself that soon my sons will be teenagers and I'll be the one embarrassing them in public (though hopefully, I'll have better bladder control).

How are you tackling toilet training? Do you have any top tips? Is there anything about being a parent that makes you squeamish - or do you just grin and bear it? Let us know by commenting below...

Kirsty McCabe writes her weekly column here on www.juniormagazine.co.uk every Friday. Follow us on Twitter: @juniormagazine and watch out for the hashtag #somethingfortheweekend to join in with the conversation

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