Comedian Sam Avery on surviving the toddler years
Being the parent of a toddler can be a tricky business, but not to worry as help is at hand.
How do you raise a toddler with more attitude than Kanye West, and can you negotiate effectively with a pre-schooler who knows you’re clueless?
Sam Avery started his award-winning blog, The Learner Parent, to document the birth of his twin boys and now – tonnes of nappies, dozens of Peppa Pig episodes and a head-full of hair loss later – he shares all the lows, highs and hilarious in-betweens of his experiences of first-time parenthood in his new stand-up show, Toddlergeddon.
This is the next chapter in Sam’s comedy journey, following the success of last year’s The Learner Parent tour, the 2020 nationwide jaunt – which gets under way later this month – will stop off at The Junction in Cambridge on February 8.
One imagines that quite a few families who see the show will be able to relate to Sam’s struggle in raising small children.
Speaking to the Cambridge Independent from the BBC Radio Merseyside studio, Sam, who is from Liverpool, says Toddlergeddon focuses more on “the age when children start crawling to the day they start school – that’s the sort of end of ‘toddlerhood’,” adding: “It’s just all about that increasing responsibility that you have as a parent.
"When they’re babies, you’ve just got to keep them alive, whereas all of a sudden they’re toddlers and you’ve just got to teach them right from wrong.”
Sam continues: “It’s also about all the parenting U-turns that I’ve made as they’ve turned into toddlers. Like I said I’d never lie to my kids, I said I’d never shout at them – and I’m just breaking all these promises I made to myself a couple of years ago.”
How does Sam feel he’s done as a parent overall? “I think it’s a work in progress,” he says. “I think if it was an appraisal by my kids, they’d probably say I was doing all right – I’m not going to get sacked, but I’m not going to get promoted.”
Having twins – two boys who are now four-and-a-half – meant Sam and his wife have double the work.
“Yeah, especially at the beginning,” he says, “but I do think it gets a little bit easier once they get a bit older, just because they’re into the same things – they like the same pastimes and TV shows and stuff.
"They can play with the same toys and they can wear each other’s clothes – that’s handy.”
Sam, whose book Confessions of a Learner Parent: Parenting like a Boss (An Inexperienced, Slightly Ineffectual Boss) was published in 2017, has some advice for parents who are about to enter the toddler phase: “I would say just try and control the things you can control.
"One of the things I had to do was try to eat healthily, which is dead hard when you’re tired because Jaffa Cakes taste better than fruit when you’ve had two hours sleep – it’s just a fact.
“But the last six months, I’ve managed to stop eating as much rubbish and I’ve started drinking less coffee, which I never thought I’d do because coffee’s what’s got me through the last four years.
"I was drinking about six or seven cups a day – I was just off me head all the time... So I have two cups of coffee now, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and it’s made such a difference.
"I feel like I’m able to focus on what I’m doing and think clearly.”
Sam Avery is at The Junction’s J2 on Saturday, February 8, at 7.30pm.
Box office: 01223 511511 or junction.co.uk.