I tried to switch off opinionated mode yesterday when I was informed that the new craze sweeping the world of parenting was potty training from birth. Yes, from birth!
Nappies are permitted during the night, but for the majority of the day, mums would watch their newborn bundles of joy for signs of the need to pee or poo, and then swiftly hold them over the potty.
I was thinking back to being a first time mummy, trying to cope with the shock to the system of this life changing event. Trying to establish breastfeeding and operating on minimal sleep. I tried to picture adding potty training to the mix and even from my comfortable current established mummy state, the mere idea sent me into a mini meltdown.
When it came to potty training my own children, I found the experience reasonably easy with minimum stress. I truly believe the reason for this was that I waited. I waited until I felt very assured that they were ready and able to take this on. Yes I bought the Pirate Pete’s potty book and read my Gina Ford like a good student, but ultimately, I let my kids go at their own pace.
I had many friends recount over coffee their potty training nightmares. Working themselves into a complete state of anxiety that their wee little one was going to do one little wee on my floor. ‘I don’t understand why Josh isn’t taking to this?’, ‘My friend’s daughter Olivia has been on the potty for 6 months now and she’s two months younger.’ And that is where the problem stems; we as mums often compare our children to others.
Let’s face it, your NCT friends are great, but it’s near impossible not to panic when you hear their child has reached a milestone and yours, as yet, has not. The majority of mum groups has that one person who is constantly pushing their little one and chirruping very loudly when something is accomplished, leaving the rest of the group to question the competence and ability of their own kids. It’s peer pressure at it’s finest!
And yet I’m so guilty of giving into peer pressure. The amount of time I spent at the doctor’s/midwife’s questioning why my son wasn’t developing at the same rate as Jack, who apparently came out of the womb reciting his ABC’s.
A moment of realisation finally appeared to me through the mist of insanity. Just because my child couldn’t do something on the same week as another didn’t mean that mine was going to grow up being unable to walk or talk, read or write. That was all going to happen – when it was right for my child. All we can do as parents is accept this truth and fill our little one’s lives with love, security, encouragement and support.
Very soon you stop counting your baby’s existence in days, weeks and months and you move to years. Whilst the competitiveness and concern never fully dissipates from most parents (myself included) I consciously stress less now over how my children compare to another. I have found since I switched my energies into just enjoying my children, they have naturally started to blossom at a rate which I know, ultimately – regardless of the fact that they couldn’t use a potty since birth – they are going to be OK.