I am pretty sure as parents we all feel judged at some point or another. From others or even ourselves with self applied judgement and pressure. I know i do. "Am i doing this right?" or "Shouldn't he be doing this by now?".
Friends, family, colleagues, health visitors, teachers… I don't believe it's ever meant to be cruel. But it happens. Even flippant comments like “Your son isn’t dry at night yet?” is enough of a judgement.
We’ve been led by our son in everything. To me it feels so natural to allow him to do things at his own pace. And why not? What joy is there in forcing a child to do something a) they don’t want to do and b) they aren’t ready for? Two major things that are seen as quite big development milestones are making the switch from a cot to a bed and also potty training (there’s a million more but these are two we’ve experienced recently).
We left K in a cot until he was three years old and we had a few comments that it was quite late. I don’t really know why we left it until then but he was comfortable so why change it? I think people can forget he was adopted (i do all the time!). At 14 months old he was uprooted from a wonderful foster carers home (where had been from birth) and placed with us. He didn’t know what he was going through emotionally but he would’ve definitely felt anxiety, fear and generally not knowing what the hell is going on. So if he is happy in his cot and not trying to escape and is sleeping soundly, why rock the boat? When we came to make the switch to a big boy bed the week after his third birthday he slept like a baby without any fuss. I don’t think he even noticed the cot was gone. We stuck to our evening routine and he slept beautifully in his new bed. I truly think ingraining that bath, bottle and bed routine in him made it a smooth transition. He knew bedtime was bedtime. Be it in a cot or a bed or even a travel cot when we’ve been on holidays.
When it’s come to potty training we actually tried when he was two and a half due to thinking ‘he should be trained by now’. This was that self applied pressure i mentioned earlier. We applied that pressure on ourselves (and him) wrongly. Just because it’s what you’re told by baby development emails or that your friends children are dry by aged 2… it doesn’t make it right for YOUR child. We all seem to say it every day- every child is different. He didn't even want to look at the potty six months ago. He was having none of it. And I felt a little disappointed. But soon enough i felt okay about it. I was comfortable because I wanted him to be happy and if that him meant wearing nappies, then that was fine by me! It was a waste of a time. HE wasn’t ready.
Fast forward to now. The end of May. One bank holiday afternoon nanny and grandad were round. Nanny needed the loo and K insisted on joining her, as you do. Upon leaving the bathroom he simply asked nanny “Put pants on now?” He’s never worn pants before. But it's now not about us making the decision, HE made the call that day. HE was telling us (nanny) he is ready. He came downstairs in his pants on Monday and my husband and i looked at one another and said “Okay... I guess we’re potty training now!”. And I am beyond proud to say by Wednesday he was done. He is trained. Simple as that. And we cannot believe it! It’s like he just decided he was going to stop wearing nappies.
We were much more prepared this time round. The portable potty, the liners, the new, fancy toilet looking potty (it’s basically a much smaller toilet with a ‘flush’ that makes the flushing noise, he loves it!). From day one that Monday we didn’t really have to guide him or remind him. We just had to have that potty around and he did his business in there. He was a little obsessed with it to begin with doing quick, little wees and kept going back for more. I’ve said before that he is a clock work pooper. Usually around 7:00am-7:30am each morning. We had these terrible visions that he’d go behind the curtain and do it in his pants and we’d have to quickly scoop him up onto potty. But nope… off come the pants and onto the potty he goes. A couple of wee accidents and one poop in the pants on the Tuesday and by Wednesday he was holding it in, using the potty on his own accord and having many wees in the bushes when out and about (i actually prefer these wee's, less tidying up on daddy's part). We just have to ask “Do you need a wee wee?” or see him touch that area and know he needs one.
We were out on Sunday at a village fayre with the family and completely forgot that he wasn't wearing a nappy. I think a couple hours had passed and he'd had a nap in the car in that time, so we thought "Oh s**t! He must've wee'd". But no. We got home, he went to the potty and had a lovely big wee. And do you know why he’s taken to this so well? Because he felt ready. He got there in his own time. You hear people say “your kids will let you know when they’re hungry, when they’re tired, when they need comfort”. The same applies for these major milestones.
When he came into our lives nanny gave herself the job of making sure we're always stocked up on nappies. Now she no longer needs to buy them (she'll miss it secretly...!) I don't want to tempt fate in case it's a major fluke, but he's 99% dry at night too. I have no idea how or why because he used to wake up a little wet every single morning from so much wee. It's like something has just clicked... and i couldn't be prouder. I hasten to add i am fully expecting a few little accidents. Yesterday at nursery he didn't quite make the toilet in time... And that's okay. I am just so proud of him for figuring this out on his own. And soon, the last night-time nappy will be put on and i'll never put a nappy on my baby again. Call me crazy, but i'll miss it. It's probably one of the first things he'll no longer need me for.
My message to any parent worrying or thinking their child is ‘behind’. Forget it. Be led by them. They’ll know when it’s time. Well, that is my mantra anyway and it seems to be working so far...