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Remember a few years ago when I told you how I potty trained Ivy? Basically, I was lazy and let her decide when to be potty trained. Well, for some reason, I didn’t learn my lesson there. Because about the time Traveler was approaching 3 I decided he needed to be potty trained. Not because I really cared whether or not he was, but more because kids are supposed to be potty trained at 3, right? And lots of other people I knew were potty training. So, I did it because I thought I was supposed to. And it didn’t go well – as in pee puddles in the dairy aisle of Trader Joe’s. So I gave up. Mostly because he was so not interested. He cried every time I even put him near the potty. He hated it. It was miserable for everyone.

That’s about the point where I told my husband that Traveler was going to have to beg me to let him wear underwear because unless he really wanted it I was not potty training any time soon. Fast forward to last Monday. Traveler wakes up and asks to wear underwear. My first thought was, “Really? Seriously? Please please please no!” But I put it on him. And he didn’t have an accident all day long. Not the whole week. As of today, he has had one accident and it wasn’t even a terrible traumatic one. And he’s wearing underwear all the time. No pain. No tears. Not even much bribing. It has been a piece of cake.

Which leads me to my point. (You were wondering when I was going to get there, right?) The number one parenting stress in my life comes from worrying about what my kids are “supposed” to be doing versus what they need to be doing or what they’re ready to do. When I step back, stop comparing, and think about my kids as the individuals that they are everything works so much more smoothly.

You would have thought I would have learned this lesson when I was stressing over the fact that Traveler wouldn’t go to sleep on his own in his bed when he was 2.5. I thought he would always be falling asleep on the couch snuggled up in my lap. Because, after all, kids are supposed to go to sleep on their own by 6 months, right? I mean, let’s forget that it was infinitely easier and happier for both of us if he laid down beside me on the sofa at bedtime and fell asleep all snuggled up. And let’s forget that I enjoyed babying him just a little. If you read too many parenting books you’d believe he would never be able to sleep on his own. He’d be ruined for life. But, one day he climbed into his bed and announced that he wanted to go to sleep in there. And for the last 7 months he has gone to sleep in his bed with no problems. So apparently I didn’t ruin him for life. Yet.

My litmus test has always been (and continues to be) to ask myself whether I truly see him going to college engaging in the same behavior I am worried about. That was true for breastfeeding. And diapers. And sleep training. All of it. Letting my kids do things on their time and not some random prescribed plan enforced by mainstream parenting “experts” has always served me well. I guess one of these days I’ll start to remember that before freaking out…

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