Trusting my instincts

As a parent, I am the expert where my two children are concerned. I know them better than anyone else; their milestones, their likes, their dislikes and the way they deal with things that happen in their little worlds and their approach to life.

Since becoming a mother, I have generally parented by instinct and whilst I will read the occasional parenting book and listen to well-meaning advice, I will often reject that advice if it doesn’t fit with what my instincts are telling me (with the occasional exception for medical advice particularly where Jessica is concerned).   I try not to compare when my children achieve their milestones with when other children their age do so – each child is an individual and does things at their own pace. So far, this approach has worked well for us as a family – my children are loving and happy so we must be getting some things right!

Trusting my instincts - Little Hearts, Big Love

Last week though, I caved into to external pressure and went against what my instincts were telling me as I attempted to start the process of potty training. At three and a half, Jessica is still in nappies. Her preschool have no issue with this but other people have told me that it is high time she was potty trained. Most other children I know that are the same age as Jessica have been potty trained for quite some time. We have had a potty for over a year and Jessica knows what it is and will sit on it before her bath but it is rare for her to have a wee in it. Despite being in cloth nappies (which in theory should help her be more aware of when she is wet), she only occasionally tells us when she needs a nappy change and more usually it is just changed at regular intervals during the day or when that unmistakeable odour indicates that it is needed!


Jessica’s lack of awareness of when she is wet is the biggest factor that makes me think she is not ready. The external pressure though made me question whether her lack of potty training was just down to me being lazy and so against my better judgment, we attempted to start potty training. Jessica seemed to understand the concept of the sticker chart and the first attempt at sitting on the potty was successful (although Sophie then decided to go for a paddle before I could whisk the potty away which made it a little more challenging!).


The early success lulled me into a false sense of security and whilst I was prepared for dry runs and accidents, I was not quite prepared for how constant they would be despite frequent opportunities for Jessica to sit on the potty. I tried to stay calm and patient, changing clothes without making a big deal of it and praising Jessica for sitting on the potty even though it remained consistently dry but by the second day with Jessica starting to actively resist the potty and happily sitting in wet clothes without being remotely bothered by it, I took stock and did what I should have done all along – listened to what my instincts were telling me – that this was not yet the right moment and to wait a few more weeks when the time may be right to try again.


I remembered that I need to stop comparing Jessica’s milestones to those of heart-healthy children. With one or two exceptions, her developmental milestones have always been achieved a little later than other children her age. She was nine months’ old when she was first able to roll, 13 months when she crawled and 21 months when she took her first solo steps. To an external observer, she may appear to be a completely healthy three year old, but when I watch her with her peers, I can see so many little things that they do with ease that she can’t quite yet do herself. She isn’t bothered by this, and so neither am I.

Trusting my instincts - Little Hearts, Big Love

Three years ago, Jessica was in intensive care recovering from her third open-heart surgery in seven months. She has endured a huge amount just to get to where she is today; just being able to do things like run about takes up more energy for her that it does for a child without a heart defect. She lives her life with half a working heart and lives it to the full. And she does things in her own time and will continue to do so.  It’s time to go back to trusting my instincts, let her take things at her own pace and to remember that life is a journey and not a race.

Trusting my instincts - Little Hearts, Big Love

And then the fun began...Little Hearts Big Love

40 thoughts on “Trusting my instincts

  1. totally get you here. You just know when they are ready! And definitely trust your gut and don’t worry. My mum was nagging me to try with my 20month to get her clean. She’s done one poo on the potty but since just isn’t ready. One of my friends little ones is already but you can’t compare! She will do it when she wants to. Good luck!! #twinklytuesday

    1. Thanks Sarah – have felt much better for going back to trusting my instincts.

  2. I’m dreading potty training Martha, but our pre-school won’t take the kids on unless they are fully potty trained and Martha is due to start when she is 2.5 years old – which only gives me until next February.

    I totally agree with you that we can’t expect our kids to reach stages of development at the same time as Heart Healthy children – the fact that there still here with us is an amazing achievement in itself.

    Then my friend’s son is Heart Healthy and turned 3 in December and he still doesn’t “get” the potty.


    1. Thanks Gemma – I think they all do these things in their own time don’t they? Good luck to you when it comes to potty training Martha x

  3. Totally agree with you, we are each the experts on our own children and we should listen to our instincts. Every child is different and it’s best to listen to what your child is telling you than everyone else.
    And you are so right, life is a journey not a race =)

    1. Thanks Jenni – feel much better for having gone back to listening to my instincts.

  4. yes. You are totally right. Trust your instincts. My mummy is up against it too with my potty training, people telling her what she should and shouldn’t do…but she’s in no rush (when it seems others are!) I’m still in my cot with bar up too! Not in a toddler bed. You go girl! #TwinklyTuesday

    1. Thank you Isabella – am sure you will let your mummy know when you are ready for these things too!

    1. Thanks Laura – feel much less stressed for deciding to wait a little longer – as you say, she will get there 🙂

  5. Great post and one I totally relate to. My boys were born prematurely and they’re a little behind where they should be, development wise but, like you, I’ve always gone with my gut and I feel that they’re both doing really well. Bertie is behind Cosmo in terms of his speech but Bertie is a whizz with puzzles whilst Cosmo has no aptitude for them yet. They’ll get there in the end. I’ve had my MIL on to me to potty train the boys but I’m in no rush. Thanks so much for linking up with #Twinkly Tuesday 🙂

    Caro |

    1. Thank you – they all do these things in their own time, don’t they? Lovely to link up again.

  6. Oh hon I feel for you on this, because potty training is so tough and caving into pressure when you knew she wasn’t ready must have been awful. I’m glad you were able to trust your instincts in the end. Hugs xx #SWM

    1. Thanks Renee – feel much better for stopping and waiting until she’s more ready x

  7. Jessica has done amazingly well to get to where she is. I find it hard to not compare my own child to others, particularly his best friend who is nine months older. At 4 and 5 years old, nine months is a huge difference and I have to remind myself of that. Well done for trusting your instincts in the end. When she is ready potty training will be a breeze but only once she is ready. x

    1. Thank you Rachel – am glad I decided to stop and wait until jessica is ready.

  8. Great post. Every child develops at their own rate, and knowing all what Jess has been through, I wouldn’t worry about it. Keep trusting your instincts. x

  9. I know exactly how you feel as the pressure to potty train is huge and we did the same earlier this year, when in my heart I knew Monkey wasn’t ready. Good for you for remembering to trust your instincts, she has been through so much and she will get there when she is ready xx

    1. Thanks Caroline – feel so much better for deciding to wait a little longer.

  10. I know what you mean about the pressure, my 3.5 year old isn’t potty trained either, but he has no health problems, he’s just not ready! I wrote a post about it the other month if you’r interested – . I think you’re doing the right thing, trust your instincts, that’s the most important thing, every child is different! xx

  11. Good for you for not stressing out about where she is in relation to other children. My fifth baby was a preemie and has just generally been way behind the curve in hitting all of his milestones. He’s catching up but it’s still slow going. I don’t mind, but what really irritates me is when people say, “Oh, it’s probably because he’s #5 and you’re so busy with the other kids.” Yeah, his traumatic preemie birth, NICU stay, lung issues, surgery, etc – that couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with his development. The obvious answer is that I’m neglecting him!

    1. Glad your little one is catching up but it must be so frustrating when people just assume he’s taking his time because of being #5

  12. The Mother says – What a lovely post. Lucas was slow at certain things but I like to think that he’s very stubborn and will not be pushed into things. When he does do them, boy(!) do we know about them!! Really enjoyed reading this and learning more about your lil’ dudette x #sharewithme

    1. Thank you – think Jessica will be good at letting us know she is ready too! They all get there in their own time.

  13. I think you’re right to trust your instincts, especially around something like toilet training. With both our boys we tried to start them too soon and persisted even when our instincts told us it was too soon, with bad results that probably knocked their confidence a bit. With Kara, she basically told us herself pretty much the moment she turned two. It felt right to let her try, and sure enough she repaid that faith.

    I definitely think a parent’s instinct is a much more accurate indication than the child’s age or any external advice. You just know.

    1. Thanks Tim – we’ve all been happier for taking a step back and waiting for the right time.

  14. I completely agree with you and you will know when she is ready and follow your gut. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  15. A lovely post. I totally agree – your instincts are the best road map there is to being a parent. Everytime I have ever gone against my instincts in a moment of weakness I have been kicking myself afterwards. Well, we are only human! #thetruthabout

    1. Thank you – definitely will try and trust my instincts more in the future 🙂

  16. So much external stress! EJ is going to be three in July and he is not ready for potty training now. His brother was the same but one day soon after turning three he suddenly wanted to start wearing “big boy pants” and took to it quickly. I’m glad I didn’t rush him but I still feel anxious that his brother won’t be as quick or easy. Other people can definitely make you feel like you are being too lazy as a parent- my mother in law is good at that! However it is clear that Jessica is different and she’s had to endure things that other people’s children will never be faced with. I think you are absolutely right to let her take her time. X #thetruthabout

    1. Thanks Sam – it is hard to resist that pressure sometimes isn’t it? Just keep reminding myself that all children are different and do things in their own time.

  17. this is so true. There are so many books, so many apps, so many midwives, health visitors, friends, relatives, etc etc telling you what you should do and when, but none of them can come anywhere close to mother’s intuition and instinct. You know your child better than anyone else in the world. That is really special and really valuable. Don’t let anyone or anything pressure you or sway you into thinking otherwise. You know best and you have your child’s best interests at heart.

    1. Thank you Pen – sometimes I have to remind myself to listen to my instincts and not bow to pressure.

  18. Good on you for trusting your instincts, you’re exactly right that as mums we know our children best and we know what they are ready for. My little boy is 3 and a half and whilst he is trained he still wears nappies for night and I know he’s not ready for this to change any time soon, so for now he can go to bed in his “Dora’s”, it’s not worth forcing him into something he isn’t ready for. xx

    1. Thank you – sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves that we do know when they are ready for things.

Comments are closed.