There is a stark different between first time moms and second time moms. I’m sure there is a difference for third and fourth time moms as well, but I can only speak from experience. I was the stereotypical first time mom, just like most everyone else. A mix of excitement and nerves meant researching baby gear in great detail, consulting doctor Google for every little newborn grunt or sniffle and keeping tabs on every little milestone my baby reached.
The baby years can be a high-stress season of life, but is filled with endless joy of watching our little miracles learn and grow. However, there is a common bad habit that can undoubtedly rob us of this joy. It’s difficult to avoid and many of us fall victim to it at one time or another. Sadly, it can be damaging to not only you, but your child as well. So what is this bad habit? Comparison. Isn’t it always the chief thief of joy?
More specifically, comparing developmental milestones.
I’m sure you’ve heard that all children develop at different rates. You may have even enthusiastically nodded along and believed in those words whole-heartedly, but then perhaps you heard that a friend’s (or heck a stranger’s!) child, one the same age as yours, was rolling over, clapping, sleeping, teething, walking, speaking, reading, etc. At that moment your joy faded; fear and worry invaded.
Doubts started to take over. Am I offering enough stimulation? Am I supposed to be putting them to bed earlier? Is there something wrong with my child? Am I a failure as a mom? In the blink of an eye your joy was gone.
[Tweet “Moms, don’t let this bad habit rob you of the joy of watching your child grow. #momlife #newmom”]
Find solace in knowing that you aren’t alone. Every mom I know, myself included, has put herself through this unnecessary ringer of comparison. It comes from a good place, a place of love and wanting the very best for our children, but in reality, it’s damaging. I have found the best thing I can do for my children and myself is to support and celebrate them right where they are. Encouraging is good, but pushing a child past the point they are developmentally ready for will create frustration, self-doubt, and a sense of failure for all involved.
Of course developmental milestones exist for a reason, but let’s leave that to our doctors to decipher. Professionals see a wide range of developmental progress and can help monitor any true concerns. Stressing ourselves out because our children aren’t doing XYZ yet when so-and-so’s baby has been doing that for month gets us nowhere.
With Kaitlyn (baby #2), I haven’t googled a single milestone. It’s been glorious and freeing. The other day she counted to 6 then named all her colors correctly. We both clapped ecstatically, excited for her expanded knowledge and capabilities. But then there it was– a tiny part of me wanted to reach for google- is she ahead? is she behind? A friend’s child was singing the entire alphabet at 18 months… Kaitlyn almost has it, but still skips a few letters… should I focus harder on that?
Luckily I stopped myself right there and refocused on my two year old- the one dancing around in a circle, giggling and counting. The joy came back.
My girls are growing, they’re learning, and they are happy.
In today’s in-your-phase society of social media, comparison can feel ever-present. But it doesn’t have to be. In my experience, posts about milestones are from parents overflowing with joy because perhaps they finally got a full night’s sleep after month’s without or maybe they just watched their baby that they’ve been housebound with roll for the first time and it helped break their cabin fever. I find there is rarely ill intent in the postings.
So instead of internalizing it or using it as a check point, my hope is that we can celebrate each other’s joy without letting it interfere with our own.
Let’s revel in the joy that comes from our own children’s discoveries and see what a truly incredible thing it is that each child is so different. If you have true concerns, of course consult your doctor, but otherwise let’s try to see the world as our children do- with excitement for each new day and the journey of growth, without the need for comparison.
Have you ever struggled with comparing milestones?
Does social media affect your happiness with your own parenting?
Thanks, Brittany! I needed to read this today. I’m a second-time mom, and since my 9 month old was born I feel like I’ve been pretty good about not letting what other children “do” compared to my son at each developmental month steal my joy. My problem is that I’m constantly comparing my 9 month old’s development to that of my now 3 year old! I find myself constantly reading her baby book to remember what she was doing at 6 months, 7, months, etc, and comparing that against what my 9 month old can do, and I’m always afraid that he’s behind and that I’m doing something inherently different with him because of the fact that I’m no longer a first-time mom. It’s so tiresome! This is a good reminder to not only stop comparing against other children in other families, but to also stop worrying about developmental milestones compared to your other children!
Brittany Dixon says
Oh you are so right- that’s a very similar struggle that can be hard to avoid too! Lucky (unlucky?) for me, I have a terrible memory and can’t remember when they did anything (haha!), so I don’t fall into this trap too often. Also, H & K have been night and day different from the start. I do try to catch and stop myself when I find me giving them unintentional labels- Hailey’s a better eater, Kaitlyn is more independent, etc. I’m always reminding myself they are two totally different people with their own natural strengths and not-so-strong areas. Thanks so much for your input!
I don’t comment often, but this post hit home.
My daughter is 17 months and we have friends/co-workers whose children are 1) a month older and 2) two months younger; and we are all first time parents. My husband has very much fallen into the comparison game, always googling, always worrying. It is incredibly draining.
It tough not to compare. And at times feel judged. The other two children are watched in home by family. They have rarely been ill. Our daughter goes to daycare. She has been sick countless times, including two bouts of hand foot mouth disease that occurred in a 3 month span.
Our friend commented one time that their son is doesn’t get sick because they feed him organic food. *eyeroll* Our daughter also eats largely organic, but the last time I checked organic does stop germs!
Brittany Dixon says
Oh gosh, that organic comment is ridiculous! Your daughter is probably building up a kick@$$ immune system so I hope those comments don’t get under you skin too much. I wish people would think before letting certain things come out of their mouths.
I hope your husband can step away from the google- my mom always says raising kids was so much less stressful when they raised us because they knew so much less about what babies SHOULD be doing. Ah, a simpler time 🙂
Another really good post! With my first I was always on Google or different mommy boards and read up on everything I could about milestones and spent way too much worrying rather than just enjoying. With my daughter, I’ve been much better about not falling into the trap, although there are some days where I want to check good ole Google. I also have to be good that I don’t compare my kids against each other or anyone else. Too often on social media I see instances of people posting when their child hit a milestone only to have responses like, “Well my son… blah, blah, blah.” It’s not a competition!! Everyone is different and children should be allowed to grow at their own pace.
Brittany, I don’t think I’ve commented before, but I wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for this post. I have 15 month old identical twin girls & the worry about their developmental milestones has been all-consuming. They were 2 months early, so their pediatrician is always reminding me to not compare them to other babies their same age who were born full term. She isn’t worried about their development, but I still fall into the trap (even though I know it’s not based in reality). Yesterday at music class, there was a 16 month old boy who was counting, saying words, etc; I went home afterwards, and worried the rest of the day about the fact that my girls do not seem to be anywhere near where this little boy was. I know in my heart that they’re doing SO great and developing at their own pace, but the worry is just exhausting sometimes! Thank you for this nice reminder and second-time-mama wisdom.
Brittany Dixon says
Oh Lauren, I know just how you feel! Seriously when Kaitlyn was 18 months another 18 month old was singing the entire alphabet!! Talk about a genius baby! I was amazed but then freaked out that Kaitlyn was behind. I’m so glad I kicked that thinking to the curb.
I love that you know in your heart that your girls are doing wonderful. I can’t even imagine the cuteness of twin girls!! So much fun! (and a little tiring some days too I imagine ;))
I needed to read this today! I am a first time mom with friends who had kids 2 months before me and 3 months behind me. They are always telling me milestones that they have hit and wonder if mine will do at the same time or why my child has done it yet. Or worry about how petite my baby is comapred to them (Dr doesn’t seem to be worried). But I have come to realize she will do everything in her own time and that’s OK and for me not to worry.
Brittany Dixon says
From one mom to a petite child to another, I totally get it! I feel like I’m always defending Kaitlyn’s petite size, even though her doc says she is growing just fine along her curve. So glad you’ve reached a place of letting go of worry- it’s so freeing! Thanks for you input 🙂
Strangely, this brought tears to my eyes! I have an almost 9 month old girl and googling baby sleep has been my worst enemy. About a month ago I was finally able to just stop and enjoy her. Everything you said is so true, thank you!
julie @ peanut butter fingers says
Hi Sam!! I’m not sure what you’re going through as far as sleep challenges but I just wanted to reach out and say you are NOT alone!! I feel like so many people talk about amazing sleep milestones (sleeping through the night, etc.) but people rarely talk about sleep challenges outside of the first couple of months. Sleep is still an ongoing challenge for me, too, and my little one is almost 14 months! <3 It ebbs and flows and we seem to go from great sleep to not-so-great sleep all the time. I feel for you!!
Thank you Julie! 🙂 That is so encouraging to hear. I follow your blog too and read your sleep training post and have been following each update about your little one. I was fixated on giving my daughter the perfect naps at the perfect times and figuring it all out was exhausting! I finally listened to others that things just naturally fall into place, and realized that they really do and you find a rhythm, and time moves on. Here’s to not worrying and just living! Oh and I live in Raleigh so it’s fun to read yours and Brittany’s blogs since you are so close 🙂
Brittany Dixon says
Is there any better feeling in the world than hearing another mom say ME TOO!! I love when people open up about their triumphs, but think I love even more when we can share our struggles and realize that we are not alone. Best feeling EVER. Thanks for your input ladies and cheers to large coffees 😉
Mandi S says
This is fantastic! Looking up milestones with my little boy has been my worst enemy! I was so concerned when he wasn’t speaking in full, adult like, sentences when he turned 3, he is now 4 and talking, talking, talking. He knows colors, shapes, numbers but is having problems with his Abc’s and I catch myself thinking he should know them all right now. I just have to calm down, he does things at his own pace.
Brittany Dixon says
Love this- you hit the nail on the head! If I’ve ever been worried about something, it’s like she started doing in the next day, just as a way of saying chill out mom, I’m fine 😉 Thanks for your comment!
Caitlin P. says
THANK YOU – I really needed to read this post today.
For awhile I have worried about the fact that my 19 month old daughter is only saying about 10 words and signing a handful of others. After checking with her doctor he was not worried (her expressive vocabulary is totally there and she understands everything and follows even complex directions). You’d think that would make me feel better but recently my in-laws not only keep bringing up “early intervention” to me, they have started telling her she needs to start speaking. I have to remind myself it all comes from a place of love but also need to figure out a way to address it so my daughter doesn’t feel impacted (I know she understands) and so it doesn’t cause me to constantly be up late at night googling and wondering what I can do (read more, talk more, get flash cards, lol you name it).
Anyway, this was such great timing and honestly a topic so many of us first time moms wanted to read -between the pressure we put on ourselves and the pressure (while maybe not intended as so) family can also put on us – it was a good reminder 🙂
John J. says
“Growing, learning, happy” each at its own pace. Great blog!
Thank you so much for this post! I’m a first time mom, and the comparison game is exhausting and absolutely drains all the joy from precious moments. I just had a friend ask if my six month old was talking…which made me frantically check google to figure out why I haven’t heard him say “mama” yet. I find I constantly have to remind myself that every child is unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses. My baby was rolling early, but the mom sitting next to me has a baby who has slept through the night since she was 2 months old. No one is getting a medal/award for hitting milestones early or quickly!
This is a wonderful blog! With so much information at one’s fingertips–google, internet, social media, etc.-it would be easy to fall in the trap of comparing what your child is doing to what other children are doing at the same age. But thank goodness (and you) for blogs like this, to help parents know that they are not alone, and that each child is a miracle that will grow and develop at their own pace.