There I was, a new mother thinking I was getting an early start to the activity of swimming by introducing my 9-month-old baby to our first mother/baby swim lesson.
Before we had even completed this first session, I was informed by the instructor that I may find it hard to get my daughter used to having water splashed on her face, as I was late to start my baby’s swim lessons compared with her other pupils. Really, how could a 9-month-old be considered a late bloomer for just starting swim lessons?
The message and pressure received was that my baby was already behind schedule for not starting swim lessons at the three to six month mark. I know now this was all a ridiculous expectation, but at the time, I felt so disheartened as a new mama. Needless to say, my daughter and I didn’t last long in the mother/baby swim class—she didn’t enjoy the whole water experience and neither did I with pressure heaped on me. So, we did what was right for us and put swim lessons to the side.
Around the age of six, Anna asked me if she could have swim lessons—she really wanted lessons now and felt ready in her own timing. She did a few condensed crash courses over the school holidays, and she quickly took to the water like a happy fish in her new hobby!
Similarly, my son wasn’t ready for swim lessons as a baby, so, we waited just like we had with his older sister. Sadly, just about the time Luke seemed ready to try swimming, we were living through the start-and-stop season of Covid which disrupted normal life. Afterward, he lost some momentum and curiosity for learning swimming, so we needed to wait just a bit longer.
Now at seven years old, my son has become keen to start swim lessons. He has the incentive to be able to play confidently in the pool, just like his sister and three older cousins. And this moment, in this season? It is the right time for Luke’s swim lessons! I can tell because he comes out of the swimming pool wishing for a longer lesson, and his smile beams from being so excited to learn such a great new skill.
It’s okay that my children were late bloomers on society’s superficial timeline. It’s okay that to some, I didn’t win a gold star for getting my little ones into every possible activity as soon as they were born. It’s okay that I learned to disregard society’s pressure on me because my kids were right on schedule for themselves.
In the history of children’s activities and mothers signing their children up for ballet, football, piano, tennis, and everything in between, we have reached an all-time high in the competition of parents giving their little ones a great variety of things to do. I am very supportive of children having opportunities to try sports, music, and the arts, but I see no use for parents feeling pressured to keep up with each other based on their children’s activities.
Maybe you have felt that rising pressure too from other parents or adults and what their children are doing? Let go of anything that puts pressure on you or your children to meet the unachievable standards of others. God has made each of us unique and gifted with our own abilities and individual timelines for learning new activities.
And when we learn to stay in our own parenting lane and tune out everyone else, we are more available for our own children. We discover the freedom of having our own one-of-a-kind family and delighting in our children taking on new activities at their own pace. Don’t worry! Your children are right on schedule for themselves, and that is all that matters.