Counting catches and misses: What I really think about keeping score
Should you keep track of every single catch and miss throughout your day? We're going to talk about that with today's topic: catches and misses.
I recently saw an image on Instagram of a parent who was meticulously keeping track of catches and misses on their phone. Afterwards, I had some strong feelings about that approach!
Because of my experience ECing five babies (and helping 100,000s of other parents do the same), I think “now” would be a good time to talk about whether this approach is helpful or harmful.
You will learn:
- When to use an observation log
- The difference between observing and counting
- How to avoid unnecessary pressure
- How to get back to what EC is all about
- Where to put your focus!
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- The Go Diaper Free Book
- Free Observation Log
- Continuum Concept Book
- Guest Post on Potty Training after EC
- Heartfulness Magazine
- Digital Minimalism
- Easy Catch #1
- Easy Catch #2
- Easy Catch #3
- Easy Catch #4
- Top Hat Potty at TinyUndies.com
- Mini Potty at TinyUndies.com
- Easy Start Guide for EC (Free Download)
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
Welcome to the Go Diaper Free Podcast, where we're all about helping you potty your baby as early as birth. I'm your host Andrea Olson, author and mom of five EC'd babies. This is episode 49, Counting catches and misses.
Welcome to the show, everybody. I'm so glad you could make it today. You’re definitely taking this time out to learn about your baby and learn about EC, and that is commendable. I commend you, good job. Thanks for being here.
I want to tell you what I mean. What do I mean by counting catches and misses? Well, recently on Instagram, I saw a post of a screenshot of somebody's phone, where they listed out every single catch and every single miss from the whole day so far with their baby. And then they listed a percentage of how many catches they'd had and how many misses they'd had.
For me, having done this for so many years and teaching so many parents how to do EC, I don't know...it was really hard for me to see that, because I know what can happen, from experience with five babies and everybody else. That this can cause a few things to backfire in EC if we're not careful.
If you count catches and misses, and it works for you, great, don't listen to this episode. If you have and it made you feel kind of weird, maybe you want to listen. If you haven't counted them yet, I would encourage you not to. And in today's episode, I'm going to tell you why, and why that freaked me out to see that.
I am a big fan of logging. When doing an observation log, filling it out. In fact, for the video version of this podcast, I'm going to show this is a picture of our recent observation log where we have noted from waking and feeding when our baby, Twyla, has peed, or what they did right before, like signals. She would talk, babbling, and fussing before peeing, rolled over and peed, fussed and caught a pee, woke up wet, stuff like that.
Observation is a situation where you're going to learn about your baby and how long it takes for them to go. So, what are their intervals, what's their current natural timing. That is great. You should always do logging when your baby is not going to the bathroom when you offer and peeing on the floor or in the diaper five minutes later. You should observe when you just feel totally out of sync. You should obviously observe when you're first starting out with EC.
So observation log has a really great place, but it's different from counting catches and misses, like this person's smartphone. When we do that, it creates pressure. So, yes, you might have a great day, and then you might hold that as a bar of, "Well, we had 79% catches on Monday and we're rocking at EC. It's amazing. We caught 100% of pees and we caught 90% of poops for this past month." You can get overconfident and then you might start to miss. In that case, you're going to feel like a failure.
Keeping track of catches and misses can definitely create pressure and can definitely cause some stress that is not necessary. The other thing I want to point out is that the focus is on the wrong thing when we're counting misses and catches. Maybe you want to check in one day, and you want to see, “well, what percent am I catching and what percent am I missing?” Then, you are focusing on something that doesn't necessarily matter in the big picture of EC.
When you zoom out, EC is about meeting another one of your kid's needs, right? Doing things that they can't do themselves, helping them until they can do it themselves. Would we count how many meals that we were successful at completing? Or, hey, we finished 90% of that pack of prunes. We got about 30% of the food on the floor this time. I'm being a little bit cynical and sarcastic to prove a point. I just want you guys to not do this, if at all possible.
Definitely log to get information about natural timing, but when we count and judge ourselves is basically the point of it, you guys. We're judging how good we are at EC by counting catches and misses. It's not a nice thing to do to yourself. You're setting this bar that you may never attain again in the same way. EC is a very non-linear process. It's very fluid, it's very dynamic. It changes. Once you think you've got it, it changes. So this thing, this thing that a lot of people I've seen have done, probably isn't the most productive thing for your time. Again, you make your own decision, but let's talk a second about failure in EC.
In EC, there's no such thing as a fail. Yes, ha ha ha, with social media we can say we had a mommy fail or whatever, or a poop fail. But what that's doing, it's making light of things, yes, but I veer away from this as well because I don't think there's any failure inherent in the EC process. There are times when we're out of sync, and all these times are is an opportunity to learn. An opportunity to get back into sync. It's just information, you guys. It's just information. There's no failure, there's only information.
If everything's going wrong with EC and that's you right now, I feel you and I've been through it before. I've had those days and weeks and months that just suck. What I want to encourage you to do is just simplify your life, reduce things in your schedule, just be with your baby. Be in the moment, be in the flow of things. Turn the stinking smartphone off after you listen to this podcast and be with your baby. You'd be amazed at what that can do.
Let's talk a second about failure and parenting. Oh my gosh. There's no way that you could possibly fail at parenting. You are obviously listening to this podcast because you are a conscious parent. You are aware of what you're doing, you're trying to give your baby the best start. You're trying to do what feels right to you and your baby. I believe that you are doing your best. You also get the opportunity to believe that you're doing your best. You can't fail at parenting, you can only learn. It's all information, it's all a process.
When I say that your focus might be on the wrong thing if you're counting catches and misses... And if this is you, you're so busted and you need to stop. No, I'm just kidding. I'm just being funny. You obviously are just trying to do the right thing and get a handle about what's going on, so no judgment from me. I just want you to stop, because what I want your focus to be on is not what your success rates are or your failure rates are, because that's implied, but I want you to focus on learning. I want you to focus on connecting, and I want you to celebrate the tiny successes.
Backtrack a second to learning. Every miss, every time you miss, it is information. It is something you can learn from and then you can adjust your game and proceed. Every time you misguess, you offer and you feel like an idiot because your baby won't go, you're not an idiot. It's information. Maybe you've got to do a log and observe and find out your baby's current timing, maybe realize that you might be over offering. Maybe read my book and find out what is the big picture and what am I missing here, or I could adjust for the long game of EC, because EC is a long game. Every miss and every misguess is just information and you use it to improve what you're doing, to get more in sync, to get more connected, or maybe to back off and realize that you're stressing too much. It could be anything.
Back to successes. What I want you to do today, and this week, is to celebrate the tiny successes. Celebrate those times when you're in sync with your baby and your family, maybe your whole family's in flow together and you're all like, "Okay, I'm going to work on catching the pees this morning. You can get them in the afternoon." Whatever it is. I want you to celebrate when you're in flow with your baby, this state of just ultimate, utmost presence. It doesn't mean you're doting on your baby and staring at them all day long, because that would drive them nuts, but maybe you're babywearing and your doing your gardening and you've got your baby strapped to your back, or you've got your baby in a swing underneath the tree and the shade and you're working on something, and they're watching and they're learning about how to be an adult.
By the way, if you have never read Continuum Concept, please read it. I think it's an amazing, amazing book that has really informed my version of parenting and being with children in a way that has helped them, I think, to be more independent, self-assured, and to remove me as their primary playmate, really. That they need to be around other children, and we need to trust them, and they need to see us doing grownup things, and stuff like that. So, anyway, I'll get off my soapbox on that one.
But being in flow and connecting with your baby can mean a million different things. Whatever it is for you, you know when you feel it. When you've had a really good day and it felt like the day didn't fly by, it just went really slow, that's the kind of thing. When you're in those kind of days, and I know they're rare, I know it's really hard to get there, we want to celebrate that and notice that EC becomes a little bit easier when we simplify our lives.
I read a book recently called Digital Minimalism, and I removed all the notifications and social media apps and notifications off my phone. It's really helped me to get in sync with my kids and in this flow, and also to catch a lot more pees, hello, because I'm more present. All right?
We want to also celebrate the tiny successes, because you're learning and you're being of service to your baby, and your baby is also participating in this family, and you're collaborating. This is your first real collaboration and it's so exciting, because you are definitely your baby's guide and your baby is definitely looking to you for guidance. This situation of doing elimination communication totally enables that to be stronger and strengthened.
Lastly, I just want to say it's all learning. EC is all learning. Elimination communication, it's about communication, not some goal, not some I have to get 70% or I'm going to stink at this. It's all learning, relax. It's all about adapting. Okay, so we had a day or a week of misses. What do I need to do now to adjust?
If you own my book, you have access to our private support forum where we have coaches, who I've personally trained, who can help you to get a handle on what is off here and what can I get back into sync. We're in this together, and you and your baby are in this together. So I don't want you to count catches and misses anymore. If you want to do it one day for giggles, go for it. Instead, you can do observation logging and stuff. I'll link to my observation log in the show notes, at godiaperfree.com/49. You can grab those, and also links to the books I've mentioned.
But what I really want you to do is just focus on connection, not counting. We don't want to judge how well our day is going. If it's going bad and we need support, we want to reach out for support. Come to our forum, ask for help, just vent, whatever. But we also want to celebrate. What did go right today? Well, I caught the morning pee. And if that's all you've got... I've got a whole blog post on that, all we're catching lately is the morning pee. If that's all you've got then great, that's fine.
This is a long game you see, and things are going to ebb and flow and go up and down over the coming months and year, however far along in the process you are. Just stick with it. I promise, it will work out. All right. Even if that means ending the whole situation with potty training, that is also fine, because you're still... What you learn and gain from EC is so valuable.
We actually have a guest post on the blog by Ariane, who runs HNI Québec, and she's also in Chicago. Read that post, because it talks about if you have to finish up EC with potty training, doing EC is not a loss. If you've got lots of misses and misguesses and you're just only, "Okay, we're just going to get the poops. This is all we can do," it actually totally informs potty training later. It doesn't matter.
Okay, so now I want to share a few tips from our readers, because, oh my gosh, they have a lot to say about misses and catches, let me tell you. Then we'll end this show. All right. Michelle from Montrose, Victoria, Australia. I love Australia. I've been there once, it's beautiful. She says her tip is to “count the catches, not the misses,” because she's saying celebrate successes, right? Then she says, "Having said that, I was terrible at this. Finally becoming more relaxed with number three." So basically she's saying she was terrible at not counting her misses. With baby number three, she's gotten more relaxed.
"Also, give those easy potty opportunities consistently,” The easy catches. I have episodes on the four easy catches. "This is pretty much how I did all of mine as I'm terrible at paying attention to picking up the tells," which we will call signals over here. "This is just regurgitating what you stress often though, Andrea." I do, I'm repetitive for a reason.
She has three babies. A three-year-old boy, a two-year-old girl, and a six-month boy. She started EC at 11 months, nine months, and three weeks, respectively. Yes, as you start to do EC, you'll want to start earlier with future babies. Her first two were out of her nappy backups during the day by 15 to 16 months, even though she says she was terrible at not counting her misses, you guys.
She said that she is no expert, but her older two often come and join her youngest when he's on the potty, and we have a picture of that in the show notes, it's super cute, at godiaperfree.com/49. You can see that picture. Okay, so she's basically saying focus on the positives, not the misses. Thank you so much for sharing that, Michelle.
Now we have another tip from a reader, Keeley B. She is from San Tan Valley, Arizona. She says, "Some days will be better than others. Don't count the misses, only count the successes.” And not as a percent. Just say wow, we did it, we did it, we did it. “Relax and have fun with your baby while on the potty and help baby by being consistent.” Yes, you can do EC part time, but be consistent during the times you're doing it.
Her baby's age is 11 months and she began EC at 10 months, and she's already so wise. She says some days her babies will be fantastic and go on the potty multiple times throughout the day. "Other days I'm lucky to get her to go once on the potty. I keep in mind that I don't go at the same time every single day either. I'm either early or late, but I keep going and she doesn't seem to mind. We look at books, ducks, movies, play patty cake and other fun things while on the potty. If I'm not stressed about going potty then she goes more frequently. My baby has a sixth sense for when I'm determined to not miss at all, and she doesn't go at all. One day we'll get there, but I'm feeling successful knowing that she's already peeing and pooping on the potty at 11 months. Wahoo." All right, Keeley. That's awesome.
I have two more tips and then we'll go. Emma from Princeton, New Jersey says, "Instead of dwelling on the misses, celebrate the catches. It can be easy to compare yourself to other EC parents, or to days when there were more catches. Sometimes I still count diapers after a load of laundry, but I've learned to rest in the fact that I'm taking a huge step in learning to be attentive and understand my little one. And that's the bottom line, it's fun when it works and is completely worth it alone for the glorious reduction of poopy diapers."
Amen, sister. She can be found at heartfulnessmagazine.com, I'll also link to that in the show notes. Her baby, she began EC at one week old and she's currently nine months old. Very wise mama.
Our last tip for you guys today. I love sharing what other people say, but this is like just the simplest one ever. Alyssa Hill from Minneapolis, Minnesota began EC at two weeks, but they didn't get a book, she got my book, but she didn't get the book until the baby was six weeks old. "So we kind of just made it up as we went along. People ask if she ever wets a diaper, and I say, 'Yes, but we catch a lot too.' With so many distractions it's really difficult not to miss some, but that morning pee is always very satisfying." Her baby is now five months old and her tip is, "Don't sweat the misses."
With that, I will end our show today, you guys. Thanks so much for tuning in. My name is Andrea Olson with godiaperfree.com, with the Go Diaper Free Podcast.
Oh, and before you go, I want you to go over to the show notes right now, at godiaperfree.com/49, and comment in that post. Have you counted catches and misses, and what have you learned from today's show regarding this? I love conversing with you there. The best conversations happen over there on the blog. I look forward to seeing what you think and what you're having problems with or what you've learned.
All right. So we will see you next time. Until then, happy pottying, you guys.
Watch the Video Version
If you want to watch me record today’s podcast episode, you can do that on my youtube version right here:
From one of our readers:
"Count the catches, not the misses"
- Michelle D., from Australia
Michelle says she is no expert, but her older two often come and join her youngest when he's on the potty. See cute picture below:
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 10 yo) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)
Oh boy did I count my misses back when I was doing EC with my first! It made me so stressed out and high-strung, my husband thought I was having a serious problem! Now with my second, I remind myself what EC stands for: Elimination COMMUNICATION. So sometimes there can be MIS-communication and that’s fine – just learn from it!
Hi Liza! It will totally make you crazy! I’m glad you have found a more relaxed perspective this go around. xx Andrea
Oh boy is this me! My career was in data analytics, so I geek out over data. I have stats on milestones, sleep, food intake and timing, and potty behaviors for both of my kids from 0-12+ months. It is so easy for me to obsess over documenting it, but I am thankful for it. It is great to be able to compare my younger daughter to my son at a comparable age to remind myself what’s normal (within a range, obviously, because no two kids are alike). I have started to realize, though, that once you get past the newborn/starting solids stage the stats aren’t as useful. This podcast was a good reminder to chill and just connect with my kids. I’m going to take that challenge starting tomorrow to let myself be more PRESENT. Great advice, Andrea!
Hi Amber! If numbers help you without it adding stress, go for it! Like you said, just work on being more present. xx Andrea