The other day I finally sat down on the lounge to drink a cup of tea, when I smelt a familiar whiff coming from my toddler.
“Hey, buddy,” I said. “Can you go and get mummy a nappy, some baby wipes and a bag for your poo poo?”
To my surprise he toddled back to me full of pride with four nappies. Then he threw them in front of me and ran back to his room for the wipes and bags.
In a few minutes, I’d changed a nappy without having to leave the couch. I then handed him the little plastic parcel and asked him to “put it in the bin”. Which he did. Hurrah!
“This parenting gig keeps on getting easier,” I thought to myself as I took a sip of my HOT tea.
So, in celebration of all the unsung milestones that make parenting easier the older and more independent our little ones get, here are some you can look forward to.
1. When she can sit on her own and you can actually get some stuff done
At first, the ‘sitting’ milestone may involve you tentatively walking away from her surrounded in ‘just in case she topples over’ cushions. One magical day will come though when she masters it and when she does, you’ll suddenly find yourself hand-free again. This means you can plonk her on the floor with some blocks as you fold the washing, or even clean the bathroom while you’re watching her sit in the tub. It’s a miracle!
2. When she’s old enough to watch morning TV and you can go back to bed
There will come a time (and my four-year-old is here now) where you can actually go back to bed and drink a cup of coffee in peace. Yes, believe it or not. One day your little one will be old enough to watch Octonauts without you having to join her bleary-eyed on the couch. And it is pure bliss.
3. When she learns to swing and you’re suddenly made redundant as a swing pusher
I always wish there were automatic swings at the park, not that I loath pushing my boys on the swing, it’s just that it gets freaking boring when I’ve been doing it for half an hour to the tunes of “higher please, higher!”. But one day, one fine day your child will master swinging her legs back and forth and suddenly, your playground duties will be demoted to ‘supervisor only’.
4. When she learns to feed herself and you can actually eat dinner too
If you’re in the habit of spoon-feeding your baby her dinner before you can even think about what you’ll have, know this: Soon she’ll want to try to feed herself and before you know it, she’ll be perched in her highchair at the dinner table with a spoon as you are free to eat your own meal. I know, can you imagine?
5. When you can send her on simple errands that you don’t have to do
It’s wonderfully freeing when you can instruct your little one to get her shoes or toss her sippy cup in the sink. As you feel more and more confident in her ability to follow simple instructions, it will become apparent that you really are working towards making yourself redundant at the end of this parenting journey. But you should feel good about that. It means you’re doing a great job!
6. When she gets herself out of bed, rather than calling for you
The day your little one graduates from a cot to a big bed is a two etched sword. On the one hand she’ll start being able to surprise you that she’s awake by greeting you in the kitchen with a proud smile, but on the other, the nighttime bed hopping might start. Yawn.
7. When she can climb into her own car seat and buckle battles are over
While your little one may feel like an octopus right now every time you force her against her will to sit in her car seat, there will come a time when you can just ask her to “please climb in”. Then, when she’s in a booster, she may even be able to buckle herself in, and all you’ll have to do is give her seat belt a quick check before driving off into the sunset, or towards Aldi.
8. When she can attend swimming lessons without you needing to get in the pool with her
If you do swimming lessons with your little one now you may still be in the ‘parental participation’ zone. You might love this weekly dip, but it can become tricky to do if you have more than one child. The day will come though when you can sit on the sidelines with your baby while your older child practices blowing bubbles under water with just the instructor and a bunch of trainee swimmers.
9. When she learns how to follow all the toilet steps and you are no longer wiping up pee puddles
The day your toddler masters toilet training and you are no longer required to change nappies is a big milestone. But an even bigger one for us parents is the day she starts consistently following all the toilet steps – including wiping, flushing and washing hands. This means you’ll no longer be required to stand over her making sure she’s done it all.
10. When she learns how to really play with her sibling and you’re no longer her favourite playmate
If you have a baby sibling for your little one, they may not be BFFs yet, but don’t worry, they most likely will be as they grow up and start to really enjoy each other’s company. Although it’s kinda sad to think that one day you may not be your child’s first playmate choice, it’s also heartwarming to watch her friendship blossom. As she chases her sibling around the house, you’ll find yourself a lot freerer. But don’t worry, while she might prefer to make playdough cupcakes with her sibling, she’ll still want you to pretend taste test them!