The Most Underappreciated Parenting Milestones

Can I get an AMEN for these big moments that will change your life as a parent...
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Caucasian girl singing with arms outstretched
Caucasian girl singing with arms outstretched

I know, I know, sitting up, walking, talking, blah blah blah. The usual milestones are all great, but what about those special unsung milestones that we don't document? Can I get an AMEN for these big moments that will change your life as a parent...

The first "drop off" birthday party (or playdate). A free couple of hours and your child is entertained doing something they most likely have waited to do since the invitation first arrived?! The best.

When they can change the TV channel themselves. Look, I love searching around for "the show with the truck and the one with the two ducks who get lost" (???????), but there is something so great about when they can entertain themselves, be it putting on a TV show for a little bit so you can get something done or just playing quietly for a little while with something that doesn't involve pulling every book off the bookshelf or damaging property.

Dressing themselves. I know, I know. Sometimes you wind up with a child who looks like an Elton John impersonator going to a costume party for unicorns, but it is so worth it. For a few weeks when my oldest was 3, I let him wear a cape everywhere because it was so easy to just let him do it himself. And I promise you he doesn't wear it anymore. Most of the time.

First date night post-baby. Sure, you will probably spend 98 percent of the time talking about the baby, but you are out of the house. Wearing an actual outfit. And someone is serving you food, and hopefully some wine, too. Enjoy it.


Being able to take them to restaurants. There will come a time when taking your kids to a restaurant is less fear-inducing and more, actually, well... pleasant. Forget wolfing down an entree before it is remotely cool enough for safe human consumption, or asking for the check when you order and hoping your little ones don't turn into shrieking banshees before the appetizers come. There will be a day when you will have the time to order, eat -- hell, maybe even have dessert -- without also having to deal with a meltdown or spend half the time walking with a tantruming toddler outside.

When they can take a shower independently. Recently, the greatest thing happened with my oldest. I asked him to take a shower, and shortly after that he emerged from the bathroom all fresh and clean, no water all over the floor, and I didn't even have to clean up 11,000 bath toys afterward. This may seem like a minor one, but if you know the process that is bathing small children, you will marvel one day at the fact that they can now clean themselves without crying about soap in their eyes.

When you don't have to chase them around the pool, because they can swim safely alone. We have all exchanged those knowing, sympathetic glances with the mom chasing a toddler around a pool -- the toddler who ONLY WANTS TO WALK RIGHT ON THE EDGE AT ALL TIMES. The toddler who wants to go in really badly, until you take them in and then they just want to get out really badly. Us toddler-chasing moms see you there, chatting with friends, having a snack, maybe even, gasp, reading a book, and we envy you. We want to be the ones lounging on the pool chair, waving every few minutes to a child jumping gleefully into the deep end. We'll be there to chat with you soon, parents of kids who can swim -- we'll get there. Another small milestone that goes hand-in-hand with this one is the child who can put their own sunscreen on. It's a small one, but man, do I hate lathering sunscreen on. Seriously.

First successful night in a big boy (or girl) bed. It seems impossible (What? My baby will sleep in an actual bed? Like through the night? No. Way.) until it actually happens, and then you will be so happy and so sad at how big they are getting, all at once. But man, will you love sleeping.

When they know to (and can actually accomplish being able to) throw up in the toilet instead of all over their bed, the floor, and you. Do I even really need to explain this one further?

The second slumber party at someone else's house. The first one will leave you up all night checking your phone, making sure they didn't get homesick and you don't have to make a 2 a.m. run to their friend's house. But once they get through that first, uneasy one, you are all set (until it's your turn to host the slumber party).

When you find out that you and your child like the same TV show, music, podcast... Maybe they are a little bit like you?! Now discuss together.

When they can make their own breakfast. Savor that coffee, mom. Savor it.

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