As parents (especially of babies!), it’s only natural to constantly be on the lookout for our children hitting their latest and greatest milestones. Kicking and cooing? There couldn’t possibly be anything cuter. Smiling socially? Don’t you dare put the camera down! Rolling from back to belly? Definitely the world’s strongest baby. First steps, first words, first solid foods? Time, please slow down! But what about us? What about the parents’ milestones? Parenting milestones may be underrated but they should be celebrated just as much.
While all of the above certainly deserves every bit of applause, new moms and dads can give the wild, sometimes wacky world of parenting comes with its own array of big achievements, too. We should all stop and take a moment to give these underrated but totally awesome parenting milestones the recognition they deserve.
Underrated But Amazing Parenting Milestones
1. When you go longer than 30 minutes without talking about your child.
Your world may very well revolve around your tiny human, but your friend’s (or your friendly neighborhood grocery store cashier’s, for that matter) life doesn’t. Consider this a win!
2. When they can communicate with you and you’re not just guessing what they want.
Sure, babas and pacis (or boobies and binkies) are well-loved in the baby world, but sometimes there’s more on their minds. That empty roll of toilet paper that your baby has wanted to hold onto for an hour? Whatever word they’ve got for it, tears are now gone and the problem is solved! It’s such a wonderful thing when you can finally understand their jibberish.
3. When you figure out how to brush their teeth without initiating a heart-wrenching screaming session.
Some children are fine with you brushing their teeth. Others act as if you are trying to pull their teeth out. No loving parent wants to feel like they have to torture their child twice a day or worry about the dentist doing that for them down the road. Am I right?
4. When they can get their own snack.
Even if this means they’re constantly climbing into the cereal cupboard and occasionally spilling bags of pancake mix or Goldfish onto the kitchen floor, there’s a sense of freedom in not feeling like a personal butler 24/7. And as parents, we can all appreciate a break from one of the many jobs we have to do for our littles.
5. Being able to take them to restaurants without a meltdown.
You might still be racing to finish two bites of your meal before it’s time to avoid that meltdown. Or get to the changing table to tend to a blowout. Or engage in a brief adult conversation with your partner about something other than who gets to finish the cut-up hotdog and use the kid’s token for ice cream. But hey, you made it to the restaurant!
6. The first “drop off” birthday party or playdate.
For children and parents alike, this one might be a bit tough for some, downright liberating for others, or perhaps a whole mix of emotions. Regardless, what a big step in the journey of raising humans who will not always be attached to your hip!
7. When they can wipe their bottom.
Arguably one of the best underrated parenting milestones. Do I need to say more?
8. When you can sit on the edge of the pool and not have to get in.
Helping a small child in and out of soaking wet swimwear, remembering to apply sunscreen religiously every two hours, and keeping another human alive while being continuously splashed in the face are superpowers in their own right. That said, getting a moment to unwind and imagine you’re somewhere on a tropical beach sounds pretty appealing!
9. When you can read a book on a plane.
Ahhh . . . you know you won’t be the only one breathing a deep sigh of relief and silently cheering for this quiet bliss.
10. When you don’t have to take every piece of baby gear you own on every trip you take.
This might be due to your child growing up or simply realizing you can make do without two fully-stuffed diaper bags, a huge stroller, and your beloved sound machine, sleep sack, baby monitor, and car seat. Either way, you’re sure to accumulate more memories than stress when you hit this underrated parenting milestone.
11. When you don’t have to push them on the swing.
It may seem like a small feat, but take pride in this accomplishment! There’s something magical about sitting back and watching from a distance as the child you’re responsible for becomes a little more independent and soaks up life’s simple pleasures.
12. When they start picking out their own outfits.
Yes, there’s a chance you’ll find yourself backtracking and encouraging something less . . . mismatched. But is there anything cuter than seeing your child’s preferences and personality come to life before your eyes?!
13. When you succeed at getting rid of the bottle. And the pacifier.
No more guilt-tripping from your pediatrician, seeking solidarity in mom forums, or washing and sanitizing like it’s your part-time gig. This is a bittersweet reminder of how short babyhood really is, but a win-win nonetheless! It may be a struggle to get through, but what an accomplishment!
14. When you look in the mirror and welcome what you see staring back.
Pregnancy and parenting are bound to change us physically in many ways. Your child thinks you’re pretty wonderful just as you are, though! The moment you start loving yourself the way they do is something to smile about.
15. When you learn to say “no.”
Not necessarily to your tiny human, but to whatever doesn’t bring you joy. This could be in the realm of boundaries with pushy family, late nights out that no longer appeal like they did pre-kid life, unsolicited outsider opinions . . . you name it. There’s something admirable to be said about the term “mama bear” once you step into your own power as a parent!
16. Leaving the infant carrier in the car at the grocery store.
Perhaps you finally trust your babywearing skills enough to attempt everyday errands without the extra weight to lug around. Maybe your baby can suddenly sit upright in the shopping cart seat or, if you like extended babywearing, perhaps your little one is not so little anymore and can stroll the aisles with you. Either way, this one opens up a whole new world of possibilities!
17. Buying something for yourself at Target before heading to the baby section immediately.
Easier said than done, especially with all the fun baby items on the market these days. Cloud Island double zipper pajamas, newborn booties, and bows galore. Who can resist? You. You can! Remembering what you went to Target for in the first place is doubly as impressive as a parent.
18. Leaving the house alone for the first time post-baby without feeling guilty.
. . . or doing pretty much anything for yourself without feeling guilty.
19. When you realize that you shouldn’t feel “mom guilt” for the occasional bribe.
Even if you swore you’d never be that parent that bribes their kids, you might find yourself using a “reward” for good behavior. You’re not alone. It’s okay to give your child another handful of puffs or melts for a split second of cooperation during family photos. There’s no guilt necessary to do what you need to get through the day.
20. Getting to sleep through a whole REM cycle without interruption.
In your own bed. With your partner. Not squished up on the rocker, sleepily waiting for the next feed. Not asking, “do you think she’s still okay?” repeatedly while sneaking over to check on your little human every five minutes. Okay, so it might not be an underrated parenting milestone, but it should certainly be celebrated. What a glorious feeling!
Parenthood is Something to Celebrate
We live in a world that often overlooks the daily sacrifice, hard work, and unending effort that goes into raising children. While parenthood certainly isn’t a race to be won, it sometimes feels like it is, and it’s time we start celebrating the many underrated, incredible parenting milestones along the way!
Whether you’ve reached a couple, many, all, or none of these monumental parenting milestones, pat yourself on the back. You’re more of a superhuman than you may realize. The proof is in the little, everyday victories!