As soon as you become a parent, you start talking about milestones. Crawling for the first time, sitting up, first steps, first words. These are things that you might talk about at play dates, during school drop-off and even in the grocery store check-out line. But what about the milestones that don't get any accolades? They can be total game-changers but for some reason, mostly go unmentioned. Here are some of the unsung milestones in parenting. Believe me, when they happen in your family, you will notice... and rejoice.
1. Your child is able to vomit in a bucket.
Anyone who has changed a child's bedsheets and bathed their child four times during the night when they have a stomach flu will appreciate this one. The day they learn to puke in a bucket is a huge milestone and we should totally celebrate it. No more 2 a.m. sheet changes. No more 4 a.m. hosing your child down. This is cause for celebration. Moreso than their first steps and words. Well, maybe not more so, but it certainly feels huge in that moment. I dare you to say it's not a big deal when at four in the morning all you have to do is dump and rinse the bucket and go back to bed. Good times.
2. Your child does not need you to get out of bed with them in the morning.
This is a total game-changer. When your child is old enough to safely amuse themself in the morning, then you know that you've reached the sweet spot in parenting. The physicality of parenthood is about to lessen. But don't worry, parenting will just be more of a mental game now, so it all evens out. But still, for a bit more shut-eye in the morning, I will take it!
3. Your child is able to operate the remote control independently.
It totally sucks trying to figure out what buttons to press to get a TV show going for the kids in the early morning when it's still dark out and you are half asleep. My eyes take at least 10 minutes to warm up enough to find the right buttons. Ten minutes of my child climbing all over me and I might as well just get up.
4. When they can get their own snacks and pour their own drinks.
"Can I have a snack?" Is a phrase heard by parents everywhere 1000 times a day. Picture this... your child asks for a snack and you don't have to stop whatever you are doing. You can just tell them to get something out of the snack bin and leave it at that. You're work here is done, my friend.
5. Your child can tell you what hurts or feels yucky.
It's so hard with really young ones when you know there is something wrong but you are left guessing by watching their behaviour and hoping that you've guessed correctly. Is it teeth? Are they nauseous? Do they have a pain somewhere? It's hard to properly help when it's so unclear. If they can at least point to the sore spot, then that's a game-changer. Milestone achieved.
More from HuffPost Canada:
6. When your child is old enough to watch a grown-up movie at the theatre.
Bye bye, babysitter, hello, going to a movie that mom and dad actually want to watch. I love cartoons as much as the next person but it's our turn to pick now.
7. No more daycare costs.
If you are a family where both parents work outside of the home, you will surely get the significance of this. Once you're done with daycare, your "second mortgage payment" becomes funny money. Enough said.
8. When your child can sit in the front seat with you.
I guess then, potentially, you stop feeling like a chauffeur? Who am I kidding — we will probably always feel like a chauffeur, because let's face it, we are.
9. When your child no longer needs an adult in the water for swimming lessons.
First it's parent and baby swim lessons, then there are the lessons where the parents have to go in the water for half of the session and then... cue angels singing... your child goes into the water for swimming lessons all by themselves! Well the instructor's with them of course, let's not go too crazy. This is one of the unsung milestone heroes in parenting.
10. When you can be pretty sure that your child will follow you in a random mall, parking lot or amusement park.
When children are young, it's pretty much a crapshoot which direction they will end up going in, so you have to be ever-vigilant. Any sparkly thing could mesmerize them and pull them in a direction that is not the same as yours. And if they are strapped into a stroller, they will make their discontent known (loudly) when you walk away from the sparkly attention-catcher. But once your children are old enough to walk alongside you in perfect harmony? And tell you when they would like to veer off course? Then you've arrived.
I guess all of these milestones are really just a part of growing up, but I wonder why no one ever talks about them. Why do we not go into work and say to our co-workers, "You'll never guess what happened! My daughter vomited in a bucket for the first time on the weekend!" For some reason, it just doesn't get the same reaction as the first step and first words but it is an important milestone all the same.
So let's celebrate these lesser-known milestones. Let's talk about them in our parent groups and at our school drop-offs. Let's share the big news on our social media pages. Because let's face it, vomit in a bucket? Now that's a big deal.
Also on HuffPost: