Ahhh, a beach holiday, even just to Galveston, is just the thing to put me in a summer vacay kind of mood. It was possibly the least stressful trip we’ve taken as a family so far and I don’t think it’s only because of the laid-back locale. Taking trips in general has just become easier and easier because of what I call “big little things”.
Things have felt different in the last year and a half after my youngest turned three. That was when he started to sit at the table in a regular grown up chair. No more high chairs and no more booster seats. Which means no more travel booster when we go out. I marveled at it during breakfast one morning on our trip. We walked in and we all just sat down.
No more checking if a restaurant had an appropriate high chair. No more playing musical chairs to see which seat at the table is least intrusive for a high chair. No more finding the provided booster seats too wobbly or too low or too high. No more hauling our own and fussing with straps to fasten onto the dining chair. No more of that stuff. Just go somewhere and sit. Everyone, sit. And they did. The End.
There have been so many more of these moments for me lately:: small milestones that reminded me just how much work it was with young kids. Having three within five years of each other meant not being able to fully enjoy the first two’s growing independence, because there was always a baby in the house. Well now our “baby” is four years old and there is no other baby after him. It can be sad to think about sometimes when you’re done having more kids, but then I remember the old struggles and I’m glad I have so many big little things to celebrate.
Another big little thing that has truly increased my quality of life is kids learning to buckle themselves, or help a younger sibling buckle up. It used to be anxiety inducing just thinking about leaving the house.
First, I had to carry, hoist, and boost sometimes uncooperative little bodies into the car. Once they were inside, I had to steel myself to reach, hover, climb, and contort my body into unnatural positions to get everyone secured. I might have pulled a muscle before. While wrestling bags and bodies, someone always complained about being squished, pinched, stepped on, hot, cold, hungry, thirsty. Sometimes there were tears and they did not belong to the children.
These days though, are different. This morning when I said “get in the car guys” my three kids immediately disappeared through the back door. I grabbed my purse, locked up, and approached my car in the driveway. I opened my driver’s side door, threw my purse onto the passenger seat, sat down, pulled my door shut, and fastened my seat belt. You know, like a normal person. But this has not been my normal for almost a decade. I looked in the rear view mirror and my three kids were sitting in their seats, buckled up and ready to go. With no help from me! Cue the fireworks! Start the parade! We have arrived.
Other Big Little Things
Another mom with a gaggle of kids, Joi Bailey Green, also looks in the rear view mirror and gets an even bigger shock:: empty seats. Her quality of life exponentially increased when her kids got driver’s licenses. Though it’s not a small milestone, the difference it makes to certain families can be immeasurable. Joi describes it this way:: “Tote yourself. Tote your sibs. Tote me. Tote those groceries.” One little card with their photo on it became a “full on game changer” for her.
Even though Christie Walker’s kids are still itty-bitty, she has experienced her own big little thing already. “For me, it’s been teaching my daughter to fetch things like a new pull-up, the remote, toilet paper…it’s been incredibly helpful!” We all understand that when you have to do all the things, any assistance by anyone, even one in pull-ups, is welcome.
And speaking of pull-ups, a big little thing for many moms is when the kids start wiping themselves. For those moms that haven’t gotten to potty training yet or are still in the middle of it, I have bad news. You’re not really done until they learn to wipe. It stinks, but it’s true. Because every time they go, you still have to follow. You’ll finally find relief when you can confidently go about your business, knowing that you won’t be called over at any moment to clean up someone else’s business.
It’s also thrilling when kids can finally take a shower on their own, make their own breakfast, and pack their own suitcases. Those seemingly simple accomplishments have made life so much easier for legions of moms.
I’m always happy when I come across a new realization of how far the kids and I have come. These become the jewels of motherhood in the trenches and I will take each one and stick it on my crown. I’m happy to keep collecting them.
Have you experienced any big little things yet? Have your kids learned to do things that doesn’t seem especially noteworthy but has actually made a big difference to you?