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10 Small Things That Feel Like HUGE Accomplishments With Kids

Photograph by Twenty20

There are so many tasks that childless people do every day and completely take for granted. I know I did. Before I had kids I never thought twice about making a stop at a second grocery store or stopping on the way home to gas up the car. Back then, I didn't have nap times or ballet lessons or crying babies to consider, or even just the logistics of loading and unloading kids in and out of a car. I was free as a bird and oblivious to the daily struggles of all the parents out there, running errands with kids underfoot.

The upside to struggling through all of these day-to-day tasks is that it takes a whole lot less to make you feel like a rockstar. In my pre-child days I needed that raise at work or finally fitting into that smaller size of jeans as an indication of my successes for hard work. Nowadays the bar is set a whole lot lower.

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Here are just a few small things that feel like completely monumental accomplishments once you have kids:

1. Going to the post office.

The post office is kind of a terrible place. People are always stopping in on their way somewhere else and everyone there always seems kind of grumpy and rushed. It stresses me out. Carrying an infant car seat as my two-year-old tries to climb on the counter and my four-year-old twirls around in line, bumping into patrons in the process and receiving the stink eye from more than one person...not my fave. So basically anytime I make it in to send a package, I feel like the queen of the world.

2. Not getting called out of gym childcare for a meltdown.

I'm quite certain that my children are plotting against me to keep me squishy and better for snuggling, because every time I take them to gym childcare I get called out at some point to put out a fire. Not getting called out? Definitely cause for celebration.

3. Having a clean bathroom.

Cleaning bathrooms is hard. I mean, it's not if you keep up with it regularly, but when you feel like you're drowning basically just doing maintenance-type cleaning (i.e. throwing Legos into bins so they don't stab your feet), finding the time to truly give the bathroom a nice sparkly clean makes you feel like a million bucks. Who knew a bathroom could affect the psyche so greatly?

4. Putting on lipstick.

Before kids, you can find time to do your makeup and hair on the regular. After kids, just putting on lipstick some days can make you feel like a Kardashian getting full-on glam makeup.

When the stars align and your kids happen to get sleepy and nod off to dreamland at the same time it's like winning the lottery.

5. Grocery shopping.

Grocery shopping with kids is like running a marathon. Except it feels longer. And more terrible. Everyone is begging for junk food and trying to climb out of the cart and whining and you wonder if it will ever end. And then it does. And you get that post-run euphoria that marathoners get... except you didn't run a marathon. You just went grocery shopping. It's pretty much the same though.

6. Getting your kids to nap at the same time.

When the stars align and your kids happen to get sleepy and nod off to dreamland at the same time it's like winning the lottery. Maybe even better, because it means you can watch TV in peace... or wash dishes in silence... or really whatever you want for like an hour. It's glorious.

7. Cooking a meal. Like a real one.

OK, so of course we make meals all the time as parents (cereal for three meals a day just doesn't cut it like when we were young and childless), but usually it's easy, basic stuff that we know our kids will eat and is quick to make (hello, spaghetti.) Actually taking the time to try a fancier new recipe will make you feel like the next Julia Childs, because it will take twice as long. It'll taste twice as good, too... you hope.

8. Reading a book. And actually finishing it.

I legitimately have three half-read books on my nightstand right now. Whenever I have time to read, it's at the end of the day and my brain is shot and I don't want to think, I just want to veg out and watch something mindless on TV. But on the rare occasion that I actually do read a book and actually finish it? Break out the parade—it's a banner day! I might even pat myself on the back.

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9. Painting your nails

Murphy's law of parenting says that anytime you attempt to paint your nails, your child is going to: A) need their butt wiped B) need their nose wiped C) need something else wiped right as you've finished. Basically, your nails will end up looking like they were painted by a three-year-old. Whenever you can manage to get your nails painted and dried before your kids find a way to ruin them, is truly noteworthy.

10. Getting ALL the clothes put away.

The laundry struggle with kids is real. Like, so real. I do a load of laundry almost every day. With that much laundry, getting it washed and sorted and folded and actually put away in drawers and closets very rarely happens. Mostly the clothes end up living in the dryer until they need to be unloaded for the next load and then they live on a couch or in a basket until I run out of baskets or couch space and am forced to put them away.

The problem is that the best time to put clothes away is during nap time, but the kids are in their rooms sleeping, so I can't actually put anything away. And then my kids mess up my nicely sorted and folded piles when I don't get them put in the drawers right away, so it feels futile. BUT, once in a blue moon when my laundry count is at zero and everything is in its place and there isn't an overwhelming pile of dirty clothes, it's pure magic.

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