We spend so much time tracking our children’s milestones that we rarely step back to think about the milestones we reach as parents. Some of my personal favorite parenting milestones have occurred in the transition from the toddler years to the preschool years:
1. You stop fishing boogers out of your kid’s nose
I can’t be the only person who’s taken their pinky fingernail and snagged a booger out of a baby’s nose, right? For some reason, the goop that drips and congeals in a baby’s nose doesn’t seem all that revolting. But somewhere around age 3, boogers become, well, exactly as disgusting as they always have been. They seem more disgusting in a big kid’s nose. So pass the tissues, please.
2. You no longer feel like you want to die each time you try and squeeze your child’s fingers into a glove
I have no idea why anyone makes gloves for toddlers. Trying to shove 10 tiny fingers into 10 tiny holes is enough to make me want to risk my child’s fingers to frostbite. (No, not really. I just buy mittens.)
Anyway, somewhere around the preschool years, kids learn how to fit their own fingers into a glove. And that day is glorious.
3. No more poop finger
Nearly every parent has experienced the dreaded poop finger. You pull back your child’s diaper to check on its contents, and you end up with a finger dredged in crap. But this mostly stops during the preschool years. You know why?
Because many preschoolers don’t wear diapers anymore, that’s why.
4. You have help with some chores
Let’s be honest: preschoolers aren’t all that adept at making their beds, and it’s dangerous for them to use most household cleaning products. But they can take their dirty clothes to the hamper. And pick up their toys. And scrub the floor and baseboards with a wet wipe. (Try it! They’re perfect for the job.) Better yet, kids this age often love to help with the cleaning—it makes them feel grown up and important. Enjoy that sense of helpfulness while it lasts.
No offense to toddlers, but they’re basically super-adorable blobs of stupid who seem hell-bent on touching, swallowing, pulling, opening and yanking everything that can kill them.
5. Please welcome the Age of Reason
A toddler might cry until they almost puke just because the grass is green. Or because their jacket has pockets. Or because they can’t eat cat food for lunch. (All things my toddlers have lost their minds over in years past.)
Though preschoolers lose their damn minds, too, there’s at least a little bit of a logic to their madness. Like, they might cry because they can’t eat cookies for lunch. And really, who can blame them?
6. It’s finally time for some actual conversations with your child
Toddlers are learning to string complex sentences together. But preschoolers learn how to string complex ideas together. The result can be pretty magical.
7. You kind of sleep through the night
Only the very lucky parents of preschoolers get a full night’s sleep on the regular. But preschooler-sleep is generally more consistent than baby and toddler sleep—enough so that you might finally start to feel like a fully functioning human being again.
8. You can finally think complete thoughts again
Remember those? Thanks to preschoolers’ ability to entertain themselves for longer periods of time, they derail your train of thought far less frequently than they did when they were toddlers.
9. And you can focus your attention on something other than your child for longer than five seconds
No offense to toddlers, but they’re basically super-adorable blobs of stupid who seem hell-bent on touching, swallowing, pulling, opening and yanking everything that can kill them. They need near-constant supervision. Preschoolers? Not as much. You still need to watch them, but not with such all-encompassing focus.
10. And finally, if you don’t already have another baby, you start to forget how hard the newborn and baby stages were
Be careful. This is how younger siblings get made.