I’ve got a message for parents of babies, toddlers and even preschoolers: It gets better. My kids are 3 and a half and 6 and we have turned an amazing corner. They can do so many things for themselves allowing me to reach my full slacker parent potential. I can now relax in the backyard, converse uninterrupted with friends and houseguests and even take a little snooze without anyone needing much help or attention.

So for those new parents out there who are wondering when they will be able to relax a little, here’s a list of the parenting milestones that this slacker mom* is embracing and celebrating.

  1. Mastery of the Swing Set: The kids now pretty much know how to get themselves started on the swing and pump their legs to keep themselves swinging. This allows us to relax on the back porch without having to get up to push them every five minutes. I can relax through almost an entire beer. And when I do have to get up, it’s only to break up a fight but not to push anyone higher (no! higher!).
  2. Quiet Car Rides: Our six year old is a bit competitive and loves to play “The Quiet Game.” She wins just about every time. This provides minutes and minutes of quiet time in the car. Now we just need to get the three year old on board!
  3. Errand Running: The children can be trusted to retrieve various objects from immediate neighbors, the front yard or the back yard without running away or into traffic!
  4. Parenting Each Other: The six year old can lead and complete many bedtime activities with her younger sister like hair brushing and book reading. She’s also a big fan of a game I like to call “speed cleaning.” (See #2 re: competitiveness.) Again, we’re still working on getting the three year old on board.
  5. Solo Coloring: Once we get them setup, my kids can color/draw/write/cut/tape galore on their own. I know longer worry about them getting something on the table or drawing on the walls. I really hope my trust isn’t misplaced.

My point is that all of the above and more make our lives so much easier than they were when the kids were smaller. I no longer fret about days that I might have to work at home with a sick child or on a day that their school is closed. I am able to get more done on the weekends, leaving more free time for us all to spend together hiking or exploring. I feel like we’re in this weird phase between the baby/toddler woes but before the drama of social lives for the kids (think bullying, hurt feelings, etc.). This was a fabulous summer – the best yet! And the cool thing is, I’ve been saying that for the past several summers – the best yet!

*disclaimer: I’m not actually a slacker.