As parents we are lucky to experience many special and memorable milestones with our children.
The big ones, like first steps, first words and the first day at school are huge moments that we expect to bring mixed feelings. There is a sense of pride tinged with the sadness of knowing time is flying by and your baby is growing up way too fast.
What has surprised me though is that amongst all of the big milestones, there have been many small moments that signal the end of the baby and toddler stage. They are small signs that we are entering a new phase of life and leaving the baby years behind.
While I am loving every minute of seeing the incredible little people my children are becoming and I am very happy to be getting decent sleep again. As a family we are able to experience so many new and exciting things and we aren't bound by naptimes. Bedtimes can be a little later without causing too much drama and our children can do just about everything for themselves.
But while I love this new stage, I am looking back on some of the smaller milestones that have felt poignant to me. These are the sometimes bittersweet, sometimes joyous and sometimes sad moments that have marked the end of one phase of parenting and the beginning of a new one.
1. No more nappies
There will come a day when you will purchase a packet of nappies and realise it is probably the last pack you will ever buy. This is a pretty joyous moment for most parents even if it does signal the beginning of the toilet training journey. Yes nappies are easier in a way because everything is contained but it is a nice expense to remove from the weekly grocery shop!
2. Speaking correctly
You know those particular words children say incorrectly but it's so adorable and sweet that you can't bear to correct them? I loved all of the little things my eldest said, I spent ages one day trying to get her to say them on camera so I would always remember them. When she sang "London Bridge is falling down" she would say "my pear lady" instead of fair lady. So adorable. There were lots of little words like that and my husband and I wouldn't correct her because it was so cute but inevitably her preschool or day care teachers corrected and suddenly she started to say them properly and my heart broke a little. My youngest has a few cute words too but she has big sis to correct her so they haven't lasted as long!
3. The first wobbly tooth
I was surprisingly emotional when my daughter had her first wobbly tooth. It felt like such a huge and exciting moment. It is so much fun starting the tradition of the tooth fairy and the magic that comes along with that but it is a big sign of the big kid you now have in your home.
4. "Grown up" cutlery
This was one that completely threw me. One day my eldest requested a grown up fork for dinner and of course her younger sister wanted to be a big girl too and they have never gone back. So silly to be sad about cutlery but it was just another way of showing that I have big kids now.
5. Goodbye hooded towels
As with the cutlery, one I never expected to feel significant but they grew out of the cute little hooded kids towels and I felt really sad about that! Memories of chasing little naked bottoms around the house as babies and toddlers and wrapping them up in the "big" fluffy towels will always stay with me.
6. Packing away the cot
A big moment in any house is when a child moves from the cot to the big bed, but an even bigger moment is when the cot gets packed away and you realise you won't be putting it back together again. I remember buying the cot the day we had the 12 week ultrasound for our first baby. It is past the point of being safely used by another baby so it sits in the garage while I occasionally think of converting it into something Pinterest worthy because I can't bring myself to throw it out.
7. No longer using a pram
I loved our pram and, like the cot, it is still sitting in the garage despite the fact that my almost four year old has refused to sit in it for over a year. I just can't bring myself to sell or donate it. We never use it but I miss the convenience of it. I miss having somewhere to put all our stuff when we go out and to store our shopping. Now outings mean packing everything into a backpack and carrying it around ourselves. When little legs get tired they can't jump in the pram. There is no such thing as a quick trip to the shops now because I can't strap them in the pram and whizz around.
It also holds so many happy memories of long walks with a hard to settle newborn, walking with my mother's group to cafes and parks, my toddler on the skateboard attachment with her new little sister in the pram.
I know there are many more milestones ahead. The first day of school for my youngest, the first sleepover, first school camps, first loves and so many more. I look forward to the journey ahead but I will always miss those early baby days and will probably hang onto some baby forks and towels....I can keep them in the pram that I will inevitably still have when the future grandkids come to visit.