We Have a Four Year Old!

It’s almost the end of October and I haven’t done my annual birthday Squishy post. Max is now FOUR years old! Oh my goodness. We celebrated his quarantine birthday at home with swimming, balloons, and all of his favorite food. 

I don’t always notice how much he’s grown in person. But sometimes, I’ll take a photo and it’ll surprise me. 

He’s taller now. His height is a constant reminder that we’re quickly leaving the toddler years behind. I miss my chunky, wobbly walker. But I have to admit, I do love his growing independence. 

Just in the span of our quarantine lockdown, Squish has learned to do so many things on his own. Here are some of our “I’m a big boy” milestones. 

Suppahhh Proud: 5 Big Boy Milestones We’re Thankful For

1. Potty Training

Woohoo! He’s had peeing down for a while, but it took him a while to let go of his diaper for pooping. We had nowhere to go, so we weren’t really rushing the process. 

But one day, all of a sudden, he just got on the toilet bowl to do his business! It was so abrupt that I still have a huge pack of diapers in storage for him. 

Like most of Max’s milestones, I have to respect his readiness. I can get panicky about his development, but rushing him doesn’t lead to lasting and real change. If anything, it just makes for a frustrated momma and squishy. 

Now, whenever he poops, we still do a celebratory dance. And for some reason, pooping on the toilet kind of helped his constipation problems. 

2. Independent Play

We established a pretty structure scheduled for our weekdays/homeschooling days. Here’s what we usually do:

  • Wake-up (usually by 8:00 AM) / Paps already clocked in
  • Breakfast (just me and Max)
  • Free play / Mama starts some chores
  • Homeschool (usually by 9:00 or 9:30 AM) 
  • Free play / Mama cooks lunch (usually by 11:00 AM)
  • Family lunch ❤
  • Free play / Mama works
  • Nap time / Mama works
  • TV time / Mama works and Papa makes dinner
  • Family Dinner ❤
  • Family play time (also when I sneak away to have me-time)
  • Bedtime routine
  • Sleep 

There are days when Max really wants someone to play with and I give in (especially when there aren’t any deadlines looming). But for the most part, he understands the structure of our day and knows when he can expect more attention from us. 

This didn’t happen overnight though. It took some time for him to get used to it. Yesterday, I had a meeting before his nap and I didn’t have to set up a show for him. It was the first time I didn’t resort to screen time to babysit him while I was in a meeting. 

As soon as I said goodbye though, he was right there waiting for me with a toy! Hahaha. It’s actually very sweet that he wants to play with us (especially on days when I don’t have a lot on my plate). 

3. Chores and Self-Help Skills

Last year, we finally caved and decided to hire part-time household help. Our helper came in a couple of times a week to help with chores. I started to take on more work and Max started school, so the timing was great. 

Unfortunately, the lockdown happened and public transportation was restricted to frontliners. Even when things slowly opened up for us, it wasn’t safe to have someone come in and out of our home on a regular basis. So we decided that it was best for everyone to part ways for now. 

Thankfully, we have a little helper in Max! He is always curious about what we’re doing and is eager to try. Here are a few chores and self-help skills he can now confidently do by himself:

  • Dress himself
  • Pack away his toys
  • Set the table
  • Prepare his own snack
  • Get himself a drink
  • Put his used plates in the sink
  • Dry himself after a bath

He also helps me out with the laundry by letting me know when it’s time to turn off the water (our set-up is very primitive). There were some slip-ups at the beginning, but it’s totally worth it in the long run! 

4. Nap Time

As I type this sentence, I’m sitting next to a curled up Squishy who put himself to sleep. After the nap wars of 2019, I didn’t think this was possible! 

At the beginning of the lockdown, Max actually stopped napping in the afternoon. He used to nap automatically after school because he would be up so early. But I guess he needed to adjust his energy expenditure when we were at home all day.  

A few months in though, I decided that it was time to reintroduce naptime. It was a little annoying at first because I needed to lay down and snuggle with him. I would end up falling asleep and lose prime working hours. 

Once we established our routine though, it got a whole lot easier! He would be the one to tell me that it was time to nap. Eventually, he didn’t need me to snuggle with him anymore. He would roll around the bed until I noticed that he wasn’t moving anymore. At some point, I started taking my laptop in with me and continued working as he put himself to sleep. 

He still needs me to come into the room and sit with him, but I feel like it won’t be too long before I can just send him in by himself. Just today, I simply led him to the bed and I went to the bathroom. When I was done with my business, I came back and he was already asleep! 

5. Work-in-Progress: Eating By Himself 

Mealtimes are special for us because that’s when we usually get to sit as a family without a lot of other distractions. Even in our humble apartment, it’s still very easy to let the day go by without really spending any family time together. 

So Max LOVES to talk when it’s lunch or dinner. He has a lot to say for a four year old. So the talking can get in the way of the eating. And he still prefers it if we feed him. 

But in the last few weeks he’s gotten a lot better at eating by himself. We explained that when we feed him, Mama and Papa can’t enjoy their own food. 

He still needs help in cutting up his food and scooping up all with his spoon, but there’s progress! And we’re very big believers in celebrating progress and not just successes. Hahaha.

(We found Squishy’s internet twin.)

I can’t believe we have a four year old. He’s such a goofy, funny, curious, and happy kid. (Also going through a very serious dinosaur phase. The read alouds are killing me! Why do dinosaur names have to be so complicated!)

People keep implying that we should have another kid because we’ll miss the baby stage, but we don’t really get it. Don’t get me wrong—I LOVED baby Max. I loved those endless afternoons of sitting in bed with a sweet-smelling blob of a baby on my chest. Toddler Max was also endlessly cute, with the one-word sentences and drunk-like movements. 

But four-year old Max is still pure magic. He keeps us on our toes. We’re still taking it all in with the same awe and wonder. ❤ 

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