I took a week off from the blog last week, and that’s because it was a big week for my family. My kids both started preschool! This is my son’s 3rd year in preschool, but my daughter’s first year. They attend a half-day program three days a week. My husband and I think it’s a great idea for the kids because it socializes them, introduces them to being comfortable around adults who aren’t mom and dad, they are learning, playing, doing art, music, and sports activities that we don’t do everyday at home.
When I signed my son up when he was 2 years old, it was an easy decision. I was working part-time, and his school days gave me time to work at the office a few days a week (and I also was still working from home on the other days).
He has always enjoyed school, so even when I became a stay-at-home mom we continued with his preschool enrollment. Now that my daughter is old enough to attend, we signed her up for school too. It seemed natural that of course she should go because my son has been going and it has been great for everyone.
We were all happy and excited about preschool until I actually dropped them both off for their first day. My daughter cried and my son clung to my leg before I left, then I got back in my car ALONE and started crying. It was not a few sniffles. It was waterfalls of hiccuping ugly tears. I was ALL ALONE. I haven’t been home alone without at least one kid with me since my daughter was born (almost 2 years ago).
I began to have self-doubt. If my kids are in school, then why am I a stay-at-home mom? Why should I be sitting at home alone for several hours a day a few days a week? I started to wonder if I am becoming a spoiled housewife, and felt even more like a spoiled housewife for complaining about my current situation.
After about an hour of negative self-talk I decided to be productive with my time. In a few short hours of dedicated work, I was able to finish my son’s baby album (that only took 4 years to complete…). I felt so great – I had finally finished something I have been wanting to finish for a long time, and my mind was successfully distracted from the negative self-talk.
When it was time for school pick-up I was so excited to see my kids! We all happily embraced and excitedly headed home. My daughter’s teacher said she took a nap, and while my son didn’t nap he did have rest time. Both kids insisted that they didn’t need another nap when we got home, so I didn’t force it because I missed them and wanted to play with them too.
Well, turns out they did still need an additional nap. Both were exhausted and extremely cranky by 5pm. Our normal bedtime is around 8pm, but that night we had both kids in bed and asleep by 7:30pm. It was nice to have a longer evening for just my husband and I to enjoy the quiet alone time, but I did not enjoy the period of unhappy and tired kids between about 5-7pm.
The second day of preschool went much better for everyone. The kids were still crying and clingy at drop-off but not as bad as the first day. And I did not cry! I taught a workout class (without kids!), and it was nice to have other moms to talk to and get in my exercise. I went home to shower and get ready for the day. I ate lunch (alone – insert sad face here), started working on my daughter’s baby album, then it was already time for pick up!
This time after school I decided to force a nap on the kids because I knew they needed it. So although I missed seeing them all day, I made them both take a nap when they got home (and they both did go down very easily). They took about 1.5 hour naps each then woke up happy and we enjoyed our evening together.
It’s a hard situation with the naps because when they are in school all morning and take a long afternoon nap too, I feel like I only get a short time with them in the evening. It’s almost the same as if I was working 8 hours and had them in day care all day. Only I’m not working, and the one of the reasons I’m not is so I can spend the day with my kids. I feel like this isn’t working out how I wanted or expected, but I don’t know how to change or improve the situation.
On the positive note, I am happy and blessed to now have time to myself. I feel like an independent adult again, and it was so satisfying to shop without a whining or screaming kid with me. I can exercise alone (it is much more relaxing that way). I can shower alone. I have time to do my hair and makeup. I finally have time to do all the projects I’ve been wanting to do (baby albums, family albums, decorating my bedroom, sewing buttons back on pants, craft projects, etc).
But I’m not sure if I feel fulfilled and satisfied with the situation. I thought if I left the kids it would be to go back to work (be productive, contribute to society), not just so I could shop and craft. But the other side of mind reminds me that the kids actually enjoy going to school, meeting new friends, and learning new things. And now I have a few blissful moments to be me, Emily, and not just me, Mom.
As you can tell, I’m still trying to manage my emotions about this whole early preschool thing and figure out the best and most productive ways to spend my time. I am sure eventually I will come to peace with the situation and find happiness for myself and my children.
Do you/did you send your children to early preschool as a stay-at-home mom? Can you relate to this situation I’m in?