The Great Preschool Debate
I have so many mixed feelings on when the “best” time to send my daughter to preschool will be. She’ll be 3 in just a few months, and she loves learning and going to Mommy and Me classes; but I also see when she looks around the room for me to make sure I’m still there, and will ask “Where’s my Mommy?” if I’m out running an errand and someone else is watching her. She will only be going two days a week, for 3 hours in the morning. But oh the mom guilt is quite strong today.
So the pros of why my husband and I think preschool will be good for her is that we think she needs a bit more structure than what we are currently providing for her at home. We always marvel how well she’ll listen to someone else (i.e. calmly letting her dentist clean her teeth versus the shrieking thrashing fit we sometimes receive when trying to brush her teeth). We also see how much she loves to learn and interact with other children, how she loves asking questions and learning what things are; and yes we can teach her these things too, but sometimes it is hard to do when her baby brother needs his diaper changed or to be nursed. For me personally, it might be nice to have a tiny break where I can just bond with my baby son one on one. When I look back at how much time my daughter and I were able to spend together just the two of us, I sometimes feel so sad for my son that he always has to split his time with me, so I do think it will be nice to devote & carve out some special bonding time just for him.
The cons are mainly the mom guilt that hits me like a ton of bricks whenever I think about walking away and leaving her in a classroom. I don’t want her to think that I am shipping her off or to feel neglected or left out (as whenever I drop her off at preschool the baby will be with me). I worry that her sweet little personality will change somehow. I worry that something bad will happen and she won’t know how to tell me. I worry that she’ll cry for me and I won’t be there for her. I think that one is what guts me the most. I worry that she’s too young, and that she’s already going to be in school for decades, so why am I introducing it to her now? I worry that she’ll behave perfectly in school but then come home to me and her baby brother and act out even more. There are just so many worries in this mama heart, and to be honest with you all, there have been a quite few tears (mine, not hers, she genuinely does seem excited about “big girl school”).
So my husband and I have talked (literally hours) about these pros and cons, and we’ve decided to try sending her and just see how she likes it day by day. If she is sobbing every morning before we take her, we plan on pausing and trying again in a few months. If she genuinely seems excited to go then she will keep going. Obviously what works for one family won’t always work for another, but this is what we plan to do. So we are just going to listen to our gut and to our heart, and truly try to read our daughter’s personality and what she tells us to determine if now is really the best time. So I will continue to cherish my time with her, but also look forward to this new adventure for her; and this new adventure for me and my son. And I will continue to remind myself that it is normal to have these alternating feelings of guilt and hope, of sadness and excitement for this new change in our lives; and to just take everything one day at a time.