Instead of Preschool: Why We Opted Out Part 3

by ChristinaPilkington on May 14, 2011 · 0 comments

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As the last part of this series about preschool, I’d like to address the last most popular reason parents place their child in preschool: using it as a chance to get a break from their child.

Before I became a mother I had wonderful daydreams about what my life would be like. I thought I’d be taking long, slow walks with my newborn baby, rocking him or her after a nighttime feeding, singing songs and having leisurely feeding times.

Then I had twins.

On top of that they were premature and had to be in the hospital for five weeks. It was very important for me to breastfeed my kids, but they had grown used to the hospital giving them a bottle of breast milk and wouldn’t latch on when I’d visit them or later when we brought them home. Soon feeding two babies and pumping everything took a physical toll on me. Life was a big, exhausting blur.

By six months it became a little easier, but my life was still nothing like those pre-baby daydreams I used to have. I began to wonder if it ever WOULD get there. I loved having the babies and we’d have some bright spots in our days, but I always felt exhausted and drained every day.

I’d look so forward to having just a few hours to go grocery shopping by myself when my mother or mother-in-law would come watch the kids for me. It felt so freeing to sit in silence for awhile, to walk slowly or eat by myself and read a book.

Though my kids are five now and can play with each other independently for longer periods of time, they still need most of my waking hours. So, I completely understand the desire and need for some alone time, time to just sit in silence or to work on something meaningful to you.

But preschool doesn’t have to be that option. I’d like to share some things that might work as an alternative.

Use extended family as much as you can.  I know this won’t work for everyone, but if you have family nearby who offer to watch your child, please take them up on this. You might ask how this is different than sending your child to preschool. You’re not with your child during this time, right? Isn’t it the same thing?

One difference is your child will be with someone who really loves him and will give him the attention he needs. He’ll also be in a situation where he’ll get far more one-on-one attention and be able to direct most of his activities.  My husband’s parents usually come each Friday for a few hours and take the kids to the playground or do other activities with them while I work on writing, go to a store, or get some cleaning done, yet I’m not separated from them for 10-12 hours each week.  Every few months my mom will also take the kids for an entire day, but it’s something flexible.  

If you need to, pay someone to give you the break you need. You’d be paying for preschool anyway, so if you don’t have family or anyone else, pay someone to spend some time with your child. They’ll still have the one-on-one attention, and you can help your child come up with several fun things they want to do with the babysitter.

Set up times when your kids can play with a small group of other kids while you’re nearby. Now that my kids are older, it helps that they can have neighbor kids come over and play in the backyard. I can get some cleaning done inside the house or writing, yet they can still come get me whenever they want to. It’s also fun to just sit and watch them play outside the window while I sit quietly inside the kitchen, sipping some hot chocolate. You can also get together with your friends who have kids and chat while the kids play.

Have times during the day where you work on projects for yourself or do things that are fun. This is definitely easier said than done. I wasn’t able to successfully do this until just about a year ago. I didn’t have too much time for myself before that, except squeezing in some quick reading before I went to bed.

 Now, we have somewhat of a rhythm to the day (unless we are out of the house).  After the kids eat lunch and I read aloud to them (which might last up to an hour), they know it’s my lunchtime and time for mom to do some work. They usually have a special TV or DVD program they want to watch, or they play outside. Between that and my husband watching the kids every other Wednesday night and putting them to bed, I get the time I need to work on writing projects.

Moms need to have time alone, time to work on their own projects, and time away from their children, but they don’t need to rely on preschools to provide them with this time.

It’s important to have time by yourself, and, frankly, it’s important as your children get older to have times away from you, too. But, especially during the younger years, kids need to have a lot of personal attention from caring adults. They need to have their questions answered, need to have a variety of unique and interesting experiences, and need a lot of choice in their activities.

As you consider the option of preschool, I’d urge you to consider some of the ideas I’ve presented in this series of posts. Make it a very mindful choice that takes your child’s best interests to heart.

It should not be a time where children are crying when they are dropped off because they aren’t ready to be separated from you.  Yes, maybe after a few months that will stop, but it’s most likely because the child realizes that it won’t do any good, that their feelings will not be respected and they just are plain tired of fighting anymore.

It shouldn’t be a time where they are being made fun of, being put in a corner because they won’t come to circle time because they wanted to finish drawing their picture, or told to be quiet when they ask questions.

Watch your child carefully and respect their feelings. If you need to talk up preschool, to make it seem like an exciting place, to assure them that they’ll like it even if they say they don’t want to go, or if they are going, say they no longer want to go anymore, than something is wrong.  Remember, you only have these few years with them once. You will not be given them again.

Instead of Preschool: Why We Opted Out Part 1

Instead of Preschool: Why We Opted Out Part 2

Photo Credit: Lori Greig

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