So, you stay at home with you son full time but he goes to full time preschool?
The look of bewilderment on people’s face is priceless when I answer “YES.”
What do you do all day if you do not have a child at home?
Well, I am a mom and, believe it or not, being a mom does not stop when they go to preschool.
Over the last year I can not tell you the number of times I have been asked why we send our 3-year-old to preschool full time if I do not work outside the home. I can not tell you the number of judgmental eye rolls and sideways looks when people find out I do not work, but we still choose to send our toddler to preschool.
So, why do we send our toddler to a full day preschool?
The short answer is because he loves it, but the long answer goes something like this…
Because it is what is best for him. Because it is what is best for me.
As much as I want to keep him home, shelter him from everything, and protect him, I know my limits. And his. I know he needs more than I can offer him on a day-to-day basis. He needs social interaction with peers his same age, he needs adult role models outside the home, to fail in a safe environment away from mom and dad, life boundaries set by teachers; he needs preschool.
Him being in preschool makes me a better mother and a better wife. Selfish as it sounds, the truth is I need that time as much as he does. And let’s be honest, my job as a mother does not stop just because he is not at home with me by my side. There is grocery shopping to be done, toys to be picked up, meals to be made, errands to be run and life to attend to. And since I am able to do those things, uninterrupted, while he is at school I am more engaged and attentive mom as soon as that school bell rings. I am no longer worried about household chores or my to-do list at the end of the day and I am able to give my son the attention he deserves and the attention he needs.
Don’t you feel guilty staying home and sending him to school all day?
Nope. When I see the look of pure happiness on his face and I hear the daily accounts from him about how much he learned, any guilt is gone. The days I may miss him I am reminded during school pick-up how great this choice has been when he is eager to show me his classroom and introduce me to his friends. If there is guilt, it is washed away each day at drop off when he runs from the car to his classroom. And at the end of the day, it is about him and his happiness.
He was not always in daycare.
For the first two years he was home with me. Each day, all day. He and I both needed that. For him to thrive, he needed me, and for me to thrive, I needed him. But then he began to show us he needed something more, something different. When at the park he would gravitate towards other children, while at ‘mommy and me’ classes he would latch on to the teacher, and at the library he would flourish in the independence and separation from me. HE SHOWED US it was time for a change.
Now, I do not want to give the impression that we allow our toddler to dictate what we do or the decisions we make, but we have learned how to listen to his needs. We have realized he will show us and “tell” us what he needs to be successful. It is my job to listen.
He needs full time preschool. He thrives there. He is happy there.
And I plan to continue to thrive in my role as a stay-at-home-mom with a toddler who goes to preschool full time.