Why I’d Send My Toddler to School Even If I Wasn’t Working

by tinysneakers

It’s easy to feel guilty for sending your kiddo off to school, especially when they’re not even walking or talking yet. And especially, especially if it’s not because you have to go to work. But you shouldn’t.

I’ve experienced quite a bit of guilt/grief about sending my toddler to “school” – a parent’s morning out slash preschool program. Some of it’s self-imposed; some of it’s external.

Even though I feel bad about it occasionally {shouldn’t I want  to spend time with my kid, isn’t this why I’m at home, why am I paying someone else to take care of my kid when I could do it, why am I the only mom desperate to get some time, etc.} We {both mom and dad} feel really, really good about our decision to send Kabes to school. {He’s 2 now, but he started when he was 8 months (– minus summer).}

image

We chose to do this because I work from home and I couldn’t manage being a full-time mom to a baby that didn’t nap and actually get my work done without going certifiably insane. Now he goes because I still need a way to get my work done without going certifiably insane, but it’s become clear that we’d send him anyways even if I wasn’t working {just maybe fewer days}. It’s good for me and it’s good for KB.

Here’s WHY we love it:

Kabes loves it. LOVES it. He’s a very, very attached kid. He gets mad when I leave a room in our house. Let’s not talk about the sobbing and shuddering that happens when I try to put him in gym child care. However, he RUNS into school. He forgets me the second we pull into the parking lot and asks to runnnnn in, which is exactly what he proceeds to do. He gets mad if the doors haven’t been unlocked yet. He runs by every classroom waving at all the teachers and goes straight into his room without so much as a goodbye or second glance. When I pick him up, he darts out of the room and runs down the hall to go explore other classrooms. Rarely do I get a “hi mommy!” in passing. I have to drag him to the car. If he didn’t love it, we wouldn’t love it.

no school sad face

<<—KB’s no-school face

He gets to experience other kids his age. Many of our kid-friends are a little older. Most of the time it doesn’t matter, but sometimes a small age difference can seem like a lot when kids are little. Being in a group of his peers lets him learn how to interact with others and get used to be around a bunch of kids. It’s nice for him to have other people on his level, both literally and figuratively. He’d never learn this at home with just me around most of the time.

He learns. Lots. Crazy lots. Like, real things. I can try to take all the credit in the word, but I promise I did not teach him how to identify an octagon or the numbers 6-12. {1-5 is still iffy Winking smile.} I doubt it’s coincidence that my non-talker started babbling away this September, weeks after school started.

I love discovering what interests him. When it’s just me and KB at home during the day, he’s only exposed to what I show him, what I know, and what I say. At school he experiences his teachers, other kids, different toys & activities, music, and more. I love trying to figure out what he’s talking about when he comes home asking for the “moon song” or talking about his buddy Matthew that I don’t know. I love when he tells me to “shh shhh shh” and “beep beep beep” when he plays with his school bus. I love when he puts his little fingers together and tells me it’s a diamond shape.

I need mom time. I miss him greatly when he’s gone and sometimes four hours seems like a decade, but I do not regret having some time to myself. {Granted four hours can also feel like a split second.} I needed the time at first to work. I dropped him off the second the doors opened, drove to a coffee shop, and worked frantically for four hours without stopping to breathe and still had loads to do. I still do that many days, but I’ve learned how much I revel in the opportunity to do other things without worrying about another little human. I can hang shelves or cook dinner; I can go to the grocery store and actually get everything on my list; I can have lunch with friends. I can SHOWER. Go to the gym.  CLEAN and have it stay clean for slightly more than .4 seconds. {<- I’m lying. I don’t do this.} EAT without grabby toddler fingers. Read. Volunteer. Have a sick day. Do NOTHING. Yes, working is the priority on my list, but all of these other things are important too. Meaning, I’d love and appreciate having this time regardless of having work to do or not. I’m actually working really hard to make some of these other things priorities instead because I tend to undervalue them and the difference they make in my sanity level. Some moms seem to be able to do it all. I am not one of them. Even if you are one of them, you don’t have to be.

<<—Honestly, that could be the only reason on the list and it’d still be a good enough reason to send him. Winking smile

toddler getting in car

Doctor’s appointments/meetings/exercise. Umm, when do stay at home moms go to the doctor? Or dentist? Haircuts? Rarely do offices have evening hours. That means you need a babysitter or dad needs to take off work. Aka you’re probably not going to do it. Having set times available to go to appointments is really helpful. It’s been a lifesaver for me given my recent stint in physical therapy. KB hates gym childcare with a passion {which is a huge struggle for me} but there are also lots of exercise options that don’t offer childcare or are harder with a kid. This is a great time to do them without having to enlist outside help.

Cost. School is cheap. It’s not like daycare that can cost an arm and a leg depending on where you live. It takes a little bit of the is-it-worth-it-financially out of the equation. Babysitters and drop-in childcare isn’t cheap either. School, per hour, costs significantly less than a babysitter and the arrangements are already made. If it were left up to me to simply get a babysitter whenever I felt like I needed an extra hand or overwhelmed, I would just never do it.

Adult interaction. Ok this one is just sad, but it’s true. Especially when KB was really little, sometimes the only time I saw a human being that could talk back to me with actual words was when I saw other parents dropping off their kids at school. That part of it has mostly melted away, but it’s still nice to have a reason to get our of your PJs and say hi to someone that’s not related to you. This is especially true when the husband’s traveling for work.

first day of preschool

What do you think about school? What’s your advice to other moms/dads that are on the fence?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Linz @ Itz Linz March 18, 2014 at 8:00 am

i’m an elementary teacher and pregnant with my first baby, so my thoughts are coming as a teacher not a parent (yet). school is SO important!! yes obviously elementary, but some type of socialization when kiddies are young (before kindergarten!) help tremendously! also, itz awesome when kids are already in the habit of school… they know how to follow directions from adults and get along with their peers. good for you!!

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Sylvia @ Frolic Through Life March 18, 2014 at 6:45 pm

I think it is super important for kids to go to preschool, but I may be biased because I woke for Head Start! My son started school at three and he loves it. I was so nervous and felt guilty for sending him, but on the first day of school which was only an hour for transition purposes, he got angry when we had to leave so soon. They learn so much and become such social little people.

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Kaitlyn March 24, 2014 at 2:44 pm

What an amazing post! I’m a preschool teacher (not a Mom yet, so like Linz above, my views are that of a teachers), and I firmly believe that every.single.child. can benefit SO much from even just a few hours a day in a school setting – even as babies! As you mentioned, the social-emotional development that occurs in school is so much more (generally) then may happen outside of school, and children can begin learning from the moment they are born. They thrive from that social stimulation!
It breaks my heart that preschool isn’t readily available to all families (without being expensive – I live and work in DC and it’s sooo expensive here)…and I hope one day it can be! Props to you and your family 🙂

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