Our First Preschool Experience – Finding Harmony in the Routine

This Summer I was a SAHM of two under 5. But this fall my oldest started Preschool and our daily dynamic changed. Transitioning to a part-time school routine while staying with my 2 year old has been a bit confusing. Granted, there are more positives than negatives, but we’re all still trying to figure things out. Our first Preschool experience required a lot of emotional harmony between me and my two children.

Our First Preschool Experience - Finding Harmony in the Routine

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A Little Background

Our Family Plan

Our plan as parents was for me to be a stay-at-home mom for our kids first few years. We decided to skip the optional Preschool and start our kids directly into Kindergarten when the time came.

Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten

When my son was 3.5, I found out about VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten). The government provides a voucher for children of 4 years old to attend a Preschool for 3 hours. With this voucher, children can attend school for those 3 hours or pay the remaining cost for a full-day program.

Making the Change

This whole VPK thing left me in a mental whirlwind for months. I had only a few months to research, decide if it’s what we wanted and what’s best for our child, apply for the voucher, and register him at a good school. I hesitated a lot, it wasn’t our original plan and I wasn’t ready to let go.

On the positive side, he was a pretty independent and social kid. Three hours of school would be a fantastic transition before going into Kindergarten for a full school day next year. It would also teach him how to be more independent and gain self confidence. He’d learn the structure of a classroom and how to respect his teachers. Since Preschool is more play based he’d get to learn while playing with other kids. He would experience so much with just 3 hours a day in preschool.

Eventually I stepped up my game and went for it. Despite not loving the standardized way of schooling and the way it seems to be intensifying, I also know that I don’t have any intention of homeschooling. I’m just not cut out to be a teacher, my patience can be a bit low. And he doesn’t do too well when I try to sit down and teach him. He’s smart and likes learning but not when he’s told and not always from me. He will be learning a lot in school little by little and I will be supporting those lessons from home.

Our Preschool Experience

We’re two weeks into having a little Preschooler. I can’t say things are going perfectly but they definitely aren’t awful. My 4 year old is going to school 3 hours a day, while my 2.5 year old stays with me. It’s definitely a massive change in daily routine but it’s also a different dynamic for the three of us.

Our First Preschool Experience

For My Preschooler

My son was very excited to be going to school. It’s something he’s always wanted to be part of because he’s very extroverted, loves making new friends, and being silly.

Over the summer, I brought him with me to do a tour of the school, to pickup and drop off paperwork in multiple visits, and to buy uniform shirts. He had even gotten comfortable with one of the managers. We did some shopping for uniform pants together and he was thrilled about it.

On his first day, and every day after that, dropping him off was no problem. I’d check him in, walk him to his class, and we’d hug goodbye just before he ran off to play.

At pickup on his first day, my boy ran towards me and gave me a giant hug. He was so happy to see me. But I think he was even more excited about his day and was proud of himself. My heart filled up with pride and joy, our first preschool experience went so well!

But after that he started to lash out at me. He said a few mean things and was testing me with his off behavior. I ignored it, I figured he was probably jealous about having missed out on anything while he was at school. It was only his first day, maybe he just needed time.

Every day since then has been fairly similar. He’s a very sentimental kid and has mixed emotions. I assume he’s torn between excitement of school and jealousy of being away from us. He’s been jealous of his sister before but it’s usually in short moments, this time it’s for longer periods of time. I explain to him every day that we miss him and that school has been good for him but he’s too young to truly understand. Getting used to that will take time so I’m doing my best to keep cool and make the transition smooth.

Our First Preschool Experience

I made my very own “back to school sign” with chalk on our chalkboard wall. I have a whole article on how to make your own.

For Me

I’m not much of a cryer when I’m sad. Despite my husband thinking I’d be bawling on my son’s first day, I didn’t shed a tear until that night. After pickup, my son didn’t tell me much about his day. Because of his mixed emotions of excitement and internalized aggression, he didn’t share much.

At bedtime though, he started to share with his dad. When I overheard from the next room I teared up a little. I was proud that he felt comfortable to share with his dad but it was just one of those moments where you feel like you’ve failed your child. My husband noticed how I was feeling and spoke to him. After that, I went in the room and he ended up sharing so much with me. We laid in his bed together for at least an hour past his bedtime just talking. It was such a beautiful feeling!

I love when he’s excited about bringing home his marker drawings, crafts, or worksheets that he did in class. It makes this whole experience of preschool worth it for us.

Other than dealing with my son’s emotions, I’ve been trying to manage my time within those 3 hours of school.

I decided to get back into attending my favorite Zumba classes, which are very close to our house and his school. My daughter sits on the side with a few toys and likes to watch. I’ve been going there since before I had kids so we all know each other. Throughout the years my kids have come with me on occasion. They sit on the side with some toys while I do the class and behave very well. More recently, I tend to spend a lot of time mediating arguments though. It’s one of my many mom roles. Now I can enjoy a bit more of the exercise and develop a routine to get back into shape.

Another struggle I’m having is getting used to having one-on-one time with my daughter. My kids are just 15 months apart. It’s always been me and my boy and then my daughter joined us. We rarely have that one-on-one time. I’ve gotten so used to them entertaining each other that I’ve sort of forgotten how to be a mom of one. I constantly feel like something is missing or empty.

Mommy does Zumba, Toddler plays on the side

Both my kids have the toddler SkipHop backpacks so in the mornings they both get to use them. My son takes it to school with his snacks and his water bottle and my daughter brings it to class with some Legos and coloring supplies. Here she is happily picking out crayons from the box on my yoga mat.

For My Other Toddler

Despite only having one child in preschool, the transition for my daughter has been has been a major aspect to our overall first preschool experience.

Every day my 2.5 year old daughter and I drop off and pickup my son at school. I mentally prepared them for weeks by explaining it step-by-step. They handled it well but I can tell she misses him. She’s so attached to him that she doesn’t know what to do without him around. Her entire life he’s always been there, her best friend and partner in crime. Now it’s just me and her until we pick him up before lunchtime.

In the time we have together, I’ve been taking her along with me to my Zumba classes. She’s the shy type but very extroverted at home with her brother. I saw our Zumba classes as a way for her to let loose. By seeing the same people every day, I’m hoping she’ll get comfortable enough to dance with us a little. So far she doesn’t look like she’s enjoying it that much because she just stays in her little spot. But she tells me she likes going and actually begs to go, even on days when we don’t have class.

Working around my new Zumba schedule, I want to focus our remaining time on activities for my daughter. Being that she’s my youngest, she hasn’t developed too much of her own identity apart from him yet. She’s not as social as my son so the kinds of activities we can do together are very different.

Currently, it’s still too hot for too much playgrounds. I can’t handle too much heat and my daughter isn’t much of a fan either. As for indoor play options, most places open at least an hour after drop off and require a bit more driving so it doesn’t give us much time. One of these days I might give it a try and see if she enjoys it.

I think she needs me to give her that one-on-one time to play, learn, explore, and bond together more.

Mommy does Zumba, Toddler plays on the side

I love workout clothes, or activewear. Leggings and sneakers are just so comfy and adapt to my changing body so much better. Clearly my daughter likes them too, enough to draw on them with a crayon.

Surprised By Our First Preschool Experience

Who knew parenting two kids could require so much of us? I always knew being a mom wasn’t an easy task. That it would take a toll on me but it would be the best thing I’d ever do. I knew that having more than one kid would require more of me to be there as much as possible for each of them. That I could never show any signs of favoritism and would have to treat them as fairly and equally as possible.

As the type of person that likes to plan ahead, I don’t actually like to think too far into the future. I had never really imagined the details of what sending one kid to school would be like. I didn’t imagine the feeling of imbalance when alone with one child on a regular basis. Or feeling the pressure to figure out my own child’s growing personality.

The future I pictured skipped the years they’d be apart and thought of the overall picture of both of them being in Elementary, Middle, and High School together. My imagination of the future is very faint. Both my kids and I are all still growing as individuals, I do not know what our future brings us. All I can hope for is a whole lot more beautiful moments with my kids, like our long bedtime chats, dancing in the living room, watching my kids bond together, and seeing my kid’s face as they run up to me for a giant hug.

Our First Preschool Experience - Finding Harmony in the Routine

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