It feels like all of my family and friends have asked me the same question over the last few months.
Is Riley going to preschool in the fall?
The short answer is no, she’s not.
But the more people who ask me, the more defensive I become. I understand that it’s a normal question, especially at her age- she’s three and a half. And yet, every time someone asks , I find myself needing to go through a list of reasons trying to justify why I’m not sending her.
I want to soak up one more year with her. I know these years are short and go quickly.
It’s nice to operate on our own schedule while we still can without having to worry about getting up and to school on time.
Baby #3 is due to arrive in January and that will be a big change. Plus, I want the extra time with just her and her brother… and I want her to get time with her new sibling.
She socializes at our gym child care, MOPs, and all the kids in our cul-de-sac, so it’s not like she doesn’t interact with kids her age. Trust me, she’s social.
Even on the more intense days, I just like to have her home with me. As my firstborn, she’s my original sidekick and her goofy antics and sweet personality make my days brighter.
All of these reasons are true and each of them alone should be enough. It should be enough to not give any reason at all and yet I prattle this list off every time I’m asked.
Why? I’m not sure, really. Maybe because it’s not the norm, and when things are outside the norm in parenthood, judgement usually follows. The socialization is good for her. She’ll get ahead for kindergarten. The time apart might be good for you both (this is often offered on more stressed-out days).
But I don’t need my daughter to be an extroverted prodigy. I need her to be little. I need her to spend time with me, her brother, and father. So many people tell moms to “enjoy every moment” and “it goes by so fast.” If you’ve read my previous articles, you know that I pretty much loathe this guilt- and stress-inducing advice, but for this one little aspect of parenthood, I’m taking it. I am going to soak up these crazy, hectic, stressful, goofy, constantly “on” years as much as I can. Because once she goes to school, I can’t get these days back.
I’m starting to realize how fast time does pass, and waiting just a little longer lets me soak up her sweet ‘n’ sassy toddler years before they’re behind us. I’m sure all her school years will arrive and fly by just as quickly.
So, no, I’m not sending Riley to preschool this year. And I don’t regret that decision.
*Disclaimer: I am NOT knocking preschool. I understand a lot of parents send their children earlier, whether because of work or other benefits. I am lucky to stay home with my kids, so this is purely a personal choice.