I am not a fun mom.
My kids have to beg to do activities that require any specific setup & cleanup. Things like painting, playing with bubbles, cooking…if adult supervision is required to ensure things don’t end up smeared inexplicably on the ceiling, I am not interested.
You know I’m not a stickler for picking up right after playing with something, though, so I’m not really sure where this aversion comes from. It’s probably related to my horror of kids getting food on their clothes. No bibs for me, thanks. Just strip that baby naked because cherry juice stains are not coming out.
And they want to do all these things with friends. I mean, I adore my kids, but the three of them overwhelm me sometimes. Many times. Almost all the times. Add a few more kids to the mix and I kind of shut down. There’s a reason I’m not an elementary school teachers, guys. Large groups of small children give me anxiety. I try to make play dates for them when I know I’m up to it, but that doesn’t happen often.
At any rate, I’m no fun. The girls ask all the time, “Can I use just a tiny bit of glue? Could you get the watercolors out please? Maybe we could do an art project tomorrow instead? Can we have a real tea party? And can we invite Ella and Tessa?” I feel terrible. But it’s not like they don’t have access to crayons, scissors, tape, a stapler, and more. It’s not like they can’t play with each other. They’re not unreasonably restricted, and they’re definitely not lonely.
It hasn’t been so bad with Mila in kindergarten. She does plenty of creative projects at school, and, judging by how many “best friends” she has, she gets plenty of time to socialize too.
But Margot doesn’t. And she still asks for these things I cringe over.
And that is why preschool is my favorite.
Twice a week, Margot gets a chance to paint, color, cut, glue, and create to her little heart’s content. Yes, she’s studying ABC’s + 123’s, but the girl is teaching herself to read. She would pick that up with or without preschool.
What I love is all the cute little projects that go along with what they’re learning: a jellyfish made from a paper bowl + curling ribbon, a ladybug crown, a glittery rainbow fish, and hand prints galore. Mila made many of the same crafts last year and the year before. They’re still adorable. They’ll probably still be adorable when Ryan is bringing them home.
In addition to filling the arts + crafts gap for me, preschool gives Margot a chance to socialize that she doesn’t get at home either. Introverted mamas are not good at making play dates. At least this one isn’t. But my kiddos want to see their friends! They want to play! If Margot misses too many days of class, she asks me to help her write letters so her friends won’t forget her. (“Dear Brynlee. I love you. You are my friend. Love Margot.” I die.)
But here’s the best part about that socializing: I don’t have to participate. I don’t have to make arrangements, deal with extra kids in my house, take care of potty and/or snack needs, mediate disagreements, or entertain anyone. On good days, I get some one-on-one time with Ryan. On great days, he naps while Margot is at preschool and I get nearly two hours all to myself.
It’s silent music to my introvert ears.
I know some parents are like, “But I miss them when they’re gone!” This baffles me. Not that I don’t ever miss my kids, but I need space. Time away from them means time for me to recharge my batteries, which in turn means I’m a happier + better mom. And time away from me has been good for both my girls, too. They’re more independent + confident. They have experiences all their own that they are excited to tell me about when they get home. I’m pretty sure they like me more when they aren’t stuck with me 24/7.
When Mila started preschool, I had plenty of concerns. What if she didn’t like it? What if she was lonely or sad or scared without me? Would she learn enough? Be sufficiently prepared for kindergarten? Should I find a program that was more rigorous or less frequent or bilingual or myriad other options?
Now my biggest concerns are that my preschooler is safe & happy. Is she making friends? Is she picking up important social/life skills? Does she have fun? Check, check, and very much check.
She’s getting what she needs. I’m getting what I need. Everybody wins.
I can’t wait until baby boy is old enough to start. Well…maybe I can wait. I do like having my littlest buddy with me all day. But when the time comes, I know we’ll both be ready. And he’ll definitely have more fun that he does at home with mom.