Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Daycare: Over a Year Later

We call it preschool now. It was a little odd calling it "school" or "preschool" when she couldn't even hold her head up. But now, it is absolutely the school before the school.

If you remember back, I struggled big time with the choice to put AK in daycare. It was heart-wrenching for many months. But, then, eight months after she started daycare, I quit my job. You might think "Oh, yay! Now you can stay at home with her." Nope.

See, staying at home isn't necessarily what I want to do. I like to work. But, I didn't like working in my previous capacity - 80 hours a week with a second helping of stress and guilt. That just wasn't worth it. But, I have found my niche and I am loving being a full-time working mom. Primarily because this organized daycare setting has been the best thing ever for AK.

When I quit my job and I started something new, I moved AK to a preschool closer to home - so close in fact, that it is located in our neighborhood and takes me less than four minutes to walk her to school. Most days, however, I ride my bike to work, dropping her off in the process. This starts both our days off with ease and enjoyment.

Her new school is out of this world. Hear me out: I actually loved her old school. But, this one seems to cater to her even more so. It is full of activities and learning. This week, for example, boasts a Magic Show, Splash Day, Cookie Making and Zumba. Hello?! Where do I sign up? I believe greatly in learning through experiences so as much as I appreciate the structure that accompanies each day, I find great joy in the dancing, water playing and duck feeding that occurs each week. The time for her to learn how to become a little person.

Because I am such an advocate of preschools, especially at this age (almost two), I want to help others make the right decision when it comes to child care. It is one of the hardest yet most rewarding decisions I have made as a parent. And, I believe it can be like that for anyone who has to, or wants to, make this choice for their children.

Preschool:  It's a Day at the Beach!

What has made my experience so fulfilling, you might ask?

1.  I stay present in her preschool experience. I ask questions, I talk to the Director, I spend time talking to the teachers when I pick her up.  I want them to know me and I want to know them. This is not an anonymous experience and the more I stay involved, the more satisfied I am. This week, husband is building shelves in their kitchen.

2.  I stay thankful. What these people do is spend more time during the waking hours with my child than I do. A little thanks goes a long way. Which reminds me, I need to write some cards, or bake some cookies soon.

3.  I meet other parents. Whether it's a walk after school with the kids or some duck feeding at the lake, I think it's important to keep AK engaged in those new little friendships she's making. In addition, I might walk away with a new friend or two and there's no harm in that.

4.  If I'm uncomfortable with something, I speak up. Hasn't happened at the new school yet, but one day at her old school, they had canned vienna sausages for snack. Although she has had a (nitrate free, all natural) hot dog, I prefer that she don't ingest the level of preservatives in canned vienna sausages. So, I nicely said so. She's my kid. I have a right to express my needs - both for me and for her.

My blogging partner, Tracy, has been blessed (cursed? Depends on the day, if you ask her) with being a Stay-At-Home Mom this year. It was an accident, yes, but she is truly relishing in this time she has with her kids. I love that she has had this time. And, in my own way, I have found a way to have the best of both worlds.

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