If my former self had seen my actual self during my oldest’s first year of preschool there would have been a lot of judging. And disbelief that I didn’t have it more together. And shock that I wasn’t room mom – the best room mom ever at that.
Well, three babies came along, and I was slapped with a heaping serving of humility with a side of reality. I know what you’re thinking:
Preschool is just three mornings a week. How hard could it be?
HARD. I was barely getting to sleep from the last middle-of-the-night feeding with my newborn before my alarm went off, launching the chaos of feeding, dressing and strapping three little ones into the car for an 8:15 am start time. Additionally, this was the first time I’d done this before…walked him into a classroom, helped him find a friend to play with, kissed his little blonde head goodbye and walked out the door feeling like I had just dropped him off for college.
I can’t tell you how many times we walked in well after school had started, lugging my newborn in the car seat, towing my dawdling 20-month old middle along and trying to guide our reluctant student through the door…so late some days that we had to go through the school office because the exterior doors were already locked. We forgot his backpack…more than once. I forgot it was his scheduled day to provide snacks for the class until we were already loading up (late). About halfway through the year he decided it was hilarious to tell me he didn’t want to stay and would attach himself to me so that I’d have to peel him off and pass him off to his teacher, only to hear him happily join his classmates as soon as I turned and walked out the door…every day. And there was that one time he rode to school in his underwear, and I had to dress him in the parking lot because he refused to put his clothes on (and keep them on) at home.
And let’s not discuss what I looked most mornings…
Mama bear, let me assure you preschool is just as important for you, as it is for your little cherub. While he’s learning his ABCs, and being reminded to keep his hands to himself, singing sweet prayers before snacks and bringing home the cutest little art projects, you’ll be making notes on what works and what needs work in your family. You’ll figure out how to make this special time for him a fun, exciting and fulfilling foundation for a passion for learning in the years to come.
Here are a few tips for PreSchool Prep:
• Check your ‘tude at the door. I quickly learned my attitude set the tone for the entire day so even while desperately sleep-deprived, I got up before my kids and got myself ready and mentally prepped the to-do’s to get the four of us out of the house.
• Establish a place for the backpack – and its contents. Also, designate a specific time to go through it. For us, it’s not right after we get home because he needs down time, but later in the day when he’s fresh again. He’s proud of what he’s bringing home, and we are too, so it’s important to talk about it and celebrate it together.
• Do anything you can to make your morning easier the night before. For me, this means backpack in the front seat of the car, shoes by the back door, jackets if it’s cool, etc. Clothes picked out and ready on top of dressers. I even went as far as to fill my two toddlers’ sippy cups with milk and juice and put them in the fridge before I went to bed at night to save myself a couple of moments in the morning. Learn to live with good enough versus perfect. My kitchen never got cleaned before we left the house, and most days the baby was carted in and out of school in her pajamas. And it’s okay. I cleaned up when I got home with my youngest two post-drop off, and the baby was dressed after her first nap.
• Establish a drop-off routine. Backpack on the hook, sign-in completed, quick “see you later”…whatever works for you and your kiddo. The consistency is huge with a successful (and tear-free) departure.
• Ask specific questions, not just a general “how was preschool today?” to really get him talking. “What was your snack today? Who did you play with? What was your favorite part of school this morning?”
• Prep for the week, not just the next day. Review the calendar and make notes of additional to-do’s based on holidays, certain lessons (show and tell), teacher’s birthday’s, etc. Hopefully this saves you a 9:30pm run to the store to pick up gifts for teacher appreciation week. If not, you might see me there, too.
I hear bigger kids just mean bigger problems – so while we’re in the minor leagues, let’s make the most of it and prep for the days we’re swinging in the big leagues. And if you’re this year’s room mom and already rocking the preschool thing…well, just ignore my little nuggets of learning I did the hard/first-timer way. And share your tips for us rookies too!