It’s not for everyone. I get that.
In the stay-at-home mom community I’m a part of, it’s something that few of us do, but many of us speak of privately. Quietly, I’ve had numerous conversations with close mama friends, many of whom feel that putting their little ones in any kind of program prior to pre-k is either a little lazy or a sign that they’re not invested full-throttle in this motherhood deal. Many question the economic side of it too — is it a luxury that will stretch our young family finances a little too far, simply to enable me to have a little ‘me time’ (something that, frankly, many moms I know tend to view as just that: A luxury and not a necessity)?
In my experience Mother’s Day Out, pre-school, Montessori school, or even hiring a nanny a day or two a week can be so much more than just a ticket to breathing room. It can mean the opportunity to pursue a passion, to connect with others on a deeper (uninterrupted) level, or even to enable you to earn an income while staying at home with those babies you’re stewing over leaving for 10 hours a week. Just so you know, checking into some local programs is not a bad thing and you’re no less of a stay-at-home mom if you do it. Hey, those kids of yours may even, shoot probably will, blossom because of it.
At three and a half my oldest recently started a Mother’s Day Out pre-school program, something I agonized over for quite a while. We even tried once before about a year ago, but backed out for various reasons, arguing that it wasn’t the right time. Well, this spring we really went for it. There were several reasons for our change of heart as we entered him into this program, one of which was my mental wellness and another (not totally unconnected), was his own behavior.
As a work-at-home mom I feel guilty just about every day for not giving my kids my undivided, immediate ‘at the drop of a hat’ attention, without question or slightly stressed out hesitation. Some would judge me for that I suppose; juggling raising them and raising a blooming business simultaneously. And truthfully I can’t feed both equally all the time. While mommy-ing is ALWAYS going to be number one to me, it can be hard to shake the call of ambition and the selfish elements that go with that. Couple that with us being a car-sharing family (read: stuck at home five days a week) and we were really in a pickle.
My oldest started to act out, bored I suppose, of the same routines and same faces, and with that I sensed it was time to branch out. He adores ‘playschool,’ talks about it every day he’s not there, yells “Yippee!” when we arrive in the parking lot each morning. He talks about his teacher, about his classmates, and in just a few short weeks his speech and ability to communicate his thoughts and feelings have accelerated in a way that just stuns my husband and I. He and I also have so much more to talk about too, as he shares each new experience, adventure, and yes concern, that crosses his path as he wanders a step or two out into the world without me.
We’re growing together while being apart, and that is priceless to me.
I’ve blossomed too, is the thing. I’ve been able to grow my business substantially in just a short while, growing as a person and feeling fuller and more purposeful all at the same time. With that fullness comes a new ability to give outside of myself, because now I have so much more to give. I’m happier truthfully, enjoying the routine that this program brings, watching my child grow and develop in a whole new manner, and stealing just a little time to focus on myself more than I have in, well, 3 1/2 years.