We survived our first day of summer preschool

first day of preschool

We’ve been counting down the days for two weeks now. “Mia, in 13 days you’re going to go to school!” The countdown consecutively continued each day until this morning, when her first day of preschool had finally arrived.

The morning went smoothly. She woke up in a cheerful mood, I tied her hair back in a few pigtails, dressed her in a loose fitting and lightweight outfit for the day (she’ll be playing all day so don’t be that parent who dolls their kids up in tutus, flip flops and tons of accessories) and fed her a bowl of oatmeal. I verbally prepped her for her day, reminding her of all of the kids that would be there to play with, of the playground she would play on, of the books she would read and the toys/blocks she would play with and of the teachers she would meet.

Over the last 2 weeks and also this morning, she would always respond to any mention of school with an excited “yaaaaaaay school bus!” This kid loves spotting school buses when we’re driving around town and somehow she decided that a school bus would definitely be involved in her own schooling experience. Sorry to let ya down, kid. No school bus. While on our drives to and from home, we’d pass by her school (heck yes, it’s about a mile from home!) and she points it out each time she sees it (she can even tell when we’re approaching it from a few blocks away) and shouts “Mia’s school!” I realize she has no clue what to expect at school, but nevertheless, she’s stoked.

So this morning, Daddy Dom pushed back his schedule a few hours so that he could be a part of Mia’s first day, too. We drove her down the street and were a few minutes early. She got to check out and size up a few of the other early birds before the doors opened up to begin their day. Once they did, she almost got clingy. She wanted me to hold her and to pick her up once entering the class. I denied her request and helped Daddy lead her inside and to the back of the room where there was another door that led to their outdoor play area. That’s how their morning hand-off works. They start the kids off by playing outside (on the play structure, on the rocking horses, pushing carts around, digging in the sand, etc) to make the good-byes with the parents a lot easier. It most definitely was.

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Mia immediately went for the sand and shovels and guided Daddy around the yard a bit while I observed from within the classroom. He said his goodbye after a few minutes of her playing and told her he was off to work and gave her a big hug and kiss. Daddy Dom later told me how choked up he was while saying goodbye and how hard it was for him to leave her (but he did, and he did it well).

It was then my turn to say goodbye. I’m nervous at this point, too, but tried not to show it. I was so worried that she’d hear the words “Mia, I have to go” and freak out! And even if she didn’t, I was so concerned that once I had left, she would realize that I was actually gone minutes later and freak out when she wouldn’t be able to find me.  She’s never been in the care of another except for me, Daddy and Grandma. This was the first time that she was in an environment where she knew no one. Well, my goodbye went just fine, too. I told her that I was leaving and I had to go the store really quickly and that I’d be right back (ahem, 3 hours later). She kind of didn’t pay any attention to me, just kept on digging in the sand. I said, “Okay, Mia? I’m leaving now. Say bye-bye to Mommy.” She followed up with “Bye, Mommy!” while digging still. I said, “Say, I love you Mommy!” and she did. I told her I loved her, too and gave her big bear hug. While I got up to walk away I said “See ya later, Mia!” and just kept walking towards that classroom door without looking back.

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I spied on her from inside and within 30 seconds, she got up and headed towards my direction (she couldn’t see me) but was quickly swooped up by one of the teachers and led into another direction where she could be distracted by more kids and toys. Dominic and I waited in the classroom for a few minutes before heading outside to the front of the room where we first entered. We then hovered there for about 5 more minutes, waiting to hear her cry and waiting for our nerves to calm. Nothing. We got a few thumbs-up from other teachers in the room that could see that she was playing and doing fine. That’s when we headed to our cars for a much needed hug and recap of the morning. This was a lot harder on us than it was on her.

Although we knew she was in a safe place where she would make friends, socialize, learn, grow, play, develop, and have fun, we still couldn’t help but to feel like we were abandoning her! I hated that uneasy feeling I had from worrying that Mia would search that new room of strangers to find a familiar face (mine and/or Daddy’s) to find that for the first time, we weren’t there. And because she’s only two, she doesn’t quite get what’s going on and why she’s there and why we left. My stomach was in knots and all I could do was walk away and hope that she would be okay while knowing deep down that she would be. I’m actually pretty proud of myself for not being that mom that lingered much longer than was necessary or that balled her eyes out when no one was looking. I held it together pretty well. I’ve worked at a school for over 10 years and have seen numerous parents make all kinds of rookie mistakes on their 4 year old’s first day of school. They linger, their kid is crying, they linger longer, their kid is now wrapped around their leg, they finally manage to leave the classroom only to head back in minutes later because they can still hear their kid calling for them and they are finally asked to leave by the teacher so that the pros can take care of the situation. I didn’t get it. I was always so annoyed by these parents. Now I get it. I didn’t have a similar experience as this (thank God!) but did feel what they felt, I’m sure. The first day of school is definitely a lot harder for the parent than you may think and sometimes, these feelings creep up out of nowhere and surprise you.

During the next few hours that I was at home, I cleaned. I had to! I was still so anxious that I had to be doing something to keep me busy. I even set my phone’s alarm to the time I would have to pick her up to keep me from constantly checking the clock. I vacuumed a few rooms, put dishes away, sanitized the kitchen counters, went through bins of Mia’s toys and chucked a bunch that she doesn’t play with anymore, did 2 loads of laundry, tidied up my desk and had a quick phone call with my mom about how the morning went (and she reminded me about how she cried on the way home from dropping me off at summer camp when I was in the 6th grade…which I guess means there will be many more tough “firsts” for us as parents, huh?). It’s amazing how much you can get done in a short amount of time when you don’t have a 2  year old begging for your attention and getting into mischief. That’s actually a big reason why we decided to put Mia in this preschool summer program. She has definitely been getting bored at home and my chores and responsibilities have been becoming neglected a bit. She also doesn’t interact with other kids because we don’t know all that many other 2 and 3 year olds and also because I’ve been working part time. It’s been too hard to try to fit in play dates while keeping on top of house work and having enough time to get Mia fed for lunch, put down for a nap and then get myself showered and ready for work by 2pm! But now that I’m off of work for the summer, this very part time preschool program (MWF, 3 hours in the morning for 7 weeks) that is only a mile away from my house was a perfect solution to meet both of our needs. This program will free up 9 hours a week for me to get shit done AND Mia will be engaging in so much more than I would have been able to offer her. Win-Win.

So fast forward a few hours after I had left the school. I’m cleaning at home and my alarm goes off. In no time, I’m at Mia’s new school and I find her in the classroom in the arms of one of the teachers. She looked tired and a bit sad, but was happy and relieved to see me. She seemed fine, no tears or fuss. But, the staff did say that she started to come undone about 30 or 40 minutes before school was let out. She’d cry a bit, they’d distract her, then she’d cry a bit more and they’d distract her a bit more. She was over it. They didn’t describe her behavior as difficult, in fact, they all told me how well she did. They could tell that she was just getting tired and was a bit overwhelmed. It was close to her nap time, after all. Overall, she had fun and loved playing outside. She entered the classroom with the 20 other kids after outside play, just fine. She followed the crowd to the sinks to wash their hands just fine, too. However, she wasn’t interested in following suit when the kids were to sit down for “circle time”. But the teachers said that was okay and that since she’s the only new kid (all the rest know their routine) that she was okay to wander the room a bit and they would encourage her to follow the routine more closely next week for an easier transition. They also warned me that there’s a chance she won’t be as excited to come back to school on Wednesday, now that she knows what it actually is. I really hope that’s not the case. I really hope that the rest of her preschool experience this summer goes as well as, or even better than today. Please-oh-please-oh-please-oh-please. This mama has far too many plans for my 9 hours a week of Mia-free-time, for this not to work out. And if it does? Well then she’ll be attending the same preschool in the fall, possibly everyday! One can dream, right?

A few Mama-goals to accomplish, kid free this summer: deep cleaning the house, de-clutter the house by throwing crap away that I come across that we don’t use, pay bills and balance the budget uninterrupted, grocery shopping, run errands, get more involved in my husband’s business (emails, edit photos for his website, faxing, phone calls, social media, etc), revive my photography business with more advertising, finally launch my Etsy shop, tidy up and maintain the appearance of our backyard (which is in desperate need of attention right now) while working on my tan at the same time, have dinner planned each week and have the fridge fully stocked, possibly get a much overdue mani/pedi (it’s been over 2 years), make other appointments for myself like vision, dental and hair and just to enjoy some peace and quiet…or at least a few hours free from hearing Bubble Guppies or Paw Patrol.

This preschool thing is a total game changer. Wish us luck that it’s a success for us all.

Also, I’d love to hear about your first day of preschool/school experiences. How old was your little one? How did they do? How did YOU do? Any advice to ease this transition?

 

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Comments

  1. I hope things go well for you both! The way that you are describing those 9 child free hours a week literally have my eyes googling, haha! It sounds wonderful!! I love that you are able to feel comfortable saying that you want that time. That’s something that I’m struggling with and I love seeing that I don’t need to. I homeschooled my first son for preschool and I’m thinking that with my second son I want to put him in preschool. It sounds kind of … amazing. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks so much, Gillian! Unfortunately, what I thought would be 9 hours a week turned into be more like 5ish. A bummer, BUT, it’s 5 hours more kid-free hours than I had before, right? I’ll take it. It’s just the mini break I need for some peace and quiet and some me time. All of us Mommies need that. What helps me feel fine about admitting this is the fact that I know she’s in a place where she’s socializing, playing, learning and growing. She gets more out of those few hours at school than I could give her alone at home. Win-Win!

  2. Love that shirt! My daughter has the same one I believe! I’m happy the same thoughts right now about a summer preschool. I really want Lyla to go socialize in a safe environment that I’ve fully checked out. I’d prefer it was only a few days a week for a few hours a day. But I can’t afford to unless I go back to work full time as well sooo then she’d be there 5 days a week for the full day and I can’t help but feel a little like I’m abandoning her! She mentions that she wants to go to school and I know she’d love it but it’s so hard. I get that same fear that after I leave, in like 15 minutes, she might realize oh crap Mommy is really gone and left me here with strangers! I hope she liked going back today!

    • Tina, it’s definitely tough. Today was Mia’s 5th day at preschool and I left her in the arms of her teacher, crying and calling out for me. She likes school but doesn’t like being away from me. It’s heart breaking but I know it’s good for her and I know she’s getting more out of being there than she is at that time of day with me (because I’m usually washing dishes, vacuuming, cleaning, laundry in the mornings and I’ve been feeling like I’m neglecting her). The feeling of abandonment hit me hard the very first day of school, a little bit the second…but I’m over that now. Now, I’m feeling like I’m abandoning the teachers with my screaming kid and I feel bad for that! You know what’s best for your kid and if you know the time is right, you’ll do what you have to do to make it happen. It’s definitely a big milestone for both mom and kid :)

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