I’m pretty sure the director of our sweet little neighborhood preschool did, anyway, when I switched the boys from full day to half day to 2 half days per week to…nada. Poor kids. Poor little Caterpiller and Ladybug classrooms, both now down a blonde boy apiece.
Here’s the rub though; the kids cared not one single bit. And actually, the nail in the pre-k coffin was John Paul (3.25 years old) and his nightly freakout sessions (which I was attempting to negotiate with threats of “if you don’t get back in bed and stop screaming you’ll be too tired to go to school in the morning”) which promptly and mercifully extinguished the moment he heard “you won’t be able to go to school.”
“I don’t have to go to school, mommy?!”
Oh crap. He didn’t want to go?
“Is that why you’ve been, um, so … intense lately, honey?”
Wellllllll okay then. I called the preschool director later that afternoon and pulled the trigger. Announced time of death. Called the game. Whatever. Actually, first I checked with Joey, the freshly-minted 5 year old, to see if he was potentially devastated by such a turn of events. He wasn’t.
His exact reaction was something along the lines of “oh, can I stay home all day in my cozy pants with you?!”
So college should be absolutely thrilling for him.
(Also, I’m getting dressed a lot more frequently now. I’d say 95% of the time. Nothing like seeing your own shiny reflection in the impression you’re making on your filterless five year old for a little reality check.)
So how’s it going, having 4 kids 5 and under home all day while trying to work full-time ish from said home?
Pretty good, truth be told. Better than it was with 2 of them in school 3x’s per week, or even 2x’s per week.
Because no drop offs. No pick ups. No trudging into the school 5 minutes before dismissal with the double stroller and waiting outside two separate classrooms to sign two separate sign out sheets and then schlep all 4 back to the car to begin the lunchtime negotiations.
We have more peace and more chill in the mornings, for sure, and as long as I have a steady stack of library books available, I think they’re getting approximately the same socialization/academic instruction that one might desire for a pre-literate human needling.
I thought – no, I was utterly convinced – that I needed preschool in order to survive this season of life with a newborn and three other pretty young children, but it turned out to be less of a blessing and more of a hassle.
So what are we doing instead?
Well, aside from the aforementioned library books, there are three essential components that make life bearable slash occasionally enjoyable M-F.
1. Self care, beginning with the spiritual. I scored an October issue of Magnificat at the World Meeting of Families last month and I’ve been sitting down with it and a coffee first thing every morning. It has been nothing short of life-changing. I love (and use, when I’m on the go) Blessed is She for the same purpose, but there’s something about having a physical book in my hands that helps me slow down and focus on what I’m reading. I’ve made a rule that I can’t touch my phone or laptop until prayer time happens, which has finally helped morning prayer “stick” for me, since it’s tied not to a predictable recurrent wake time but to the order of events of the day.
I’ve also been more faithful to one night out per week with either my sisters or girlfriends, and involving either adoration or prayer or conversation or alcohol or all 4. I’ve also been hitting the gym 4 times per week whenever someone is available to watch Luke for 40 minutes or so, and the kid’s club is open.
2. Domestic help. I have a homeschooler who comes for 4-5 hours every Monday. She is delightful and her only flaw is that she can’t drive herself, but her parents drop her off and I drive her home, so it’s not the worst. She does dishes and mops the floors and takes the big kids to the park and has recently been designing her own preschool curriculum to tutor them in the afternoons when Evie and Luke are asleep, and no you can never have her number. Or even her name. Cackle. (God help me when she leaves for college.)
3. Taking little opportunities to do school-y things in our day-to-day lives. I’m about 90% convinced that I’m never going to homeschool, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still the primary educator. So we learn together. We stop at a construction site and watch the diggers and talk about how asphalt is made. We go on nature walks and bring the leaves home and arrange them in ROYGBIV order and talk about seasons and why leaves turn colors and photo-freaking-synthesis. We stop by church to say hi to Jesus and talk about the Real Presence and the red candle and the Eucharist. In sum? We just do life and it happens to include teachy stuff and it’s such a relief to read studies like this one that make me feel ril, ril good about my illiterate little preschoolers.
I’m realizing with each passing week that this season of all 4 kids home all day long is actually fleeting, so on the afternoons (read: most) when the fan is totally covered I’m still trying to kind of soak it up. Or at the very least, be glad that I can crack open a little happy hour at 4 pm and not be worried about pickup time. (And p.s., with the $$$$$$/month we’re saving in tuition, I can afford to drink the good stuff. Public school was not free, as it turns out.)