Going Back To The Preschool Years


Going Back To The Preschool YearsAfter almost two years of hanging out with me every day, my baby started (toddler) preschool this week. As I drove away after dropping him off on his first day, I was an emotional mess. I couldn’t exactly pinpoint what I was feeling, except that something just felt different. It wasn’t just normal first day jitters or missing him. It was something different about me.

Starting the preschool years again made me think about how much has changed since the last time I had a preschooler.

When I said goodbye to the preschool years, I carried some sweet memories with me. I cherished the days of play groups, story time, music class, day trips to the park and zoo, and adventures all over town. I moved on emotionally, embraced the elementary years, and entered a different, but also fun, phase of parenting. I went back to work and the kids got more involved in sports and extracurricular activities. Our family’s evenings and weekends got more and more busy and parenting needs changed. I wouldn’t say it was easy, because we all know each phase of parenting has its challenges, but it was a reasonably smooth transition.

Enter baby #3. I’ve written a few posts about the adjustment to life with three kids several years apart. I knew schedules would be different and that I would be pulled in multiple directions between hands-on parenting of a toddler and the challenges of parenting a teenager. But I don’t think I realized how hard it would be to navigate these different phases at the same time.

I love my toddler and exploring the world through his eyes. I love my older two kids and  watching them grow in their talents and independence. But I also feel like I’m stuck somewhere in the middle of parenting a toddler and a teenager and trying to learn both.  When I think back on the first preschool years, I remember the highlight reel. Time has erased many of the difficult days from my memory and left ideal days in their place. I compare myself to a better version that never actually existed, then I feel inadequate when I can’t be that “ideal” mom anymore. In reality, I was tired, overwhelmed at times, and trying to do the best I could in the season of life I was in — just like I am now.

This time around, there aren’t many daytime playdates, trips to the zoo or park, or story times at the library. This third child tags along with the older siblings wherever our family’s schedule takes us. Sometimes I feel guilty because he won’t have the same experience, but he doesn’t seem to mind. He is happy, healthy, and loved. He would just as soon watch his brother play baseball or dance in the living room with his sister. And he doesn’t know the difference. These are the preschool years, and we are still making memories, even if they aren’t the same as the ones before.

I have changed since the last time I had a preschooler. I have more wrinkles and more life experience. I also know that these years go by quickly and I will miss them. Even on the difficult days, I feel so blessed that I get to experience this again.

So, yes. I’m a preschool mom. And an elementary mom. And a middle school mom. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


  1. It’s so different from your oldest to your youngest! The first one you did all the play dates and fun kid toddler activities and by the time you have your youngest they are along for the ride. But I think that’s what shapes them and they love every moment of it. They love being part of whatever big brother or sister or doing.


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