The Real Reason I’m Reevaluating Preschool Registration

The lines are forming. All across the city, parents are securing their spots before sunrise, clinging to thermoses of coffee as they anxiously wait for the doors to open. Black Friday has long since passed, and they aren’t wrapping the length of a city block for the latest phone. It’s preschool registration time.

I waited in those lines. I slept in my car. We almost didn’t move because I slept in my car. That excruciatingly cold night in the middle of February with no restroom was a major player in our moving debate.  “Should we really move? I finally got her into blippity-blippity-preschool. I slept in my car.”

I no longer wait in those lines. We are returning students. Don’t hate me. But even though my son has a guaranteed spot at a preschool we love, I still had registration anxiety. This year, it was a different anxiety. 

I have been part of the registration game since my oldest daughter was an infant. An experienced mommy friend introduced me to the concept of mother’s day out, pressing me to register early for the following year because spots fill up. I had never heard of mother’s day out, and I had no idea what my daughter would do there as a one year old, but the concept sounded magnificent — five hours a day all to myself! 

Facing a slight disappointment when my daughter only got in for one day – and on Mondays no less – I complained to my mom to which she replied, “Mothers day out it is really more for the mom than for the kid anyway.”

She made me feel selfish, but I brushed her off. She had no idea how much I needed that alone time to grocery shop, go to doctor appointments, and maybe take a nap. My daughter didn’t nap. As in, never napped. The one afternoon I thought she was napping when she was 16 months old, she actually spent climbing out of her crib. I needed one glorious day all to myself. 

My sister and I didn’t start preschool until we were three, so clearly, my mom lived on the edge of society in her day or she was completely out-of-touch with how preschool works these days. Had she gone on the mother’s day out tour with me, she would have seen how my daughter would learn to speak Spanish, play a musical instrument and write her first novel before her second birthday. If every other kid was getting pre-preschool training, I certainly didn’t want her to be behind. 

But more importantly, I did need that one glorious day all to myself. 

So year after year, I quickly enrolled her, increasing the number of days each time around. The rule of thumb is one day for a one-year old, two days for a two-year old, three days for a three-year old and four days for a four-year old, right? Then by the time they are in kindergarten, five days a week just makes sense. 

Each year, my daughter spent more and more time at school. And I spent more and more time without her. Now with kindergarten right around the corner, I wonder if I would have done it the same. True, I am completely confident she will succeed socially and academically. But we will never have those sweet years together again. Ever. Until she is at least 18, she will attend school eight hours a day, five days a week.

It’s funny, because as the preschool years went on, I found myself thinking of my one “glorious” day as the one day a week I had her home with me. She now goes to school four days a week, but for one glorious day each week, we can stay in our pajamas all morning without rushing to the carpool line. For one glorious day, we can do whatever we want whenever we want. For one glorious day, I can hug her, kiss her, snuggle with her. For one glorious day, she is with me. 

Unlike my daughter who began her educational career at one year old, my youngest didn’t start school until he was two – not because I didn’t want him to, but because the financial burden of paying for two kids in preschool didn’t make sense for us.  Even though he attended one less year than my daughter, I have not noticed any major academic differences. He still knows his ABCs, colors, and shapes even without the additional schooling.

With both kids now enrolled at least two days a week {one in two day a week MDO and one in four day a week preschool}, I admittedly sometimes feel bored on the days they are both gone. Maybe I really did need more time to myself as I adjusted to the early years of motherhood, but it is time I can never have back. And in hindsight, that time didn’t last very long. 

My son officially begins preschool next fall. I turned in his registration packet already. He will be three, but this time around, I went against the grain and only enrolled him two days a week instead of the “recommended” three days. With years of school ahead of him, I wonder how much of a difference one extra day of preschool would have made. Probably not a lot. But that one extra day a week will mean the world to me. 

That is one more day I get to be the one sitting next to him at lunch. One more day I will see him in my rearview mirror as we run errands together. And one more day for us to cuddle up and read a book together before nap time. 

Quite possibly, this decision was made more for the mom than for the kid. But mother knows best, right?


  1. The time does fly and I am so thankful that we skipped preschool for days at the zoo and destroying the house. As parents we worried that we were making the wrong choice but mine fell in line in kindergarten and now they are right there with the rest!

    • I think there is so much to be learned outside of the classroom. Once they are in school, they don’t have that chance except maybe once a year for a field trip. And just think of all the wonderful memories that are made by destroying the house 😉

    • I have a soon to be 2 year old and haven’t had to worry about the preschool stuff, yet. But I’ve had my doubts just hearing the stuff that goes on. Just like any well meaning parent, I want to give my child the best chance possible. But reading your comment has made me feel much better! They are only kids for so long, and that time is the shortest it seems.

  2. I love this post! While I definitely need my one (or two) days, I’m also feeling like I’m hardly seeing my kids that are now in elementary school! This really hit home.

    • I feel a little guilty knowing my younger child will have more time alone with me with me than my oldest had. I try to make her the priority when she gets home from school. I’m sure elementary school will be a different game, though!

  3. I love my children more than anything. This is the kind of post that makes me feel like I have to prove that, because for me, school is awesome. We live in a world where children are barely allowed any independence, so when they aren’t at school, I am actively involved in what they are doing. School is the only built in parenting down time for me. Frankly, we are all happier when we learn to function on our own. I work with so many people in their twenties who are incapable of functioning without their parent’s input. It’s annoying to deal with them and frankly holds them back. I think the need to constantly be a part of your child’s life is what leads to this. Get your own life! Let them grow!

  4. I completely went against the grain and my son only started going one day a week when he was 3, almost 4. I just went to sign him up for pre-k and went with the 4 day a week class because, like you said, it is one day he will be home with us and we can do whatever we want. I want one more year of him not having to go 5 days a week. This time is so short and I want to savor it while I can.

  5. l didn’t sign my son up till he was 4 for 3 day a week 2 1/2hrs and am getting ready to sign my daughter up who will be 4 by next fall for the same thing. l don’t feel like they need the extra school and l wanted all the time l could get with them while they are this young. My son is only in half day Kindergarten and l savor every moment l get and love any days off. l will have 12yrs of them in full day school, l didn’t want to waste time and money on extra.

  6. I so get it! My littles were in preschool since they were babies, but when I had a day off & they didn’t? Bliss. Until about 2pm, when I would pick them up “early”.


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