Preschool: A New Routine & Letting Go

Just a couple months after Sassafras’ 2nd birthday, we enrolled her in preschool since we no longer had five-day family care available.  While I was pregnant, we had planned all along to enroll her in daycare after my maternity leave and had even signed a couple of waiting lists.  I never dreamed my family would be available to care for her when I went back to work, but a combination of unforeseen circumstances (my mother’s early retirement, my sister-in-law going to graduate school, and my postpartum depression) and willing family members made this all possible.  KK accounts much of Aliya’s jovial and happy spirit to the fact that she has had so many loving caregivers watch over her these last two years.  I am grateful.

We were able to quickly choose a local childcare center based on the recommendation of a few trustworthy friends whose children attend this school.  Here she is on her first day:

Smiling on her first day; clearly, she has no idea what is happening in this moment.

Surprisingly enough, no tears were shed by anyone on her first day!

And then came the second day.  And every day since.  We were all a little traumatized (or maybe just me and Sassafras).

I am told she does not sit in a corner and scream and cry all day.  On our second day, I was horrified when she let out a blood-curdling scream, and I had to pry her tiny little fingers off of my shoulders.  I felt my heart shatter as I walked as quickly as I could toward the exit door.  I waited around the corner for her to stop crying.  Five minutes passed before I sent a text message to my husband asking if I was the worst mother ever.  He asked, “Why are you still there?”  Because I’m a masochist.

We are now in our fourth week of “school” and I can see progress!  Though drop-offs are not yet tear-free, I count whimpering and a couple of tears as a small victory.  My friends also send me calls and texts throughout the morning to let me know they popped in to say hello to my girl and she is doing fine.  I have good friends.

Transitioning to daycare/preschool has been an adjustment for all of us.  Enter the world of drop-offs, pick-ups, preparing lunches, erratic sleep/naps, and new germs.  Only a week and a half passed before Aliya was initiated into the world of germs with her first virus from school, but it wasn’t all miserable:

Home sick from school.  We lived in our PJs and watched an obscene amount of Little Einsteins.  Pat pat pat.

The transition from in-home care to daycare is the first of many events in the “letting go” process.  Every day I work with college students, and one of the many things we encourage our parents to do at new student orientation is to let go – let their child learn, explore, and engage on their own.  I am realizing this is much easier said than done; if I am experiencing emotional turmoil over daycare, I can hardly imagine what it will be like to send my child off to college.  Luckily I have the next 16 years to figure it out!  Today, I just need to figure out what to pack for lunch.

For those with children in daycare, how was the transition?

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