I was talking with my best friend about preschool, since her child is nearing the age and she's wondering if she even wants to send her. She stays at home with her, socializes her regularly, takes her to soccer and dance class, and they are constantly doing crafts together.
I told her she needed to do what was comfortable for her and what felt right. Just because all her friends were sending their kids to school, it didn't mean it was the right decision for her.
I remember so clearly the pressure I felt to send my kids to preschool simply because that's what you do. I was the only one out of all my friends who didn't sign them up the same fall that they turned 4. It didn't feel right to me. I wanted them home with me for as long as possible and I have absolutely no regrets.
While I was supportive of my friends who sent their kids to preschool because it seemed like the right decision to them, whether they were working or staying at home, some of them weren't so supportive of my choice.
I got comments like "Cut the cord" and asked why the hell I'd made such a decision.
Sending your children to preschool is really a preference and there was no right or wrong answer.
Maybe it was because I didn't go to preschool and didn't have those fond memories of early playmates and learning, like my friends did. I do think the bigger reason I kept them home was because I felt like four years of bonding and having them all to myself before I sent them to school wasn't enough—I wanted more time. Once kids start school they grow up so fast and before you know it, they're ready for school.
The comments I got from some people did make me second-guess myself, but not for long. When I sent my kids to kindergarten, all three of them were right on track and did very well. Their teachers said they didn't miss a beat, that sending your children to preschool is really a preference, and there was no right or wrong answer.
One thing they all said to me was, "You do what feels best to you and what you think is best for your child." They also said that if my kids are dying to go to school and seem bored at home, send them to school. If all is well, they are thriving and I'm feeling good about that—and don't feel the need for outside help to keep their mind active—then have them stay at home.
I think no matter what you decide to do, you may feel a bit insecure at first and that's OK as long as you don't let it rule your decision.
The fact is, most kids do attend preschool—and that is great for those families. I just didn't feel it was the way to go for mine.
So, if you feel like you want to send your kids to preschool, you should. But if you feel like you'd rather keep them home another year, even though you are in the minority, trust your gut.
What matters is staying true to what you feel is best for your family. When you do that—whether it involves how to feed your baby, get them to sleep or if you stay at home or go to work—that's truly the right answer.
And no one can argue with that, Mama.