Not since Tilly finally got around to walking have I anticipated a stage in her development quite so much as her starting preschool. She’ll be socialising with peers, playing, learning and giving me some much needed time to get on top of everything else. After a tough year, I’m counting on it being the change I need to claw back some control from a toddler-led life.
It’s fair to say that 2015 will not be a year fondly remembered by us. It has for the most part gone hand-in-hand with sleep deprivation, terrible twos and threenager tantrums rolled into one, an absence of any personal space, and has probably seen more tears shed by my wife and myself than in the rest of our lives combined. There’s been plenty of love and laughter too of course but in some ways it feels like we’ve reached year end by the skin of our teeth.
In contrast 2016 will see Tilly being taken off my hands, for a few hours at least, as she ventures into a new world of preschool. In theory this promises much, launching Tilly into an exciting new world that should really help her grow, while at the same time allowing me to get on with some things at home and start getting things into order.
Here, then, are ten ways that the start of preschool might just save my sanity and make for a bright year ahead:
- Making friends
Children don’t really play together until around the age of three. While Tilly is ready, her playgroups of last year have been increasingly filled with babies and young toddlers. Making real friendships with children she sees regularly could, I reckon, add a new dimension to my daughter and take some demands off me to be playmate as well as parent. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Tilly kicks off a social life of her own.
- Liking people
“Go away people!” is one of my daughter’s favourite phrases of recent months to the extent that stopping her from being rude to strangers is a nearly daily chore. I’m counting on the experience of interacting with staff, children and other parents each day might enlighten Tilly in the value of wider humanity.
- Accepting new authority figures
Tilly is strong willed and regularly puts up a fight. Having new adults for her to obey and who won’t take any of her nonsense has got to be good and I hope will be a catalyst for improving behaviour at home.
- Being stimulated
Providing mental and physical stimulation for a child every day takes its strain, not least when your brain’s barely ticking over from lack of sleep. Soon I’ll know that half a day is being taken care of, and it’s likely involving mess and activities tricky to replicate at home, meaning that we can enjoy some more chilled out time together and potentially rely less on pricey trips out.
- Getting worn out
The battle to keep the little one active is also the battle to wear them out for bedtime. Repeated day after day it can be exhausting. Knowing that the job is part done will be a great help.
- Establishing a cast iron routine
Having a variety of activities as we have done can make the morning a daily case of ad libbing. Having to be out of the door at the same time each day means that the rest of the day can slot into place, such as when we have breakfast and setting lunch, which is currently all over the place due to naps.
Wonderful, lovely sleep. A stable routine should mean stability for sleep too, which at present is heading rapidly to a world with little or no naptime. However no naps also seems to mean sleeping through for us, which after nearly a year of broken sleep is blissful indeed.
- Being houseproud again
Having a toddler free house each day to enable some cleaning and restoration of order should make a massive difference. No more trying to accomplish tiny amounts of cleaning and tidying in the 30 seconds between toddler demands, now I’ll actually be able to use the vacuum cleaner without tantrums of objection.
- Finding some personal space
We’re pretty useless at allowing ourselves time out for personal interests or socialising as our time and energy seems utterly expended just getting through each week. However a little extra time might allow me some chance to schedule in some time out and in turn have the energy to allow my wife the same. Here’s hoping.
- Going freelance
Although I’ll be tied to the school run for years yet, the opportunity to gradually establish some freelance work to supplement my wife’s income should start to emerge. Even brushing up skills feels good and provides some reassurance my brain hasn’t gone to mush by 18 months of toddler play.
I’ll know in a few weeks how it’s panning out but regardless of how much of the above list we actually achieve, it feels incredibly positive to be starting a new chapter in Tilly’s development. What’s been your experience with preschool versus the playgroup days? Leave your comments below.