Ok, so if you live in a normal town, and you send your kid to “the” preschool nearby, this whole preschool nonsense will make no sense to you. But if you live in NY, LA, San Fran or another super exclusive preschool drama laden area, you will totally get the horror that is getting into (shudder) afternoon preschool.
You see, the only way to get into morning preschool is to be alumni, a celebrity, or so loaded that you could feasibly build an entire new school building with your ‘fundraising’ contributions.
Of course there are some exceptions to this, and every school’s selection process is slightly different, but needless to say, if you don’t do toddler program and have some other significant “in” you are getting into the afternoon program. Since I refused to “play the game,” didn’t do a single toddler program, and didn’t apply until the week applications were due, we obviously landed in the afternoon program. (But it was the afternoon program of our top choice school – so I consider that a win since we could have very easily not gotten in anywhere.)
At first I was REALLY bummed about being in the afternoon. The afternoons are when we have quiet time (and occasionally a nap). By afternoon the little dude is exhausted most days. I worried that he wouldn’t have any energy to play and would be so miserable at school. (This is far from what happened – turns out he magically finds insane amounts of energy for school.) Not to mention traffic is far worse in the afternoon getting home, which means I will be sitting in traffic with a toddler and a newborn everyday, getting home at 4:15 trying to manage the baby, making and feeding dinner, bath and bedtime all by 6:30. Oh Vey! Oh and Avery’s school is like 20-25 min away and only for 3 hours, so driving there and coming home is not really an option. If we were in the morning then Micah could drop him on his way to work and I would just have to do pickup giving me a good chunk of toddler-free time to clean, prep dinner, work and run errands with the new baby.
Actually when I write it all out here, I’m still pretty bummed we are in the afternoon – especially since it has JACKED our sleep entirely and I’m still not sure how I’m going to manage it all after the baby comes.
But I’m looking on the bright side – making lemonade from lemons.
Here are 5 reasons why afternoon preschool is actually pretty awesome:
- Mornings are glorious and relaxing. Ok, maybe not “relaxing” in the sense that most people would define relaxing as…but as relaxing as life with a wild toddler can be. We get up, have breakfast and make our lunches. Some days we go to the library, some days we do arts and crafts. Some days we go to the park or on a nice stroller walk. Some days we just hang around the house and play trains. We don’t ever have to “rush” out the door. It’s actually really really nice.
- Mornings = toddler happy time. Anyone who has a toddler knows that they are happiest when well fed and well rested. Both of these happen in the morning. So all morning long I get the little dude when he is happy, agreeable, and perfectly content playing by himself if I need to clean or get some stuff done around the house. If we were in the morning program his teachers would get his “golden hours” and I would get the cranky miserable tired toddler. (full disclosure – I still get this guy…it’s just for a very short period of time in which my sole mission is Dinner – Bath – Bed!)
- Everywhere is open! Obviously with a 2 1/2 hour window (sometimes less if I’m chatty at drop-off), there is not a lot of wiggle time if you want to use it to run errands. In the afternoon you have the added bonus of everywhere being open from the second you drive out the school gate. In the morning parents often have to wait until 10 or sometimes later for places to open cutting into precious toddler-free errand running time.
- The end of the day flies by. Once we get home, there is only 2 hours till bedtime routine begins. That means we get home, make and eat dinner, have a bath and it’s bedtime. Any stay at home parent knows that those hours in the late afternoon/early evening can seem to last FOREVER. Having afternoon preschool really makes that time fly by. So even though your toddler is insanely moody and over-tired, there really is only a short period of time that is actually packed full of to-dos until it’s time to snuggle in for bed.
- Scheduling our days is super simple. When I had the WHOLE DAY to figure out WTF to do, I often found myself feeling defeated at the end of the day or overwhelmed. I am not the kind of person who likes to adhere to a consistent schedule, BUT I am loving having this nicely divided day where I know from lunch onward my day is full, so I can really utilize the morning time to plan a fun simple activity for us to do together.
All in all, I’m sure there would be things about the morning that would make life a little easier, but there are some surprising bonuses that come with the afternoon program. If only we could get over the no-nap = no-sleep EVER transition then life would be just dandy.