Hi, I have a daughter with SPD who will be 4 years old soon. She is currently in preschool for half days, 5 days/week, while I am home full-time with my baby who is almost 6 months old. I am planning to be a stay-at-home mom for an indefinite amount of time before returning to my career. Previously, my daughter was in preschool full-time while I worked, but I switched her to half-days when I became a (temporary) stay-at-home mom after my second child was born.
Now I am considering taking her out of preschool and keeping her home with me and baby all day. I'm considering this for two reasons, 1) we are really struggling with the cost, and 2) I wonder if it might be better for her to be home with me, IF circumstances were different than they are now.
However, I'm not sure I should take her out of preschool because the way things are now, our days do NOT usually go well in the afternoons when she is home with me. She has extremely high energy, both sensory-seeking and sensory-avoiding SPD, and anxiety, and behavior problems caused by the other issues. It is hard for her to deal with all the time I must spend nursing the baby, trying to get the baby to sleep, etc.... I am having trouble keeping her entertained while meeting the baby's needs quickly and responsively. I cannot seem to pay enough attention to both, and things are not ideal... it's hard to get the baby to sleep with my other noisy/energetic child around, my older daughter does not get enough attention, not enough interaction with other kids, and too much TV. Neither of them gets enough outdoor time. I try to do some outings, but they are pretty exhausting, and the baby does not sleep well when we are out and about (falls asleep in car, wakes up when we stop, then is overly tired). I have been overly tired and irritable lately too.
Basically, I cannot figure out how to manage my day with a high-needs preschooler and a 6-month old baby. Sometimes I feel like I should have my older daughter home with me all day too, but not with how things are now. Even if I keep her in preschool for half-days, I need to change how our afternoons are going.
Any suggestions, input, or words of wisdom???
Since it sounds like she has already been diagnosed, is she in OT? An occupational therapist should have some ideas for home activities.
It's tough with 2 kids at different developmental stages, but it does get easier when the younger one starts walking and starts being more involved in outings.
I think you are at a stage where the days are long, but the months are short. The situation really will be different in just a few months as your baby becomes a toddler.
I don't know how much that helps right now through -- may be consider that if staying in preschool is the right choice for now, it may not be in another 6 months, so the expense may just go away. Where you live, is there a free PreK option though the schools? Where we live there is, but it is very limited hours. It might give you enough of a break, though, to stay sane.
(sane is good )
What kind of anxiety does your DD have at home?
Something I did at that age was have a few basic sensory things that that I rotated. One day I would get out playdough and playdough toys and my kids could play with it for a long time. The next day I'd put whipped topping with food color on the table for them to play with. The next day it might be cornmeal in a pie tin (which is very fun to draw in or drive cars though). And so on.
"Sometimes I feel like I should have my older daughter home with me all day too,"
A self help writer I really like feels that "should" is a very heavy word and that we are better off to change it to "could." Her re-write of your sentence would be:
"If I really wanted to, I could have my older daughter home with me all day too."
If you drop the "should," you might be able to drop the judgment of yourself for not doing something that you don't want to do and don't think is a good idea at the current time. (it may all feel very different in 6 months or a year -- for me, it got eaiser after my 2nd child turned 1)
but everything has pros and cons
Has she been evaluated through the school district? If you don't have universal pre-school she may qualify as special needs.
How is she doing at school? Being at school can be a really good thing for a kiddo with SPD (it was for mine), and (this may be me just reading something into your post that's not intended) it seems like you're worried about managing it were she to stay home. I guess the question is whether or not her being at school is helping her enough to warrant the expense. Maybe that's a "no duh" statement .
Hi there yes you need to consider if the playschool is benefitting her, social integration is important for any child and when your child is home she seems to find it hard to relax. Try to do a schedule for her outlining different things she needs to do-organise a quiet activity around when the baby sleeps and have a reward for her when she complies. Have an activity box with her things in it and rotate the contents so she wont lose interest. Initially you need to be organised but when you are things will be easier and your child will fall into a pattern. Good luck
Thanks everyone for the suggestions and comments! It is very helpful.
My concerns about preschool, in addition to cost, are that she often does not want to go because she misses the time with me. This article in particular made me think more about whether preschool just for the sake of preschool (as opposed to needing the childcare, as we did previously) is really the best option for us at the moment: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/work+play/6109961/story.html). When she was in preschool for full days, her behavior was very challenging for the preschool staff (despite the fact that it is a very high quality and highly educated staff), and we were closed to getting "kicked out" of the school several times. When I was able to move her to half days, her behavior improved quite a bit. There are still some problems though. She is having some trouble socially as well, and I wonder if small playdates might be better for her. Also, the way things are organized at the preschool, there are an excessive amount of transitions (from one activity to another), and this is really challenging for her.
She is in OT, and the OT does have suggestions for activities... and I have the book "The Out of Sync Child has Fun" with lots of ideas....my problem is more about getting organized and finding the time to actually do these things with her while juggling my time with a needy/teething baby who is not napping well. :( I like the idea about having some quiet activities to rotate through while I'm getting the baby to sleep and having a reward for complying.
After getting feedback from people and thinking a lot about the situation, I am leaning toward keeping her home and 1) getting more organized, sort of planning out the week in advance, 2) incorporating more outings and playdates, 3) incorporating more outdoor time and sensory activities, and 4) having more of a consistent daily routine.
I welcome any other suggestions, ideas, or comments. Thank you!!
Good for you! You might start a thread on the Stay at Home Parents board. Some of this is just general stay at home mom stuff. Getting support from other moms about organizing activities, imposing a gentle routine, etc. might be helpful to you.
but everything has pros and cons