I have been very blessed to stay home with my child for 3.5 years. I do babysit part time, but am able to bring my child along. This time together has been very valuable to me.
I have some feelings of trepidation about preschool. I don't think I want to send her. I am not sure why. Maybe I don't want to give up authority or control. Maybe I like having some say over her friends or who she interacts with. Maybe I just like being around her often to give her guidance.
However, my child is almost rabidly social. And yes I know there are many other chances for socialization outside of school! : ) But I am noticing that my daughter is really craving being around other children, as much as possible. She is, and will be, an only child. I am finding it hard to get any breaks for myself, which I am starting to need. Since I babysit, I am around children constantly, and since my husband works long hours and weekends, my child and I regularly spend 12 hours or more a day together without interruption. I am noticing that most of her peers are not available for playdates, since they are scheduled into preschool or they are put in care as their mothers return to work. And we are "growing out" of public playgroups, as in my area they mainly consist of children not old enough yet for preschool. We know some homeschoolers from our church, but most are older and it seems the ones with multiple children get their socialization needs met more at home.
I thought about starting a non-Preschool : ) homeschooling group in my home, but frankly I am craving a little bit of time away from children. Having her take classes with me present (which many require) doesn't seem to fill this need.
Any advice, or commisseration?
Do you have a local YMCA? At our Y, the kids can go in the playroom for up to two hours a day, which means that I get to work out or read by myself.
Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
14yo ds 11yo dd 9yo ds and 7yo ds and 2yo ds
Our local library does a 30 minute storytime for ages 3-5 without a parent, which is a nice socialization outlet for the child and a good (if short) break for the parent. Also, I suppose classes vary a lot by location, but for us at age 3 there started being lots of options for the child to take a class alone.
I hope you find something. My four year old loves to be home and be with her family, but she also really likes her own activities as well.
A coop preschool may balance things ... there's parent involvement (and control!), as well as opportunities for your child to mix with children while you get a break. The one we found for DS was a play based coop, not a 'school' setting at all. There were 2 classes, and not more than 8 children in each class. One teacher for each class, and one parent on duty each day. DS went 2 mornings a week, which was just enough for our family.
I do childcare in our home, and I liked for him to have something that was 'his' that he didn't have to share with those children. Now that we're about to have our own 2nd child, I've taken a break from the childcare, and have connected with some regional AP parent groups, and we have started some weekly playgroups with the intent of having a bit of a homeschool/preschool/coop weekly activity. Right now, it's just playdates, with the odd bit of educational activity tossed in. The children in that group range from 2 - 6yrs, and one of our goals is to be able to occasionally take turns to drop off our kids & get a break, though most parents are happy to stay at the activity the whole time.
Do you have a Y in the area? Our Y has a lot of classes for preschool age children that don't involve parents staying in the class. Our community center also offers some classes that are fun and parents can watch through the window while they talk and lounge on the couch. I did the classes at the Y, the community center, and gym childcare when I homeschooled my dd and they helped both of us stay sane. Parks can also be nice in the mornings because you can park yourself on a bench and read while the preschool age kids run in a herd together.
I'm in the UK so a few things might be different, but if you were posting this in the UK I'd suggest you consider either a creche, maybe to a class you yourself are doing, or a childminder-do you guys have childminders? Women who take a couple of kids for a few hours, some during school hours, some during the day.
as others have said - a co-op preschool or the Y or some other community center may help? also, i encourage you to look into preschools.. i was not comfortable with preschool and then a friend recommended a school and i thought 'ok, i'll just call this one' and i loooooooooove it.. my DD went 1-2 days a week for 1.5 yrs -- they are totally flexible, we can move days around etc. they don't mind if i stay or drop in or if the other kid are with me. ... i could go ona nd on, but the point is that it is exactly what i didn't know i was looking for.. so, there could be some perfect school out there.. this is just a hard age really.. my DD was in preschool for 1-2 days a week for 1.5 years and now she is 5 and i don't (and she doesn't )feel the need to go back there or to go to sc hool at all .. we are happy to move on in our homeschooling .. but at 3.5/4 she really needed it, she craved time away from me and more social time..
Even though it seems early, I'd look into local homeschooling groups. Most homeschoolers have older and younger kids, and many people in our group with only younger ones schedule activities just for that age group. At the very least they would have activities such as simply meeting up at a park that would involve all ages of siblings.
I'd also look into finding a babysitter for some you-time once a week or so.