One of the things that we hope as parents is to continue to see our children grow and develop as time goes by. This past week, I faced a challenge that reminded me that parenting can be hard and very rewarding at the same time. Our son, who is almost three years old started a summer camp at his preschool. Writing those words reminds me of all the feelings I had in the weeks leading up to the milestone and his first week there.
In this blog post, I'll share things that helped me navigate this significant parenting milestone.
Let me set the stage with some additional context about why him starting Preschool is a big deal. Side note for Parents whose kids might be starting college this fall, I can't even imagine how you feel.
Our son was born at the height of the pandemic which meant that my husband and I have not had the support community that you would imagine. I went back to work when our son was 3,5 months old and cared for him while I worked my full-time job for the first 14 months of his life. My husband was working outside the home at that time and we could not get child care for our son. In early 2022 when things started to calm down and we could return to some normal things in our lives, we were able to hire a nanny who came three days a week and on the other days my husband and I took turns caring for him while we both worked. Thankfully things continued to improve with the pandemic and we were able to take him to a bilingual (German-English) Daycare in October 2022.
Leaving him in the care of strangers outside our home was a very difficult thing to do. However that caretakers at the Daycare took such great care of our son and he loved playing with the other kids. It was great to see him learn German and Social skills while he had fun. In early July this years, his time at the Daycare came to an end as it was time for him to start preschool. The weeks leading up to his last day were hard, I was worried about the transition and the effect it will have on our son. Fast-forward to now, we successful completed the first week of his time in Pre-school Summer camp. It feels like a huge accomplishment for our son to settle into a new environment seamlessly and so quickly.
How I navigated this parenting challenge
#1: Acknowledging your worries and fears
For the longest time, I didn't want to think about the change and the transition that we were able to go through as a family. Then as the owner of our sons daycare kept asking when his last day would be, I had to start thinking about it.
My biggest worry was if our son would like the new school and find new friends. I can now tell you that my worries went away quickly when he did so well on the first day and was able to spend the whole time on Day 2.
#2: Have your support person or people
The most helpful conversation on the first day in the new school was one I had wth my twin sister. She knows me very well and was able to calm me down with a mix of jokes and reassuring facts about the resilience of children. As a mother of two children, she was able to empathize and remind me that we will be fine. It was so funny when she said she was more worried about me that our son. I'm very thankful that I have my sister in my life and value her support especially at crucial moments like these.
#3: Create the space you need
While I was navigating this new phase of our son's life, I was still working at my very demanding but fun job. The first thing I did was mark my family time in my calendar. I then told my manager that I'll need to be flexible with my work time depending on what our son needed in his first week and she was beyond supportive. She checked in with me to see how things were going which I truly appreciate. I feel very fortunate to have a job that gives me the space to be there for my son when I need to.
#4: Get prepared
As a planner, I rely on my ability to focus on working on a task when I'm anxious about a big milestone. I learned into all the things I needed to do for the final week in daycare and time in Pre-school. I read all the documents that were shared, bought the supplies he needed and planned for our new routine. Planning helps give me a better feeling about change and distracts me.
#5: Embrace the journey
Every parent I talk to shares about how what I'm going through is fully normal. I have been through my fair share of changes in my life. However the parenting milestones and changes are different. It's about a small human that I am fortunate to be able to care for and not only about how I navigate the changes. I know that there are many milestones that I'll need to navigate. Hopefully I'll continue to give myself grace and enjoy this amazing journey.
Writing this post was very important for me. I'm learning to be more vulnerable and share the process. Hopefully I'll encourage someone who is going through a similar experience. And I also want to hear more from parents what works for them.
We are very fortunate to be raising the next generation.