My PreK Guilt

Processed with VSCOcamWhen I was financially planning for maternity leave, one decision we made was to pull Abby from FT PreK.  She has another whole school year before starting kindergarten, her teacher keep telling us how far ahead she is from most of her classmates, and her teacher also provided me with some materials for me to work with her from home.

My plan was that once the New Year began, that we’d start having PreK at home time.  While I was waiting and waiting for Olive’s arrival, I was home with Abby for two weeks since I was overdue (and ended up being induced).  We didn’t do much, but Abby was working on site words with recognition and writing.  In addition to doing some math like activities from a workbook a co-worker gave me. I felt like we were making some headway as we’d read books and occasionally she would shout out with glee, “Momma!  That’s a site word!” I even ordered Kiwi Crate for her so we’d have art projects to do centered around themes, where all said projects were completely organized with materials so I didn’t have to do much.

Olive was born on December 11th, and well, it’s the second week of January and I’ve had one failed attempt of doing PreK at home with Abby.  She’s adjusting, which is understandable, to having baby sister around, so let’s just say she didn’t bring her listening ears to the PreK at home session.  I’ve been able to muster up some time and energy to get her set up with art projects, and with her being four, she’s easily able to do said projects on her own once I get her all the materials.

Being able to take her outside, though, hasn’t been possible so far and since my husband is back to work and can’t do that since the sun is down most days once he’s returned to work.  At PreK, they go outside two times a day, weather permitting.  And it has to be super duper cold for that play time to not happen.  They’ll even take them outside for 10 minutes if the weather isn’t the greatest.  But with Olive, I can’t take her out in the cold.  There are days when Abby tells me, “We didn’t go anywhere today.”

Cue the guilt.

With my mom living here now, she can help out, but I don’t want to rely on her every day.  Today, though, my mom came over and held Olive, who doesn’t like to be put down during the day (baby wearing naps for the win!) and I was sort of able to get Abby outside.  It was raining so she and I just went into the garage and she rode her new bicycle around in circles, shot some basketball hoops, and played with bubbles. She was so happy!

So now here I sit contemplating how to do PreK at home work. She thrives at school.  She needs more structure than I can give her while I’m at the whim of a nursing newborn. 

I know many mommas who had a second kid and kept the older kid in childcare while they were on maternity leave.  I just thought maybe it’d be different for me.  I had these high hopes of being able to do some school with Abby.  But this newborn stage, well, it’s all consuming and a lot harder when you have a four-year-old in tow. There have been days at home when lunch time is the first moment I have to coerce Abby to get dressed and out of PJ’s, along with brushing her hair and teeth.  She doesn’t seem to mind, but I do.

My dreams of being able to have a newborn and do school at home with Abby have quickly fizzled.  I’m really so amazed at the momma’s who do it.

Today I signed Abby up for a two day a week sports class at the YMCA. I think it will be good for both of us to get out of the house. And I think I need to be more purposeful with making time for school at home. Perhaps make a Starbucks date out of it and have my mom stay with Olive. I know she’ll take a bottle if I’m not home in time before she gets hungry as my husband and Abby gave her a bottle of breast milk last night.

I have to step away from all the ideas I had about what my maternity leave with two kids was going to be like. Adjusting to two kids is tough with every day life, let alone trying to add things like school. But Abby loves school and gets excited about it. I don’t want to let her down.


  • Stacey B. says:

    This post has me so nervous. I’m due with Baby #2 the first week of May, and our oldest will be 3 1/2. At this time, I’ll also start working from home two days out of five. I’m getting the feeling it’s not going to be so great….
    Stacey B. recently posted..History: It’s Not Always a MysteryMy Profile

    • Tracy says:

      I think it will get better. Olive is just 4 weeks old. I think that once she gets more on a schedule with feeding and sleeping it will be easier.
      Twitter: wa_tracy

  • Mommy, Esq. says:

    Kids are not expected to know how to write when they start kindergarten. It’s fun to “play” school but you shouldn’t worry too much. Just try to enjoy her. I looked at my maternity leave with my third child as a way to really connect with my twins (who were 21 months at the time). Sure we did some letter recognition once my youngest napped regularly but honestly I just “hung out” with them even if that meant not doing much of anything. I suspect later you’ll be writing that you feel like Olive didn’t get your undivided attention so if you can swing it definitely do some half day programs with your older daughter out of the house. PS I love doing worksheets with my 5/5/3 during winter break etc. because school got them in a routine of “morning work”. But if any parent thinks he or she can work at home and also home-school and/or take care of kids at the same time they are mistaken. It only worked for us during school break because our babysitter kept coming afternoons and I just waited to work until then (I work parttime hours from my house since we moved).
    Mommy, Esq. recently posted..Silver and GoldMy Profile

  • cayley rice says:

    Or, if it’s financially viable, send her back to preK, part time. I’m having my 2nd in the next month and it didn’t even occur to me (until reading your post) to have my almost 4yo out of school for maternity leave. Do I want to spend more time with her? Of course. But for me, trying to do that all day while taking care of a new born and trying to regain a modicum of my sanity and reduce my sleep deprivation is a hopeless recipe for failure and guilt-soaked grumpiness at both of them (and my husband). I’m excited about focusing on nothing but baby and me for 6-8 hrs a day for 6 weeks. That’ll make afternoons/evenings with my older one so much better for all of us.

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