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The hardest job on earth: stay at home mom to a 4-year old

Saturday, September 11, 2010 Leave a Comment

I have a theory: being a stay at home mom to a 4-year old is the most difficult job in the world. Who's with me?

I run myself ragged taking him to the park every day (sometimes twice), or the zoo or museum or playdates. But what he really craves is social interaction, something that - as much as he loves me - I just am not providing for him, and neither is his little brother. He goes to preschool 3 afternoons a week, but I wonder if this is enough. I find myself scheduling him into a myriad of activities (something I swore I would never do, back when he was a baby) to try to get him the stimulation he so desires. A standing playdate with his buddy once a week, a zoo/museum day with another friend, soccer, music class...

I admit, my vision of this neighborhood was that I'd find lots of stay-at-home moms to hang out with. And when he was a toddler, it was easy. We had a tight group of friends we took music classes with, and had neighborhood playgroups with. But now, we find ourselves at the park with nannies and toddlers. My 17-month old has a ball, but the 4-year old? Not so much.

Now that all the 4-year olds are in preschool, finding someone with a schedule that meshes with ours is a challenge. His former playmates are now spread out all over the city: Paddington in Lowry, Blessed Sacrament in Park Hill, ECE at Bill Roberts and Westerly Creek, Montview in Park Hill, an in-home Montessori in Stapleton, Monarch Montessori. Some go in the morning, some afternoon, some full time. It's hard to make and keep connections when everyone goes to different schools. And it's highly likely that the kids on our block will all go to different elementary schools for kindergarten. We want choices, and this is one of the downfalls of all that choice.

I have to admit, times have changed. Our neighborhood is full of two-income families, and that means most kids are in full time daycare. Kids are getting socialization at earlier ages. Our preschool even accepts kids who aren't yet 3 into the mixed age classes. It makes me rethink how long I'll stay home with our 17-month old versus getting him into a 5 day preschool program. (I remember getting the letter from Bill Roberts informing me our son was waitlisted for the ECE-3 program - and feeling so relieved that I wouldn't have to send him off to school 5 days a week! Crazy.)

Don't get me wrong -- I don't regret the choice to stay at home with my boys. But I can't help wondering if I'm shortchanging my 4-year old by not giving him the social interactions most kids his age are getting. I see it in his behavior -- he's bored. I see it in the fights with his brother -- he's frustrated. I see it in the regressive behavior -- riding his brother's trike instead of his new bike. We're just settling into the new fall schedule, so I'm sure things will all work out.

Any stay-at-home moms who've survived the 4-year old year with advice to share?

3 comments »

  • Anonymous said:  

    No doubt about it, the part time preschool years with a four year old boy is tough (I noticed a big difference between my daughter and son's activity level at that age)! Throw in the stubborn independence that rears its head at 4 and it is really frustrating. Hang in there, it will get better eventually!

    I am also the type that wants to avoid overscheduling. One thing I've noticed is that it might take awhile and a little effort, but kids will adapt to being at home rather than running around all the time. If you keep at the "down time" you might notice that your kid will become more inventive with play at home. Try leaving some different types of toys out every few days to get things started. For my kids it takes about a week after school is out for them to completely unwind and settle into a more relaxed pace, but when they do I love how creative they get with play time. Just a thought...not for everyone I know.

  • tduffy said:  

    No advice, just commiseration as I am having the same thoughts this week! My 5 year-old BG twins stared ECE4 at BR, one more year until kindergarten... and I have an 18 month-old baby at home with me. The days feel long! We resisted most classes and I'm wondering if we should get going in spite of not wanting that schedule. I also feel like I'm hanging out at the parks with the nannies! Where is everyone :)? So, I guess we just keep trying to connect and keep in mind that this is fleeting time in our lives.

  • Liz said:  

    It's nice to know I'm not alone! The routine of preschool has helped a lot. And you're right - it is a fleeting time in our lives.