Read an Excerpt
I guess I was a little too smug as I wandered around the supermarket, humming to myself, thrilled that my four-year-old was staying at his preschool's aftercare program for the very first time. No more zooming around town like the Tasmanian Devil, racing from store to store, trying to get my errands done in the paltry two-and-a-half hours I had while he was in school. Thanks to aftercare, I could slow down a bit, taking my sweet time to put item after item onto the cashier's conveyor belt as I sipped my coffee and scanned magazine covers for celebrity gossip.
And then my cell phone rang.
'Mrs. Singer!' My son's teacher sounded annoyed. 'Nicholas is very upset. He doesn't want to stay in aftercare. Come get him,' she demanded.
'Can I buy a cantaloupe first?' I mumbled, but she'd already hung up. I frantically bagged my groceries and left for the preschool.
Nicholas never stayed for aftercare again.
Two years later, I stayed home to sit by the phone when my son Christopher started aftercare at the preschool two days a week. I waited . . . and waited . . . and waited. But his teacher never called me. When I picked him up, he asked, 'How come I can't go to aftercare every day?' And so, he did. And I finally got the chance to take my time at the supermarket and a whole lot more.
Welcome to the Preschool Years
While my kids' toddler years were a big blur of potty training, childproofing, and stuff lugging, their preschool years were something entirely differentsomething calmer, yes, but still surprising and, frankly, more fun. My boys had transitioned from barely verbal, bustling bundles of 'Put that down!' to more articulate, somewhat rational smaller versions of grown-ups. It was like switching from Red Bull to decaf, or heavy metal to easy listening. Well, maybe not that smooth, but the years when my kids were ages three to five were a lot easier on me than their toddler years had been. If nothing else, I could finally shop in peace.
Less Likely to Dart into Traffic
Maybe you've noticed a change in your child, too. While your toddler was quick to dash off, laughing maniacally at you and your big ole pregnant belly while you shouted, 'Get back here!' your preschooler at least thinks twice first before bolting. Or maybe she actually listens to you and even follows your instructions. Lucky you!
Maybe you're finally breathing a little easieror maybe not. My older son skipped the terrible twos, instead opting for the tyrannical threes. I'm not even going to tell you what I called the fours. This is a family show.
See, while my preschoolers were a little less physically exhausting, they were sometimes more mentally draining. That's what happens when you add a dose of reasoning and longer term memory to the ability to protest. Preschoolers, it seems to me, are like little lawyers living in the house. 'But Mom, you saaaaaid. . . .' They sure are great at presenting their cases, aren't they?
But the preschool years are also a bit more nebulous, as your parenting concerns are no longer as concrete as, say, teaching the kids to walk or keeping them from climbing under the clothing racks at Sears. Now you've got tougher decisions (i.e., Montessori school or learn-through-play programs) and tougher questions (i.e., 'Should I go back to work?' and 'Why are tires black, Mommy?').
What MommaSaid About Preschoolers
When I launched MommaSaid.net, my website for beleaguered moms who could really use a laugh, I was right in the middle of the preschool years and all its construction paper crafts and stomach virus sharing. I was relieved to discover that other mothers were finding parts of parenting preschoolers to be as difficult as I had found high school chemistry class to be.
Through the years, the MommaSaid community has generously shared war stories, tips, advice and commiseration when it comes to parenting preschoolersthree- to five-year-old children who act a lot like tiny teens in light-up sneakersincreasingly independent and yet in dire need of your supervision and guidance, as they spend less and less time with you.
In this book, I've put together just about everything you need to know about raising preschoolers from my own experience as the mother of two former preschoolers, as well as from the veteran moms at MommaSaid.net, who've been in the trenches and have handled everything from that aching feeling you get at preschool drop-off to your three-year-old's newest addition to his arsenal: back talk.
It's the kind of back fence advice for surviving the preschool years you've wished you had ever since your kid went from tantruming toddler to negotiating preschooler. And it's what you'll reach for when you find yourself frantically bagging your cantaloupe, so you can get to preschool pick-up on time.
Throughout this guide, you'll find helpful quotes and tips from MommaSaid's moms and been-there, done-that stories and advice from this survivor of preschoolers, two times over. Most of all, you'll find help and validation in one easy-to-read book that you can keep bedside for night reading (now that you no longer doze off the moment your head hits the pillow) or whenever you've got some time when you aren't wondering why your preschooler and her playdate (and the markers they just disappeared with) have gotten way too quiet.
Remember, Momma said there'd be days like this. MommaSaid.net's: Stop Second-Guessing YourselfThe Preschool Years will help you not only endure them, but enjoy them, too.
We asked: How is life with a preschooler different from life with a toddler?
'Easier in some ways, harder in others.'
Lucinda, London, New Jersey
'There are no diapers to change, no one waking up in the middle of the night, and no one trying to run into the street or sticking their hands in the toilet. But, emotionally, I find it harder. The discipline issues are more complicated, and the politics of preschool friendships are very complicated!'
Shoshana, Chicago, Illinois
©2009. Jen Singer. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Stop Second-Guessing Yourself--The Preschool Years. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442