Thursday, February 11, 2010

Is preschool good for moms?

It occurred to me as I dropped my preschooler off today that I'm the first generation of mothers to have my kids start school so young. My mother had a two-morning, two-hour program, which was then called the politically incorrect "Mother's Day Out." And, as a tangent, I never understood that name. Two hours does not give a mom a day out. It gives her time to shower and eat breakfast.

But back to preschool. My daughter goes for four hours, three times a week. That gives me a whopping twelve hours of professional time. I can increase that to six hours five days a week, which would allow me to work pretty much full time. But here's a question: Is that a good idea? I'm beginning to think the whole reason some women decide to go back to work at least past time is because of the social push to put kids in preschool. If I had my daughter home with me, I don't think I'd feel as obligated to accept as many (or maybe any) freelance assignments.

Now, I think preschool is a wonderful invention. I love that my child is learning at this point in her life when she's excited and willing to soak up information. I also love the fact she's learning to share and understand the complexities of interpersonal relationships.

But I wonder if preschool is healthy for mothers who then feel the pressure to DO something with their time. Up until 40 years ago, handling the household budget and keeping the house, kids and dog clean was considered a full time position.

What's your point of view? Should we feel the need to immediately find work as soon as there is a break in our childcare duties?


  1. My daughter (3) goes to a Mother's Day Out program which teaches preschool basics. I send her to give me the 8 hours a week to do something other than care for her. I do see and hear a push for preschool in my area because parents think kids should be reading by age 4 (so very developmentlly wrong). I also feel a push to go back to work to contribute to the income to pay for the preschool. I think it's more about keeping up with the Jones' than it is about the free time. I can very easily use my 8 hours a week to clean house and then use the other hours to focus on loving and caring for my daughter. I don't see the break as a need to go back towork, but then again my work is to be around kids (Early Childhood Educator).

  2. This question implies that those of us with a child in daycare (pre-preschool) have made a poor decision/choice. We put our daughter (9 months) in daycare at 12 weeks not because we had to, but because we wanted to. I love my daughter, but I also love my job. To be honest, we could fairly easily exist on a single income if we kept the baby at home, but I have no desire to do so. I wasn't wired to be a stay-at-home mom, and it would be a disservice to our daughter to pretend that I was. I'm not trying to 'keep up' with anyone, just living my life the way that I see is best for our entire family.