The Art Of Doing Nothing

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


{So a while back I know I briefly mentioned that I am tired of people asking me 
why Charlotte is not in preschool. Here is the rest of that story....}
I am asked regularly why Charlotte is not in preschool.
Seriously.
Not just if she is in preschool but why she isn't going.
She turns four next week so she could be going this year, right now.
But she's not. She will go next year, just for one year, like her brother did.
By our choice.


There are two main reasons why she is not going to preschool this year:
               1. I don't think she needs it
2.  I am taking full advantage of this one year we have together, just the two of us, 
 before she is in school.

Now,  let me clarify a couple of things.
By saying I don't think she needs preschool I don't mean that I think she is way smart
 or ahead of other kids her age or that she could not benefit from school, I am sure she could. 
I personally do not think that preschool is necessary for any
 type of future success later on in school for her, or Wyatt.
And what we are doing at home, and the time we have together, just the two of us,
 is the biggest benefit I see in her not going to school this year.


And selfishly, very selfishly, I relish in having one more year where I am not 
chauffering two kids to two different places, just for two hours of preschool. 
Oh, but back to me being annoyed by these comments...
I realize most kids this age are in preschool so asking if/where
 she is goes is completely natural, I get that.
 But I am talking about people (usually other mothers) asking me why she isn't going
 and looking at me like it is really that weird.  I don't think it is weird at all and
as a matter of fact the weird thing to me is that you think it's weird.
Someone asked me the other day if I didn't want the break that having her in 
school a couple hours a day would bring. 
Do I want a break? 
Of course I want a break. 
Don't all working mothers, either in the home or away, want a break? 
Of course we do.


I have also had people ask what we do all day.
Really? This, too, kind of surprises me.
Probably the same things most people do, I guess.
We run errands, we play, read books, bake, go to the park,
 take walks, do laundry, watch movies, play dress-up, ...we just hang out.
She goes to ballet one day a week.
And that's about it.
A while back I ran into someone at the store
 and after a very brief discussion on preschool, 
  she gave me her number so she we could get together so "Charlotte could have something to do".
And this is someone who I only consider an acquaintance, not a friend. 
It made me feel like she felt bad for her or that she thought we must be bored out of our minds.
To me, that is weird.


I think that as a society we feel like we always have to be doing something.
Going somewhere.
That kids have to be in something.
They constantly need to be entertained.
Like learning and playing at home and hanging out isn't enough.
Why is this not enough?


And now for my disclaimer on this subject:
I think preschool can be a wonderful thing.
I worked in the Public Schools here for many years (up until the last two)
 and have the utmost respect for teachers and staff alike. 
I don't think it's bad if you choose to send your child to preschool for
 two years, one year,  or not at all.
I also do not think that you shouldn't have your child in extra-curricular activities
 but I think sometimes, some of it,  can be too much...
for both the kids and the whole family.
I know those years will come, fast enough, but for now I am hanging on to these
 quieter days as long as I can. 

*******

If you read that far, thank you.
I have more to say but I will stop here for today. 
Happy Wednesday folks, the week is half over!

33 comments:

  1. Amy -

    You are doing the right thing!

    I went to Kindergarten (no preschool) - and we moved halfway through the year so I didn't finish. My parents had the option of sending me to first grade or readiness (like a pre-first grade). I was a very strong reader for my age (I tested in the 98th percentile on our yearly state-wide assessments) but they chose to have me do readiness. I'm so glad they did.

    Because of that extra year I was never behind my classmates. (Plus, in high school it was pretty cool being the FIRST to drive!) My husband's parents were give the same option (the same year... in the same school...) and they chose first grade. He has told me that he probably would have benefited from that extra year - just being a little older.

    If you're doing reading and different "educational" activities at home (and I'm talking reading books together, cooking, experiencing the world...) she'll be in great shape. I get worried (as a teacher) about the parents who don't do preschool, and their kids are plopped in front of the TV all day.

    Don't listen to those other parents!

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  2. I like how very honest you are here about your decisions and why you made them. Every child is different, every family dynamic is different, there is no one shoe fits all.

    My daughter is three and a half and in her second year of preschool. It is just a little local NAEYC school where she goes three times a week for just two and a half hours. Our decision to send her to preschool was based entirely upon the fact that she is an only child. She needs to be around other children, to learn to socialize with people her own age, to play with and alongside them, to gain confidence in doing so. She needed to learn to be comfortable not being around me too - we have no family here so until two weeks ago other than preschool she has never really left my side. It was definitely the right thing to do as she really has blossomed and grown in confidence and developed the right social skills.

    I agree with you about this modern age and filling every minute - I have friends whose children do a full day of preschool then rush from there to all their extra curricular activities. My daughter does swim classes, which we believe are so important living where we do, and that is it.

    Great post.

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  3. I think the time spent with Mom can be way more beneficial than pre-school in so many ways! Besides you are probably doing many of the things at home that she would do in preschool anyway. Alone time with parents is great! I didn't go to pre-school when I was growing up. In fact, back then not very many people did because most moms were stay at home moms and the kids stayed home with mom! ~ I think you're doing just fine. You know what's best for your kids. ~

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  4. Oh, I so agree...those people who are asking you are weird, not you. As a preschool teacher (who does a great job, if I say so myself, and the kids are lucky to come here if they have to go to preschool), I say keep her home! There is no need for kids to go to preschool unless the parents need them to be there or unless the child's home is a not healthy for for them. This idea that kids have to do, do, do, is just absurd. Relish your slow days while you can. She'll be getting absolutely all she needs.

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  5. great post. I agree, kids are way too busy.

    My oldest will be 4 in Dec. and just started preschool, and I'm going to keep him in for another year just because his birthday is so late in the year, people around me think that's weird. But I feel like he is still so little, I'm not going to rush him in to "real school" because once you start, that's it! for many many years.

    we also don't do any extracurricular stuff... to me kids end up burning out by the time they enter middle school with all the extras.. but again all kids are different and some kids do need to be kept busy(ier).

    so do what feels right for you :)

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  6. It really all comes down to personal choice. More power to ya!

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  7. Fynn will be four next month, and he's not in preschool this year. He'll have the one year, next year, for all of the reasons you listed.

    If we lived near by, I'd give you our phone number so we could hang out, because I like you, not because I want to give the kids something to do :)

    (Have you read Katrina Kenison's Mitten Strings for God? If not, and I can't remember if I suggested it before, you must read it. It validates so much of why we are doing less activities and spending more time just with each other)

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  8. i could have written this post myself.
    about ella.
    only she is a full year younger(turning 3 in November), and i still get the look.
    wierd.
    dumb.
    she MY daughter.
    just because other people find thier kids too much work, doesn't mean i do.
    i think that is the root.
    that these people looking at you funny have some deep guilt about thier own choices.
    just sayin'.
    that is sad though.
    i am looking forward to the day that i have a break, every once in a while.
    or everyday! yes!
    but today is not that day.
    and i am not going to pretend it is.
    i will regret it if i rush through my life.
    xoxoxo
    wish Charlotte and Ella could play dollies together while we sipped warm drinks......

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  9. I totally agree with you Amy!!
    And I cannot believe so many people would ask you that?!?! You're right THAT is WEIRD!

    Riley and Janey only went to pre-school the one year before kindergarten. And K was only half day!!! I loved every minute of it. I wouldn't change a thing.

    Have you ever read Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne?? It is wonderful and filled with wonderful reasons for slowing down and doing a whole lotta nothin'!. See if your library has it!! I think you'll love it!

    Enjoy the night

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  10. i agree 100%! and i think cindy's right, simplicity parenting is a great book that i think you'd like. i believe that real creativity comes from figuring what to do with yourself when things aren't planned for you, and when we schedule every minute of our child's day we do our kids the injustice of not getting to experience it.

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  11. I have four children, and I remember those looks and those conversations all too well. Oh how I wish people could just move on and realize that we each have the right to make our own decisions. I don't regret a single day I had home with my children. I did the same thing...and it worked so well for our family. I treasure those days of carefree playing, baking, dress-up, reading, painting, just being. Enjoy each and every moment....

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  12. I think it is Wonderful that you are keeping her with you for another year!! We only did one year of preschool with both our kids... and we enjoyed every moment!! =)

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  13. I completely agree. I said almost the exact same things last year when my youngest was in his one and only year of preschool. He started in September and turned 5 a few weeks later. Everyone assumed he had done at least one or even 2 years of preschool already. But I, like you, cherished that time with him before he truly started school (like this year, now that he is in kindergarten) and we had plenty to do and plenty of fun and now he is 6. So it goes way too fast and you made an excellent choice!!

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  14. Oh Amy. . .you should write a book on this topic you are so articulate and right I might add! But still you are open to others doing what works for them. It would just be nice if they kept their opinions to themselves!

    We have 5 kids and have done varying degress of pre-school attendance. The two youngest have done one extra year because they have watched their sibling go to school everyday for years and they seemed to need their own special school.. .

    My favorite comment from my kids on being home with me was when Drew went to first grade and asked me after the first day "are you sure there isn't 1/2 day first grade?" I sure wish that was an option!

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  15. I always find it funny what other people find to be their business. You know?

    I taught preschool for 4 years. 3 year olds are my favorite people. You are absolutely right though--there are some children who benefit greatly from preschool and others who benefit from spending more time at home with their families.

    Have fun with her. She'll be in 2nd grade before you know it!! (just like my Elisabeth...sniffsniff)

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  16. Hi Amy!
    Maybe it's strange to others but I think that you would know what is best for your family, right? In the Netherlands, kids go to preschool at age 4, but they are only obligated to go at age 5, so it's optional and I think that's good. You enjoy these years, I have an almost 13 year old and an almost 3 year old, I can tell you, I enjoy both ages but time is really flying fast!
    BTW, love those pics!
    Maureen
    x

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  17. Seriously, people need to mind their own business! You are her mother and know what is best. I think people don't know how to interact anymore - they need "stuff" to do. We're going through the process of cutting things out so that we have more time to enjoy 'the art of doing nothing'. It's important, for sure.

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  18. I think you need to perfect a sweet and witty come back for those kind of inquiries (which I am amazed you get questioned about) to put some people in their place.

    Let's try these on for size: "Because I enjoy being with my child...don't you?" or "We have an entire world to explore together and can't wait to get to it" or if you are feeling a little sassy how about "But who would do the laundry for me if she were in school".

    I was amazed at how many kids didn't know how to hold a crayon or use scissors or play in the mud when Little K started pre-school. She's in 4th Grade now and we barely have time for those things any more, so hold on to them as long as you can because they really do grow up way to fast.

    If all else fails - you have permission to just bopp one of those commenters in the nose next time.

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  19. I don't have kids so obviously it is not the same for me to read this as it is to other mothers. But I really love your take on it, and I think it is so great that you get that special time together...my parents both worked and although I can't say I remember when I was her age, I do remember at other ages wishing I had more time with just me and my mom. So I think it is wonderful.

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  20. When I took my son out of preschool people gave me the same exact response. I even had one friend tell me that I was doing a disservice to him. I cherished every single day of that year. As you know, school days will come soon enough, grab hold, and not let go.
    I read a really good book called "Home Court Advantage" that addresses the trend towards pushing our kids into all kinds of activities and how that sends a message to them to look outside the home to fulfill themselves and find happiness. We are homebodies, through and through, it is our refuge.
    I say, good for you. Enjoy the nothingness.

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  21. I SO understand your feelings and thoughts. My oldest started high school this year...time goes by SO quickly and it's wonderful that you are enjoying the fleeting moments of childhood with you liitle girl. I don't think enough people realize the greatest gift that you are giving your daughter...the founding of a wonderful realtionship. We have friends who have their kids busy in activities throughout the year and fine if that works for them...we enjoy our nights of board games, watching movies together, reading in front of a fire. I hear so often that "it's good to keep your kids busy so they don't get into trouble". I don't think kids are shown how to just play/relax/chill. What do we always have to be busy to be doing something in order for it to be important or worthwhile?

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  22. Wonderful post. There are a lot of fully functional (well, most of the time) adults like me that went to preschool for just 6 months or not at all. I really do not see the need either. My son and I spent time going to museums, fieldtrips, and just hanging out together. I do not think that every moment of a child's life needs to be structured. A bit of nothingness is just what a soul needs sometimes.

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  23. I concur! Domo is 3. He just turned 3 in August and I know that "technically" he could go to school, but I also know that one more year at home is not going to hurt him. Young children need nurture, too. They don't just need education when they are 3. What about play? What about developing parent/child relationships early. And yes... what about just hanging out. My oldest didn't go to preschool until he was 4. And he is getting an extra year due to his speech problems. This our decision. We are the parents.

    It is your gut/heart decision and therefore it is 100% no one else's business.

    Good job mama!

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  24. If I weren't working, my kids wouldn't have gone to PK. I would have kept them home with me. Where they should be.

    But, since I have to teach, they were both in daycare. When The Girl had the chance to go to PK at my school, it was a no brainer. She was there with me. And it blew doors on daycare.

    People should mind their own business. We get looks from time to time because we don't have out kids enrolled in every after school and weekend activity. They need down time...and so do the adults in this house. School is very different than it was when we were in elementary. There is a lot more pressure with testing and homework. I always tell my parents at school that kindergarten is what first grade used to be. It's sad. I don't agree with it. At all.

    But that's another post all together.

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  25. i am so in love with this post! you have inspired me so much. My Lila is only 11 months old, but already i am dreading the day when i have to send her off, I love this idea of having her for one more year instead of sending her to preschool! i think there are a million reasons to do this. thanks for sharing your reasons Amy :)

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  26. firstly lovely amy....that last photo of charlotte kissing your hand- that there is more than enough reason to quit *justifying* to anyone why you live with your children the way you do!

    i whole heartedly agree with EVERYTHING you just stated!!!!!!
    in australia we send our kids for ONE year to preschool and they are 4 when they start this...
    then we send our kids to their first year of school when they are 5...it is a rare child that is 4 at school...and in parts of australia they actually start school at 6!

    our eldest was soo lovely & sweet & happy to just *be* that we had her at preschool for a year only 2 days a week and then she started *big* school at 5 years 9 months old...

    she spent more time with her younger brother at home and she has never really *got* school bickering...she's now in h.s and still benefitting from our decision!

    our son then went to preschool for 6 months until his younger sister was born & then as a family, led by his requests, we dropped his time there to just one day a week, as he wanted to be with his little sister all the time the way his big sister had been with him...

    the amount of *flak* i got for this decision was incredible...yet there again he is now 9 and i have to say, the most delightful boy i've come across....he's confident...he knows we respect his personal decisions and he has a connection with his sisters alot of families may wish for...

    here in the uk...*big* school starts at 4!
    as you can imagine it took alot of persuading me to abide by this...and i really only feel that this year...in year 1, that audrey is ready...the laws here to NOT take into account the situation on a child by child basis...there are very strict guidelines that we have had to follow...

    on a positive note..the flip side of her starting earlier than either of her sibling..has meant they have all been in a little country school together and in the same playground...ella was audreys year 6 support person and we have such a lovely small life here that when not in school the kids are with their dad and i pretty much every minute...

    you stand tall and proud...you are doing absolutely the right thing!!
    i'd stand very happily beside you at any school gate in support!!

    melissa xox

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  27. Hey Amy, In Sydney (Australia) children do not have to start school (full-time kindergarten) until 6, I have held all 3 of mine home until the very last minute, they have all gone to pre-school for one year before school. My littlest will be turning 6 in march (& start kindy in February), unfortunately I too have faced the same reactions from other parents (many of whom send their kids to kinder at 4 1/2!)
    There seems to be a culture of parents rushing to get them to school so that they can get on with their careers (or many who just do not seem to enjoy the time at home with their kids?). This is so sad to me, I too love my hanging-out time with my little guy & agree that the little ones need a nice slow pace and rythm to their days. Childhood passes way too fast, I say sit back and enjoy the ride instead of racing to the finish line! P.s. i also recommend reading mitten strings for God - it is a beautiful reminder of the importance of thoughtful parenting.

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  28. More power to you, Amy! Everyone should be entitled to make their own choices without judgement from others.

    It's funny b/c when I had my first I didn't even THINK about preschool. But then all of the other moms were all over me that I wasn't hurrying up and enrolling when she was not even two yet. I felt guilty about the idea of "sending" her to preschool when I was at home. It hadn't even crossed my mind to send her.

    In the end, I wound up sending her when she was nearly 3 b/c she was an only child at the time and SOOOOO social. She wanted to go to school. To be with friends. She skipped into the school daily with a smile on her face. She went 2/5 hours 2x/wk. In the end, it was a good experience.

    But there's NOTHING wrong not going. People need to learn to accept the rights and choices of others.

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  29. i couldnt agree with you more. some kids need preschool, some dont. and as mothers we all need to trust each other to know that we know what's best for our kids.

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  30. thank you so, so much for all the comments. seriously. i LOVE hearing what everyone has to say and in turn what others have done with their children as far as preschool and schooling goes, very interesting. you guys are pretty damn cool. : )

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  31. I am with you lady! I get asked why my Dylan isn't going to Preschool too.... he isn't even three yet!!! I didn't put him in this year, and may not next year either! The kid doesn't need TWO or THREE years of preschool....

    And it really isn't the cost or the inconvenience, it is mainly that I want to have this one on one time with him. The one on one time that we never got the chance to have because he was my second....

    Anyway, you have to do what is best for you and your kids - poo hoo what anyone else thinks about it!

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