Thursday, September 24, 2009

A realy long rant about my home preschooling woes

A while back I posted about preschool. I don't think I explained me feelings very well, so here it goes again.

FOR ME, I feel that kids should be kids for as long as possible. They're going to be in school for the rest of their young adult lives, why rush things? There is so much pressure to get your kids in preschool, and I think many moms think it's what they HAVE to do. If they don't, they are guilt stricken by societal pressures and feel like horrible mothers. Sound familiar?

Now, here's my problem. I feel guilty. I feel overwhelmed. I feel pressure. And where's all this coming from? From ME! ALL me! Although I have no problem not taking Noah to someone else to teach him letters and numbers and seasons and whatever, I feel a responsibility to be doing that at home. But every time I think about doing it, I get anxious and my stomach ties up in a jumble of unconquerable knots.

You see, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I say "a bit" because I don't consider myself a true perfectionist. My house is not always perfect. I like organization, but I do let things get untidy. My hair and makeup and fashion are not always immaculate (mostly not). Sometimes I let things go a little. But, I LOVE it when all the stars align, and my own little universe flows smoothly and flawlessly. It makes me feel happy and right with the world. So, I'm sort of an oxymoron. I have spurts of laziness and spurts of organizational genius. I'm a cyclical perfectionist.

I guess you could say there are certain areas of my life that lean more heavily to my perfectionist side. Thinking about at home preschool is one of them. I feel like if I can't do it perfectly than I can't do it at all. But I also feel that I have no hope of doing it perfectly because I don't really know how to do it! I've never been trained to be a child educator. I didn't go to school for elementary education. I was a music major!

I end up feeling anxious and overwhelmed, so I try to avoid the whole thing. But then I feel guilty for avoiding it, so I go back. And the cycle goes on and on...

It's not just that I feel I should do something at home, it's that I also want to. This is my last year with Noah, and I want to make it count. I want to teach him about the exciting world we live and have fun doing it. I should also mention that he wants to learn stuff. He always says he has to do his "homework." My final resolve is that I will do something, but I want to keep it simple, so as to avoid all overwhelming, send-me-to-a-loony-bin feelings.

Simple. Repeat it to yourself. Simple.

My next step is to go online and search preschool websites for parents and teachers. I've found a few that I like, but what is inevitable as I peruse through their buttload of resources? I feel overwhelmed. All hopes of "keeping it simple" are thrown out the window and whack a bird off it's perch on the tree next to my house. In place of them my mind whirls over thoughts of "lesson plan ideas," "theme days," "arts and crafts," "songs and rhymes," "circle time," "books to read," "printables," "shapes," "letters," "numbers"...Aaaaagh! I do this until my mind is a jumble of really-good-but-way-more-than-I-wanted ideas and I feel like I'll explode! Not to mention the giant, gnarling and twisting mess that once was my stomach.

Breath. Just breath. Turn off the computer. Walk away from the computer. Think happy thoughts. Remind yourself that it doesn't matter what you do with your kids, just as long as you're with your kids. Whatever you do with them doesn't have to be perfect. Just do something. Even if it's getting on the floor with them and becoming a human train, taking trips from the living room to the kitchen. Whatever. Just be with them.

Well, that's all good and fine, but there's still that annoying nudge from "Miss Perfect" that I should at least have one day a week where we practice letters and stuff or do an art activity because if I don't plan it than it probably won't happen, which leads me to my next beast to be conquered: scheduling. He's a tough one, but that's another rant for another day. For now, back to the rant at hand.

If I can just get over this idea of it having to be perfect, I'll be okay. That's going to take some time and probably some tears. The annoying thing is, I need to be a little bit perfectionistic with it or else I won't really get much accomplished. That means I need to somehow organize my thoughts and goals and out them construct a SIMPLE plan of attack.

Whew! I think I've said my piece, although I don't really feel much better. Just writing about being overwhelmed makes me overwhelmed. What a basket case I am! Will there ever be a time when I don't question my abilities as a mother and feel like I'm doing okay? (Actually, that's another favorite cycle of mine. Sometimes I feel like I'm a great Mom, other times not so much. Do you do that too? Or am I crazy?)

After all this complaining and venting, you're probably thinking what a pathetic person I am and wanting to tell me to get a grip already! But before you do so, I end my post with a little ray of sunshine. Yesterday I may have had a little break through. I'll let you know for sure after a few more days of experimenting.

If you've suffered through this whole post, first of all- I'm sorry. Second of all, if you should comment, I would feel much better if you could say something on the lines of "I understand how you feel." I'd feel so reassured, even if you're just pretending. Also, if I made absolutely no sense, I'm sorry for that too. It made sense to me, although when I see it all written out I can see how crazy sounding it is. The sad thing is, I really haven't even said the half of it. Oh dear...


Liana said...

I totally know how you feel. I go on "preschool rants" all the time to my husband, and he just says, "I know dear," or "I'm sure you're right," but he just doesn't get why I'm so worked up about it, my daughter is only two (almost 3) but all the neighbor kids her age and younger are doing a neighborhood preschool and making me feel guilty for not doing it too. I also get totally overwhelmed all the time when I think of all the "good mom" things I should be doing instead if letting them run around in PJs until 10 every morning. Oh, and I totally get the feeling like a good mom every once and a while, but a lot of the time feeling completely inadequate. There's no way a physics degree prepared me to be a mother of 2 young toddlers. Any way, there's my rant in answer to yours, hope you enjoyed it ;)

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Okay, love, you're right. You needed that last post of mine. :) It's okay, though, we've ALL had these kinds of feelings. As someone who does mommy school with my 2 and a half year old every day (for ONE hour because that's my own limit), here's one really simple suggestion. Go to the library and pick out some books. Read a storybook every day and talk about it. Then let him draw a picture about it or anything you can think of that's related, maybe a role play, maybe go to the store and get an ice cream, anything that comes to you as you consider the book. If you have to go looking up a bunch of ideas, that's a sign it's too complicated.

And I don't know your philosophy about computer use, but has been a GREAT preschool site that's super child friendly and educational... all about letters and pre-reading. Good luck! (and send Liana over to that Guilt post, too.) :)

Rachy Maree said...

I do know how you feel. I have been trying to turn everyday situations into teaching opportunities. I am struggling with turning my back on the social norm, but I have to. Izzy is doing great with learning and Corban is in Preschool, but for different reasons than most 4-year-olds. I don't really believe in sending them off to preschool- My sister sends her son to "playschool" I like the sound of that.