We’re entering 4-year old limbo with our daughter. She is definitely done with naps, and it’s even a stretch to ask her to spend some quiet time in her room while her younger brothers nap (although still a good idea and will be attempted as often as possible). She attends school for three hours in the morning, and then is home for lunch and the rest of the day. I kind of feel for her because she’s in a tough spot: Her best friend is a “lunch-buncher” and stays at school full day (our daughter is in a multi-age 3-6 classroom, so many of her classmates stay in school until at least 2pm); her brothers still nap and force us to be home for half of the afternoon; her brothers are younger and therefore drive the complexity level of our afternoon activities down; and she is in a phase (please be a phase) in which she would like every minute of every day to be special. She wants a special treat, then to do a special activity with mommy, then to go somewhere special. I hear this and look in the mirror: Have I cultivated this need in her? I don’t think so… When the kids were portable I took them on outings as often as I could, whether that was a play date, Target, or a local drop-in playhouse. But lately, due to more conservative finances and the increased complexity of transporting all three kids, I’ve opted to stay home a lot more. The kids are also really happy to be home, especially after a nightmarish Christmas trip to Grandma’s when all of us were quarantined with the stomach flu within 36 hours. That was the first time I ever heard them say “I want to go home!”, and they’ve been using that demand pretty liberally ever since. Our boys head to our family room basement each day like they’ve never been there before, it’s pretty awesome. But our daughter… well, I’m sensing that she’s getting a little bored with it all, especially since she is often the spark that ignites arguments and fights among the three of them. I really feel like she’s in this in-between stage, torn between being a constantly supervised toddler and an increasingly independent preschooler. She received an awesome collection of fine motor skill art projects as gifts for her birthday – and if she had her way, we would do them all in one day! When my husband is around to experience her desire for “special”, I just look at him and whisper-scream “FULL DAY SCHOOL, PLEASE!!!”
I would love to send her to school full day, meaning from 8:30am – 4:30pm. It’s an option which is probably used primarily by working parents. I am slowly building my life coaching business, but we are not anywhere near being able to justify or finance her attending private Montessori school full day. But man, I think she’d love it. Luckily she’ll get a first taste of it over the summer. The school’s summer camp program includes lunch and lasts until 1pm. But then… how on earth am I going to get her to return to the standard 8:30-11:30 schedule in the fall? I guess you never know. Maybe she’ll be grateful to come home for lunch again?
I wish I had the energy to do something special with her all day long. But honestly, I think it’s really important that she learn the ebb and flow of a day. Some periods are very work/fun intensive, some are for rest, and some are for practical routines. I believe it’s important that she learn how to entertain herself, just as kids learn how to soothe themselves. But I also want to give her heads-down, let’s-make-a-mess special time.
I’ll do my best, sweet pea. <3