The preschool years, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control, occur between the ages of 3 to 5 years old. The preschool years of childhood are one of the most fun but hardest stages of parenthood. It is during this time that we get to start exploring the world with our young ones, branching out to new experiences that are both fun and scary. It is also during this time that our little ones begin to truly start expressing themselves and their feelings. And while the preschool years are hard and we often find ourselves waiting for the “phases” to pass by, it is also just a very brief moment of childhood.
My youngest recently turned 6 years old. She is officially out of the preschool years, and she graduates from kindergarten this year. We have no more babies or toddlers left in our home. And while I’m excited for the years to come, I find a part of myself wishing I could hold on a little bit longer.
Embrace the Phases, Mama
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard myself or other Moms say “Oh, it’s just a phase.” It is so often a sentence that we associate with the toddler stage and preschool years of life. If you have kids or know anyone with kids, you know that there are also other phrases that accompany this one. “Terrible Twos,” “Threenager,” “Terrible Threes”….the list goes on and on. The one thing that these phrases all have in common? A negative connotation and view towards the earlier stages of life.
I have used these phrases many times myself. How can you not when your child is randomly throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of the floor because you gave them something that they didn’t want? So many times I have found myself in these moments. Many time I also find myself rolling my eyes and thinking to myself, “Gosh I can’t wait until we’re past all of this.”
But now our toddler years and preschool years are over. And here I am wondering what’s next, and wishing our kiddos could be small tots for just a little bit longer.
Embrace those phases, Mama. The preschool years are hard, and toddler life is exhausting. But those phases pass so quickly that you’ll find yourself wondering, “What happened?” You might not miss those phases when they’re gone and that’s okay. But I guarantee you that you’ll be wondering how they went by so fast.
Unexpected Feelings About the Preschool Years
Anyone that knows me well knows that it was not always part of my greater plan for myself to have kids. It wasn’t until I started dating my husband that I was like “Yeah, okay. I want to have kids…but no more than two.” It’s not that I don’t like kids; I just don’t have the bubbly personality to put on a smiling, patient face for them all of the time. Trust me…I even tried substituting for a while and just couldn’t do it.
I’ve also never been the Mom to cry when my kids go off to school, or when facing some of their toughest moments with them. There are so many other Moms that I’ve talked to that have said to me, “I cried so much when I sent them to school. I just want to keep them at home with me forever.” Nope, that’s not me.
With all of that said, I genuinely love having my two girls and love the fact that I can be a stay-at-home Mom for them. But I surprised myself recently when I found myself tearing up over the fact that they are in fact getting older. I went to hand my husband one of their cute little character cups and said to him,
“You know, these little cups with the cute princesses won’t be around much longer. It might drive you crazy, but they’ll be gone soon.”
I couldn’t even make it through the whole statement without tearing up. There I was in a very unusual situation with very unusual feelings. I wasn’t expecting it, and I don’t think my husband was, either.
Looking Forward to the Future…Mostly
I really am looking forward to their older years. I’m very excited for the sleepovers, the outings to the movies with their friends, and the moments that we get to share travelling the world together, experiencing new things. Deep down I know the pre-teen and teenage years will be hard, but I am ready. I just can’t believe they’re so close already.
The preschool years have flown by way faster than I expected. When you have two kids that are somewhat close in age, I think we forget that every “first” and new experience happens so fast. The closer the kids are in age, the more fleeting those moments become. And as our family now exits the preschool years, I wonder how quickly the rest will go.
One time, years ago, my former Physical Therapist told me, “One day you will pick them up and hold them, and you won’t know it, but it’ll be the last time that you do that.” While he is so right…ouch. I had never thought of it in that way before. But he’s right. One day they’ll be too big to pick up. And there might come a time when they don’t want to snuggle on the couch anymore. As excited as I am for the years to come, I also wonder how I’ll feel about all of those “lasts.”
How Do You Feel?
How do you feel about these moments of parenting? I know that without a doubt that I’m not the only Mom that feels this way. It is totally okay to have mixed emotions about our children growing up.
Am I sad that my girls are growing so fast? Absolutely. Facing life after the preschool years is exciting, scary and sad all at the same time. And that’s okay.
Which phase of childhood is your favorite as a parent? I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings in the comments below.