A Mother’s Biggest Fears About Preschool


My oldest just began the second grade and my ‘middle’ daughter just started VPK, which I’m pretty sure makes me a preschool pro (do I get some sort of medal or trophy or something for that?). As a mother of four, I can tell you with certainty that it does get easier each time a child begins his or her school career. By the time my 18-month-old twins are four and begin VPK, they’re probably going to pack their own lunches and walk themselves to class (kidding!).

In all seriousness, it’s been 3 years since my first born began preschool. I was a nervous wreck. No, scratch that; I was a hot mess of tears and emotions and bitterness. She was my baby. I had her home with me every single day for four years and suddenly I was expected to give this sweet darling to someone else for three hours a day, five days a week and just be okay with that? She’s the sweet, well-behaved one – could I send my then 1-year-old terrorist daughter to school instead and keep my new 4-year-old at home (kidding, kind of).

It was not an easy transition for me. I was a mess. I was looking forward to the moments that I would get to spend with my younger daughter – I did get three uninterrupted years with my older one, after all. I’d never had one-on-one time with my youngest. But I would miss my girl so much. She’d never been away from us unless it was with family, and even though she’d been to family sleepovers, stayed with her grandparents while we traveled and been away from us plenty, I wasn’t happy about giving her to strangers.

The good news, fellow mothers of preschoolers, is that it gets easier. The other good news is that it’s not as bad as you think it might be. The other good news is that once you hear how my first days of preschool with my daughter went, you’ll feel better about life. On that note, I’m not discounting your fears in the least. I make light only because I’ve lived them myself. What I will tell you is that your fears will change with each child that you send to school. What I worried about with my first, I didn’t worry about at all with my second. I had a whole new list of fears with that one…here’s a few of the most common fears you’ll face as this day quickly approaches.

Leaving my baby behind

That moment when you walk out the door and your little one makes eye contact with you. You see her lip begin to quiver and you know she’s about to lose her mind. Your heart breaks. She thinks you no longer love her. You just know it. You want to grab her, take her home and never let her go again. It’s a very normal, very common fear to have. Your baby is growing up, leaving you and might not be okay with it at first.

The good news – I was the one crying on my daughter’s first day. She was so darn excited to start school (and probably to get away from me and her sister) that she ran into the building barely waiting for me to join her and gave me the world’s fastest hug, a quick peck and a half-hearted, “Bye mommy, love you,” as I walked out the door. Cue the tears – my tears. Then I got home, the baby went down for her nap and I had two hours of peace and quiet all to myself. It was the most liberating morning of my life.

With my second daughter, things were different. I enrolled her in school when she was 2. I work from home and she’s a bit of a handful, so she began going to school in the mornings with her sister while she attended VPK. When she began VPK this year, she screamed. She cried, she lost her mind. I had to leave her there like that to get her older sister to school on time – and because her teacher told me to go so she’d calm down. She wasn’t crying because she missed me. She was crying because she wanted to go back to her old classroom because she liked the bookcase in that one better. Yes, that’s my daughter. It took her a day to get over it, but now she loves school.

My baby won’t have friends

So, my four-year-old is bossy, kind of mean and definitely not a follower. She’s not always interested in playing with you, and she’s not afraid to tell you. She will tell you if your breath smells, if you smell, if you have something on your face and if she just thinks you are not a nice person. She is, to be quite honest, completely awesome and totally the person I wish I could be. Yet she still has a following of friends. In fact, everyone loves her. I was floored, because I always thought she would be the one who struggled to make friends. Apparently, even at four kids love honesty and an upfront personality. Her brutal honesty might not be everyone’s taste, but those kids jump up and run to greet her and show her things and ask her questions when she walks in the door, and it’s just the strangest thing. Your kid, unless he or she is just a completely annoying jerk, will have friends. Trust me.

My baby will hate school

Your kid is going to tell you at some point that he or she hates school, and you will worry. My oldest never does this, but my middle daughter tells me regularly. And guess what? She actually loves school. She does not love getting up early, eating breakfast before she is ready and taking off her pajamas. She also does not love leaving her toys at home. But when we get to school and she’s over all of that, she’s fine. Just remember, too, to take a child this age with a grain of salt. My daughter once told no one plays with her at recess when she was in kindergarten. It turns out that what I thought might be a form of bullying was just a day when my daughter’s class was weird. She was in a class of 18, and 15 were boys. The other two girls in her class were out sick and none of the boys were interested in playing princesses with her on the playground. It was not a life or death situation, or bullying or my daughter having no friends. She didn’t want to play monsters, they didn’t want to play princesses.

Something bad will happen to my baby

Your child is going to get hurt in life. It happens. Whether it’s with you, someone else or at school, it happens. You don’t want it to happen, but it does. You can’t keep him or her 100% safe all the time, so let it go. There is no reason to worry about what you can’t prevent. Take care of talking to your little ones about safety and let their teachers do the rest. Sure, you might have a kid with a bruised knee or scraped elbow sometimes, but it can’t be any worse than the time last week when our 4-year-old scaled the pantry shelves to help herself to cookies when we were not looking and fell down four shelves and scraped her back all the way down. The blood…it was everywhere and it was a mess. And it happened on our watch at home. Anything can happen, but we can’t let it consume us. Teachers are good at their jobs, I promise you this.

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