Why We Sent Our Toddler Back to Preschool in the Midst of a Pandemic

Why We Sent Our Toddler Back to Preschool in the Mist of a Pandemic

We sent our toddler back to preschool a week ago. It was literally the best decision we could’ve made for her. My only regret is not doing it sooner. Had you asked back in April if my husband and I would have ever considered sending our two year old back to school before the summer, let alone the month of May, you would’ve received a quick “absolutely not!” in response. But, if there’s anything we’ve learned during this pandemic, it’s that things are fluid and they are changing everyday. 

A Challenging Spring

Let’s back up for a second.  Both my husband and I work in the healthcare industry. I am not a clinician; I work on the business side, but he’s a physician, so an essential/frontline worker. We’ve spent our whole careers in healthcare, and simply by my personality, I have literally been following this to a tee since it first became a topic in January. He’s also naturally a germaphobe {he’s the parent washing the pacifier every single time it touches a surface other than our child’s mouth} and we had our second baby back in November so we have been living in a heightened alert state with a newborn during flu and RSV season. With that being said, we started socially distancing ourselves at the beginning of March. We canceled plans to go to the Rodeo, we started doing exclusive grocery pickup, we really stopped going anywhere except for taking our toddler to school and and my husband going to work, and we most importantly, we canceled some much needed family and kid-free travel scheduled for the months of March, April and May. 

When the country officially shut down in mid-March, we were prepared. We had stocked our pantry with two weeks of groceries, had ample cleaning supplies, and had completed some backyard projects so we could enjoy our outdoor space since neighborhood playgrounds were out. It was also at this time that I returned to work after 3.5 months of maternity leave. With my husband having to physically go to the hospital for work everyday, I solo wrangled two kids and my full time job like a lot of parents have had to do. Thankfully, my parents were able to provide some additional childcare help which did lighten the load some. 

As time moved dragged on, and week after week passed, our very social two year old started to increasingly ask to go to back to preschool, dance, the playground and as a parent, and knowing how I, as well as my husband and other adult friends were faring, I started increasingly worrying about her mental health in this experience. So, my husband I started talking about potentially sending her back to school in June. During this same time, she started doing this thing – she would get fully dressed and grab her school backpack, put it on, and then wear it for hours around the house.  And for me, that was enough. I knew in my mama heart, and with my background, that these non verbal queues were not good – and this was in addition to the extra tantrums, crying, and other behaviors that I’m sure all parents are seeing in their toddlers right now. 

Making the Decision

Our school had remained open the entire time to families of essential workers and they had been sending out regular emails on updated processes – some of these included all adults wearing masks, temperature checks anytime anyone entered the building, packing a lunch instead of eating the school prepared lunch, and only allowing the assigned children and class teacher to enter the classroom so I felt like they were keeping us looped in and when we decided to make a change in our preschool decision, I had all the information I needed from the preschool.  

This wasn’t a decision we made lightly. We recently moved from New Orleans and some of our closest friends are on the frontlines in one of the largest hotspots in the country so we know exactly what they are seeing and experiencing up close and personal. And if I’m being completely honest, none of the changes the school made, made me feel completely confident that my child would be safe from contracting COVID while there – I’m well aware of her hygiene habits and toddler hygiene habits in general. However, the longer we remained in quarantine, the longer my husband and I realized that this is a pretty indefinite situation until some medical solutions are found and that our child’s mental well being could not wait the one, two, or three years it would take to find those solutions. We had some conversations and decided that based on what we knew about the status and future of the virus and what we know about our child, plus the fact that I was drowning trying to keep up with professional work, house work, and momming, it was in everyone’s best interest to use this available resource. 

Back to Preschool

We told her the Sunday before she returned to preschool and she could not stop talking about seeing her friends and teachers. And every night before bed, she talks about going to school the next day. There aren’t as many tantrums happening and she’s so much happier overall.  I feel like I can concentrate on my job and give it my full attention during the day, and concentrate on her and give her my full attention in the evenings.  It’s basically a complete turnaround from life the weeks before which validated our decision to send her back.  Also, I know that this decision doesn’t have to be permanent.  Just like with all our parenting decisions, we’re constantly evaluating how they are working for our family and ready to make the necessary changes if the stop working for us, so if I feel like it is no longer safe for her to go to school with COVID, I will keep her home, but for now, it is working for all of us!


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