30 Things I’ve Learnt in the Preschool Years

30 Things I've Learnt in the Preschool Years

My oldest child Ruby has just turned 5, and the combined total of my kids’ ages has just tipped 10 years – so I figure I have between 5 and 10 years of preschool experience, depending how you look at it. Here’s a few thoughts from my journey so far, in no particular order of importance or significance:

  1. Food colouring really is bad. Especially red.
  2. No toy will ever satisfy a kid as much as a parent’s love and attention.
  3. Being a parent to preschoolers (and I guess all ages) isn’t at all what you imagined – in good ways and bad.
  4. It’s near impossible to function at your optimum when sleep deprived. Just do what you need to survive in the early baby days.
  5. Childhood goes fast (I know everyone tells you this, but for some reason you have to experience it firsthand to really get it).
  6. Preschool days work better with a plan.
  7. In pockets of downtime, reading a book feels far more fulfilling than reading the internet.
  8. Silence is grounding. Creating pockets of quiet to decompress from the chaos of kids is good for one’s sanity.
  9. Investing in your marriage is the best thing you can do in these years – when the kids leave home that’s all you’ll have left.
  10. Use your instinct in parenting. Instinct is stronger than the advice in any parenting book. You know your child better than any parenting “expert”.
  11. Have time away from your kids – small times during the week, and a bigger stretch once a year if possible. It’s true that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.
  12. When you’re stressed, getting outside, particularly to green spaces, will always rejuvenate you more than being inside. It’s just how we humans were created.
  13. When you get time to yourself, be intentional about what you do with it. Do something off your “What feeds my soul” list. Don’t waste time in front of the TV or Internet.
  14. Don’t save good stuff for special occasions. There won’t be enough of them before they’ve grown out of it. Just use it.
  15. Kids are messy.
  16. Kids love water.
  17. Kids are very quick to forgive and move on. We need to take a leaf from their book.
  18. Play doh entertains kids for about 5 minutes, not a whole morning.
  19. Kids thrive on being listened to and heard – truly listened to, with our undivided attention.
  20. You need to have time where you disconnect from the phone/internet/outside world. It’s a noisy world online and off, and you can’t hear yourself think if you don’t get away from it from time to time.
  21. You’ll take back every single judgement you passed on parents before you were one. Yip, all of them.
  22. You’ll make notes to self of what not to say to mums of preschoolers when you are no longer one. Like, don’t say “It’s such a lovely stage, enjoy it”. It’s hard work, and saying this to a mum on a bad day will just make her feel guilty.
  23. Wooden toys and simple ones that require imagination win out over plastic bells-and-whistles contraptions any day.
  24. Choose kids books that you like to read, as you may be reading the same one over and over. And over. The same goes for clothes and toys. You’ll be looking at them. And playing with them. For a long time.
  25. Buy good shoes, not just ones that look cute. They need good flexible soles when they’re learning to walk.
  26. Owning a dishwasher and drier are a good thing.
  27. Don’t spend a long time creating kid friendly meals. If they don’t like it you’ll just feel annoyed. Keep it simple.
  28. Go on outings to places you enjoy, otherwise you’ll feel resentful after a while. If you love animals, hit the zoo; love the beach, go there. Tie in things that keep you happy as well as your kids.
  29. Just when you feel satisfied you’ve got a handle on the routine, it will change.
  30. Live in the moment. Don’t know how to? Get alongside your kids – it’s all they know how to do.

I’d love to hear some of your gems you’ve learnt along your journey. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to add to the list 5 years from now!


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