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Why I let my son take a ‘day off’ each week.

“Is it Thursday yet, mommy?” My five year-old asked, looking fetchingly into my eyes.

“Uh no, honey. It’s Monday. You know that.”

“Can I take a day off of school today?” More wide-eyed hopefulness.

“Sweetie, we’ve just come off the weekend. You take your day off on Thursday.”

“How long till Thursday?”

I sighed. “You know the days of the week. You figure it out.”

It was time for the bait and switch. “Hey, let’s go check out that new cereal you picked out in the supermarket the other day.”

“Yeah!” He exclaimed. “I wanna mix the Trix and the Mini-Wheats and the Honey Nut Cheerios!” His curls bounced as he skipped toward the kitchen. Mission accomplished.

It’s the same every week. In fact, almost every day. Julius enjoys pre-school, but obviously, he’d rather be home, which is why I let him have a day off each week. It doesn’t bother me. After this year, he’s in Kindergarten and there are no more weekly ‘days off’. I like hanging out with him, and Pre-school, while important, is not as important as hanging out together.

At least to me.

“What? Another day off?” His teacher says almost every Friday when we go back to school. She smiles at Julius, but looks at me like I’ve just fed him bugs. “I should give you a spanking,” She jokes.

Yeah. Not funny.

My mother and husband also take a page from her book.

Husband – “You are such a sucker.”

Mother – “I don’t think it’s a good idea. You’re not setting a good example for what his responsibilities are regarding school.”

Even some of the other school moms raise a brow.

To all of them I say a big wet, “PPPPPFFFTTTTHHH!”

Am I missing something? For the life of me, I can’t figure out what the problem is. I let my nursery kid take a day off to spend with his mommy each week, and everyone has something to say about that. Since when is quality time with your child open to negative scrutiny. Pre-school is just that. Pre School. They are not learning academics; they focus on socialization and structure. It’s preparation. It’s laying the foundation. It’s not a mandatory. It’s just become the popular norm.

My son knows what ‘clean up’ time is. He knows how to build blocks with another child without throwing them. He can sit in a circle and participate. He knows his ABC’s, 123’s and all that. He’s got Pre-K down.

This is the last hoorah for me and my baby, while he’s still – okay not really, but let me pretend for this last year – a baby. There’s plenty of time for  classrooms, and not enough time for ice cream and playing with Mommy.

So on Thursday, when he looks at me with his big brown eyes and asks, “Mommy is today my day off?”

I’ll nod yes, happily. Because I love our days off just as much as he does.

ice cream share

About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

85 responses »

  1. Good for you. Screw other people. Half the kids I know go to pre school 3x per week anyway. This is nice to hear and you’ve thought it through. Nuff said.

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  2. Wonderful thinking and your son will remember this his whole life!

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  3. Good. Wish I had done it. Now I cannot. Thanks for being the mom who puts your boy’ s needs first. He will spend the rest of his life away from you. Why rush things?

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  4. He probably won’t remember his preschool teacher’s name, but he will remember those special days with you!

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  5. I agree, it doesn’t matter at that age. Just enjoy it!

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  6. I am also a sucker, but whenever I cave, I spend the day getting ninja-kicked in the neck. Then I get yelled at by my husband, and my MIL (who is paying the preschool bill) nicely complains about wasted money. So no more days off. Maybe in nine years when he has a huge math test or something.

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  7. I work in a pre-school environment and can wholeheartedly say I support you letting him have a day off! A lot of the kids I work with would love to have that chance – and would be better off with it! Well done for going against what society expects, and ignore all the naysayers! You have the right idea as far as I am concerned 🙂 x

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  8. One of my friends who had an artist for a mom always got 2 days off a year as mental health days. There were three daughters, and they couldn’t take the day at the same time, and they could do what they wanted–stay at home and sleep, read, write or paint (artistic family!) or have a special day with mom going to a museum or something. I was always SO jealous! I am definitely a person who would have benefited from a mental health day. Of course, my husband was the kid who graduated high school with perfect attendance. PERFECT ATTENDANCE. So, he’s not so much on board with mental health days. I’ll see if I can swing him later. I think that especially in preschool, this is amazing. I hate that the teacher gave you that passive-aggressive I’ll-give-you-a-spanking remark. Those kinds of remarks burn me up. I think structure and rules and schedule are important, but I also think that we are people, not machines. Especially in preschool. But I do love the idea of mental health days for older kids–where they are responsible for taking care of all the things they miss and all that as well.

    Ps- Read your recent mamapedia post and loved it!

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    • i agree – we are people (except your husband – how annoying! 😉 ) not machines. and structure is good and necessary but not to replace a little spontaneity and mommy time. i want to do exactly what your friends did, and let my older ones pick two days a year separately as well.. i love it. i’m doing it. 🙂
      and thanks for reading the mamapedia essay – which one was that again? 😉

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  9. Wise mom!
    I hate all those who claim to know everything about other people ‘s needs….
    Social expectations are sometimes only pretexts, I think!

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  10. welcometograndcentral

    You go, MOM! Forget the nay-sayers. He needs mommy-time. You’re buildig a wonderful relationship with your kid.

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  11. Former pre-k teacher and I fully support your son having a day off every week! 🙂 We have a saying in early childhood-preschool is NOT boot camp for kindergarten. They only get to be little for a little while and time with mommy is priceless! When my son was 4 I was laid off and many people around me kept suggesting I send him to preschool or mom’s day out or something AWAY from me. Since I’d been a WOHM for several years he’d been there, done that. Why would I pay (when I was jobless too!) to send him to a classroom full of kids when he could spent one on one time with me?

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    • thank you. i mean, come on, it’s pre-school! i feel like if anything, we don’t get enough quality time. it’s all busy busy busy. it’s of course, important, but nothing like mommy time… even if it’s just a trip to target together. 🙂

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  12. Good on you! I LOVE this idea! Definitely going to copy it in a year or two when it’s our time for pre-school. The haters can just jeep their judgmental opinions to themselves. 😜

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  13. Preschool is totally the time to enjoy these special days. Those years really do go so quickly.

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  14. I too say pthththth to the naysayers. Shoot, if he wants two days I wouldn’t frown. I love what you’re doing. It’s way healthier than the Friday donut day we’ve been doing since Noah was 3 (10 years ago). I still enjoy my days with Noah, just the two of us. Yay you!

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  15. There are far more classrooms than just the one at school.

    Nothing wrong with your approach, TomO has learned more about life skills touring the outback, and doing many other things with us…

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    • well… if you mean life skills like how to find the milk in the supermarket and where the best ice cream joints are in town – well then, we have skills. but yes, i’m with you. nothing like hangin with mama. 🙂

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  16. I think it’s fabulous. I can’t understand why anyone would object. He’s still a baby! Don’t listen to any naysayers, just do what you know is right.

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  17. I think this sounds like a lovely idea. When I have kids, I’m certainly going to keep this in mind! : )

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  18. I have yet to have kids, but when the time comes I’m totally on board with the day off thing. 🙂

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  19. I think letting him have a day off is a WONDERFUL idea! Who cares what anyone else thinks? He will only be little for a short time.

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  20. You nailed it. PRE-school. He’ll remember the days off on so many levels.

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  21. I think it’s great that you can do that!! My son didn’t go to preschool on Mondays, he hung out with his grandparents. It worked just fine for us. Whatever works for each family, right?

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  22. I looked for a preschool that had only three-day programs at age 4 just so I could keep my kids to myself a bit longer. I knew in kindergarten things would change, and boy did they. You know that. I wanted to hang onto them as long as I could. And in kindergarten, they were fine.

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    • i think they need it every so often in the upper levels as well… mental healthy, mommy time, whatever. of course, we need our days too!

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      • I think you’re right. I think my 10-year-old took a mental health day this week. Said he “felt bad” but I wasn’t so sure. Whatever. He was happy to go back the next day and in five years of school, it’s the first time he’s played hooky–that I know of. 😉

  23. good on you! gobble up that time all you can.

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  24. This is why it’s PreK – days off are allowed! Love that you do this!

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  25. We’ve done an occasional mental health day with our kids. They’re in elementary school and are both crazy smart, so who cares if they aren’t in class to paste the rhyming words next to the pictures for one day? “Not I” said the fly…

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  26. “Yeah. Not funny.” Exactly. WTH? This is preschool people! I LOVE that you give your son the gift of spending time with you in this way. He’s a lucky little boy. I’m incensed that anyone would think this was anything other than a loving ritual between you and your son. I guess I need something to rant about today! 😉 You go, mama!

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    • it’s my last year in the nursery school – it’s bittersweet – so happy to be done – so happy sad they’re getting big. that teacher is not the brightest crayon in the box. 🙂 i take it with a grain, but i guess she annoyed me enough the other day to write about it. hee. hee.

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  27. One thing is for sure, your son will never doubt that he is wanted and loved. And that you love spending time with him. That will go a long way in helping him through the bumps of life no matter how old he is.

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  28. I don’t see a problem. My mother let me do the same thing in high school – that was after I was accepted to college though.

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  29. Sounds like you guys have wonderful days! I think *I* could use one of those. 🙂

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  30. Even when mine hit grade one, I wasn’t opposed to the occasional hooky day. They’re so darn little and school in the early grades is so much more than it used to be. Sometimes they just get tired.

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    • i love that. i’m going to give each of my older kids a free pass at least once (separately) before the end of the year. that way, they each get their special day. thank you!

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  31. I, too, am guilty of letting my kids take a day off and my mom did the same for me. And I received scorn from my youngest’s preschool teacher when I pulled her from a 2 day a week preschool class for 3 year olds. I had enrolled my daughter just so she wouldn’t be lonely without her older sibs but she screamed every time I dropped her off so I realized it wasn’t worth the angst (hers and mine). The teacher had the nerve to tell me I was making a huge mistake. I think my only mistake was enrolling her in the first place and leaving her even once while she was so distraught. My daughter dislikes school to this day (she’s a freshman in high school!) and I’d love to pin it on this decision but it is much more complex than that!

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    • we never know… i also have never been able to leave my kid crying in pre-school. it never seemed worth it. but we all do what we have to and make the best decisions we can at the time. maybe your daughter needs a mommy day. 🙂

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  32. I love that you do this. In 20 years, he’ll remember these days off, but probably won’t remember his pre-school teacher’s name. When I was in kindergarten and elementary school, once or twice a year my mom and her best friend (who is the mom of my best friend) would let my friend and me play hooky and we would have a best friend’s day and do fun things like go to the amusement park or get mani/pedis and have lunch. They are absolutely the best days.

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  33. When my son misses preschool, he is missing time with therapists, access to social interaction with peers and routines/structures that he needs. He’s an only child and I work full time, so I find time for doing things together with him on the weekends.
    Your child doesn’t NEED preschool. He needs a variety of experiences and time to play, because that’s how children learn. And he needs love. You are obviously giving him all of this on those days off. Kudos!

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    • pre-school is great. but it’s easier and more enjoyable for my son when he knows he has that day with me. if i can do it, i will. that makes it easier for me as well. i don’t want to ever put my kid in a program and leave him crying. that’s sooo hard. i try to maneuver a compromise around that, so we’re all happy. we all just try to do the best we can for our kids, and that’s all different for everyone.:)

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    • pre-school is great. but it’s more enjoyable for my son when he knows he has that day with me. if i can do it, i will. that makes it easier for me as well. i don’t want to ever put my kid in a program and leave him crying. that’s sooo hard. i try to maneuver a compromise, so we’re all happy. we all just try to do the best we can for our kids, and that’s all different for everyone.:)

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  34. samanthallardphotography

    Lovely idea =) they grow up ridiculously fast, i say them let them be kids for as long as possible! My boy stayed home with me and it did him no harm what so ever, he socialises great and is doing great academically too =D enjoy them when they’re little……

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  35. nataliedeyoung

    I would totally do the same. I mean, c’mon, it’s preschool, not Harvard people!

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  36. Julius is a lucky lucky kid for a little having a little laxed life, for after all it PRE SCHOOL. No grades, no real studies, nothing. It’s good you are actually doing this every week. One day is not really too much to ask for anyway. What i really like is that you actually have reasons why you let him have the day off. Very nice post. 🙂

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  37. Refreshing! I am not a mother, but am a former teacher. I am a little bit old school and I think pre-school is overrated anyway. I went to a six week summer head start program the summer before first grade (not even Kindergarten if you can believer that) and I turned out fine. Got straight A’s all through elementary school – was bumped up two grades in reading class and hardly ever missed a spelling word. Quality time with mom is important and not enough children get that time in the busy lives that we are led by society to believe that every person must lead in order to be successful. Ok, off my soapbox now!

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  38. Absolutely the right thing to do. Did it with my girls (now 20 and 21) all through their school years and caught grief from many a principal/teacher…but…there is NOTHING like quality time with family. You cannot replace that and you should never have any regrets about it. Those were some of the best days we had as a family…museum trips, skiing trips, shopping excursions or just stay at home and sleep in days!

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  39. If I could arrange a day off with my little man, I would absolutely take it! He does the same thing as your LO when he gets up: “Mom, is this a stay home day?” My heart leaps for joy when it’s the weekend and I can say yes! It wasn’t so very long ago that kids didn’t go to preschool at all and kindergarten was a 1/2 day of (basically) play and socialization. Now we expect 4-5 year olds to recite the constitution. I know that academically this country is behind but 1 day off a week to spend with an attentive parent who is showing (and thus, teaching) their child love and respect? Yea, that ain’t the problem folks!!!!

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    • so true – it’s too much too soon. and then when we get to real school – unfortunately, i’ve come across a lot of ‘eh’ teachers. good teachers are soo important. we’ve had a few and it makes the year of learning fun and exciting instead of them wishing for the weekends.

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  40. Perhaps where you live, Kindergarten has become mandatory; if so, boooo. Kindergarten was originally what early preschool has now become – mostly socialization and play – intended to help children become accustomed to being in a classroom with peers and away from family. Kindergarten is still optional where I live, a policy with which I heartily agree.

    Some children are seemingly ready for structure and being kept inside with peers away from family at early ages, while others aren’t ready for such an environment until three years later. The age at which a child is emotionally ready for a school-like environment has nothing – zero – nada to do with his ir her intelligence, and everything to do with his or her emotional needs.

    Emotional needs vary greatly, based on the personality of each individual child, the family and home environment, the neighborhood environment, and the wider culture. In that order. Parents who allow strangers to order or shame them into mistreating their children in order to conform to the stranger’s expectations are doing their own children a deep disservice. Children need their parents more than they need strangers.

    Academics can come later, whenever the child is actually ready to learn. Assuming a normal, healthy child, a child who learns to read at age 7 because he or she now desires to learn will catch up to his or her age-peers academically within a year or two at the most. Children who are sitting in a classroom because they must do not learn a fraction of what a self-motivated learner will duirng the same time frame.

    Schools are OK for those who need structure, rules and restrictions, peer pressure, tests, grades and supervised meal breaks. However most children, especially those younger than 7, will actually do better in life if they’re blessed with family time during their early years. In other words, you’re doing the right thing IMO, just perhaps could do more of it.

    Your child has repeatedly expressed a preference for being with you over going to (pre-)school. Reflect on that a bit. Despite enjoying pre-school as you write, he nevertheless prefers to be with you, every day. Why not grant him that wish? Any adult who can write as well as you can also manage to teach pre-school-age children the basic skills to prepare them for school. And please remember that Kindergarten is for preparing children for school. Why rush Julius into something for which he isn’t ready? Even if all you can spare for him is one weekday each week, bravo for making that time and weathering the withering glares of the unlimited-school brigade.

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    • thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. i 100% agree with you. i typically do let my son stay home more than one day in the week. we find a balance that works for both of us. i also, let my older boys on occasion (not nearly as often) take a mental health/mommy day. i love this time with them. some have raised a brow in the school, but i have gotten nothing but positive warm feedback from this essay. thank you. i feel reassured by your words.

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  41. I love this idea! But how do you keep the school from giving you grief? My daughter was sick for a total of 15 days this year and I got a truancy letter?

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    • well, this kid is nursery school and i’m paying, so they can’t say boo to me. with the older ones, each district must be different, but if a kid’s sick, i mean, they’re sick, what do they expect from you?

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    • Remember, even though it isn’t “private school” with paid tuition, they ALL still work for you as a taxpayer and you have rights , especially if the child is ill.

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  42. Pingback: And we’re off to camp. Wait… no we’re not. | Icescreammama

  43. I had my twins in pre-k in a public school for a couple of months during which time they both hit the maximum allowed days of absence (we called them mental health days.) I was actually told by the principal that if they missed more days, I would have to go before a board to explain before they would be promoted to kindergarten. Ha! I looked at her amazed and said, kindergarten is not even mandatory, this is ridiculous! She pointed out that when you choose to send your kids to public school there are rules to follow. I believe this was a sort of payback because I had pulled my three older sons out of the school the previous year to homeschool and she had not been happy about it. Oh well, my kids became pre-k drop outs before the Christmas break.

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    • how odd! i mean, really? Pre-k requirements? What the hey? it’s ridiculous that they’d threaten to put you on trial like that. and they are not allowed pay back whether you pulled your kids or not. what is wrong with people?! sheesh!!

      Reply

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