Last year about this time I made a discovery that has profoundly enriched my experience as a stay-at-home-parent: we found a co-op preschool for Jeep.
From the beginning, Jeep was interested in other children. I knew instinctively that my job as a Stay-At-Home-Parent (SAHP) would be to find and facilitate these social interactions as much as possible. So of course I was enthusiastic when I stumbled upon a local co-op preschool with a "young toddler" classroom for kids aged 1-2 years. We visited, we loved it, and we signed him up.
My boy was born in late August, which makes him the youngest among his peers for life in the school system. Schools generally send kids with September birthdays into the next school year. Jeep turned 1 in August, and in September he started school. He had just learned to walk.
This particular school is only available to SAHPs, because it requires parents to work one "shift" throughout the week. School runs from 9am to 1pm, and there is a full time teacher there every day. We sing, we read books, we play outside, and we go for walks. Jude knows the other children, and they know him. We have gotten to know other families, and I have been exposed to some different methods of parenting and child management.
The people at the co-op are not my best friends. But somehow, someway, the experience of parenting together (often in close quarters) creates an intimacy that comes quickly. I trust these people to raise my child. In return, the takeaway for Jeep is huge. He loves our class, the children, the teacher, and the other parents. When I walk out the door on my "daddy day off" he doesn't even look up.
There was something lost when our modern civilization moved out of small communities and into the developed world of private homes and freeway commuting. We lost the mentality of the village. In a place like our co-op, we have managed to find it again.
Where would I be without them? I am basically a gregarious person. It helps make the sometimes lonely occupation of stay-at-home-parenting a little more friendly.