I don’t like making decisions. I’m one of those people who hem and haws over big decisions, driving others slightly crazy with my incessant debate. Simply put: I’m scared of making the wrong decision. As a mom, this fear only intensifies when I’m making decisions for my son.
When my family moved to the south metro this summer, we faced the overwhelming challenge of choosing a new preschool for my four-year-old son. We felt like he needed a program that would prepare him for kindergarten while also giving him time to play and have fun. The stress of finding a program that met his needs – and still had a spot available – put a pit in my gut.
The search begins
As my husband and I began our preschool search, we contemplated three options:
- Full-time preschool
- Part-time preschool and part-time in-home daycare
- Full-time in-home daycare with a preschool program
To add complexity to the situation, we’re expecting our second child this fall. This required us to consider infant childcare options as we searched for the best preschool for our son. Did we want both kids with the same care provider? Would a place with a good preschool program also provide the ideal infant environment? Was it logistically possible to take our kids to two different daycares?
The stress of this decision, combined with the daunting task of moving, overwhelmed me – and gave me a strong desire to eat ice cream.
B.R.A.I.N. – Sage advice from a wise mom
When I was pregnant with my son, a wise mom in my prenatal group shared the guidance of the decision-making model B.R.A.I.N. This tool is intended for making medical decisions, but it’s helped me make decisions in all areas of my life.
Here’s how B.R.A.I.N. guided our preschool decision.
B – Benefits
The first step of the process is to consider the benefits of your various options. For our preschool choices, the benefits include:
- Full-time: Immersion in a more academic setting would help my son more fully prepare for kindergarten.
- Part-time: This option would allow my son to attend preschool while also providing him with a more relaxed environment to grow socially.
- In-home: A smaller, less structured preschool program would offer a more familiar environment during a period of a lot of transitions.
R – Risks
Once you’ve considered the benefits, it’s time to weigh the risks. For the preschool choices, the flip side of each option included:
- Full-time: Being in a structured, academic environment all day might be a challenge for my son right now.
- Part-time: Switching between two new places could be overwhelming for my son, especially as he adapts to a new house and new sibling.
- In-home: This more relaxed environment might not provide enough structure to prepare my son for kindergarten life.
A – Alternatives
After evaluating the pros and cons of our preschool options, none of them felt 100 percent right. The next step was to consider alternatives. This step challenged us to explore options outside of the choices we first considered.
Among the preschools, we found alternatives in the structure of each program. We discovered in-home preschools that hire outside teachers and preschools with less rigorous academic approaches. Both of these options better matched my son’s needs and personality.
I – Intuition
Once you’ve gathered all the data, it’s time to listen to your gut. Consider what feels right based on the information you available. This is the time to trust your instincts over others’ opinions and your personal thoughts on what you “should” do.
For my husband and I, our instincts led us to Montessori preschool. Their approach matched our son’s needs, and it was easy to envision him in their classroom. More than anything else, our guts confirmed that the preschool was “the one” for our son.
N – Next Step
The last step is to take action to officially make your decision. You’ve weighed the pros, cons, and alternatives, and now you can move forward knowing you’re making the best choice based on the information available.
For me, this last step brought a sigh of relief. Turning in my son’s preschool registration paperwork inspired a happy dance. I can’t wait to see him thrive at school this fall!
What about you? How do you work your way through tough decisions? What methods do you use to help you confidently make decisions for yourself and your kid(s)?