Julie Solomon Schaech’s Blog: The Great Preschool Debate

04/26/2016 at 01:00 PM ET

Please welcome back guest blogger Julie Solomon Schaech!

The publicist married actor Johnathon Schaech during an intimate beach ceremony in Ocean City, Maryland, in July 2013.

That September, the couple welcomed their first child, son Camden Quinn, now 2½.

Schaech, 46, recently appeared on Legends of Tomorrow.

Solomon can be found on TwitterInstagram and her website.

Julie Solomon Blog
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I was thinking yesterday about my parenting style. Am I a helicopter parent? A free range parent? An unconditional parent?

No folks. I don’t fit into those neat little boxes. I fit into my own parenting style, which I call the “It Didn’t Occur to Me Parent.” Preschool enrollment really confirmed that parenting style.

It didn’t occur to me that Camden (who will be 3 years old in September) should go to preschool in the fall. Since he was born, I have been of the mindset that he is A) a boy and B) a late birthday, so there was no immediate rush to the preschool playground. There was no email from the department of preschool or a knock on the door from the preschool police. Plus, how complicated could it be?

As it turns out … pretty complicated. Like, I-feel-like-I’m-running-a-presidential-campaign complicated.

Julie Solomon Blog
Valorie Darling

When I went to preschool, there was only one in my hometown. No application process or required tours. There weren’t options like Montessori, co-op or religious affiliation (unless you went to the nursery school offered by your church). And there certainly wasn’t a waiting list.

And now, this “It Didn’t Occur to Me Parent” is a nervous wreck. My son, Camden, may get into a preschool by the time he’s of legal drinking age.

“I told you to call when you were pregnant. I told you so,” said one of my friends, after I freaked that all the schools in our area were booked solid. Man, I dreaded those four words. Especially since my friend was right.

All throughout my pregnancy, my friend would ask, “Did you sign him up yet?” Of course I hadn’t. I was too busy working, eating Cheetos, stockpiling old baby books from friends and waddling around the house watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

RELATED: Julie Solomon Schaech’s Blog: Overcoming the Postpartum Blues

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Valorie Darling

I have to admit; I thought my friend was crazy for even suggesting I sign him up for preschool while he was a walnut-sized fetus in my stomach. I thought, “Eh, I got time.” It didn’t occur to me that she might be on to something.

One administrator told me that some women put their not-named children on waiting lists for certain schools. Why? These women are NOT even pregnant yet. Maybe I am just completely out of the loop here, but I had never heard of such a thing!

Fast-forward two plus years and at least 15 phone calls later, and guess what? I can’t get a confirmation of available classroom spots anywhere in our area, although there are numerous schools. One administrator told me my son is on the list for 2019! It’s supposed to be a “great school,” but by then, Camden will be almost 7 so that doesn’t help us much.

Julie Solomon Blog
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Another told me we almost had a spot, but new siblings of current students were born and they hold precedence on the off chance they want to enroll. Maybe it isn’t like this in other parts of the country, but here in L.A., it’s apparently the way the preschool world works.

Another friend told me on Facebook, “Registration for many schools started in January. Call NOW!!” I should also note, this response currently has 20 likes. I also currently have a stomach ulcer.

My husband Johnathon and I took to Google and a few more phone calls, and have narrowed a long list down to three options to check out. It seems they all have rolling registration so we can set up a time to tour them next month when life calms down a bit, and available half day spots are promising for fall (WHEW!).

Julie Solomon Blog
Valorie Darling

Perhaps Camden won’t grow up and live in our basement after all because it didn’t occur to me to register him for preschool as I was being wheeled out of the delivery room.

But it got me thinking about this whole process in general. Am I the only parent out there that thinks this process sounds as absurd as it is to type? Since when did preschool enrollment become such a … process? Do we, as parents, really need to stay more on top of this process for the betterment of our children? And, if we don’t, are we not doing our due diligence?

Julie Solomon Blog
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I am a laid back mother, without a doubt. But has my laid back attitude toward parenting, in this aspect, bit me in the ass? Should I have known better than to wait? Is there a “perfect age” for when a child “should” be enrolled in preschool? I can acknowledge all these things, and own up to the fact that maybe I was a little too laid back about this chapter of parenting.

Am I too relaxed? Just not informed enough? Should I have spent less time watching Real Housewives pregnant while eating Cheetos and more time waddling around preschool tours? All possible.

— Julie Solomon

FILED UNDER: Exclusive , Guest Blog , Kids , News

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Showing 21 comments

Amy L on

too funny. Only in LA would that kind of wait list, or NYC, make sense. Atlanta is not too bad and I got both my kids in to good preschools. I know it is different for celeb kids but this is funny. Good luck and enjoy some Cheetos.

Sonny on

We live in a coastal part of Orange County, not far from LA. I am a dad of two. I had read the horrors of preschool process somewhere back in the early 2K’s, before I was even married. So, eight years ago, when my older one was not even a year old yet, I went “shopping” for his first (pre-)school.

Any a mediocre “daycare” was willing to take him right away but a reputable (“accredited pre-school”) would ask to sign up on a list to get in line and then wait till eternity for a call back. Luckily, just for the heck of it on a whim, I signed up on a list for a school that had not yet opened but was taking requests and referrals pending its site’s approval from the county.

When my son turned 3, I took him to that school which, by then, was already booked solid with maximum allowed enrollment and a 2-3 year worth waiting list – despite of the fact that its enrollment and monthly fee was about 1/3rd of an average monthly payment of a mortgage in our area!

The school informed me that my son’s name was pushed back in line because they had not heard from me in the two years following my sign-up! (Allegedly, I was supposed to have renewed my request with current info 90-days prior to beginning of EVERY school year in order to keep my son’s spot in line.)

To make the long story short, after many phone calls and persistent requests, my son’s name got back in line where it was supposed to be and we finally received an invitation to enroll a few months later when another child dropped out because his parents were relocating.

We celebrated his pre-school enrollment confirmation as if he had graduated with a perfect GPA with an MBA from Harvard!

Monique DeWan on

This is soooo hysterical and yet so very true!!! Preschool sign up is like you’re doing college tours! My mother in law swears by signing up babies while in utero! I always thought preschool (since it is optional) was a place you fill out a form, give your check and you’re on your way…. Nope!!!

I have a 4 yr old and an 8 week old and as I’m typing this I’m cursing sh**, I better get Colin on the wait list now!! LOL! This is why mothers of small children enjoy their wine time!!! #momsdoingthebesttheycan

Sarah on

It’s very sad that these pressures on kids and parents start so young. Although, yes, this is a funny story. When did people become so willing to let go of happiness and childhood, neither preschool or kindergarten is mandatory in CA. You should look into homeschooling, quite a shift in perspective….a shift toward having the goal for your child be happiness, not just getting into the next rat race (or should I say “sheep” race)

Melanie on

I’m with Sarah. Homeschooling is the way to go. Enough with all this stress and pressure. Childhood is about play and exploration. Fancy pants preschool is not required.

Michelle on

My daughter is 3 1/2 and my son is 1 1/2. The thought of preschool has crossed my mind a couple of times, but that’s it. It is not mandatory here in MN, so they may not go at all. They stay home with me and we’re in no rush to end the fun anytime soon…why would I let someone else enjoy my children’s cutest years?

I think the baby rat race is RIDICULOUS, so we don’t participate. Continue enjoying the Cheetos and Housewives, I’ll continue enjoying my popcorn and Kardashians🙂

Jenny on

I’m confused, and also not a parent so maybe I’m missing something, what does him being a boy (third paragraph, her A-bullet point) have to do with getting him into a preschool? Is it just supposed to be more competitive for girls? Or are boys more independent when playing? Just wondering!

Laura on

My son is a 3rd year resident at one of the most prestigious academic medical centers in the world. He published multiple scientific whitepapers before the age of 29. Yet he didn’t even make the top 25 percent of his high school graduating class. It takes great parenting, not the perfect preschool to accomplish that.

Chris on

Jenny… because boys don’t mature developmentally as quickly as girls do and so some people hold their boys back a year depending on how they’re progressing.

Personally, it all seems a bit silly to me. I like the idea of pre-school for most kids, but if they’re all booked up then keep him home and teach him yourself. I’m betting you know your colors, how to count to ten, how to hold a crayon and how to use scissors.

As far as social skills, you can put him in some other classes to learn these things… story time at the library, play dates at the park. Besides, studies show that any advantage pre-school provides evens out by the 2nd grade.

Your little one will be fine. Don’t make yourself crazy.

Carolyn on

I sent my son to two days a week of a very creative pre-school and the rest of the time he and I went to the childrens’ museum, took train trips to local cities including NYC, went to the beach, and spent time at the Y and libraries. There is so much you can do to broaden your child’s horizons without making yourself crazy about full-time pre-school.

Selma on

Different country, same fun. My son is 2 years old now and I was looking for preschool just for half day so he could play with kids. While calmly touring, moms around me started to tell me that this is the most important choice I will make for my child and that I have to decide now what kind of education I want him to have till high school… Guys I just wanted a place where he can play with other children rather than stay at home with nanny!!!

and do you know what’s even funnier in my country, you have to pay for preschool, because our government doesn’t provide education for little ones. I hope that someday, we will stop pressuring ourselves as parents and be blackmailed on our will to provide the best for our children.

Poppy on

LOL @ Laura. Let’s give credit where it is due, to your son who has done all the grueling work required to get where he is today, not his Mommy.

Liz on

Neither of my children went to preschool, nor daycare. I worked from home, and in my downtime taught them their letters, numbers, colors, words, read to them nightly, took them to the park to play with other kids their age, had play dates, etc. When they started kindergarten they were ahead of most of their classmates. It wasn’t easy juggling all that, but I had decided long before I had kids that I wanted to be very hands on. My oldest is a registered nurse and my youngest has chosen to pursue architecture.

bethwebster7 on

I’m not into preschool. I think it’s great for some families who both work etc, but I’d rather my girls not do this. We do playdates etc for the socialization argument, and we do play-based, interest-led learning at home. Both my girls are already past a kindergarten level in reading/phonics/numbers/colors etc. and it’s ALL been done this way. Yes, we’re going to homeschool, but even if we weren’t we wouldn’t be going to preschool route either.

Also, this was SO funny!🙂

Lynn on

I had three kids all currently now in college. Only 1 even went to preschool. Kindergarten teacher couldn’t tell. As long as you make an effort to read to him and have him play with other kids, I wouldn’t stress. You’re doing fine.

Ashley on

I think that’s crazy! I think a lot of that has to do with it being LA. Here in Oklahoma, we have Pre-K (not a requirement to attend) which is for 4 year olds before they start kindergarten when they are 5. Super easy enrollment process regardless if its public or private school. There might be a wait list for the private schools but not to the point you need to sign up while pregnant!

There is a lot of stuff that a first time parent of a school age child doesn’t know unless you have friends with children who have already been through it.

Carly on

My siblings and I went to a preschool run by a local church (and not one that we were even a part of) a few days a week for a couple hours. We all turned out extremely successful. All of this “accredited preschools” and wait lists are silly.

shally on

Lovely post and lovely family.

Sue on

I loved this article! It is so true in Nashville with the Private School sector. You better get them on a list WHILE you are pregnant!! Good article…it made me LOL

Zon on

Very well written blog, funny and interesting.

LaurenAPMT on

We live in Montana, and have experienced similar issues enrolling our little guy (who will be 3 in August) in a Pre-K program. Yes, I said Montana…

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