Recently, I had to make a really big decision regarding my 4 year old son. There are two preschool programs he is eligible for in the fall: the Preschool 4 program which is three afternoons a week, and the Junior Kindergarten program which is Mon-Fri from 9 am – 2 pm.

Several factors made the Junior Kindergarten program a no-brainer for my son. He’s curious, he loves to be engaged in structured activities, he loves his play time, he has recently shown interest in learning to read and write, and he is totally at this ‘craving friends’ stage. I guess he sees his older sister having playdates all the time with different friends and he wants buddies of his own.

The downside is the cost. It’s pricey.

But what was tripping me up even more than the financial aspect of this decision was MAMA GUILT.

Am I a horrible mother for sending my kid to school full-time a year sooner than other kids his age? Obviously, he’s not the only kid to be in this program and it exists in other preschools as well (it’s pretty popular, I might add). But quite possibly, in those families both parents work outside the home. Technically, I work from home, so couldn’t I just figure out a way to keep him occupied, and learning, while I go about my day, working, managing the house and caring for an infant? Was something wrong with me that I couldn’t? Would those Pinterest-y moms who have a gazillion activities and plan mini-field trips scorn my ‘unwillingness’ to have my son home with me as much as possible before elementary school? Or worse, would my son somehow internalize this premature leap to big-kid school as a pushing-out-the-door? Was this really premature? Wasn’t I doing this with his best interests in my heart and mind? Or was this selfish of me?

Ultimately, I chose Junior Kindergarten for all of the factors I mentioned above that are particular to my son. AND I chose Junior Kindergarten because it will give me the space and time I need to grow my business and do the thing I absolutely must do in this lifetime. It took me awhile to realize that these two reasons that I once thought were at opposite ends of the Good Mama Spectrum can actually be on the same side. Because you should see how on my game I am after I have spent some time working. I’m energized, I’m happy, and yes, I’m a better mama.

Don’t hate me for saying this, but I do love Mondays. I love them as much as I love Fridays. This is a relatively new phenomenon and definitely coincides with me working in my passion zone for the last few years. Even though the amount of time I have to work is short and often interrupted, starting a new work week feels full of opportunity and excitement.

Since our baby was born 6 months ago, Mondays are even more special; it is the one day all week that the two older kids are out of the house during the same time frame (my son spends the day at my friend’s daycare) and I get 6 hours with just one little person! That means, when she is awake there’s nobody else demanding my attention away from her (or nobody else to whom I have to say, “Not now, the baby needs ____”). And when she’s asleep, well, do I really need to tell you what a couple hours of alone time mean to a mama? I didn’t think so.

Mondays right now are like a glimpse into what Junior Kindergarten would be like. My son comes home happy with stories to tell about science experiments and funny things his friend said, and he shows me his attempts at writing his name with such pride. He hugs me and tells me he missed me but his big pile of artwork and the smile on his face tell me it was a good day. And we still have 5 hours of the day left to be together before he goes to bed.

Two afternoons a week he goes to preschool, and same thing: he’s a happy boy when he steps back out those doors and into my arms. And I am happy with what I accomplished in my day, too.

Why is it such an internal struggle to allow it to just be what it is: a win-win situation for both of us, even if it means we aren’t under the same roof all day? Where does that idea come from anyway? That good moms spend every waking minute with their children and that being a loving mother means being ok with not doing anything else?

Cheers to doing it all in a way that works best for your family! What does that look like for you?