If You Want Your Kid To Go To Preschool, Sign Them Up Before They Are Even Born

shutterstock_151822547My 21-month-old son, Holt, MAY get into pre-school by the time he’s a teenager. I learned this, after calling a specific pre-school I wanted him to attend, and was told, “All full for next year. And the next year. And the year after that. But we can put you on the waiting list for 2017/2018.” Say what? I actually thought I needed a hearing aid.

But, yes, my 21-month-old son may get into pre-school when he’s six (and should be in Grade One) and that’s only a “maybe.” Why? Because he’s still NINTH on the waiting list for the year 2017/2018.

I couldn’t help but laugh when I found out that not only would I have to wait years, but also I was still on a waiting list. Then I cried, because I felt this was a parenting FAIL!

The administrator on the phone was very friendly, but didn’t seem like the type who I could, you know, slip a hundred bucks to or get her so drunk that I could convince her to get Holt in earlier.

She actually told me that, “I can’t even fill out most of the forms for the kids who have spots because half of them aren’t even born yet.” Then I laughed, because, how the heck was I supposed to know that I was supposed to sign him up for pre-school, not only when he was in the womb, or knowing now, that he’d have a greater chance to get into a pre-school of my choice, before I even decided to get pregnant again.

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  • JJ

    The subsidized daycares are like that in my city. I’m on mat leave for a year and the waiting lists are about 15-18 months long on average, so I pretty much had to sign up in my first trimester. If you need to go back to work much sooner than that, well good luck!

  • Samantha Escobar

    I plan on having kids in 5 years, should I start requesting approximately now?

    • elle

      Don’t you live in NYC? If I remembered correctly then I know you are joking but the answer is YES!

    • Sarah Penny

      Oh no, in NYC you have to apply to preschool. You don’t just “sign up”! That’s what the plebes do! You have testing and interviews!

    • elle

      Ah it’s even harder then I thought to get into preschool in NYC!

    • Zoe Lansing

      Preschools are like that in DC, too. I once babysat for a family’s younger child while the mother took the older child to a “observed playdate” at one of the schools they were applying to for the next fall. When they got home, I asked how it went and the mom said “Ok. I guess. I mean, she’s not even 3 so what were they looking for? How well she shapes her play dough before eating it?” That response is representative of why I’m still friends with the family even though I no longer live anywhere near DC and obviously can’t babysit their kids every weekend anymore.

  • Angela

    Wow, I’m so glad I live in a place where people don’t do crazy shit like this. Here most of the preschools don’t even open registration until the March before the kid starts. They don’t do wait lists before then. However, the wait list for my first choice day care is ridiculously long. My kids have been on it for several months and they still have about 50 kids ahead of them.

    • My2bits

      I teach at a preschool, and we do our registration the same way you described. You don’t register for the school until the February before school starts. Current students register first, then their siblings, then it’s opened up to everyone else. A lottery is held at the end of February. It would do no good to try and register three years in advance. I think it’s kind of ridiculous that a school would even allow that. I can’t imagine the headache it must be for all involved. So many things can change in that amount of time

    • Angela

      Seriously. There’s really no point unless the school thinks it will boost their reputation somehow. It seems like a system that was devised for no other purpose than to ridiculous levels of competition among parents.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      That might be true. It sounds pretty fancy if there’s that long a waiting list, so it makes it seem more prestigious. Like if you see two bakeries and one has a line all the way out the door you might assume those donuts are somehow better. Really, all donuts are delicious :)

  • CMP414

    This must be some fancy pants preschool. I just signed my 2 year old up for pre-school today. There were still spots left and I had my choice of morning or afternoon but we just went to our local rec center so i guess its no big whoop. we’re still excited though :)

    • Lilly

      no, it just depends where you live certain cities are just woefully short of spaces for daycare and preschool. In my city the estimate is that for every licensed daycare spot there are 3 children looking for it, same for preschool (they are under the same license/legislation). This results in most kids going to unlicensed home care — a lot of which are good but there have been more than a few instances lately of children being seriously injured or dying in these types of situations recently.

    • CMP414

      My city is very large but neighborhood is super small so we only have one preschool but several classrooms for each age. I think we took one of the last spots but there was thankfully no wait

  • elle

    Ugh, I’m so glad I don’t live in a state where I have to worry about this! Even the montessori prek-3rd he will start next fall has a 90%acceptance rate for the same year. But I do totally worry about prep school and that’s roughly 12 years away! This article has inspired me to start making very generous donations to my alma mater….and I’m only half joking. Why does getting your child a good education have to be so stressful?!

  • Anna

    I’m sure this has nothing to do with a waiting list or her son, the school probably knows all about RE and her blogs and doesn’t want her to blog next year about the school and just complain that it doesn’t cater to her every narssicistic, self-indulged whim. “How dare they not roll out the red carpet for my son and I at drop off every day!”

    • rebecca eckler

      Oh Elle, both my children have different last names than me. They don’t KNOW me at all when I call and ask questions! But thanks for jumping to conclusions! Glass houses and all that!

    • rebecca eckler

      Wait! Elle you are now Anna…at least pick ONE name, crazy!

    • CMJ

      It’s Disqus, not Elle. If Elle posts and then someone posts right after her and your browser hasn’t closed, it will show up as the same person.

    • elle

      Haha no! I feel you on this article, actually I hate you a little because it makes me even more stressed about schooling ;)

    • Jade

      You are just SO pretentious. Nothing about you is likable. Calling your reader crazy for a disqus error? Not surprising at all.

    • brebay

      There’s no form you have to fill out with YOUR last name on it? Weird. I’m not sure I’d pay for that lax an operation,

    • Crusty Socks

      is THIS the Rebecca Eckler that everyone keeps alluding to?

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Sometimes I forget how new you are. So precious. Your first Eckler posts. Awwwww.

    • igottagetoutmore

      I lived off the danforth and registered my son at 7 months (after we bought the house) we moved away when he was 4.5 because we never got a spot and had ZERO chance in hell of getting on.. it has NOTHING to do with being Rebecca. It is Toronto, limited number of spots and sorry to say..sibling policy which is great for people with more than one kid but keeps bumping the only kids like mine further down the list. BACK OFF

    • igottagetoutmore

      ps i registered for daycare (which he attended from 12 months to 3 years when I was 5 months pregnant. super hard to find a licensed spot for infant near my office.

    • Zoe Lansing

      Daycare in San Francisco is pretty similar apparently. My cousin and his wife are expecting their first child in May and already have him on a waiting list for a spot in two daycares (in case they he doesn’t get into their first choice by the time his mother’s maternity leave is over ).This is apparently common practice there.One of their friends with a toddler didn’t know this when she was expecting and couldn’t get her kid in anywhere (at least not anywhere licensed) when he was born so she had to get a nanny (which is even more expensive than daycare — and the daycare costs are astronomical there!) so she could return to work when her leave was up.

  • SA

    I don’t think I want my child to attend a pre-school where the parents are that well-put-together. Fortunately it isn’t the case around here except with some preschools. I think the one I want has a small waiting list, but I don’t really care if it doesn’t end up working out, we want her at her current sitter’s until 3, so we’ll see what is available then.

  • val97

    I live in a pretty expensive area where everyone has kids, and I did not have much of a problem getting my kid into preschool. I always thought that the signing your kid up while in the womb was an exaggeration. I think the waiting list was a few months long, nothing too crazy.

  • aCongaLine


    • Zoe Lansing

      A lot of places don’t have public preschools.At least not ones that are available to everyone.

    • aCongaLine

      I totally get that. A lot of people discount the public school system, though- like it’s not worth their time, and it’s a viable option where available.

    • Zoe Lansing

      Agreed. My fiancé and I both went to public school for K-12 and were just as prepared for college as our classmates who attended private schools (more prepared in some cases). Unless there’s a really good reason not to, we plan on sending our future kids to public school once they’re in kindergarten,as well.

    • MellyG

      I was wondering about that – my mother never stressed about enrolling me in pre school, i just went. Yay public school!

  • EX

    I don’t know about preschools around here but I did sign my daughter up for daycare when I was about 3 months pregnant (even though she wasn’t going to need daycare until she was 4 months old, so this was about 10 months ahead of time). She was on waitlists at 3 different daycares and only one had a spot open in time.

  • The Kez

    People thought I was mad for looking into daycare when I was 11 weeks pregnant, but it was only that I signed up then and hounded them on a weekly basis after that, that I got a spot when my son was 5 months old. Some mothers in my mothers group who waited until their kid was born (or even crazier waited until they were ready to go back to work) are still on a waiting list – and our kids will be 3 this year.


    Got as far as “My 21-month-old son, Holt…”

  • Adrienne

    Holy crap. My daughter is 15 months old and I hadn’t even thought of preschool yet. After reading this article I checked the website of the preschool I want to send her to and although it’s possible I might get her enrolled, I’m going to have to take out a loan to even afford it! I don’t think I can pay off college AND preschool loans at the same time. No thank you.

  • Marie

    So your preschool of choice is hard to get into, yet you chose not to register your son until now and now he can’t get a space. Did I miss anything? How on earth does one manage to publish a three page story about something that can be summed up in one sentence? And having a hard time getting into preschools in high demand areas is a pretty old and tired story to begin with. How can it be that anyone considers this woman to be a legitimate writer?

    • rebecca eckler

      Oh, I don’t know Marie. Maybe because I’ve published nine books, sold around the world. One of which is being turned into a television show? And I’ve been “writing” for almost twenty years. But I suppose I’m not “legit,” in your eyes. Sigh. Have a nice night! xo

    • Zoe Lansing

      What’s the television show going to be about? Single parenting? Blended families? A woman who writes controversial articles for a parenting site and how she deals with the constant beating she gets in the comment section? I’m not being snarky, I swear. I’m genuinely curious about this pending tv show ,mostly because there’s not anything nearly as interesting going on in my life right now. I’m stuck at home recovering from a bad bout of double pneumonia and mostly spend my days coughing, going on the internet, burning food in the microwave, being simultaneously annoyed and touched by my fiancé’s constant calls checking up on me while he’s at work and endless hovering when he’s home, and, because I’m a stubborn dumbass with intense nicotine cravings, sneaking the occasional cigarette. Tell me and let me live vicariously through you please!

    • Psych Student

      You know, I would be interested to know what it’s like to be hated just because you wrote something. I keep thinking that the next time Rebecca writes something that my not go over well, Mommyish should start by posting it by another author and see how much praise it gets and then reveal that it was Rebecca and watch everyone say it’s the most horrific garbage they’ve ever read. I really don’t get the hating on her so much, it just seems cruel.

    • Zoe Lansing

      Great idea! I often disagree with what she writes but a lot of times it feels like other readers trash all her articles and are appalled by every single one of her opinions just because they’re hers. I totally think Mommyish should do what you just suggested!I’d be really interested to see what happens!

    • rebecca eckler

      Such a great idea!!! In fact, on my daughter’s life, I don’t really care if it’s my byline or another! So LOVING this idea!

    • Kara

      When I commented a few articles ago about how your most recent article didn’t “flow” I was sincere. As a fellow writer myself (not published yet unfortunately) I’ve been there too, writing something that makes sense to you but doesn’t exactly flow correctly on paper. Everyone needs criticism, even someone who has published books and “Been a writer for over twenty years.” Everyone has spats of terrible writing. It sucks but it happens. I have not commented on your articles lately because they have been written quite well. The content didn’t interest me but the writing itself was good. I believe in giving constructive criticism when it is needed. I just wanted you to know that I do not dislike you personally.

    • rebecca eckler

      Thanks Kara! That was sweet! I do have a unique way of writing. I know there are “rules” but I write like I’m talking to someone, like a friend. And writing is SO subjective, isn’t it? What one person likes, another doesn’t. I get that! And, yes, not every blog can be a winner, that is for sure!

    • rebecca

      OH YES!!! We should totally do that!!! And you can (plug, plug :) buy my book The Mommy Mob, coming out late April, to find out my opinions on the matter!

    • guest

      Anything Rebecca writes will not go over well because of the simple fact that she wrote it – I mentioned the same thing a few articles ago, that if this was one of the other bloggers all the commenters would be like “blogger we are praying for you and baby that you find a spot” or something like that. Rock on Rebecca! As someone that lives in Toronto and does not have children yet I am too aware that I should probably get my unborn child on a list immediately!

    • Jessifer

      Thank you. I don’t know who “Rebecca” is, don’t really care, but I enjoyed this article. I too am from Toronto and I had no idea when I got pregnant how hard it would be to get my child into a licensed daycare (even the shittier ones). It sucks having my kid on 4 different waiting lists since my first trimester and not even knowing whether he can get into a daycare by the time I go back to work. It’s super stressful and it’s ridiculous that people here have to put up with it, but that is the way of things in this city I guess.

    • rebecca eckler

      Oh, pneumonia is the worst! Been there a couple times. Takes everything out of you. The show is based on a book I wrote called, “How to Raise a Boyfriend.” Your fiance sounds wonderful, but it’s a book I think you’d enjoy together in bed!!

    • Zoe Lansing

      Thanks! My fiancé really is wonderful (hence why I’m marrying him :) ) even if he does do annoying things like, well, caring about my health lol.

  • Jamie-tang


  • Sara610

    Wow, I’m really grateful for our awesome situation. My daughter has been in a daycare that we love since she was 11 months old, and in a few months she’s just going to move up to the preschool class. We love the teachers, she loves being there–it costs an arm and a leg, but hey, it’s Massachusetts so we were pretty much expecting that.

  • Emily A.


    * Get to know the school(s) you’d like your kiddo to attend.
    * If that’s a preschool, learn about wait lists, application dates, and so on. Do not think anyone is kidding when it sounds silly.
    * If elementary or high school: same thing.
    * If you ignore information you have learned, prepare for Plan B, whatever that may be.
    * Accept that there is rarely a single school that will be the perfect match for your child and family. Cast your net wider.
    * Your initial Plan B may ultimately be your “We couldn’t have done it without,” so keep an open mind.

  • Lala

    Thankful that this isn’t a big deal to me at all. I don’t intend on signing my daughter up for pre k until 4 anyway. And if I can’t get in then oh well. She will learn about letters and numbers from me at home. I don’t think I would even want to be at a school with those kinds of wait lists.

  • Allyson_et_al

    Wow. When I lived in NYC, I registered my daughter for preschool a few months before the fall term and had no problems. I guess I was insanely lucky? (And no, we’re not rich, famous, or connected.)

  • JLH1986

    It’s funny (or not since I apparently live in the 2nd shittiest state) how geography plays a huge role. If I had a small child I could call and get said child into even THE most exclusive (but not remotely affordable) preschool in probably 8 weeks at most. The preschools that are affordable? Usually it takes a week for paperwork.

  • Frannie

    I can’t believe they’d allow a fetus to get on a waitlist. This sort of thing should not be allowed.

  • Jennifer

    This gets really difficult when you are a military family and have no idea where you may be living in six months. Makes preenrollment almost impossible. :/

  • Blahblah

    I’m always shocked at the whole Pre-School problems thing. One of my coworkers tried to get into our only free preschool in my county. She was wait listed because the kids who met certain requirements got in first. She found out her daughter was accepted the day before school started. :/ Way to keep on the ball there, school.

    I’m already chewing my nails. My kid is three months old and not on any lists because we don’t even know where we’ll be living then.

  • Beth

    In Ontario, JK at public schools starts the fall of the year your child turns four. My younger daughter was, in fact, still three the first time she got on the bus for her first day of junior kindergarten. Why do you need your kid in school any younger than that? If all you want is for Holt to do painting, snacking and socializing, why not put him in daycare a couple of days a week?

    Check out my blog at http://nothingandeverythingbeth.wordpress.com