There’s something special about the preschool years—if you’ve had a preK’er you know the feeling. They’re big kids but they still need you to spot them on the swings. They have their own opinions, but aren’t above tagging along for anything. And they’re just starting to create their own little friend groups, but still need you to hang tight at birthday parties and playdates.
For those endearing reasons—and many more—moving to the suburbs when your child is in her 3s or 4s can be a huge win, at least when it comes to acclimating. Given your child’s age, immediate needs and desire to be with Mom and Dad, landing in the ‘burbs during those years can mean easier access to fellow parents, more family invites and tons of opportunities to get in the mix, whether it’s volunteering in class or simply staying in-the-know about seasonal happenings.
Some reasons moving to suburbia during the preschool years makes sense?
#1. You’re always around…and that’s a good thing
Between the ages of six and eight, kids dive into all things “drop off”—drop off birthday parties, drop off playdates, drop off soccer practice, you name it. From a scheduling perspective, this stage can feel like a massive victory—gone are the days of shuttling all of your kids to birthday parties and playdates, for starters.
But, if you’re trying to get acquainted with a new town and your new fellow parents, the drop-off element can be a hurdle. Think about it: while you might make an instant connection with a mom while dropping off or picking up for a playdate, you’re much more likely to chit-chat and start spotting commonalities if you’re kicking back with a coffee (or Cava…) while the kids play—and the latter is exactly what happens in the pre-kindergarten years.
This is especially key if you’re a working mom. While you may miss AM drop off and PM pick up, those weekend birthday parties and playdates are your big chance to mix and mingle—and with a three- or four-year-old, you’ll have tons of invites flooding your inbox.
#2. Their activities are your activities
“While I don’t love standing around in the cold, waiting for practice to end, I do love hanging out with the other parents from my daughter’s soccer team,” says Alisa, a Suburban Jungle client and mom of three from Darien. “I’ve met so many families standing here, huddled around, waiting for the coach to blow the whistle.” That, she says, isn’t the case with her older two who, at 8 and 10, don’t need her to hang around practice. “So I know way more of these parents.”
But the chilly soccer sidelines aren’t the only spot to engage potential suburban friends. Whether your preschooler takes after-school music, heads to tumbling on Saturday morning or hits a weekend soccer clinic, chances are you’re going to have to settle in and wait while he dives in—and so will every other parent there. Use that time to make connections because, in a year or two, those parking lots won’t be packed with waiting Moms and Dads—those parents will drop and run, cutting down on your chance to meet your new neighbors. Then, after, see who you can rally for a quick bite at the diner or post-”workout” ice cream cone.
#3. They aren’t so committed
And while these activities are amazing ways to meet parents, the fact that preschools aren’t as heavily scheduled and have short days can also be a win. Typically preschools have shorter days, with many dismissing students as early as 11:30am. This not only helps ease the transition to “real” school but also gives you a chance to buddy-up with your fellow parents at pick up.
“Parents at our preschool are so good about making plans at pick up,” says Carolyn, a Greenwich mom of two preschoolers. “After school someone will often yell out to the group that they’re going to this playground or that park—it’s like an open invite to all of the families, which made it really easy to make plans when we first moved.”
From there, she adds, many families walk or caravan over to the designated after school play spot where preschoolers can burn off steam while parents mix and mingle.
#4. You can be more involved in their day-to-day
Want to read your favorite childhood book to a captive audience, or show a room full of four-year-olds how to turn an egg carton into a work of art? Chances are, your child’s preschool teacher will be thrilled to have you guest star in class on more than a few occasions.
If you’re looking to make connections with other Moms and Dads from class, look for opportunities like seasonal parties, school-wide events and performances and raise your hand—often classes need at least a few parents standing by to assist. This not only gives you added exposure to your child’s day-to-day but, at the same time, aligns you with other parents—parents who could be your next great family friends.
#5. Lots of families are new, too
In an effort to get kids situated before elementary school begins, many families make the leap to suburbia in the preschool and pre-preschool years—and chances are, those families are looking to make connections and schedule a few family-wide playdates while they’re at it. Lean on the fact that you’re far from alone, and that the other parents in your preK orientation are also sizing up the potential friendship scene—because they 100% are.
Again, there’s no “right” time to make a move to the suburbs—only what’s right for you and your family. But, by understanding the different moments in time and how moving could impact your child, you’ll be better positioned to start your suburban search.
Working with Suburban Jungle, you’ll dig deep into lots of intangibles, including the unique preschools and childcare options from town to town. With that information, you’ll be better able to zero in on what suburbs fit your unique lifestyle. Then, by touring communities, mixing and mingling with locals and really understanding where you belong, Suburban Jungle will help you refine your list and help you find the right place to call “home.” Get in touch to learn more and to schedule your free Strategy Session now.