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What No Parenting Class Teaches You...The Stress of "The Sign-up"

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What no parenting class prepares you for is “the sign-up.” Before we had kids, we took several courses to prepare for the birth of our first born. There was CPR training, a what-to-expect in pregnancy class and a course on how to care for an infant. And then there were the countless books and the Internet blogs I joined. I was prepared! But was I?

Fast forward past the infant stage and my child is about to start preschool. I begin talking to another mom in the neighborhood who is both shocked and horrified that I was just starting to think about preschool a month before it started. Panic started to set in. What did I miss? It was preparing for “the sign-up.” Turns out choosing a preschool is only 10 percent of the process, the other 90 percent is signing up.

For our preschool, parents were given a day for signups and we were told it would be first-come first-serve. I was unprepared with how early these parents actually got to this sign up! There were parents already lined up at the door before the school even opened. This was clearly not their first sign up! I thought next time I am bringing coffee and a lawn chair to better prepare. (like some of these parents had actually done.)

Even if your preschool process is more streamlined, “the sign-up” will infiltrate other parts of your life. Like summer camp. After getting preschool down to a science, my next run-in with “the sign-up” was summer camp. I was coasting through the year. The holidays were behind me, the kids were back in school and after school activities had resumed. But then the emails started rolling in around mid-January. Summer camps were sending reminders that sign-ups were approaching. So stress returned and I whipped out a calendar and started mentally slotting in camps times three, trying not to overlap weeks.

On sign up day, the clock slowly rolled to 9 a.m. I made sure I already have my username and password set, my dates next to me and Alexa reminding me exactly what time it was. I got my spots, sigh of relief.

Just when you think you are done with “the sign-up,” another one shows up:

For me, it’s dance recital time. I need to log on at 10 a.m. sharp to get seats close to the front. I keep refreshing me screen to check once the sign up is live while asking Alexa what time it is. Finally, success! I get the seats before they magically disappear off my screen like last time.

If you are new to this whole process, prepare yourself for “the sign up.” But in the end if you don’t get in line first, you get wait-listed or you sleep through sign up accidentally, it will be okay.

Personally, all three of these scenarios have happened to me and sometimes a missed opportunity has been a chance to try a new activity, new summer camp or a new school that turned out to be better in the end. I prepare myself for “the sign-ups” these days, but I am trying not to let the stress get to me during the process.

So if you are faced with the dreaded sign-up for the first time, remember don’t panic. You will still see your child perform, enroll your child in a class or get into another camp.

You got this moms and dads!

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