One of the things we parents notice as our toddlers grow older is that, no matter how we try, we can't keep our children to ourselves. Your toddler's sense of independence, as well as his developmental need to socialize, means that sooner or later (and all too often, sooner, in our accelerated culture) your child will be off to pre-pre school or its equivalent.
While we love to see our children spread their wings, it can be hard on a parent who has been the primary caregiver for the first few years of your child's life. We want to keep our little ones home and safe even when we know it's time for them to go; even if it's only for a few hours a day.
One way to overcome the separation blues as your toddler enters the pre-school and kindergarten years is to look into coaching. Most people are, of course, familiar with the classic image of the father coaching his son in Little League. But there are a host of other options for both boys and girls, moms and dads, that will keep you and your child together while offering the chance for development, independence and positive interaction.
For those in the northern suburbs, check out your local park district offerings. Park districts like the ones in Grayslake http://www.glpd.com/brochure.html and Mundelein http://www.mundeleinparks.org/# often rely upon parent involvement to drive their baseball for tots (either gender) and mini-soccer programs. Look at local park district brochures (especially their spring brochures) to see if your township offers such programs.
Another option for parents who want to stay involved through coaching is AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) http://www.ayso.org/ho AYSO is run by volunteers and has coaching opportunities for parents with children as young as four years old. We started with AYSO in our family after my daughter became to old for the park district programs and have always been happy with our experience. Talk to parents or administrators in your area and see how they feel about the organization- as a 100% volunteer-run organization, they are always looking for more people who want to share their child's playing experiences.
A great resource for parents interested in coaching is the National Alliance for Youth Sportshttp://www.nays.org/coaches/ which helps potential coaches understand what youth sports and coaching your child are all about.
As our children grow older it's only natural that we as parents would want to join them for part of their adventures in life. Coaching is a great way to stay close and stay connected!