Be your child’s rock—and remember he (will always) need you
Soloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock So while expressing your emotions is a healthy habit, Dr. O’Leary reminds parents how essential it is to remain your child’s rock throughout the transition to kindergarten. Because your child depends on you to be his steady, guiding force of love and encouragement, openly weeping in front of him may ignite fears surrounding school. “A quick, sentimental, smiling tear may slip out on the first day, but remember it’s important to send your child the message of, ‘You’ve got this!’ Focusing on supporting your child in this way allows you to highlight your son or daughter’s strengths, which will leave you feeling a bit more optimistic and less stressed,” she says. One sweet, memorable and helpful way to shift the conversation positively is to talk to your child about going to school. Dr. O’Leary suggests having an open conversation about what they hope their year of school will be like and guiding them through notes or drawings. “You may be pleasantly surprised by your child’s goals and aspirations! Use this as a source of inspiration for you and your child,” she adds. Looking for easy ways to give your kiddo a pep talk? Get started with these small ways to encourage your kids every day.
Try to stay busy
Liderina/Shutterstock You know what your grandmother always said, “An idle mind is a dangerous thing.” If you have younger children, you may be able to more easily distract yourself by tending to their needs than a mom of an only child, but either way, you’ll still feel your babe’s absence. Dr. O’Leary says one of the most effective ways to maintain your sanity—and slowly release your control-freak tendencies!—is to keep yourself occupied. “The hardest way to pass time is to stare at the clock and wait until the school day is over. If you’re home, take on a project or plan to spend some time with a friend. If you’re at work, focus on the task at hand and try to avoid repeatedly checking your phone,” she says. Stuck for ideas? Here’s how to find a new hobby that you’ll love.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock First rule of parenting (that’s often the one that takes the longest time to learn)? Resist the reflex to judge other parents—and that includes yourself. If you’re not feeling super sad about your child going to kindergarten? Normal. If you are mildly freaking out? Also normal. Dr. O’Leary explains the more pressure you put yon yourself to mold into a specific bucket, the more stressful the transition will feel. “Every parent experiences the hallmarks of growing up differently. Accept your emotions and keep in mind there’s no single right way to step into the role of kindergarten mom,” she reminds.