Keep your expectations realistic
Instead of watching your child pick out their very first backpack, you might be Googling studies about what Harvard grads were like in their first years of school. Repeat after us: stop it! One way to manage your own worries about your child starting kindergarten is to focus on the here-and-now feelings and avoid focusing on the future. Not only does doing so put unrealistic expectations on you and your child, but it dissolves the precious childhood experience. “Nobody gets an academic scholarship offer after kindergarten. Be careful not to make up stories about how your child will do based on their first year since a lot changes during this time, including you,” says Kevin Gilliland, Ph.D, psychologist and author.
Focus on your ‘me’ time
Since the moment you found out you were expecting, all of your attention (and your time, energy, love, sweat, tears) have been hyper-focused on your baby. Guess what? That baby is now a full-fledged duckling, heading off to start exploring the world outside of your home for the first time. And now, with extra hours on your hands between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., you can turn your attention inwards, for the first time in a long time. “You can now have more personal time to take care of yourself and catch up on things and people that you didn’t have time for before,” explains Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D, a Los-Angeles based psychologist. “You need to realize that by letting your child progress developmentally in kindergarten, you can have time to be more than just a ‘mom’ and may even become a better mom because you’re leading a more balanced life.”
Encourage your child’s independence
We won’t lie to you, throughout your kiddo’s first year of school, you’ll watch them change. They’ll become more confident, come home telling you stories from the classroom and increasingly sprout their independent wings. And while you’ll be thrilled to see them soar high, you’ll also struggle to accept they’re not your super-dependent baby anymore. “Parents are more likely to struggle with this adjustment when they deny that their own role as mom or dad is also changing. Not only is the child’s world evolving as they grow, but the parent’s world is also changing. Accepting this reality is key,” Dr. Pletter says. Remember, mama, your tough gal and your sweet boy will only continue to explore new worlds, have adventures, and expand their minds. But no matter where they roam—even those not-so-scary elementary school hallways—they’ll always love their mom.