Don’t be too hard on yourself
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.
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.”