In just a few days we will drop our kids off in your care. They’ll be dressed in crisp jeans and shirts from Target that I pulled the stickers off of that morning. Their hair will be perfectly in place and their socks will match. They’ll be excited to put their backpacks on for the first time and I’ll pack a fancy lunch with a note that says “I love you.”

But don’t get used to that. We like to start strong, but by Christmas, bedhead and mismatched socks will be more our style.

Having new things and nice hair makes us feel brave on the first day of school.

Afterward, I’ll go home and pour myself a cup of coffee. My littlest and I will survey the empty house and wonder what we used to do during the day. We’ll miss them and the first day will feel long.

I will wonder as I sit at my counter if you’ll like my daughter.

Will you tolerate her or will you like her?

Will you get annoyed at the way she bounces when she talks?

Will it bother you how she gets too loud when she’s really really happy?

Will her hummingbird-like spirit make you crazy, or will it make you smile?

She is my firecracker, my free spirit, my wild one.

I wonder if she will try and boss you around like she sometimes does to me. I’m sorry in advance if she thinks that she is the teacher some days. We are working on that.

She does well with strong leadership and defined boundaries...not unlike a young lioness. It’s enough to drive me crazy some days, but I’m so excited to see how she’ll use that strength in the future.

You see, she’s not very good at personal space—but she has a heart of gold and a gift of joy.

If you struggle with this or any other behavior please let us know and we will work together as a team. We will back you up from home in every way, you have our full support.

I’m not always the together-parent.

I can’t always sign up to volunteer and I usually look like death warmed over in the morning when I drop them off. Last year my daughter asked me if I could please start wearing real pants to her classroom (as opposed to yoga ones.)

I’m not a star classroom mom, but I will do my best.

I’m not a star classroom mom, but I love my kids more than life and I appreciate you more than you know.

This year will shape my daughter in countless ways.

The picture I take on the first day will be almost unrecognizable compared to the one I take on the last. These years they fly by far too fast—and I want to thank you for being a part of this important time for her.

I will bring a coffee gift card or flowers when I think of it, but it will never be enough to truly say THANK YOU.

Thank you for investing in my daughter.

Thank you for giving her the gift of knowledge.

Thank you for countless hours of preparation.

Thank you for giving her what I cannot.

Having a newborn is challenging at the best of times, but during forced isolation and in a climate of fear and uncertainty, it can become overwhelming.

The coronavirus pandemic is setting up our communities for genuine mental health concerns. This may be especially true for new parents. When will 'normal' life return? How will I pay for diapers and baby food? Will my mom be able to help us now? What if my baby or my family get COVID-19? Unfortunately, no one knows the long-term impact or answers just yet.

Most families have built a network of social support by the time they have their first child—if they don't already have a support system, they develop one through various baby classes and groups set up for parents. The creation of the village can be instrumental to the mental health of new parents. Social distancing, the lockdown of cities, and isolation will inadvertently affect the type of support available.

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Raising a mentally strong kid doesn't mean he won't cry when he's sad or that he won't fail sometimes. Mental strength won't make your child immune to hardship—but it also won't cause him to suppress his emotions.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. Mental strength is what helps kids bounce back from setbacks. It gives them the strength to keep going, even when they're plagued with self-doubt. A strong mental muscle is the key to helping kids reach their greatest potential in life.

But raising a mentally strong kid requires parents to avoid the common yet unhealthy parenting practices that rob kids of mental strength. In my book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do, I identify 13 things to avoid if you want to raise a mentally strong kid equipped to tackle life's toughest challenges:

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