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The first time your child starts school or changes to a new classroom may cause fear, anxiety or sadness for the entire family. After all, change is never easy. However, it's important to remember that separation anxiety is a normal part of child development, especially in times of change.

It's important to remember that a positive partnership between you and your child's school can greatly support the transition and ease anxiety. Communicating regularly about your child with their teacher allows for children and families to feel connected to one another and builds trust.

As you prepare to drop off your child at school, try these strategies to help your child (and you) cope with separation anxiety:

Before school starts:

1. Visit the school together.

Get excited about their new space and don't forget to see the playground! Getting both of you familiar with their new environment will help to ease the anxiety of the unknown. Plus, it just might get your child excited to attend.

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2. Involve your child in the process.

This is especially crucial if they're transitioning schools. They might be anxious about starting the school year at a new school or program, and if they have some sense of control in the change, this may ease their worries. A great way to facilitate involvement is to let your child choose their back to school items like a backpack, lunch box, water bottle, etc.

3. Address your own anxiety.

Talk with your spouse, a friend or a current parent at the school your child is attending to get a feel for what to expect. And, feel free to speak with teachers at the school and other parents in your child's classroom so you're able to become more familiar with the new place.

4. Understand the process of dropping off and picking up.

Drop-off and pick-up can be a bit stressful since there are new processes to get used to. Ask ahead of time to see if there are any specifics to it—do you go inside to pick up your little? Do you need a name tag for your car? Get everything set up so you're ready to go on the first day.

5. Involve your child in establishing routines and stick to it.

It's important to stick to a daily routine, prior to the start of the school year, so that children know that even though there may be some changes, they will know what to expect.

Try things like: picking outfits for school the night before, helping to pack snacks or lunch and setting a bedtime and wake up routine. It might take a little time to get into a good routine that works for everyone, but collaborating with your child will simplify the process.

6. Discuss what your child's day at school may look like.

Most of the time, kids are a little nervous because they're not sure what to expect. Grab their rubric or syllabus and walk them through what might happen each day. Highlight the fun times, like play time outdoors or music class.

7. Validate your child's concerns.

Changes are scary, and while children are resilient, you should still validate that their anxiety is real. Model for them that you have some of those feelings as well, share with them stories where you had to go through changes (at work, in a new role, etc.). Make them feel heard.

8. Read books.

Some favorites are The Kissing Hand, Owl Babies or I Love You All Day Long.

During morning drop off:

  • Inform your child that you will not be staying in the classroom and you will return.
  • Remain calm and confident.
  • Praise your child for their efforts.
  • Be one of the first parents to drop-off.
  • Develop a special goodbye routine, such as, a special handshake, wave or high-five.

At the end of the day:

  • Be one of the first to pick-up.
  • Review classroom work or pictures together.
  • Talk about their day and be specific ("Did you use the slide today?" "Tell me, what did you enjoy during art-time today?").
  • Reciprocate by talking about your day and experiences, too.

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Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:


Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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