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As we say goodbye to summer and all its memories, the first week of September marks an emotional shift from having your kids at home to likely saying "ta-ta" to them when dropping them off to school or daycare. For some moms, it could seem like a relief, and the transition to Fall (aka reality) is seamless. However, for many other moms, it may trigger anxiety and stress -- both of which have an impact on emotional, physical and mental health. Because you aren't alone in feeling this way and because we're feeling it too, we've put together some ways to cope with the transition and keep yourself positively thinking. Here 5 ways you can manage separation anxiety:

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  1. Find new activities. As your time becomes more and more available, you may slowly r remember what you used to do before the kids came along. It's good to revisit some old hobbies and also pursue new ones. Websites like Gilt City offer new experiences, discounts on leisure activities, and fitness classes. If you find activities that work within the timeframe your child is away, that'll keep you busy and fulfilled. In addition, Meetup is a great way to explore groups of people who may have similar interests.
  2. Remember that moving forward is a good thing. Your child is moving forward. As he or she is getting older, going to school and growing into a social being are a part of a child's development. Remember that it's not just an inevitable change, it's also a positive one! You want your child to be social and eventually navigate the world outside the home without always needing mom or dad. Reminding yourself of all the positives may help you keep all your anxieties (and the nostalgia) at bay.
  3. Get support. You are not alone! Nope. For every emotion you likely feel through this process, there's someone else feeling the same exact way. Joining mom groups or talking to your current network of friends about how you're feeling are great ways to channel that anxiety and get some "free therapy." Better yet, meeting with other moms who are also experiencing back-to-school anxieties and ranting over a glass of wine or during a workout is a great way to cope.
  4. Exercise. One word: endorphins! Exercise is one of the most therapeutic ways to feel better -- instantly. The best part is that it doesn't have to be intense, but rather something enjoyable that puts a smile on your face and helps you relax. A calming yoga flow, a power walk to an upbeat playlist, or utilizing a gym membership are all excellent ways to boost your mood and relieve anxiety. It's important to schedule the exercise activity so that you have something to look forward to once you drop off your child to school or baby to daycare.
  5. Manage Breastfeeding Changes. If you are still breastfeeding and putting your baby in daycare, it's important to keep your stress level low and talk yourself through the shift before it actually happens. For a few months, your schedule may have been on demand and likely more carefree. But as you're getting back to work and moving into a daycare schedule, you need to plan ahead. Start pumping well before dropping baby off at daycare and introduce him or her early on. A smooth breastfeeding-to-pumping transition will make for a smoother daycare transition and will help rid yourself of some anxieties.

While there's plenty to look forward to as your "me" time becomes more available, the emotions you may be experiencing as you are away from your kids are still very real, and you should address them. Whether it's back to school, back to work or a simple change in scheduling, these coping mechanisms should hopefully relieve some anxiety. Just remember, we've all been there.

Photography by Jonica Moore for Well Rounded NY.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

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

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.

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Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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