*We've partnered with Safari Ltd® to help you prep for a successful school year by using the art of play. The first day of preschool is a major milestone in the parenting practice of letting go. You spend the first few years keeping that little baby as close as can be, and then preschool comes and you push them out of the nest, and suddenly they're, well, people. The truth is, most of them are actually fully ready to jump out of the nest, and we're the ones left sobbing in the parking lot, wondering how they'll (aka we'll) ever survive. Smoothing the transition with some strategic school prep can help. So, we've partnered with our friends at Safari Ltd®, makers of our favorite educational animal toys and figurines, to show how some creative play with some of Safari's hand-painted, scientifically accurate “Toys that Teach" can be the best way to get your toddler school-ready before she ever steps foot into the classroom. That doesn't mean back to school season isn't emotional. Even for the hilarious mama behind Unpacified, Leslie Bruce. Below, Leslie gets honest about her “baby" Tallulah heading off to college (ahem, we mean preschool), and shares how some familiar faces from Safari's Toys that Teach® are making the Big Day a little easier, for mama and baby. “Change is hard. I'm a creature of habit, my and I don't like to shake up my routine much. My daughter Tallulah is beginning preschool and to quote the great Ron Burgundy, 'I'm in a glass case of emotion!' Tallulah is far more flexible than me, and for that, I am grateful. This year has been a tidal wave of change for my little soon-to-be preschooler. We moved to a new city, into a new house, said goodbye to old friends and hello to new ones, we're in the process of saying farewell to diapers and we just made the transition to the “big girl bed." For the most part, she's been a superstar and I'm in awe of her ability to roll with the punches. She looks forward to new adventures and can easily adapt. She did not get this from me. Let's just say, I'm still in a deeply committed relationship with my peasant skirt from 2006. So, it shouldn't come as any surprise that I've been dreading this milestone, because it comes with a very undesirable catch. In order for her to grow and develop into the wonderful little girl she's meant to be, it implies that she's becoming an actual person…and that she's no longer my baby. Tallulah has been in the nursery program at her new school since the spring, which was a great way to introduce her (and me) to this new stage. It's sort of like Preschool Lite where we've been able to get to know the school, the teachers and other students and parents. While I'm certain Tallulah would have been just fine if we had chosen to just rip the band aid right off, I believe the slower transition will be less jarring for her (me). I'm the type of person who operates better when there's a plan, so I believe in talking to Tallulah about what is going to happen…whether it's for the day, the week or even the not-so-distant future. I find that transitions, big or small, are easier when she can begin to anticipate them. Before the first day of school, Tallulah and I talked about what the Big Day will entail (new classroom, new teacher, and lots of new children). Getting her ensemble ready for the big day was her main priority. She may be a toddler but she is FASHION. The night before, she wanted to pick out her own dress to wear (Little Mini's…obviously) and, more importantly, which bow she would wear and which bow Zoe the Zebra, her favorite Safari Ltd® animal, would wear. She chose a glittery pale pink one for herself, and poor Zoe somehow got stuck with some strange Thanksgiving-inspired felt situation that Lulu is quite fond of (maybe it's on trend in the toddler world). I threw Zoe in Lulu's backpack since having a familiar face (even if it belongs to a Zebra) will be a small reminder that home isn't far away. Before bedtime, we read two new books that she's been waiting to open. It allowed her to see some of her favorite characters celebrate the first day of school milestone, so she could also share the pride they felt. While she's busy making new friends, I'll probably sit in the parking lot and sob for an hour, and then go to yoga for the first time in six weeks and then be so distraught I'll go to lunch with my girlfriends and indulge on a midday glass of rose. I raised a human and sent her off to school. I deserve it." Give your kiddo a head start on the school year by teaching the importance of nature and its conservation through the joy of play. Save 15% off sitewide at Safariltd.com with coupon code WELLROUNDED. Photography by Red Anchor Photo for Well Rounded.

Shop Tallulah's Safari Ltd® toys here:

Safari Ltd® Wild Safari® Wildlife Zebra

Safari Ltd® Wild Safari® Sea Life Octopus

Safari Ltd® Wild Safari® Wildlife African Elephant

Safari Ltd® Coral Reef TOOB®

Safari Ltd® Wild Safari® Sea Life Green Sea Turtle