\u201cAs I watched him head toward the doors of the school, with his backpack almost as big as he was, he was quickly lost in the sea of other children. I couldn\u2019t find him again in the crowd\u2026would he really be okay? I was so excited about having this day to myself \u2013 finally. But honestly, it was a long afternoon until he bounded off the bus to tell me all about his day.\u201d Are you getting ready to send your youngest child off to kindergarten this school year? Although you might be feeling excited and happy about this important milestone, you may also be experiencing some unexpected sadness about seeing your \u201cbaby\u201d enter this new, more independent phase of childhood. Whether you\u2019re an at-home parent or work outside the home, having a child begin all day school will likely have a major impact on your family\u2019s daily routine. Some moms adapt quickly to the change. \u201cIt was fabulous!\u201d says Indy's Child Facebook reader Theresa Y. \u201cErrands by myself, lots of reorganizing and able to get rid of things kids would never let me if they were watching over my shoulder!\u201d Other parents, however, may struggle to adjust to having an empty house during the day. Whether you\u2019re on one end of the spectrum or somewhere in the middle, read on for expert advice on preparing for this transition and handling the emotions that come with it in a healthy way. What to expect However you feel as the first day of school approaches, it\u2019s probably normal. Parents may find themselves feeling happy, sad, anxious, nervous or excited about sending their youngest child to kindergarten, says Lindsay Pietroski, kindergarten teacher at The Seven Hills School Doherty Campus. Mixed feelings are to be expected. \u201cSome parents may experience ambivalence related to their child\u2019s increasing independence and associated changes in the parent-child relationship,\u201d says Jeffrey R. Strawn, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry & Pediatrics at UC Health and Board Certified Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist. A variety of factors can affect the ease with which a parent handles this transition. Pietroski believes parents who are accustomed to being at home with their children tend to have more difficulty. They may find themselves missing the child\u2019s companionship and wonder what to do with their new free time. In addition, the number of children in the family may play a role, she says. Parents of only children face special challenges, since they are sending their \u201cfirst child\u201d and \u201clast child\u201d to school simultaneously. The personality of the particular child involved can also have an impact. Finding your new normal If you are struggling to let go of your last little one, it\u2019s important to come up with a strategy for handling your emotions productively for your child\u2019s benefit. \u201cIf a parent is overwhelmed by anxiety about the beginning of school, this may result in a child having increased anxiety about school,\u201d says Dr. Strawn. Looking for some concrete ways to make this tricky transition easier? Our experts offer the following suggestions. \tShare your feelings with others. Initiate conversations with other parents who have recently faced the same transition. \tHave a conversation with your child about the upcoming school year. Dr. Strawn suggests talking about your own first day and helping your child \u201cimagine\u201d what his or her school experience might be like. \tFind books related to the subject. Pietroski recommends The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn which helps both children and parents prepare for the first day of school. \tIf you are an at-home parent, come up with a plan for staying busy during your free time says Pietroski. This may include exploring a new hobby or getting involved with your child\u2019s school. There are also volunteer options before and after school or during special events for parents who work outside the home who aren\u2019t available during the school day. \tBefore deciding that a major lifestyle change might be an antidote to your situation, realize that this transition is temporary. Take a \u201cwait and watch\u201d approach before making any major decisions says Dr. Strawn. \tSeek support. Contact a professional if your feelings start to interfere with your relationships, your work or daily functioning or if you believe you may be suffering from anxiety or depression. While sending your youngest child off to school can prompt some difficult emotions for parents, try to embrace the positive aspects of this transition. Pietroski believes this time should be an exciting one, full of growth and learning for both parent and child. \u201cKindergarten is just so much fun!\u201d she says. By thinking about your back-to-school game plan early in the process, you can lay the foundation for a successful school year for everyone in your family.