How to Cope When the Kids Go To College

Are you wondering what to do when the kids go off to college? When your baby, or babies are all grown up and ready to leave home, it can be a very bittersweet time. Your feelings include pride because you raised a fine young adult, excitement for the next chapter in their life but you’re also going to be feeling a little nervous about how you’re going to cope with an empty nest. You’re going to be struggling with the whole concept of letting go, at the same time as a little piece of you is actually looking forward to a kid-free home.

You’ll be pleased to learn such feelings are not unusual, and there are ways you can manage such a life-changing transition. Here are some tips to help you cope.

Be Prepared for a Bumpy Ride

Empty nest syndrome may not be a clinical diagnosis, but it is real. You might experience feelings of sadness, even grief. Understanding that you’re in for a bumpy ride, at least for a few months makes you more equipped to deal with it. It’s perfectly normal to have conflicting feelings about your child leaving home and you shouldn’t feel bad about it. Enjoy the rollercoaster ride that might include sadness, nostalgia, excitement, nervousness and hopefulness, either individually or all at the same time.

Embrace Your Freedom

You’ve made plenty of sacrifices over the years and now it’s time for you to reclaim your freedom and do all those things you’ve been meaning to do. When you’re a full-time parent, your children come first, and you put all your dreams and desires on the back burner. You might have longed to volunteer at your local animal shelter but didn’t have the time. Now you have, so don’t delay and get in touch with them today. Perhaps a new career is in order, that ties in your hobby. This could be as a chef, or fitness instructor, in which case you could find out about courses near where you live. For those in the south of England, personal training qualifications Brighton may be an option for you. Learn how to paint or play a musical instrument, train for the next London marathon, or teach English online. All of these and more can be done now you’ve got no responsibilities.

Reconnect with Your Partner

When you’re looking after children together your relationship often takes second place. You’ve also had to weather lots of ups and downs over the years. This is a new phase in your relationship, and you should be embracing it. All those things you used to do as a couple can now be enjoyed again. It might take a little getting used to, but it’ll be worth it in the long run. Plan a weekend away, organize regular date nights, start a home improvement project together, get together with friends or learn something new as a couple.

Make New Friends

Do you know any other parents who are going through the same transition as you? Knowing what empty nest syndrome is and experiencing it yourself means you’ll be able to spot parents in a similar situation from a mile off. Talking to other people who are going through the same as you can be very helpful. People who have found themselves in the same boat can be fountains of knowledge and will be more than happy to share their coping suggestions and offer encouragement.

Don’t be Afraid to Visit

Just because your son or daughter has left home, doesn’t mean you can’t go to visit, although turning up unannounced probably won’t be appreciated. There may be family weekends or other events being held at the university you can go along to. It can be a fun way to get together, but it also gives you the opportunity to get a look into their new world and check that they’re taking good care of themselves.

Be Supportive

You might be feeling anxious about their impending departure but don’t project it onto them. They’ve got enough on their minds without having to worry about leaving their parents behind. Your need to be needed should come second to their need to find their own way. Let them figure out how they want to arrange their room, what they want to spend their allowance on. In other words, this is their moment so let them enjoy it to the full.

Of course you’re going to worry but try not to do it too much and don’t let it show. You might be tempted to call them up every day but give them some space. Let them know you’ll always be there when you’re needed and expect the odd phone call and quick hang ups. If you don’t hear from them for weeks at a time there’s nothing wrong with getting in touch, but give them the opportunity to call first.   

Plan for Their Inevitable Return

It’s highly likely your offspring won’t have left home for good, with no intention of ever returning. They might decide to come home for weekends or during the term breaks. Be prepared for there to be a new dynamic and you’ll have to consider renegotiating the house rules. They’re going to feel more like an adult and will expect you to treat them as one. Even though they might have brought their washing home for you to do and still expect you to feed them. You have to work things out together and come to an amicable arrangement so their visits can remain stress free.

Now you understand a little bit more about empty nest syndrome and how to cope with it. That’s not going to stop your feelings or make your home feel any less empty, but it helps to realize that you’re not alone and this is just another parenting milestone you’ve got to work through. You’ve already survived plenty of those and there may be more to come. Remember that in time you’ll come to accept your current situation and some of the suggestions are going to help you get through it and come out the other side. You never know, you might actually enjoy your newfound freedom and enjoy this new chapter in your life.

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