Empty Nesting: What Should Parents Do Now?

Once your child has gone to college, you may find yourself empty nesting

Flickr user State Farm

Sending your child off to college is sure to be a bittersweet moment for you. It’s something you’ve looked forward to for so long and yet now that the time has come for your child to leave, you’ve begun to dread it. It feels even worse when you return home after dropping your child off at college.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to make this transition less painful for you.

Be patient with yourself

Those first few days after you drop your child off at college can be especially hard as you wrestle with conflicting feelings. On the one hand you feel excited and hopeful about everything, but on the other hand you feel nervous, sad, and nostalgic.

If it is any comfort, you’re not alone in feeling this way. All parents go through this whirl of emotions when their kids go off to college. Many have described it as riding a roller coaster. Know that this is normal. Be patient with yourself and give yourself time to get your equilibrium back.

Use technology to stay connected

Today it is easier than ever to stay connected. Texting, calling, Skyping, emails, writing letters. Use these this to stay connected and catch up. Knowing that your child is well settled and happy will help ease your mind and make it easier for you to get on.

While it is great to stay connected, it is just as important for you to learn to let go. Decide how often you will call and stick to that schedule. Other than that, let them know that they can call you anytime they need support or just someone to talk to.

Make plans to visit or get together

You definitely do not want to make surprise campus visits just because you’re missing your child. However, you could make plans to fly your student down during the summer break or the holidays or the whole family could head over to campus during family weekends organized by the college.

There are plenty of opportunities during the school year to get the family together. However, while you may want to meet with your child during every break, they may have other plans. Making them a part of the discussion will help you and your child make the most of the times you spend together, while giving them the freedom to go on new adventures with their college friends.

Embrace this opportunity to try something new

Your primary identity has been ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ for the past eighteen years. Take this opportunity to step out of the parent zone and think of yourself as an individual.

Re-start an old hobby that you had given up because of lack of time. Consider taking up a course, learning a language, or working towards advancing professionally. Do something you’ve always dreamed of doing. Your child will be happier knowing that you are happy and moving on with your life.

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