Parents: Your Nest is Empty, Now What?

You have an empty nest. Now what?

Flickr user: Elmira College

For many parents and loved ones, sending the last child to college can be a tough transition. While this transition can be new and daunting, it is also a chance for you and your student to navigate new lifestyles. There are many things you can do to help your student adjust to college that will also help your empty nest.

Stay in touch with your student

Before your student heads off to school, sit down with them and talk about how they want to stay in touch with you while they are away. Keep in mind how many classes they are in, if they want to get involved in student organizations, or if they are looking to work part-time.

After you have taken these factors into consideration, ask your student what kind of communication they will want or need. Do they want to text, FaceTime, or chat over the phone? They may want to talk to you after class each day, or just every Sunday afternoon. Although you may want to talk with them more or less frequently, it is important to let your child have a say in this decision. By letting them make the call, you are ultimately helping them achieve more independence. Over time, you may choose to increase or decrease how often you chat.

Send care packages

Besides talking on the phone with your child, there are other ways you can keep in touch. Send them a care package! You can fill this with their favorite snacks, fun post-it notes, extra socks, or whatever you think your student would like to get. Care packages are a great treat to receive and can remind your child of home. You can also send them cards for holidays, birthdays, or just because. If you take a trip anywhere, it might be fun to pick out a postcard and send them a little note that way too.

Try to visit your student

Something else you can do to cope with empty nest feelings is to visit your child at their school. You do not need to go right away, but maybe you can go up for a weekend if there’s a big football game. Colleges usually have some kind of family weekend, with various activities so you could try to visit them, too. Being able to see your student with their new friends, taking them out to dinner, and hearing all about their college experience can be ways to continue adjusting to a quieter home.

Reach out to other empty nesters

Although you may be an empty nester, you can now use your free time in ways you find pleasing. You did the hard work of raising them and getting them ready for college; now it’s time for you to relax and take some time for yourself. If you’re struggling to adjust, reach out to other parents whose children are out of the home. They might have more tips and tricks for you to try out.

Sit down with your student and enter your information into our College Match tool to see what schools they match with. From there, you can begin planning the years ahead together.

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