When a kid flies the coop for the first time and enters college, many parents have mixed emotions. Feelings of pride, excitement and joy combined with a taste of the bitterer-sweetness of the moment and a melancholy for the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Other parents, after dropping off their college student and exchanging some high-fives, begin making plans for their new “spare” room (next week’s blog is for you guys).
However, today we are discussing coping strategies for parents suffering from empty nest syndrome. Parents aren’t the only ones who will miss their college student who’s making the big move, siblings (although they may be celebrating at first) might pine for their big brother or sister as well. A family member, who for the past eighteen years has been a constant presence in your home, is now away. How do you navigate your new role as the parent of a college student? Check out the list below for some tips and strategies on how to cope with your empty (or emptier) nest.
You don’t have to send your college student a new care package every week, but a few well-timed mementos from home will easily communicate your love and feelings. Younger family members can participate in this activity too, have your younger children help select some things to include in your care package.
If you don’t know how to use Skype, your college student probably does! Before Jr heads off to college, have him set-up an account for you and teach you how to use it. Getting to “see” your college student and interact with her, may bring more comfort than a phone call. When the younger generation’s primary form of communication is via text, your student may be more willing to talk on Skype then dial a phone number. Your younger kids will get a kick out of saying a quick “hi” to their older sister on Skype too!
Plan a Trip
The school year is just starting, but Christmas break and the summer creep up quickly. Before your college student fills up his free time with internships, part-time jobs and friends, schedule a family trip. On a family vacation you have your kids all to yourself and happy family bonding abounds (hopefully). You could even plan a trip to visit your college student and get to know her new stomping grounds. We aren’t suggesting you show up every weekend, but a small weekend visit to see where your student hangs out and meet some of her new friends would be appropriate. We are sure your student and her new roommate wouldn’t mind you treating them to dinner either.
Turn your Focus Inward
As a busy parent you have probably been spending a lot of time over the past eighteen years making sure all your children’s needs were met. If you find yourself with some extra time on your hands, volunteer at the shelter that you have always wanted to spend some time at, learn a new language or have a happy hour with other empty-nesters and don’t even pause to look at your watch as the curfew hour approaches.
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