Surviving Empty Nest Syndrome
Though it may seem like summer just began, August is officially here (!) which means it’s time to start planning for back-to-school. For students, this means buying textbooks and getting class schedules. For parents with children leaving for college… this means bracing for “empty nest syndrome.” If you’re rolling your eyes or laughing, I don’t blame you. I was a handful in high school and I know my mom was counting down the minutes until I left… until I did. Even if you’re 98 percent ready for your own kid to spread their wings, there’s a whopping 2 percent of you that might just struggle with some empty nest syndrome.
So… before your own pride & joy is officially out of your house and into the dorms, there are a few conversations you can have, and plans you can make, that will hopefully make the transition a little bit easier.
Plan regular “check-in” chats.
My mom and I ended up texting basically every day. If you aren’t texters, pick a day for weekly phone call or FaceTime “dates.” By setting aside special time every week (or every day) to check in, discuss school, vent about professors, and so on, you’ll stay connected. This is important if you already know you’re going to miss your kid like crazy. Plus, it’ll help them with any homesickness they may or may not admit to.
Put a visit to their school, or a visit home, on the calendar.
It was always particularly daunting and sad when I said goodbye to my mom, unsure of when I’d get to see her again. I know she felt the same way. By always having a trip or visit scheduled, you’ll always have something to look forward to. Even if the nest feels a bit empty now, you’ll know you’ll have visitors soon.
Discuss anything you’re nervous or worried about.
This sounds a bit weird, but I’ll explain. My mom always told me that while she knew she would miss me, she also knew I’d be having some of the best years of my life while away at school. She told me that she trusted I’d do well, work hard, and most importantly, make good decisions. This peace of mind can really help ease Empty Nest Syndrome. Lay any concerns on the table, and make sure your child knows they can always come to you with any problems or issues that arise. Reiterate that, no matter the distance, you’ll always have their back, and they’ll always have a home with you. It sounds corny, but this transparency and open communication can really ease the mind.
Spoil yourself a little bit!
Don’t dwell on the sad aspects about having an empty nest. You’ve earned this! Make reservations at your favorite restaurant to celebrate. Take a bubble bath with the door open. Sign up for classes doing a hobby you love but haven’t explored. Your child is out of the nest and starting the next chapter of their life, so why don’t you do the same?
And if you have any doubts about how great an empty nest can be… I’d be happy to give you my mother’s number.