Parents: How to Cope When Your Child Leaves for University
10 July 2018
When students ship off to university, the focus tends to be on them and how well they’re able to settle in and adapt to life away from home. But while the transition period can certainly be stressful for students, it’s important to spare a thought for their parents too.
Seeing your child fly the nest can be incredibly challenging, even for something as positive as university. And while you know the move is inevitable and you have months to ready yourself, nothing can really prepare you for the day they finally leave home.
For parents counting down the days to the start of the new term with a sense of dread, here we offer help and guidance on how to cope when your child leaves for university. While you may be feeling incredibly anxious about your offspring’s departure, this guide can help you prepare for moving day and focus on the positives.
Moving Day Advice for Parents
With the date set and summer breezing by in a blur of IKEA trips and last-minute errands, you may feel you want to put the brakes on things. From here, your child’s university moving day will come around fast, so here we’ve identified a few things you can do to prepare that will make things go more smoothly.
Spend Time Together
Depending on where they’re heading for university, you might not see much of your young scholar after they’ve shipped off to study, so it pays to spend time together when you can. Try to arrange those family events and getaways that you’ve been putting off for years so that everyone will have fond memories when the day of days finally arrives.
But Don’t Force It
In the same breath, you shouldn’t force yourself upon your child in a bid to spend more time together, even if you’d really like to see a bit more of them before they go. Remember that your child will likely be feeling anxious too, so too much attention could make them worry more. They’ll also want to spend as much as time as possible with friends before they head out of town, so you should stay respectful of their schedule and give them the space they need.
Arm Them with Essential Domestic Tips
Slyly sharing your tried-and-tested household tips will go a long way to alleviating your own fears about how well your child is going to cope with living independently. Wherever possible, offer them useful titbits on everything from cooking food to washing clothes, so that you’ve at least given them the basics on surviving without you. Sharing some budgeting tips will come in handy too, but don't turn it into a lecture.
What to Do During the University Transition
Moving day and its immediate aftermath can be challenging for you and your nearest and dearest, but there are things you can do personally that will make the university transition period easier for everyone. Here are our top tips.
Try Not to Meddle
While your instinct may be to continue helping your child through life’s ups and downs, their transition to university should be about them finding their independence. From insisting that you take them food shopping to demonstrating how their new washing machine works; many parents are guilty of interfering a little too much in their child’s university move, but this can do more harm than good. For now, at least, it’s time to loosen the reins and let them find their feet – however difficult that might be.
To make moving day go as smoothly as possible, come up with a plan ahead of time about how you’re going to handle things. Ask your child how they feel about you going or staying on their first day, so as to avoid getting in their way on the first day. By arranging the basics ahead of time, things will be much easier on the day.
Try to Stay Calm and Upbeat
While many parents leave campus with a lump in their throat and a tear in their eye, you should try to stay positive, upbeat and calm about your child’s big move. Not only will this help you, it’ll give your child the best possible start to their uni life and prevent them from worrying about you and getting homesick. With technology such as Skype and FaceTime, it’s easy to stay connected and feel close to your child even when they’re miles away, so try to stay positive and think about their move rationally.
How to Cope When They’ve Left
With their room sat empty and no one to cook for, the weeks and months after your child has left for university can be tough. Here, we offer a few practical ways to help you cope.
Keep in Touch
As we touched on above, smart tech means your child is now just a video call away, so there’s no need to feel totally abandoned. Stay connected using an instant messaging service such as Facebook Messenger and arrange a regular time to talk.
Make Their Room a Positive Space
While you might want to keep their room the same, avoiding it out of sadness isn’t healthy. Instead, bring it back into your home by making it a room you use and want to be in – even if you just use it for sorting the laundry.
Start a New Hobby
With new-found time on your hands, fill it by taking up a healthy and productive new hobby. Not only will this take your mind off things, it’s a great way to de-stress and find a new purpose in life.
Focus on the Positives
Sure, you’ll be sad when your child flies the nest, but there are positives which can come out of it, too. Many parents connect more with their child when they’ve moved, as you’re no longer under one another’s feet, while you may also feel a closer connection to other family members and your partner. You’ll also have more ‘me time’, and after 20 or so years as a hard-working parent, that will feel blissful.
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