Parents: How to Ensure a Healthy and Happy University Transition
14 February 2018
While there’s no question starting university can be an anxious time for students, the prospect is equally daunting for parents. From fretting over their safety and wellbeing to suffering the dreaded empty nest syndrome; seeing your young scholars disappear off to a far-flung corner of the country takes considerable adjusting to.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to make the transition to university easier, while ensuring they’re taking good care of themselves. In this guide, we offer a few pointers on dealing with your child’s big move – from effective ways to boost their wellness, to tips on staying connected without cramping their style.
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You’ve written it on the calendar, but think it’s never going to happen. Then it does. University moving day is an event that can catch you unawares, so it’s best to be prepared well in advance – both mentally and physically.
There are a lot of unanswered questions about moving day, and many parents struggle with how to handle it. Do I stay and help them unpack or head straight off? Should I take them food shopping or let them go it alone? Can I stay the night?! These are just a handful of the nagging questions that go through the minds of parents, and it’s only natural to feel anxious about your offspring finally flying the nest.
For those dreading moving day, here are a few words of advice.
- Be honest and open about how you’re feeling – Bottling up your anxiety will only make things worse, and your goodbyes will seem stiff and rehearsed. If you’re sad, don’t be afraid to say so – it will only show how much you care. And you won’t be the only one tearing up, parents are expected to get emotional when dropping off their offspring.
- Ask them what they want ahead of time – The last thing a fresher wants on their first day is their parents sticking around a little too long, leaving no time for bonding with new flatmates. Or maybe not; perhaps they’d prefer your company for a little longer. Don’t try to mind-read the situation. Instead, chat about how to handle the big move ahead of time, so there’s no awkwardness on the day.
- Try not to interfere – While it’s instinctive to want to continue looking after your child, it’s best not to interfere too much on moving day. This is their time to find their feet and their independence – be it doing their first ever solo food shop or figuring out the washing machine. Little things like this add up to important life lessons, so try to take a hands-off approach.
Every parent worries about their child’s health, happiness and wellbeing while they’re away at university. After all, it’s been your duty to maintain these aspects of their life for most of the past two decades. From eating well and staying active to preventing homesickness, it takes a lot of effort to sustain a student’s wellness – as well as a good deal of parental intuition to recognise when something’s amiss.
Here, we offer a few pointers on maintaining your child’s health and happiness at university.
- Arm them with a few healthy recipes – Let your young scholar loose in a supermarket without teaching them a few mealtime staples, and they’ll likely blow a significant portion of their loan on frozen pizzas and lager. Instead, point them in the direction of a few cheap and healthy student eats that will help towards a balanced diet.
- Encourage them to dig in and make friends – Homesickness is dreadful for students, and at its worst it could spell the end of their university ambitions. While it’s always nice to hear from your child, you should gently encourage them to get out and make friends, rather than spending their evenings calling home. Once they have a close network of friends around them, you can rest a little easier – even if that means calls are condensed to just once or twice a week.
- Buy them a swim or keep fit pass – If you’re in a position to financially support your child while they’re at university, why not buy them a monthly pass to the local swimming baths? Many aparto residences include well-equipped gyms, so they’ll have access to a wide range of keep-fit facilities during their time at university.
- Pester them about signing up for local healthcare – Amid the excitement of starting university and exploring a new city, signing up to a doctor and dentist probably isn’t a top priority for most students. However, you should pester your child to do so as early as possible, so they can access healthcare quickly should they ever need it.
No parent wants to feel like they’re bothering their child while they’re at uni, but staying connected is an important part of maintaining a healthy relationship, while avoiding the symptoms of homesickness and empty nest syndrome.
With more options available than ever for keeping in touch, below are just some of the things you can do to bridge the distance.
- Schedule a regular time to chat – Rather than calling your child unannounced, set a day of the week and an approximate time to arrange a catch-up call. In our experience, Sunday evenings work great as there’s less chance they’re out with friends – but do whatever works for both parties.
- On the flipside, be flexible – Things crop up which can make regularly scheduled contact difficult, so always be flexible and don’t put pressure on them to feel they have to call you at a set time. Although it be can difficult to accept, having slightly less contact is a normal part of your child finding their independence.
- Use video calling services such as Skype or FaceTime – A phone call is great, but a video call is better. There’s something more natural about communicating with someone while you can see them, and the familiarity can alleviate symptoms of homesickness – so you can feel closer together, even when you’re miles apart.
- Send pictures of friends, family and home – Keep your child in the loop with what’s going on back home by sending them plenty of pictures, anything from cute snaps of the family dog to dad snoozing on the sofa. Photos say more than words ever could, so get snapping.
- Chat online – They’re in the library, you’re at work – why not chat online? Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are great for instant messaging your nearest and dearest wherever they may be, so you can stay connected even when there isn’t time for a weekly phone call.
We hope this guide proves useful in helping you prepare for the day when your offspring heads out into the world. At aparto, our student homes are safe, welcoming spaces where young people will instantly feel comfortable and at home. For more information, visit our homepage.