This post may contain affiliate links, please see my disclosure page for more information.
If your ‘baby’ has just left for university, you will probably be experiencing the same things I have over the last few days: tears (like all the time), depression, and of course anxiety. Are they eating? How will they manage on their own? What will they do about their washing? Hopefully this article will help to answer some of these questions for you.
Letting go isn’t easy, but we have to do it, and I will help you figure out how…
My son has always been fairly independent and self-sufficient. I have encouraged him to follow his dreams, and helped where I can to facilitate that happening.
The day he told me he wanted to be an astrophysicist, I was filled with pride at the thought that my little boy would be the first one in my family to go to university. He has always been clever, and has never wavered in his decision. Of course, I didn’t consider what that would mean at the time, it seemed like we had forever until university came around.
He got amazing results in his A levels, but it wasn’t enough to get him into Exeter university, which is only 30 minutes away. Fortunately, he was still able to go with his second choice. But that was Portsmouth, which is 2 and a half hours away. I dreaded the day he would leave, but knew I still had to support and encourage his decision.
It was a shock to my system how much it affected me leaving my country boy in a massive city. I couldn’t get the image of my 6-year-old little boy out of my head as I drove away. He’s all alone, in a strange city, in a strange house with strangers.
As I merged onto the A30, I could feel the panic rising in my chest, and the tears began to fall uncontrollably. How could I just leave him there? Would he be upset and all alone? Was he feeling lost without me?
But the reality is, he’s not 6, he’s 18. My little boy is actually an adult, and he’s ready for this next phase in his life…even if I’m not.
So while I feared that I hadn’t prepared him for this, I actually have.
If you think about it, to make the decision to go to university, is something your child prepares for quite early on in their academic life, so they are ready for it when it comes. And if they actually go, then you have raised your child to feel that they can take on the world. That’s quite an achievement, and something to take pride in.
They know deep down, that if they need you, they can ask for advice, extra stuff, some money, or a weekend home if they need it.
But how do we, as parents of these amazing human beings, cope with the loss we feel after they go?
Please share this post with your friends!
Time to figure out who you are! Learn a new hobby or start a new career.
For starters, it’s worth establishing what is okay as far as contact goes with your child. Are they comfortable with the odd message to check on how they are doing? How often would they like you to visit? Or would they prefer to come home when they want to see you?
Knowing this is going to make it easier for both of you. If you keep ‘hovering,’ not only will they worry about you, but they may also feel that you don’t trust them to be able to manage without you.
University life can be stressful, you don’t want to add to that by being a needy parent. So setting some ground rules for contact in the beginning will make you both feel better, and if they need you, they will contact you anyway. No news, is definitely good news in this situation!
Now it’s time to focus on you.
If you work, you may find your morning and evening routines feel a bit strange without your son or daughter. But change can be a good thing. Now you don’t have to get your teen up for college or their holiday job, take advantage of a lie in once in a while!
If you have raised your child full-time, maybe you would like to consider pursuing a career of your own now. What would you like to do? The world is your oyster!
Find a hobby – what do you love to do? Cooking? Writing? Crafts? Now is the perfect time to devote some quality time to doing things that nourish your soul.
A few things you could consider as hobbies, career choices, or simply ways to cope while your child is at university:
- Make hand-made items to sell on Etsy – Hand crafted products require your focus and attention. This is good for taking your mind off your anxiety and helps you to practice mindfulness. Plus, if you are good at it, it could make a nice business venture too!
- Join online forums for parents of teens that have gone to university – Talking to others in a similar situation can help you to deal with the whirlwind of emotions you are going through and will help you not to vent your worries to your son or daughter. Plus, you may find some parents that live near you and strike up new friendships
- Start a blog – Writing your feelings down can be a very therapeutic practice. And starting a blog can allow you to help others in your situation. This is another avenue you can also consider as a new career move. Blogs can make money, and are quite time-consuming when you are starting, out which would give you an outlet for your anxiety and keep you occupied at the same time. I have a free tutorial on how to start a blog that makes money if this is something you would like to pursue
- Start meditating – Meditation is fantastic for grounding the mind and body. It teaches you how to quiet the mind when things get too much and how to deal with those difficult emotions when they arise. There is an amazing app called Calm that I use for guided meditation
- Start a gratitude journal – Reminding yourself of all the wonderful things you have to be grateful for in your life can be very healing and a positive influence in your life. I have included a free printable gratitude journal in this post for you to download. Simply print out a new page each time you want to write a new entry.
As you can see, there are so many opportunities out there for you now that you are able to ‘parent’ from a distance!
It doesn’t mean that you are forgetting about your child, just that you are adjusting to the new dynamic in your relationship. And that’s ok. It will be beneficial to your son or daughter to see that you are moving on with your life too.
You have the ‘do’s,’ now let’s discuss the ‘don’t’s!’
There are also a few things to consider from your childs’ perspective too. Yes they are going out into the wide world, but it is still difficult for them being away from home too. They are learning who they are as much as you are, so with that in mind, here are a few things not to do:
- Turning up out of the blue – Remember that your teen will be building a life for themselves wherever they are. They may have plans with friends, and you turning up to say hello could ruin that. Not to mention, they will be on edge wondering whether or not you might suddenly appear!
- Constantly messaging to ask if they are okay – You have to learn to trust that they will come to you if they need help. If you are constantly checking up on them, they will feel that you don’t trust them to grow up.
- Turn their room at home into an office or take in a lodger – While it may make sense to you to make use of the space they have left behind. It can make your son or daughter feel utterly lost, and even homeless if they don’t have somewhere to come home to. It’s okay to use the room temporarily, but make sure you ask their permission first. Not only will it reaffirm to them, that you expect them to come home, it means they get to make the decision and not have it made for them.
The main thing to remember is that university is not forever. Your son or daughter will come home. Both during their study time, in the holidays, and probably for a year or two when their study is finished! Try to enjoy this new phase in both of your lives.
Take pride in the awesome job you have done to raise an intelligent person, and in the man or woman they are becoming.
I hope this post has helped you. Advice has come from friends and family members that have been to university. Or who have children that have gone to uni or left home. And from things that I have found are helping me to adjust during this very strange phase in our lives.
Has your child gone to university? How are you dealing with it? Please share any tips down below!