How to prepare yourself for when your child leaves the nest

How to prepare yourself for when your child leaves the nest

With a new school year comes students moving out of town again, or possibly even for the first time. Seeing your child off to post-secondary is one of a parent’s proudest moments, but it also represents an emotional challenge, particularly if they’re no longer living at home. After years of a hands-on role in raising your child, it can be hard to accept you won’t see them every day anymore. Here are a few tips to help you with the transition. 

Make sure they’re ready.

Even though you’ll miss them, you’ll sleep easier knowing they’ve got the life skills needed to take care of themselves. When they’re on their own, they’ll need to know how to cook their own meals, do the laundry, and keep an eye on their bank accounts without your input. Of course, you can work together on any skill deficiencies you’re aware of before they move away, but rest assured, kids are resourceful, and a quick Google search can help them deal with unexpected situations. And, if all else fails, they know you’re only a phone call away.

Find an outlet

As a busy parent with children, you likely had to temporarily shelve your interests to focus on your work and home responsibilities. Whether it’s your first or last child leaving home this year, you’ll likely find that you have more time on your hands than you’re sure what to do with. This is an excellent time for you to get back into your hobbies – look into taking a class or make some plans with your friends and spouse. 

Plan quality time together

If possible, book a vacation or special event to enjoy together as a family before the big move. You’ll have a chance to make some memories and cherish your time with them. Remember, your child is likely experiencing mixed feelings like you are—excited for the future while wanting to hold on to the past. Being intentional about spending time with them will leave them feeling loved, appreciated, and heard—feelings you want taken with them as they move away. 

Stay connected (within reason)

With emails, smartphones, and instant messaging, staying in touch has never been easier. While it might be tempting to go overboard with check-ins, remember that your child has a lot going on, adjusting to a new place, with new friends and new routines at a new school. Set aside a regular time to chat, giving them the space to get accustomed to all the changes while letting them know you’re always there for them. You may even find that your child is reaching out more than you expected—it’s quite common now for adult children to text their parents with frequent updates.

Speak up

If you’re having difficulty coping, don’t hesitate to speak to a friend, family member, or professional to work through your feelings. It’s normal to feel unmoored during such a significant change, but if you’re finding that it’s affecting your moods and daily function, it may be time to connect with someone who can help you. You don’t need to struggle alone!  

Although September marks the beginning of a transition in your life that you may not be prepared for, keep in mind that the relationship between you and your child won’t end; it’s just changing, a phase that will bring unexpected joys for you and your child.