Empty Nest Survival Guide

From Elaina: I moved my youngest to college last weekend. Since it’s been a solid 3 days since I’ve seen her (and I took a mini vacation during that), I feel like that qualifies me as an expert on this empty nest syndrome. Here is a survival guide!

  • Your relationship with your child should be evolving their entire childhood. It is constantly moving from you doing everything to allowing them age appropriate control. You move from being the controller to the director to the advisor. Let them know that it has always and always will be changing.
  • Be honest with your kids. I’ve always encouraged my kids to ask questions and I’ve answered them age appropriately. This last summer, my kid heard all sorts of stories that she had never heard before. I used those stories to let her know that we all make mistakes and sometimes don’t make the best choices. 
  • Let them know that there are consequences, good and bad, to the decisions they make. My kids know that I will always love them even if they screw up, but they will have to face their actions. It is also okay to change their mind. I am not going to be disappointed if they want to change their major. It’s their future.
  • Find the best way for your child to communicate with you. I like to text and call, but my youngest is big on SnapChat. I had my husband download SnapChat. We created a group and all four of us have been doing video and picture diaries of our day. We all get to see what each other is doing. Also, my kids can watch on their own time. They don’t have to stop what they are doing to read and respond that minute.
  • FaceTime! That way you get to see their face. We plan to schedule a weekly family FaceTime call.
  • Do something fun when you leave them. Having something to look forward to while you are saying goodbye really helps.
  • Your kid will get sick and/or cry the first week. This is okay. Even if your mom heart hurts, you need to stay calm and just give advice. If you panic, it ramps them up.
  • If you don’t have a job or volunteer gig, figure out what your new focus will be. I have a part time job, but Mom was my career. Last year, I started getmorehappy to have another focus.
  • Find a hobby. Okay, this one is big for me. I tend to be high energy and like little down time. Now I don’t have my two girls to entertain me and I don’t want to drive my husband crazy. I have reached out to friends to try out their hobbies to find something to do in my down time. I have discovered that I would like something creative and useful, but it will be trial and error.
  • Recognize that this is about you, too. It is a huge change for your kid, but a huge change for your life as well. Don’t downplay it! Be kind to yourself in this time of discovery.

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