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Well, my firstborn graduated from high school last weekend. Oh, and his younger brother moved up from middle school to high school.
So the imminent threat of an almost empty nest is my reality. Actually, true confession, ever since my son accepted his university admissions offer, his upcoming departure from the proverbial nest has been lurking in the shadows of my mind.
I’m actually still trying to figure out my gameplan for ‘survival.’ Yep. Since about January, I will often look at my son and remind him that soon he will be off to college. Then I ask him to indulge me for a hug (of my two sons, he’s not the cuddly, hugging type, so that is asking a lot from him).
Truth be told, I’ve been gradually preparing my son for this day since his (earlier) childhood. He just didn’t know it. From letting him quit the aftercare program and come home directly once it was legal, to tasking him with travelling as an unaccompanied minor on a multi-leg flight to France (to visit grandparents), to himself stepping up to the plate at almost age 4 and guiding his grandmother around a foreign city’s bus system….well…I could continue to ramble on, but you get the idea. I think it will be harder on the rest of the family than it will be for my son — after all, he is heading off on a new adventure.
Surviving the Partially Empty Nest
As a sort of therapeutic exercise, here are five tips for surviving this imminent partially empty nest.
- Don’t be shy about acknowledging the upcoming absence. Voice how much you will miss your child and give him or her a hug!
- If you child is getting ready to head off to college, start thinking about what he or she will need for their first year away from home. See this post for suggestions.
- Have a family movie night either at the cinema or in your home. Prepare fun snacks.
- Take time to eat at least one meal together. This can be tough since your child might be working crazy hours to save up money for college, but find at least one meal a day where you can connect. You might not be able to do this every day, but try to have one meal a day together as often as you can before he or she leaves the nest.
- Plan a small road trip together. Let your son or daughter drive most of the way. The more long distance driving you can supervise before he or she heads out into the real world, the better (well, provided you are a patient and good driver!)
- Bonus tip: If your son or daughter is heading off to college, start preparing a small care package that you can mail a few weeks after she/he leaves home. In this era of email and texts, real ‘snail’ mail will be appreciated. The care package might include a refill on snacks, a good book to read, a funny card, a snuggly stuffed animal, or a small framed family photo.
These tips were intended to help you, but of course the ‘mom’ factor kicked in and this is more for your child and your family.
5 Tips for Moms Battling the Empty Nest Syndrome
So, let’s start this again, only now I will provide tips that don’t focus on your adult child.
- Prioritize self care. With one less child on the horizon, you hopefully will have more time to focus on self care. Self care may include joining a yoga class, taking an art class, heading off to the gym, diffusing a grounding essential oil and meditating, keeping a journal, reading a book.
- Spend more time with your spouse. Yes, that person who shares your bed. You’ll need to reacquaint yourself with your partner in crime.
- Reach out to friends. Perhaps reconnect with childhood friends with whom you have lost touch (or only interact with on social media). Plan an ‘in rea life’ (IRL) time with friends. Girls night out (or in) could be in order!!
- Volunteer. Find a cause you believe in and see what you can do to help out. There are so many different ways you can help — not all involve a physical presence. For a list of organizations where you can identify opportunties, see https://www.usa.gov/volunteer.
- Create a vision board – set new goals and dreams!
Acknowledge and Accept: Change is Coming!
Cue up David Bowie (Ch…ch…ch…changes…)
Acknowledge that you might be anxious about this upcoming transition. Talk about it with your child, with your spouse, and if you have other children who haven’t fled the coop yet, discuss with them. They might be feeling the same anxiety.
Check back in with me in October to hear how I survived my first month!!! The big test for me will be whether or not I can figure out how to work the entertainment devices (streaming Netflix, Amazon Prime or working the DVD player), lol!!
Oh and our feline babies will miss having a dedicated litter box cleaner on the main level of our house….!
Is your son or daughter heading off to college soon? If so, please comment on how you feel about the upcoming milestone. What are some steps you are planning on taking to ease the transition? What will you miss most about your child?