Your child is a young adult, a graduate from high school and ready to start his/her next chapter hundreds of miles away from you. What do you have to show for the last two decades of parenthood? A scrapbook and an empty bedroom down the hall? Not to worry, your child’s college career also starts the next chapter in your life.
It is time to focus on you. Remember the things you liked to do but were too busy going to a sporting event, honors night, or other assorted engagements; now is the time to rediscover your hobbies, passions and yourself. Here are some ideas of things you can do with your new found freedom:
- Take time to pamper yourself (spa day, new outfit, a new gadget to update a space in your home, etc.)
- Take a class. If there is a community college or university nearby, enroll in an elective that you find interesting and never had the time to explore before. (Art, cooking, dance, photography, etc.)
- Exercise. It will add to a routine that is suddenly lighter and improve your health in the process.
- Take a mini-vacation. It may just be a personal day to relax and recoup from the stress of the life change, but it may help to boost your energy.
Reviving yourself may come easier for some and dealing with the distance between you and your child may require outside help from a professional if the stress becomes overwhelming.
Be happy for your child and realize that the right thing to do is to help him/her out of the nest. Realize that your son or daughter will need you through gray skies and blue and they will need you for support, like they always have. Moreover, remember that your love and support helped your child excel to a level where he/she is soaring into a collegiate experience, confident and prepared for what lies ahead.
In order for the transition to flow smoothly, here are a few tips to relieve potential stress:
- Keep the lines of communication open. Make sure your child understands that you want and need updates on their experience for your peace of mind. Weekly calls or texts or the occasional email will allow you to know they are still alive and kicking, while allowing them their freedom.
- Talk about money. If you provide your son or daughter with a credit card make sure you educate them on how to best use it without abusing it. Moreover, if they are able to charge items to a student account, let them know what the limits are on that account also—lots of little items can add up.
- Cell phones—there are horror stories out there about college students running up cell phone bills of hundreds of dollars without realizing it and scary as it sounds, they are true. Let your child know how many minutes they have a month and how to monitor their usage (most cell phone companies have an easy way for the customer to look up the information on their own). You might also want to monitor their usage for the first couple of months, making sure they are keeping up with the details.
Congratulations; you have helped your child get ready to finish growing up by heading to college. That’s what kids are supposed to do.