There are two types of change: one that’s inevitable and one you create. Regardless of the sort of change you may be going through, adapting to it can sometimes be really challenging. However, our attitude towards change, towards the new, has a great impact on the process.
In today’s post, I want to talk about an inevitable change: it’s time for leaving your home and your kids are off to college / university. What happens now?
The most difficult thing to cope with when a child leaves home for the first time is adjusting to the new situation. While it’s scary how different things can be when a family member is living away from home, there are things you can do in order to make the transition a little easier.
Steps to Help You Cope with Your Child Leaving Home
Here are four steps to take to create a strategy for adjusting to your new life with kids away at school:
Step 1: Embrace your emotions
There is a thing called “empty-nest syndrome”. I think that just like with any other transitions in life if you understand and acknowledge the feelings and emotions you may need to face, you’ll definitely be better equipped to go through the highs and lows of the process. Having conflicting feelings about your child leaving the nest is absolutely normal. So, if you are feeling sad, nostalgic, excited and nervous all at the same time, it’s okay.
Also, talking with a professional or even with other parents who are going through the same thing can be extremely helpful.
Step 2: Focus your attention on other family members
If you still have a younger child living with you at home, you can now pay more attention to their needs. Especially that the past few months were mostly about the older sibling preparing for college. So, enjoy them as much as possible — soon it will be their turn to leave home.
On the other hand, if the nest is completely empty, then here’s your chance to reconnect with your spouse. You can start doing fun and exciting things as a couple again — such as planning a long vacation or an interesting weekend getaway. You could also set up regular date nights, enjoying some home projects or getting together with friends.
Step 3. Do some of the things you’ve wanted, but haven’t really been able to
You know those ‘bucket-list’ type of things you’ve been putting off and never find the time. Now, you can embrace doing the things that excite you but couldn’t when you were a full-time parent. Take a music or reading class, go to a romantic dinner to that fancy restaurant you’ve always wanted to try out with your husband and stay out late. Why not? Also, if you have a younger child at home, you can focus on doing with them all the things your college student didn’t like. Do whatever interests them and enjoy.
Be open to activities. This will help you adjust faster and fill the void inside. You never know what new cool stuff you may find interesting once you try.
Step 4. Create a new frame
Shift your focus away from the negative parts of your child leaving home — not being able to see him/her so often, not being able to know what, where, who, why… worries, anxiety, et cetera. Instead think about the positives — your child’s future success, accomplishments, the excitement of visiting him/her on campus, the joy of them visiting you, holiday dinners and celebrations, more free time for you and so on.
Although it’s an emotionally difficult transition, if you adopt the right attitude and start seeing the positives, you’ll slowly be able to create a new frame that will include both excitement and something great to look forward to.
Career Considerations When They Leave for School
With a now quieter house, it might be tempting to throw yourself into work or to consider a job change. Take your time though. Don’t rush in to taking on an unsustainable workload or having to adapt to too big of a work change while still adjusting to new circumstances at home. You have plenty of options. Here are three work strategies you can consider in addition to becoming a workaholic or immediately changing jobs:
When you are ready to make a job change, my One-on-One Coaching program — Career Steps — can help you make the move. I’ll help you take stock of your current work situation, identify your goals, create a transition plan, find new opportunities and manage the transition. While there’s no rush in making such a big change, you can start today thinking about it and building a plan.
How to Thrive Even After the Kids Leave
If you are dealing with the overwhelming emotions of your kids leaving home, know that this could be a great opportunity to start fresh, get to rediscover yourself and learn to focus on what lies ahead of you instead of what’s behind.
With that in mind, I will list some exciting things you could do after the kids leave home. Choose the activities that make you tick, keep you excited and help you enjoy life to the fullest.
Here they are:
- Travel – Visit the places you’ve always dreamt of visiting. Start planning and enjoy it!
- Focus on your hobbies – And even turn your passion or hobby into a business. Why not?
- Take cooking classes – for fun and enjoyment. Learn how to cook professionally and how to arrange a fancy platter.
- Focus on your career – you’ve always been great at your job, but never really made it to the next level because you wanted to have more time for your kids. Now is the time when you can climb the ladder and reach your true potential – it’s not too late.
- Write a book – Perhaps, you’ve always been good at writing, but writing a book was just never a focus. Here’s your chance to make it a priority.
- Read books – Take the time to read those books you have bought all these years but never read. Enjoy a nice reading with a nice cup of tea or coffee each day — it could be your moment of relaxation and personal growth.
- Learn about technology – Become tech-savvy, learn about the latest technology and marketing trends out there – your kids will definitely be impressed.
- Work out – Come up with a workout routine – walk, run, get some professional training, try Pilates – and enjoy the long-term results. Being fit and healthy will grow your confidence and optimism.
- Get a makeover – change your hairstyle, start getting a manicure each week and any other makeover that will make you feel beautiful.
- New clothes, new style – If so far the only clothes you have mastered were easy to wear, comfortable ‘mom (dad) clothes’, it’s time to rethink your style and add some classy clothing items to your wardrobe.
- Redecorate your home – There’s nothing like the feeling of redecorating and enjoying a new style in your home. If you aren’t really good at it, hire a professional decorator and plan your new home together.
- Invest in good relationships – Regardless of whether you want to make new friendships or want to improve the ones you already have, investing in good quality time with your friends is very rewarding.
- Meet with a coach – If you are looking to make a change in your life, but you don’t know where to start, one-on-one coaching is for you. There are programs that can help people with an immediate concern or all the way up to a long-term plan — and the solutions they provide are generally tailored to your needs and specific situation.
Hopefully, this list will help you see things in perspective and realize that there are many wonderful possibilities for you to explore that would enrich your life when your kids are off to college or university.
Allow yourself to feel all the feelings that overwhelm you during this transition, but don’t let this time of change throw you off track or get you stuck. You know, at some point, you’ll need to allow the next chapter to begin, and even learn how to be excited about the new beginnings in your life. However, if you don’t seem to be able to overcome your feelings of deep sadness or depression in a few week’s time, make sure to seek out professional assistance.
I coach people every day helping them to work through their thoughts and to achieve their goals. And, I can help you too.