It’s that time of year where high school seniors have graduated and are preparing to venture onward towards their next chapter. It’s an exciting time whether their plans include college, joining the workforce, a gap year or something else. It is also the dreaded season where many parents are faced with the inevitable experience of their child leaving home.
If you’re one of the many, just like myself, you may be experiencing a whirlwind of emotions that include a sense of dread, anxiety and bouts of worry, mixed with excitement, joy and pride. There may be heartache and sadness over the impending separation. Saying goodbye can seem like an impossible task but you know it’s coming.
This is a huge transition and the cliche of “how fast time flies” couldn’t be more true right now. Remind yourself that all the emotions you are experiencing are valid and normal. Trust that you have given your child a solid foundation from which they can thrive on their own. Whether your child will stay close to home or move across the country, here are some practical strategies that can help you prepare for this upcoming change.
Help with planning. Ease worries for yourself and your child. You may have completed a tour of the school, helped identify accommodation etc, but planning also includes preparing for independence. Adulting tasks such as budgeting, making appointments, filling prescriptions, setting up accounts and household chores.
Lovingly allow space for your child to process their feelings. This is a big deal for them too. But don’t get too distant from them. Stay connected, plan for spending more time together to create memories that you both will treasure for years to come. Follow through with your plans but avoid dwelling in the “this is last time that….” Don’t throw yourself into that rabbit hole.
Discuss plans to stay connected after they’re gone. Plan or schedule visits (for them to come home or for you to travel to them). Establish a plan that you both agree on to keep in touch. Use technology to your advantage to maintain face to face contact.
Embrace a new dynamic that you will have together. You will no longer be involved in their day to day lives and you may be weary. That’s ok. Trust in the work you’ve put in so far and allow yourself to welcome a shift in your relationship with your child.
Explore hobbies . You may have extra time now on your hands now to revisit an old hobby or pick up a new one that you’ve been curious to try.
Reconnect with your partner. You will need each other’s support through this. Be willing to share and open to the changes that will be felt almost immediately after they’re gone. Your home will suddenly feel empty, and maybe even incomplete. It hurts and it sucks, but having the support of a loved one helps ease the pain.
Check out my related post about "Adjusting to an Empty Nest" here.