Worrying about how you will cope now your child has flown the nest? You're not alone. With the new university term starting this month, many parents will have said goodbye to their child leaving home for the first time.
It's natural to feel sadness when your child leaves home - this person has lived with you for 17 years so your house may suddenly feel quiet and empty without them. You might also feel as though you don't know what to do with yourself now your child is living independently and doesn't depend on you as much. These feelings are known as 'empty nest syndrome' and can be especially hard to deal with if it's your only child or last child to leave home.
Your child leaving home is not only a big life transition for them, but also for you. However, it doesn't need to be a negative experience. Use this time to focus on yourself - do things you maybe thought you didn't have time to do before, such as a new hobby. Reconnect with your partner and enjoy the time you have to spend alone together, or if you are single, enjoy spending time with your friends and view this as an opportunity to meet new people.
You might be feeling as though your child no longer needs you. However, this is probably not the case! Your child is adapting to a new way of life, settling in to university and making new friends and this is a great time to support them through this, offer advice and lend an ear when they are stressed out about studies or anxious about social situations. If your child doesn't know how to cook, why not send them some easy-to-follow recipes? To help get your kids started, you could build and send them a care package which could include items such as toothpaste, recipe ingredients, laundry detergent and their favourite snacks. This will help you feel connected to your child's new living experience.
Talk to your kids. Keep in touch and arrange how often you will speak to each other. This could be a couple of phone calls per week, or even a quick message over social media or text. Keeping in regular contact will help you feel more involved with their university life.
Stay positive - your child has got into university and is living independently which means you've done a great job bringing them up and equipping them with the skills necessary to feel confident living on their own.
Why not plan to visit your child for the weekend and take them out for a treat such as lunch or dinner? Seeing where they live, meeting their friends, visiting the places where they socialise such as bars, cafes or student union and checking out their university will help you feel a part of their new life and can help you feel less anxious about their safety.
If you feel as though you are really struggling to adapt to life without your child around the house, why not chat to other parents who are also in a similar situation? This will help you realise it's normal to feel this way and you're not alone. If your feelings of 'empty nest syndrome' last for longer than a few months, talk to a counsellor - they are trained to support people going through difficult life transitions and can offer valuable advice and support.