So your child has passed all their A levels with flying colours and achieved an esteemed place in their chosen university, deserved of an enthusiastic pat on the back. Give yourself an A* too for all of the help, support and nagging that you have given them to help them achieve their goal.
Although every 18 year old considers themselves an adult, are they really grown up enough and ready to leave the family home? University is looming and with high dropout rates it is imperative that they are ready for a life on their own. So what can you do to help prepare them?
- Poisoning house mates and bad body odour are not the way to go. Make sure they know the basics about laundry, cooking, cleaning and food hygiene.
- Avoid them becoming destitute by the end of the first term. Discuss budgeting to ensure they know how their loan will cover food and bills as well as clothes and partying.
- Avoid “Mummy’s Boy” syndrome by setting expectations about contact. How often do they want you to call them? Weekly or more often?
- Bring to their attention how important it is to register with a local GP.
- Ensure that they have all the IT that they need for their studies and of course for you to plague them with emails.
Now it is time to wave them goodbye, pack their left discarded belongings into student self storage, and watch your child grow into a successful adult and enjoy the time you have to yourself. That is easily said, but are you ready to let them go?
As your child starts a new chapter of their life making new friends and experiencing new things, you will need to do the same to fill the gaping hole a child leaving home causes.
Keeping yourself busy and discovering new hobbies will help to avoid empty nest syndrome. With the feeling that your parenting role has finished rather too soon and still close to the surface, the worrying is sure to continue. You can’t help but wonder where your child is at 3am, does anyone care if they are tucked up in bed? Are they eating enough vegetables and drinking enough water? Are they keeping their accommodation in good order? Are their clothes clean? Parenting will never cease.
One way to keep an attachment whilst they are at university could be to own the house that they live in whilst they are there. Brian Linehan of Belvoir Letting Agents, Southampton suggests in a recent article about Southampton Student Letting that this not only means you can ensure that your child is living in safe accommodation with good quality fixtures and fittings, but will also give you an investment and income to boot.
Being a landlord could provide you with that new hobby to fill the void, and I am sure you will soon know when the washing machine is broken or the shower isn’t working. So maybe you will know if they are being clean and tidy after all.
It is amazing in modern times that as parents we can hold down a career, organise social events, keep ourselves fit and healthy, look after our parents all whilst running a family and encouraging our children to chase their dreams and do what they are good at. However, when it comes to them leaving the nest and facing reality for themselves it can deliver a severe blow and send us into shock leaving us feeling empty and thrown onto the scrap heap.
Be positive it is a new chapter in your life too. Explore it! Enjoy it!