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How to cope when the kids fly the nest

Posted in: Family Last updated: 29 Jun 2012

Over the next few weeks, soon-to-be-students up and down the country will be unloading jam-packed car boots with everything but the kitchen sink into their new homes. Finally, it’s time to wave goodbye to their teary parents for the exciting journey that lies ahead.

Finding independence

Parents now have an excuse to decontaminate those “floordrobes” and make a sizable donation to the local charity shop. For the first time in 18 years, the house is at risk of being tidy and argument-free. Surely this is something we’ve always longed for? Or is it?

Many of us suffer from empty-nest syndrome – after years of living with our offspring it’s only natural to feel emotional when they finally fly the coop.

“When I walked into Katie’s room after she left it was quite a strange feeling knowing that she wouldn’t be back for a while” said Catherine, from East Yorkshire, who’s 19-year old daughter left for Leeds University around this time last year.

“I do really miss her and always really look forward to her coming home, but I’m really glad that she’s found her own independence. Knowing that she’s really happy makes me happy too.”

It’s important to remember that every cloud has a silver lining. After years of playing the role of taxi driver and fitting your schedule around your offspring, there’s finally time to concentrate on fulfilling those long-term ambitions you’ve been harbouring.

“I would say to anyone in the same situation as me, use it as an opportunity to explore your hobbies. I’ve recently started going to playwriting classes – something I would have never considered doing before”, said Catherine.

Some empty-nest tips…

Face up to your feelings – If you’re feeling down, get out the family albums to reminisce on the good times and speak to a friend or someone in the same position who can relate to how you’re feeling.

Be a little bit more spontaneous – Now’s the prime time to focus on yourself. If someone invites you to a last-minute outing, take up the offer instead of automatically saying no.

Allow yourself time to adjust - Let’s face it, getting used to the idea isn’t going to happen overnight. Find other things to fill the void but don’t go out and buy a new family pet just yet.

Keep the lines of communication open – Schedule a weekly catch-up, whether this an email every Sunday, or a phone call every Monday. This way, you’ll have something to look forward to and you won’t feel as guilty for interrupting their busy social life.

Recognise that things will change – When your child comes home from university, acknowledge that your relationship might be slightly different. It’s no longer as acceptable to pester them about where they are going and what time they’ll be back for dinner, so it’s important to make sure there’s a fine balance between letting them know they have your support and letting them be independent.

Whilst it can be hard to let go, you might just have to accept that your child is actually now an independent adult – used to their own ideas and timeframes. Use this as a time to re-connect and embrace this new phase when they return for Christmas and Summer.

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial adviser about your own circumstances.