5 Helpful Tips to Ease
Emptying the Nest
I remember when our first born left the nest and headed off to college. We made the 2 hour drive to Indiana University (our alma mater...Go IU!) We moved Mary into her dorm room, helped her unpack and set up her room, and met her new roommate.
We took the girls out for Chinese food, which was hilarious because her roommate was from China. The food did not taste like food from home and she had never heard of a fortune cookie (clearly an American idea).
Once we got back to their dorm room, we started the dreaded goodbye. I decided it was time for a picture. I was all smiles on the outside, but very emotional on the inside. My husband, James, had to excuse himself so he could quickly find a private place to fall apart. When he returned, we were able to take the picture, and we headed home.
The next four days were brutal on my husband. He couldn’t brush his teeth without crying. He and my daughter Mary are very close. She looks like him and shares his...not so funny humor. By the second day, I called Mary and asked her to please call her dad he is not handling her leaving the nest very well.
Over the next few days they talked regularly and they planned for him to go and visit her for some father and daughter time. By day four, my husband was able to function again and could brush his teeth without crying. Mary was also able to stop calling everyday.
I tell you this because everyone deals with emptying the nest differently. You do not need to feel embarrassed about crying. You also don’t have to feel guilty if you don’t cry at all.
When we dropped our baby, Madison, off at college it went a lot better because we had a plan.
1 || Spend some one on one time
Maddie, my youngest daughter & husband in Gatlinburg.
My Husband actually planned a father/daughter trip with each daughter.
Plan it together, this makes it more exciting for your kid and something for them to look forward to. Believe it or not they are a ball of emotions too. They just hide it better, at least our girls did. Remember this is a huge change for everyone in the family. It doesn’t need to be a five star extravaganza.
Mary and James went to Wisconsin and on their way back home, they stumbled across the former high school where “The Breakfast Club” was filmed. FyI...it is a police station now.
Madison and James went to Gatlinburg and Sevierville, TN
2 || Discuss how often you will communicate
Me during my college years.
I first want to apologize to my mom for never calling home. My mom dropped me off at school in August of 1989, and didn’t hear a peep from me until she broke down and called me in September to make sure I was still alive. In my defense, long distance calls were not free. I was a broke college student!
Momma’s you are going to have to be realistic about how often you are going to hear from your little birdie. If he/she never called every hour on the hour when he/she lived at home, I doubt it will happen at college.
Mary is not good at keeping in touch, so I expected a smoke signal via text at least once per week to know the heart was still beating and life was good.
Now my youngest birdie, Maddie, surprised me. She is all me (poor thing) she is stubborn with a sharp tongue and no filter. She called regularly and even faced timed a few times per week.
3. Plan a couple’s trip
I think my husband would have handled our first born going off to college easier if we had planned a trip to help with the transition. We definitely planned one after Maddie’s departure. We headed to beautiful Hawaii! Little did we know Hurricane Lane decided to vacation in Hawaii too.
3 || When will you see them again
Dropping Mary, my oldest, off at IU.
I remember my first trip home was Thanksgiving. My mom didn’t pressure me into coming home any sooner and I was very appreciative of that.
Mommas, I know some of you are going to cringe when I say this...the birdie has left the nest! Allow that little birdie to spread his/her wings and soar into independence. Don’t get it twisted! This is hard to do, but at the end of the day...do you really want a basement full of grown ass kids?
Every birdie will be different.
I went home during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, and a few weeks during the summer between summer classes. Occasionally I would throw in a weekend, but that was rare.
My youngest sister went home practically every weekend (which I thought was absolutely absurd) she was missing all the great parties at school!
4 || Have age appropriate rules
When I graduated from high school, my mom dropped the curfew and her only request was, “please beat the Sun home”. It was easy to honor this request, because I lived in a small town and there wasn’t much to do after midnight. I was usually home by 1:00am.
It is a huge transition when your college student comes home for the first time, especially if their first trip home is Thanksgiving. It is important to remember that your baby has changed. He/she had to grow up at school and has experienced the taste of freedom from parent rules.
I think it is very important to talk it over with your spouse about what is the expectations for your college age child. When your child comes home sit them down and share what the new expectations are, so your visit is a positive one and not a hot mess.
We have only two rules:
Let us know if we need to leave the porch light on
Your boyfriend cannot spend the night
5 || Get a Hobby
I was that mom who did not allow my kids extra-curricular activities to dominate my life.
They were only allowed two activities per semester
Do not volunteer me for car pool, I don’t like other peoples disrespectful kids.
This worked out very well for my household. Once they could drive themselves, I didn’t care how many activities they were in because I didn’t have to transport them.
In the community where I live I am the exception not the rule. Mommas are running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to get all of their kids to events on different sides of town that all start at the same time.
If that is you momma, you are going to have a lot of extra time when the birdies leave the nest, so you need to get to know yourself and figure out what passions you want to pursue to fill the void.
Becoming an Empty Nester is a difficult transition, but with a little planning you can make the transition without needing therapy!
Your turn- What were some tips that worked for you when it was time to kick the birdie out of the nest?