This week, teenagers across the UK are getting their A-Level results. They are either joyfully celebrating their great grades or dealing with disappointment and second options. It’s a difficult time for teenagers as they navigate the next phase of their lives, but for us midlifers, it also begins the process of preparing for them to leave for university.
Some of us may be dealing with the first child leaving, but for some midlifers, they are facing a full-on empty nest. This can feel like a huge and scary change. A changing relationship with our kids is inevitable, but them leaving the family home can leave us with a lot of anxiety over how much you should call them without becoming overbearing, or worrying if they are safe and happy.
When your kid’s leave for university, there is no doubt that you will grieve as you find yourself with a reduced role in their lives. However, there are ways to also embrace the empty nest and learn to appreciate the change.
Your time is now your own!
You’ve spent 18 years looking after your kid. You have been keeping them fed, clothed and clean, ferried them around when they wanted lifts, been woken up by doors slamming at 1 am. Now, you can focus on yourself. Take some time to look after yourself and do what you want to do!
Enjoy the quiet
Whether it’s the tv on loud, phones pinging, doors slamming, arguing, or rowdy groups of friends, there will definitely be less noise in your house. This can seem really scary, and the quiet might seem overwhelming at times. But try to embrace it and spend time enjoying the power of silence.
Your house is how you want it
Teenagers bring with them extra stuff and extra mess! You can keep it as clean and organised as you want it, and leave it in the morning knowing it will look the same when you get back. Or, if you’re messy, you can leave it messy without worrying about the example you are setting to your teenager!
You can focus on your relationship
Whether you are married or dating, when you’re kids go off to university you can shift from making others happy to make yourself happy. This may require change, or you may rediscover your relationship. Either way, you can pay attention to what will make you feel happy and fulfilled.
More quality time and getting to know them as adults
Your kids will come back to visit. When they do, you can have more quality time with them than before because it doesn’t happen all the time. You can go visit them and see their new lives and the city they live in. You can also enjoy knowing them as adults as you learn more about what you have in common and what their opinions and passions are. The time you have together is more appreciated because you don’t get it every day!
Embracing the change
There is no doubt that you might feel down, get upset and grieve as your children go off to university. It’s a massive change, and after being focused on them for so long it can make you feel empty when they leave. But it’s important not to be too afraid of the emptiness. Embrace it, grow and evolve. Just as they are making their way, make changes in your own life and find your own way too!