It’s that time again - the beginning of a new school year. It is unclear why we are surprised since this happens every August, just like Christmas comes every December and Thanksgiving every November, and yet it seems to sneak up on us at how quickly it arrives.
As we walk down aisle after aisle of pens, pencils, spirals, and glow-in-the-dark Sharpies, we flash back to when our kids were born. We heard “they grow up so fast” and vowed to take lots of pictures and cherish every moment.
Then we blink and it’s the first day of Kindergarten. There is excitement and anxiety and some tears…and the kids may show some of those signs also.
We blink again and they are starting junior high. Another blink - high school.
And then…(insert booming scary music here)…it is the beginning of their freshman year of college. And they are moving to the dorm. And the dorm is in another state.
Your baby is leaving home for four years. You will be dealing with an empty nest. And “nest” turns into N.E.S.T.: Next Everything Screams Tequila (or chips or fast food or chocolate or Ben & Jerry’s or whatever your coping poison of choice may be).
What is a single mom (or any parent) to do? Here are a few tips that may help you cope:
1. Allow the Tears. You miss your child and that is okay. Their presence has been a part of your daily life for 18 years. Allow yourself time to mourn the loss of that presence.
2. Dorm Yourself. When you were buying the stash of stuff your child needed for their dorm room, you may have remembered how fun it was to get new stuff for your dorm room, or first apartment. Don’t go overboard, but indulge in some retail therapy and get something fun for your house that you will enjoy.
3. Be Free. Enjoy this time. Before you know it, your child will be graduated from college and will have moved back home for life. Take a class you’ve always wanted to take. Remodel. Redecorate. Do a yard project. Start something new. Revisit something old, like a previous hobby.
4. Celebrate the Connection. With the technology available today, there is no reason you can’t stay in touch with each other. Text, call, email, Skype - whatever. Don’t overdo this either - they are busy and trying to be independent, but keep connected with them. My daughter and I got matching Build-a-Bears to stay connected (see picture).
What things have you tried to help you through this stage?