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When your child goes to college

Hanging Out
Hanging Out
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Being a single mom can be trying when helping your child get ready for college, and even after they have gone, because you don't have another parent there to talk to about your feelings with regarding this phase of life. Especially when it is your last child who is leaving the nest. It might be difficult to deal with all of the emotions. After all, you are now going to be alone.

It is important to remember that you used to be your own person. You used to have a life outside of parenthood, even if you can't remember those days. It is now time to reclaim that life. Or to start anew, because you aren't really the same person you were back then. Are you?

While it is still important to concentrate on supporting your child during this change in her life, it is also important to evaluate your feelings and decide what things you are going to do for yourself.

Supporting your child

Wow. She is done with high school. She has done a wonderful job setting herself up for college, and you are helping her prepare to leave at the end of summer. She is proud of herself. You are proud of her. And you are both excited and nervous at the same time.

Keep up the good work mom. Enjoy a few more dinners with her. Take her to a movie. Go to the lake. And don't forget to help her with shopping and packing for college. Keep the drive to campus upbeat, and let her know that you are there for her whenever she needs you. You will be able talk on the phone, write letters to each other, and even video chat whenever you are both available, and maybe you will be close enough to visit her on campus or take her to lunch sometimes.

Let your child know you are proud of her for all of her accomplishments, and that you know she will have a wonderfully fulfilling life.

Your feelings

Maybe you are easy going and not feeling particularly emotional at this point. Some moms don't get that way at all, which is great, while others may not start to feel anything until they drop their child off on campus that first time. However it happens (or doesn't happen) for you, remember it is all normal.

It is fine to tear up when helping her move in. Just try to keep things upbeat. You will miss each other, for sure, but you will see each other at breaks. It is expected that you will miss her. That you will even feel loneliness. All this is real, and it is okay. You will work through these feelings as you each start living your new lives.

Your new life

Now is the time to pick up old hobbies, and to try new ones. It is the time to catch up with friends and family, and a time to pamper yourself. What kinds of things do you enjoy? Try some of the suggestions here, and come up with your own ideas.

  • Spend Saturday mornings lounging outside, reading a favorite book.
  • Learn to scrapbook, or to make cards. Or to do any other craft. You could even try a little of everything.
  • Spend a few weekends away by yourself, or with a friend. Rent a cottage near a harbor area. Go out for seafood. Visit the shops and community gardens. And treat yourself to a boat ride.
  • Watch what you want on television, and rent the movies you will enjoy.
  • Take up hiking. Or just walk a couple of miles a day around the neighborhood. Stop and talk to people who are out in their yards.
  • Take your parents out to dinner. Or invite them to your place for a barbecue.
  • Visit a day spa.
  • Take in a concert.

And remember, when she comes home on breaks she may want to visit with friends and other family members as well. Plan to spend some time with her, but let her have some freedom as well. Cherish your time together.

NOTE: Remember that it is suggested that students stay on campus during the first six weeks of class, for various reasons. This is important even if it is difficult for one or both of you, but soon it will be time to hang out and catch up. Stay strong. You are doing what is best for her.

If you have been through this yourself, please offer up your expert advice in the comments.

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