If you follow me on social media, you more than likely know that my youngest daughter is a senior in high school. She is the youngest of four. I can’t believe my baby will be leaving for college next year, it doesn’t seem real! I always tell my husband that it went fast…and his response is always, “well, it didn’t really go that fast.” HA!
I started mentally preparing for her to leave for college when she was a freshman in high school. I’m a Cancer and that alone tells you that I am a nurturer and a homebody! I LOVED being a mom to four kiddos at home. I loved the chaos of kids coming and going and catching up on how their day went.
As time has gone on, I’m also ready for this next chapter in life. Bringing two children into the marriage, my husband and I have never been alone. We’ve never gone on a vacation together – alone. We did, however, go on a work trip once for a weekend and there was a comment made that we had not been seen “out and about.” I explained that we’ve never been away from home alone, they immediately said… oooohhhhhh. Truthfully, we took a lot of naps.
If you are just mentally preparing for your youngest to go live their dreams and you are starting to wonder what’s next, try a few things that I did to move into the next stage.
Kids heading off to college? No problem! Here are six ways you can prepare!
Start dating your partner. I know, I know. Everyone says this, but it’s true. Even when you are tired and you just want to sit in front of the TV, force yourself to go out together. Go for a walk. Run to the store together. Cook together. Find something that is just for the two of you. Ice cream dates are my favorite.
Talk to your kids about how you’re feeling. I realized that I had thrown out a lot of comments like, “oh, what will I do when you go to college?” No, no, no. Do not do this. It only caused them to feel guilty! I realized this when my youngest thought she needed to temper her excitement about college. Have conversations about your emotions – all of them – because when I shared how I was feeling, she felt relieved. I shared that although I’m sad that this time period is over, I’m also excited about being alone with her dad and doing things we want to do. (So, be sure to date your partner or you may not feel that way!)
Spend some time alone. Get used to it! Embrace it! At first the quiet was deafening. I remember whining to a friend and she said that she loved being alone. So, I tried to love it. I’m not sure I am in love with it yet, but I certainly do enjoy it! Try it! Read a book. Float in the pool. Meditate. Dance around the house. Whatever you want to do, because guess what… you are alone!!! You make the rules!
Get a pet. I used to kid with my husband that every time one of our kids moved out that I would replace them with a dog. That didn’t go over very well. But I did go from one to two dogs. That brought back the chaos that I missed! My husband travels, so being alone with the kids is normal. As they hit the teen years and weren’t home, I was alone – alone. I found that I needed someone to care for, to snuggle with me on the couch, and that needed me.
Make friends. Making friends is easier when you have kids. You make friends with their friend’s parents! When you are down to the last couple of years with a small friend group, you have to get busy! It can be frightening putting yourself out there, but once you do, you’ll be glad. I can say that I have more friends now than I did when my kids were smaller. Most of us have kids leaving for college, so we can easily relate to all of the changes occurring in our lives. We make time for each other and go out for breakfast or coffee.
Get a hobby. Listen, my kids were my hobby. Then work was my hobby. It wasn’t until the past couple of years that I realized that those things cannot be my hobby. I mean, who wants to work at night or on the weekend to fill up empty space? I tried it, don’t do it. Not fun. Take a walk into your local craft store and you’re bound to find classes or sets of new fun creative adventures that you can try out! Having a hobby is also something that you can do with others, like on date night or with your new besties! You can also work on them alone if you’d like. It also doesn’t need to be a craft; I joined a book club to keep me accountable on my reading! BAM! Another friend group! See how this works?
Change and transitions can be frightening, but once you move past the fear and put yourself out there you may be like the couple on social media that was holding all of the balloons and celebrating their teen leaving for college!