We’re in a season of celebration for the 2020 high school graduates, and families are getting ready for the next chapter of their son or daughter’s life whether it’s going away to college, attending a local college, joining the military, or starting a full-time job. It’s a significant change in your family dynamic - and change often triggers uncertainty, discomfort and full range of emotions. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last month reflecting on my own college experience as well as my triplet boy’s college journey. To the strong, brave, amazing moms whose recent high school graduates have decided to start their next chapter away from home, I’ll share the following words of wisdom with you.
FROM ONE MOM TO ANOTHER
You should feel incredibly proud as you played an essential role in shaping your son or daughter into the talented, smart, awesome person they are today - YOU DID IT!
It’s time to let your 18-year-old son or daughter fly! Let go...and be the safety net when they need you. I promise, they WILL need you again.
Your son or daughter will put on a brave face, but they are just as nervous as you are to leave the nest and take on this next chapter of their life.
It’s perfectly normal for your son or daughter to “soil the nest”. Everything you say will be wrong, they will spend little time at home, and they will do the opposite of everything you say. Try not to take it personal, it’s just their way of practicing independence.
Goodbyes SUCK! The tears will flow, and flow, and flow until you think they have dried up, and then they will flow again. It will literally feel like you left your heart behind when you say your last goodbye.
Plan a day/time to talk to your son or daughter - and stay connected! Remember, everything is brand new and while it is exciting, it can also be extremely overwhelming. A quick text or call can make a huge difference!
Plan a visit every 4-6 weeks to get a visual check-in with your son or daughter and give them a break from the college grind. It’s particularly important if your son or daughter is feeling a bit homesick or struggling to find their way.
While your son or daughter is 18-years-old, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to be an adult. You know your child best...give them the guidance and support that’s right for them, and don’t worry about what your mom peers are saying/doing.
Be prepared for your son or daughter to consider a change in their college choice, major they want to study, roommate choice, or place of residence. It’s a wildly confusing time in their life and they are constantly second-guessing themselves. They will figure it out when the time is right. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
The most important thing you can offer your son or daughter is LOVE!
CHANGE IS INEVITABLE!
As a mom of triplets whose boys started their college journey last year, I/we seemed excited and ready for this major change; however, surprisingly I/we were incredibly ill-prepared. My boys experienced a ton of highs and lows - and so did I. The good news...we took every emotion, every experience in stride - and we are closer today than we’ve ever been, and for that I’m incredibly grateful. Change is inevitable, but with change comes growth. And, you will see tremendous growth in your child and yourself in just one year.
On that note, no one really tells you that you will personally experience significant change and growth too. Like most of us, it’s the first time in nearly 18 years that you actually get to think about yourself. You may even feel the desire/need to find yourself. Particularly, if you are now an empty nester. For so many years, your life centered around your son or daughter, and now you get to focus on you. But, who are you??? That’s the beauty of this change...you get to be YOU...whatever your YOU means. I will tell you...it’s a process...and it takes time. It will not happen overnight, but one day you’ll wake up and realize you are the new YOU. Embrace the change because the new YOU is going to do great things!
THE NEXT 30 DAYS
The next 30 days will be such a special time for all of us. As we prepare our children for the first year of college or their second, third or fourth year of college, or perhaps their entry into the military, it’s so important to spend quality time with your kids. Whether it’s shopping for college essentials or family vacations or fun weekend activities, I’d encourage you to cherish these moments so you can hold them close to your heart when your child is away from home. This time will go by in a flash so make the most of it. Sometimes, I just sit quietly, smile and take in my boys as if I’m etching their sweet smile, laughter, kindness and confidence in my mind. Believe me...it will help you get through the days when you miss them like crazy!
ONE LAST THING
I’m a nut when it comes to checklists and organization so I thought I’d share one more helpful thing. I’ve created a college essentials list...one for dorm room, one for apartment living, and one for at-home study to cover all of your son or daughter’s college needs. Click the links below to view and print these checklists of the college essentials.
COLLEGE SERIES: DORM ROOM ESSENTIALS
COLLEGE SERIES: APARTMENT ESSENTIALS
COLLEGE SERIES: AT-HOME STUDY ESSENTIALS
Please feel free to share these college essential checklists with your friends and peers. We’re all in this together!
From my heart to yours...you’ve got this MOM!