Saying goodbye to college-aged children can bring up strong emotions, especially for first-time “empty nesters.” Going from 18 years of carting children around to having a quiet, kid-free home is a tough transition – even if you may have looked forward to it for years. Learning to love the freedom by finding enjoyment in the newly empty nest can change your entire perspective on life during your child’s college years! Below are some starting points for you to consider:
1. Transform Your Kid’s Room
There is an ongoing debate about what to do with a child’s room once he or she has traded in an old bedroom for a dorm room. One thought is to keep the room their home base to encourage frequent visits. However, if your child now lives far from home or has an apartment for the entire year, having an empty room gathering dust can bring up more negative emotions than positives.
Reimagining the room can be a great way to slowly transition. Be reassuring that you will keep a bed for them and place their possessions in a closet or storage unit. Then, make a plan on how you can utilize the room. Make it into a new office, design a painting or craft room, or add a few leather seats and a projector for a movie space that your child will love to come home to!
2. Don’t Stick Around
This is the perfect time to travel. For your child’s entire life, you probably picked vacations or even stayed home because of their own wants and needs. Now that they’re off on a new adventure, you’re next! Take a road trip across the United States, visit family on the other side of the country, or even board a plane for an entirely different continent. The choices are endless when you let your dreams guide you.
While travel is enticing, don’t forget to be there for your child as well, especially if they are freshmen. During this big transition, they may want to have you around for events such as a recital, homecoming, or parent’s week. Holidays, a time when all college students love to head home, may be another time when you’ll have to stay put.
3. Throw an Adults-Only Party
Did your home become a “party place” for your children with lots of teenagers running around? Why not mimic them by inviting your own crowd over for parties? Plan dinner parties, barbecues, or pool nights. Book clubs, church meetings, and charity potlucks are also great and productive uses of a house that is made for hosting.
Consider sprucing up the place to be a relaxing retreat not only for yourself but also for your friends. If you have neighbors that are going through empty nest syndrome themselves, it may be a great way to rally around each other. After all, it takes a community to get through the first year as a parent of a college student. By easing your home and yourself through the stages of “empty nesting,” you can come out on top with a life you always envisioned having when your children become adults.
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