Amidst the flurry of shopping, packing and moving your child to college, there’s hardly time to acknowledge, let alone process, the fact that you are going through one of life’s bigger transitions. When your child goes to college, whether it’s your first, last or only child, this change includes an ending and a beginning. Your role in life and your daily responsibilities as well as activities, change.
It’s not uncommon to feel sad, lonely or even without purpose. Life with kids at home was probably action packed and kid-centric, but now that the kids, the mountains of laundry, the endless shuttle service and endless activities have stopped…it’s time to figure out who you are.
How are you going to fill your time, now that you actually, have time? It’s best to spend some time to consider how this transition affects your life, before rushing out and filling your time with any old thing or just ignoring your feelings.
ACKNOWLEDGE AND HONOR THE CHANGE
Big life changes are hard, spend some time and acknowledge all the aspects of your life that are changing; from day to day activities, to missing your child who’ve been used to spending time with every day. Then you’ll want to begin thinking of the new opportunities this change is bringing to both you and your child. You will now have time to learn about, develop and pursue your interests, and you’ll be able to see your child develop into an adult and begin their life on their own.
RECOGNIZE & SHARE YOUR FEELINGS
The focus of your life for the past two decades has come to a screeching halt, and its time to ask yourself, how do I feel? It’s common to feel a varied mix of emotions that run the gamut from sadness, fear, happiness and pride. These conflicting emotions can be hard to navigate, which is why it’s important to express them for what they are. How you share your feelings is just as important as recognizing them.
Often, we may want to avoid painful feelings such as loss of purpose or sadness and it can be easy to vent your feelings onto others, especially those closest to us, as frustration or anger. However, expressing ourselves this way, only creates distance and isolation at a time when you need closeness and support.
FIND YOUR SUPPORT
Having positive support in your life gives you the freedom to express your feelings and to share your experiences, while learning from others who are going through or who have gone through the same experiences. When we are faced with the dramatic change that occurs when a child goes off to college, our whole identity as a parent and a person is changing, and as you experience this change it can be scary. It’s time to open up to friends and family, or you can speak to church leaders, a therapist or even find a Mom’s group.
During transitions where we are dealing with our roles in life changing, it’s important to make sure we are practicing self-care. Change is stressful and stress can create havoc on our bodies. During this time make sure you are setting yourself up for success. You’ll want to get lots of good quality sleep, so that you feel calm and rested. And make sure that you get plenty of exercise and that you are eating and hydrating your body properly.
TAKE ACTION, NOW
When transitions occur and we are experiencing a roller-coaster of emotions, we can become overwhelmed and making decisions can be hard. During this time, it’s important that you start processing your feelings, sharing your thoughts and participating in activities with other people. As a busy parent, you may have gotten into the routine of putting yourself last, so now it’s time to take action, change gears, and put yourself first. Make efforts every day to make sure you get what you need as you process and adjust to this new chapter in your life.
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