7 Best Practices – Coping When Your Child Leaves Home

A friend of mine commented on my recent post Don’t Quit Your Day Job.  She is a fantastic Mom and has been for 17 and a half years. In 9 months, her daughter will going to university. My friend said to me,”You should do a post called What to Do When You Day Job Quits You“!  Well, challenge accepted. Am I qualified?  Yes.  You see, I too have a 17 and a half year old daughter looking to downsize my position in 9 months as well.

Coaching empty nest, child going to college
Let’s face it, in most jobs, the better you are, the more they depend on you and the more they want to keep you around.  On the other hand, you work at the Motherhood Job as hard as you can, knowing full well that you are only a success if they “fire” you at the end.

As we take the next 9 months to figure out how to move her from my world, I can’t help reminiscing about the 9 months it took to bring her into this world.  While others were busy at work preparing budgets, doing statistical analyses, and presenting their marketing results, I was doing the same –  but also building a brain, piecing together a spleen, and adding hazel sparkles to an eyeball or two.  Really, I am THAT AMAZING!

Now that brain, spleen, and sparkly hazel eyeballs are getting ready to go out on her own.

I have many friends who have walked down this path before me, and know many coaches who have generously given their advice, and all I can do is learn from them.  From talking and watching and reading, these are my top seven lessons to integrate into my life in the next year.

1) Re-think the “Mom role”.  Having been a Mom to Hazel-Eyes for so long, I have a lot of energy expended in that role.  Now that energy can be transferred to other roles that may have been neglected.  Do I hear “spouse”?  How about “student” or “manager” or “long-distance swimmer” or “hot salsa dancing babe”?  A block of my limited energy is going to be freed up soon – now is the time to decide how to use it.  And yes, a little coaching or counseling can get we Moms over the hump.  Many of us have forgotten who we used to be and what WE used to love.  Now’s the time to find that and reclaim it.

2) Run away yourself.  Go RV’ing, take a trip that doesn’t involve roller coasters or employees dressed up as Disney characters, or go to Italy without worrying about where to buy Kraft Macaroni and Cheese because “this pasta doesn’t taste like what we have at home”.  Or maybe stay home, but find something you look forward to spending more energy on.  Expect to feel sad, but prepare so that you won’t feel empty.

3) Don’t empty out their room and make it into a yoga studio just yet, or worse, don’t turn it into an untouchable shrine.  Seriously, when Hazel-Eyes leaves that half-eaten candy bar and those wet towels on the floor, she doesn’t really intend to have you leave them there forever. Psychologically, it’s good for Hazel-Eyes to know she has her room with us.  Besides, you know they’ll be back.  There’s summer, vacations, and God-forbid, tough job markets.

4) Don’t gloat.  They’ll be calling you to say things like, “Did you KNOW that you have to pay for the internet”?  or “Do you KNOW what happens when you use regular sudsy dishwashing liquid in the dishwasher”? (OK – full disclosure – I said that to my Mom when I was 19. Seriously – do you know what happens?  It’s like that I Love Lucy episode where they were working the speeding chocolate assembly line, except with bubbles)!  There are so many things that I sheltered Hazel-Eyes from, and so now she will have to learn them.  It’s not her fault, and a little compassion goes a long way.

5) Don’t hover.  While it will be tempting to phone the Dean to sort out the freaky-tattooed emo roommate situation, or call the cafeteria to see if they can pack a little somethin’-somethin’  for when Hazel-Eyes has a tight schedule, resist.  This is life.  There is so much truth to the saying, “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.  When left to her own devices, I’m sure Hazel-Eyes can find her own solutions and gain the confidence she needs to continue making them.

6) Go digital.  If you don’t know how to text, learn now.  Get iChat or Skype so you can check out the new haircut.  OK, so you can pretend to check out the new haircut while looking for bags under her eyes, new piercings, or hickeys.

7) And last but not least, my more experienced friends say, “Seriously – you actually think you’re done being a Mom??!?!!?”  Children leave in phases.  First it’s school, but coming home for long weekends and holidays, then it’s getting their own place.  Then you might become an ‘in-law’ to someone else’s kid, and then maybe grand-kids (I am so looking forward to feeding the little tykes sugar cubes and watching PG-13 movies with them – learned that one from my own Mom).  Households may change, jobs, schools, roles, but once a Mom, always a Mom. A wise man once said, “You never hear soldiers crying out for their Dads on the battlefield”.  Sorry Dads.  We know you are important.  Where do you think she got her beautiful hazel eyes?

 

Kirsten Cameron is a life coach who can help you to remember what used to make you ‘light up’ before it was Toy Story nightlights and glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars.  And don’t you deserve that?  She’d also like to thank her dear friends and fellow coaches who helped to provide inspiration for this post! To work with Kirsten, please check out her Life Coaching Packages.

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