Parents: How to Prepare for “Empty Nest Syndrome.” Try a Test Run with Summer Academy.

Getting your teen ready for college can be a whirlwind of excitement and emotions. You can become so busy that you don’t have time to cope with the fact that your child is about to leave home to embark on a new adventure, one that could be thousands of miles away.

Often times a successful “test run” for both the student and parents can be UVM’s Summer Academy, where students spend two weeks on campus.

Many parents experience “empty nest syndrome,” a phenomenon where parents feel deep sadness and loss when children leave home.

Here are some tips for parents on how to prepare and cope with this sensation:

Spend as much time with your family and children as possible during their senior year of high school

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Lost time is never found again.” These moments will give you the opportunity to talk to your student about next steps, preparedness, and communication while in college.

Talk to your child about expectations and the basics of caring for themselves.

Perhaps your child is used to home-cooking, being free from financial obligations, and living comfortably with family. Talk to them about the basics of caring for themselves, such as washing clothes, cooking, cleaning, making smart credit card decisions, budgeting, and dealing with roommates. Also, establish how you will keep in touch, how often, and when to visit, so that you’re all more comfortable with the “send-off.”

Treat it like an adventure.

Don’t let scary thoughts take over. Reassure your child that this experience is once in a lifetime, as they will also feel apprehensive and excited. Stay positive to not only prepare your child, but also yourself.

Think about and start new activities.

Making a list of all the activities you want to do for yourself is healing, and you’ll be busy in no time. Connect with old friends, join a community club or gym, keep a journal about your emotions, meditate, take up a new hobby, volunteer in your community, or consider going back to school.

Accept support if you need it.

If you’re have a difficult time coping, reach out to loved ones and friends that can listen and understand or consider professional help to get you through this period. This may also be a good time to listen to your body. Meditation, exercise, calming projects, and keeping a journal are all helpful remedies.

Focus on the positive side of your kids moving out.

You may feel lost for the first weeks or months, but keeping a positive mind is always healthy. Think about all the activities that you haven’t been able to do for yourself over the past years. Also, give yourself a huge pat on the back for raising a person who is now taking on new, exciting roles in their life!

Whatever you do to cope with empty nest syndrome, there are productive ways to keep yourself busy, stay positive, and continue to connect with your student as they—and you—undertake this momentous next step in your lives. Happy new adventures!

Learn about Summer Academy and Pre-College Programs at UVM.