While most of you have younger children, for those of you with teenagers who have just finished their A Levels, you’ll be facing the idea of letting them loose in the big, wide world as they depart for university.
There is a lot to think about as they embark on this journey, firstly, for the majority of teens heading off to uni, this will be the first time they will be living without you, usually in a new town and they’re going to have to learn, and learn fast, how to cook and clean for themselves, as well as how to make new friends, manage money and navigate their new home. But it is an equally difficult time for the parents they leave behind, so here are a few things you can do to make the transition as easy as possible for all of you.
Firstly, be sure to look around your teen’s new digs if you get the chance. Not everyone will be allocated room in Halls of Residence and if this is the case, make sure you’re happy with the premisis, that it is in a safe area that is easy for your teen to get to lecturers and back. When you make the journey to their new home, be sure to spend time decorating it with them, this will mean they get a touch of home comfort and you get to check that they have a nice living environment, make the experience easier for the both of you. Many University towns have inexpensive by stylish shops offering soft furnishings and crockery so you can make sure they have all they need to set up their first home away from home. Especially if they are in self-catering accommodation.
You will need more than just a few cushions though, while they’re at home, it is likely they have their bedroom door closed at all times to keep out younger siblings, but when they’re at uni, they are going to want to try and make friends with their future flatmates and neighbours, so make sure they take a door wedge with them! It’s a simple thing they might not think of themselves and you can be smug in the knowledge that you helped them socialise in their first few days.
Before they leave the safety of your home, make sure they know how to feed themselves. While you might think that they should know at 18 how to boil water or use microwave, you’d be surprised! Also making a few easy to prepare meals that they can freeze and then reheat can be something you can do together in your last few weeks with them at home. You can also go through things with them, such as budgeting with the help of online guides, the government website has a whole section dedicated to student loans and budgeting. The Student Room website will also provide an inventory of useful things they might need to take with them.
Once you’ve got them settled in and have returned home, you might find it a bit too quiet and a bit empty for a while. Empty Nest Syndrome can be difficult to deal with, especially if you’re used to having your teen around. It isn’t just them that will have to get used to this huge change, you will too. To help with the transition, why not find a new interest to take up your time? Your teen is now out there making new friends and trying new things, so you should too! Start a book club or take up a hobby you’ve never previously had time for!
You don’t have to go cold turkey from your child, you can still keep in touch with them and with the rise of social media, it is even easier to keep tabs on them!
If you do have any major concerns about your teen being away for the first time, especially regarding their new accommodation or their health, there are plenty of online resources to help you. If they end up with fresher’s flu or something worse, you can call 101 or visit the NHS Choices website which can offer advice and support. Make sure they remember to register at a local GP surgery while they’re away, it is likely the university will be able to help with this!
If you think there is a problem with their accommodation, the Student Accommodation Code can help, find them at www.thesac.org.uk this site offers all the advice you need about your child’s rights in regards to their new home so you are properly informed when helping to sort it out.
Finally – don’t panic! Most new students love their first taste of freedom and living away from home, they are surrounded by other people who are all in the same boat and once they get into the swing of university life, they manage to muddle through without any problems. They will be fine and so will you, just take a moment to enjoy the peace and quiet of the house before they pile home for Christmas with arms full of laundry.