By Nomali Cele
So they’re out of school and off into the big world of sleeping too late and rushing to lectures at the last possible moment. Your child is all grown up! But, of course, this doesn’t mean that you’ll stop worrying. Just the other day they couldn’t bear to be dropped off for their first day of school ever now they are skipping merrily to first-year, away from home. They are still your baby and it’s within your parental rights to be concerned. Instead of sitting by the phone and waiting for them to call you back, what else can you do to survive first-year as a parent?
Set the rules
The one thing you have control of once your child goes off to tertiary is how you have raised them up to that point. If they are going to a different province or town for the next phase of their education, they will go already being the person they are.
Have a discussion with your child about your expectations while they are away at school. If they are over the age of 18, they will be considered an adult and expected to make their own decisions (no more permission slips for you!) But if you expect that they keep you in the loop before going on trips with their new tertiary friends, they need to know.
Set the budget
Plan your finances with your child. They are growing up and are now part of the real world and planning your finances together, as they concern them, is important for them. It’s during this planning when you will be able to decide whether your child needs a parttime job; whether they can stay in residence etc.
This way, you both go into this tertiary education phase knowing where you stand financially. Your child will also be fully aware of any adjustments they might need to make.
Set a schedule
Back to sitting by the phone and waiting for your child to check in…From the workload and their social life to, perhaps working a part-time job, communication from your child might dwindle over time during first-year. So instead of waiting for them to call you every night, set a phone date for when they will call.
If your child is going away for their tertiary education, a schedule can also be set for when they will likely be able to come home during the semester. If there are important family events, plan time and money for them to be able to come home for a visit.
It might be a little early to go into full “empty nest” mode but the truth is that your nest will be a little emptier now that your child has gone off to university or college. Adjust how you shop, cook and plan your family moments. Events that can be re-scheduled to when your child is back from school should be rescheduled so that they don’t feel excluded. That way you also don’t feel like a bad parent for enjoying family milestones without your student.
Fill the time
If you find that you have a little too much time on your hands now that your child is away at tertiary learning and living their best life, you need to find a way to fill the time for yourself. Be it through joining a new social club or taking a class yourself, you need to fill the time instead of sitting at home and imagining the wild tertiary fun your child might be having. Trust that you raised them to be able to take of themselves.
Your child going away to first-year is a new phase of all your lives. Plan and keep an open line of communication and everything should be all right. You can do it!