skip to main content

Life Events Series: How to Handle Your Child Leaving for College

Mother congratulating her daughter on graduation day.

The summer before college begins is one chock-full of complex emotions and feelings. From immense excitement to intense waves of nostalgia, both parents and recent high school graduates will feel all the feels with such a huge life milestone looming on the horizon. Despite the positivity that surrounds your child’s new life adventure, it can be a challenge to cope with the fact that your baby eagle will soon be leaving the nest – embarking on a journey that leads to their first flight into adulthood.

Regardless of how sad you might be feeling this summer, it’s important to realize that your soon-to-be college student will also be experiencing emotional turbulence during this intermittent time, whether they wear their emotions on their wings or not. With this Life Events Series article, our team at Storage Express details how you can plan the best summer before your kid heads off to their university – all while ensuring you’re balancing quality time with the adequate space your child needs to prepare for this major life change.

Try Not to Project Negative Emotions

No matter how sad you are that your child is heading off to college soon, it’s important to know that they are likely feeling the same way – even if they don’t say it outright. Because of this, try not to focus all of your attention on your own emotions, as they could easily overshadow how your son or daughter is feeling and cause them to pull away during the short amount of time you have together. Instead, focus on projecting nothing but happiness for their future endeavors, providing your full support with snippets of life advice along the way.

Unintentional emotions or tensions may crop up in your teen due to the subconscious effects of separation anxiety, so try to help your child realize that you will always be there for them – regardless if they are acting distant, projecting anger, or continuously causing disagreements during their last summer under your roof. Your loving support should guide your child during this major transition, helping them understand that everything will fall into place as it should.

Activities Aren’t a One-and-Done Deal

Illustration of family enjoying quality conversations over a home-cooked dinner.

According to Marjorie Savage, Education Specialist in Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota and author of “You’re On Your Own (But I’m Here If You Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years,” it’s important not to fall into the “last time syndrome” with your son or daughter during the last few months before school starts. This self-inflicted psychological syndrome is indicated by feeling like every activity you do with your child before they head off to college will be the last.

From dinner dates to movie outings, these simple life events shouldn’t feel like a one-and-done deal. To help combat these feelings, make sure to set up a date with your son or daughter for when they will be heading back home to visit – or when you will head out to visit them – helping you both feel that the time spent together isn’t forced or made to be stressful and that being apart during the school year will just be temporary.

Balancing Time with Friends and Family

Your son or daughter has likely built relationships with friends that have already lasted years. In many ways, they will be balancing their time between your family and their found families all summer long, especially if they have close friends who are heading off to different colleges. Because of this, you might feel like you aren’t getting enough time with them before they leave – but don’t let this get the best of your emotions.

Keep in mind that leaving those you care about is hard for anyone, and do your best to spend time with your child based around their busy schedule. While it may seem counterintuitive, giving your son or daughter space will allow them the freedom to want to spend time with you, so be patient!

Utilizing Your Kid’s Summer Schedule to the Fullest

When thinking about making plans with your child before they depart, make sure to get some quality time in during the beginning of summer. If you wait too long, things will start to get too hectic and schedules will begin to fill up – especially as they begin to pack up their belongings for their big move.

Try to plan a trip for the whole family during the first few weeks of summer – after the high school graduation party, of course – to celebrate. If in doubt of what to do or where to go, give your young adult the freedom to make decisions about what they want to see or experience before their first semester of school work begins.

Illustration of family taking selfie at the Grand Canyon.

Great ways to spend quality time with your son or daughter include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Visiting a national park
  • Soaking up the sun on a beach
  • Exploring on a camping trip
  • Embarking on a cruise
  • Backpacking across Europe
  • Setting out on a cross-country road trip

Remember, planning a big vacation for the entire family shouldn’t be perceived as a last hoorah, as this perception could place unfair expectations and pressures on the shoulders of your son or daughter. There will be more family getaways in the future, even if that means meeting your college student wherever their university might be. (Vacation bonus points if they happen to study abroad!)

Even if you don’t end up planning a huge summer vacation, finding opportunities to get the whole family together – such as hosting backyard barbeques, lounging by the neighborhood pool, or spending a day at your local park – are inexpensive ways to spend time with your child before college begins.

Reshaping Your Nest After Your Child Heads Off to School

Sending your kid off to college at the end of summer can be a challenge that no amount of preparation can fully equip you for. But no matter how emotional you may feel after the car is finally packed up or the plane finally takes off, remember to think of all the positivity that surrounds your child’s journey into adulthood.

Now that your baby eagle has officially flown the coop, it’s time to put some attention back onto yourself. Focusing on your health and well-being is crucial to accepting your lifestyle change and moving forward while your kid is off at college. From taking up a new hobby to redecorating your child’s old bedroom, you can keep your mind busy and your productivity levels high.

Three part illustration featuring mother redecorating child's bedroom, father taking guitar lessons, and mother graduating college.

Reclaiming Your Child’s Bedroom

Your teen’s bedroom has likely been downsized during their move to college, but there are still remnants of their time spent under your roof. Instead of simply leaving the room as it is or unused, declutter the space and redecorate it to your liking.

Whether you’re interested in a miniature art studio, a reading room, or a well-decorated spare bedroom, you can utilize extra storage space at Storage Express to keep your son or daughter’s additional belongings stowed away until they need them – giving you plenty of room to breathe in your own home.

Taking Up a New Hobby

Want to set up an art studio? Try your hand at nature photography? There are plenty of different hobbies you could explore after your son or daughter takes off for school. Putting your time and focus into something that’s educational, constructive, and relaxing is beneficial for your mental well-being while you’re coping with distance.

Other hobbies you could try include:

  • Gardening
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Blogging
  • Running or exercising
  • Knitting or quilting
  • Hiking or camping
  • Cooking
  • Traveling
  • Meeting new friends and spending time with old ones

Picking up hobbies like hiking, camping, or traveling could coincide with visiting your child at their college campus, especially if they are located within a geographical area you’ve never seen or experienced before.

Heading Back to School

While your kid is off at college, there’s no better time to consider going back to school to advance your own education. Because of your head start in life compared to many younger students, you’ll be able to focus in on exactly what you want to study – employing your real-world experiences and wisdom to target new, fulfilling career opportunities that will enrich your future.

With so many colleges offering online programs and flexible schedules, finding the time to go back to school has never been easier. Whether you’re interested in creating new challenges for yourself, learning new things, or simply trying to achieve a lifelong goal, spending extra time on your own education helps you and your entire family prosper.

Storage Express: Giving You Room to Thrive with Self Storage Units

Coping with your child heading off to college is a difficult process, but finding resources to help you thrive is critical to ensuring you stay happy and healthy. With this guide, you can be sure to have a wonderful summer with your son or daughter before they embark on their journey into adulthood – all while remaining positive and supportive of their future endeavors. Additionally, you’ll be able to reclaim the time and space you need to stay productive on a daily basis, no matter if you repurpose their old bedroom, take up a new hobby, or head back to school.

At Storage Express, we are here to help you through life’s major transitions and events. Whether you need extra self storage to store your child’s old belongings or to declutter your home, we have the space you need! With heated and cooled self storage units and no long-term commitments required, our storage solutions can give you the space you need to breathe. Contact your local Storage Express facility to reserve your own self storage unit today!