7 things to do when your child moves away
It’s that time of year.
Kid moving-away time. I have three sons, and they’re all moving within a 10-day period. One is headed to college, one to physical therapy school, one home to land for a bit while he starts a new job. Too many changes all at once.
Boxes in and out. U-hauls in and out. Suitcases everywhere. Closets being purged.
Thrift store runs. Target runs. Doctor’s visits. Pharmacy runs.
Calls to the bank. Calls to the schools. Filling out paperwork. Ordering books.
Transferring funds. Praying for funds. Setting up payment plans.
We are busy. It staves the worry a little. But when it’s over, and their cars pull out of the driveway, and you find the things they left behind—then what? How does a parent cope?
Here are 7 tried-and-true things to do when your child moves away:
- Cry as much as you want. That’s a given. If you spread it out over several days, it’s actually healthier for you. You can keep functioning in between bursts, and you have a better chance of the people around you noticing that something’s wrong and showing sympathy. And the dishwasher might get loaded by someone other than you.
- Eat chocolate. I just tried this out. There was a leftover piece of Reeses’ chocolate-peanut butter cheesecake in the refrigerator (how did this survive?), which I just ate with vigor. I feel bloated, but I’m so happy right now. Chocolate is a necessary food group.
- Re-organize. Yes, I’m a pathological organizer, but it really does help. I suggest that you immediately clean the room of the child who left—sweep up all those Doritos crumbs and dust bunnies—cleanse the room of their messy presence and lie on the bed and breathe in the non-perspiration-saturated space. I’m not kidding. It’s therapeutic.
- Re-decorate. If they’re gone for good, strip the walls and closets of their momentos, re-paint, buy new furnishings, and gift yourself another room. Nothing’s more depressing than a bedroom that’s longing for its usual occupant. Make yourself a new room. Pronto. (This is also a great defense against the move-back.) If you have other children stuffed into other rooms, by all means, spread them out. This also allows for re-decorating, so it’s a win/win. You’re eradicating a ghost presence. No one can live like that. Trust me, they’ll be back. You’re not desecrating their memory.
- Strategize for yourself. What will you do with the extra time and extra room? Block off time for a trip. Sign up for a class. Don’t plan any meals for a while. Bask in the freedom. (If you have more kids, well then, you can still bask. Every child takes up some time. Just don’t give that extra time to the kids who are still at home. Hoard it!)
- Enjoy the momentos left behind, but then pack them up. Looking through old artwork and photos may or may not be a good idea right away. You should know what you can handle. Either way, it’s important to box those suckers up and take them to the attic. I just leafed through a kindergarten book, and I felt nostalgic but fine. Doggone, he was a cutie, but he’s a great man. Mission accomplished. Into the box.
- Celebrate. What? I’m crying, woman. How can I celebrate? Mark the moment as a celebration; you’ve launched a person into the world. You’ve done your job well. That is a reason to celebrate. Plus, you’re getting a call in a few weeks about how he/she has run out of money, missed a deadline, feels homesick, etc. so you have to celebrate while you can. Life has too many difficult moments to cry through all the positive ones just because they mark the close of an era.
You have succeeded as a parent. It’s up to them to utilize the skills you’ve given them.
That’s how life works.