Monday, 1 October 2018

Adjusting when your Child Leaves for University

University of Gloucestershire, Pittville Campus with title overlaid. It's no secret that I had my first child pretty young. 18, in fact. This is not something I'm ashamed of, I didn't feel like I was too young at the time, and she's turned out astonishingly well, as it happens. She left university, armed with her degree and landed a job within 24 hours. I think she's rather brilliant! However, it did throw up a few complications. The problem with having a child young,  is that they become your whole life. I did not know an adult life without her, she was everything I had ever known. So how did I cope when she left home for university? Read on to find out and, trust me, however you are feeling now, you will cope too, honest.

University preparations begin a long time before the big moving day. There's a lot to do. Applying, waiting for offers, getting the results, possibly going to Clearing, if the results weren't what they needed. I think, for me, I was more stressed about it all early on. I wrote this poem; Moving On, in July 2016, and she went to university the following year. I think this is often the case with new phases and experiences, it's the uncertainty building up to it that is the worst part. It might seem silly to some, I imagine people are affected in different ways, but for a little while I really struggled. The idea of losing such a massive part of my life was hard.

Leaving for university represents the end of an era. It feels like a huge jump for your child from being dependant and young, to becoming capable adults. It's hard not to feel a little redundant. For me, I had spent my entire adult life caring for this young person, trying so hard to do it right, failing sometimes, obviously, but that was my life. Now, she was showing exactly how she was going to take on the world. I was no longer needed, or so it seemed.

The year leading up to Jade going was a particularly tough one. I found it hard to imagine how I would cope, losing not just my companion, someone who I spent a great deal of time with, but also someone who was a massive help to me when my back prevented me from doing things. Not just around the house, but also entertaining and being there for her brother. There would be a big gap and I knew it would be a tough time for me. Then my best friend died, suddenly, about three months before Jade left. I had been as careful as I could not to let Jade know how hard I was finding it all, and Lynn was someone I could talk to about anything, someone who was always there for me. In the space of three months, I lost my best friend and thought I was losing my daughter too.

University of Gloucestershire, Pittville Campus

It turned out, however that the end of an era can mean the start of a new one. As the moving day approached, it actually wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. There was so much to organise, and keeping busy probably helped, but there was also an overwhelming sense of pride at everything she had achieved and how far she had come, that made the whole experience a lot more positive. On the day itself, I did feel quite emotional, but I had to be mum and make sure she had everything she needed and was feeling ok herself, so I managed to keep a lid on it! There were times when I felt a bit lost, losing Lynn too compounded everything, I think, and there were days where I cried all the way home from a visit, or got emotional about something ridiculous, like having no one to share my hummus with. 

Over all, it wasn't so bad though. Life quickly gets into a new routine and carries on pretty much as before, just with some variation. Like, you end up doing a whole lot of washing in one go, instead of spreading it out through the week and you have to remind yourself to cook less chips, and buy smaller joints of meat. Your conversations are more often over the phone, instead of over a bag of crisps, but they are still there. The best part, though, is learning that you are not redundant after all, because you know how to cook all their favourite foods, which setting to wash a delicate shirt on and how to clean a burnt saucepan. What we learn from this is that they may not need to hold your hand anymore, but you will always have a place in their lives. 



  1. Oh gosh we have 4 years to go here and it kills me just to think about it! Such a huge milestone!

  2. I can't even imagine watching my girls leave for university its such a long way off! But I also know that the years just flyby

  3. It is such a big adjustment isn't it? It isn't so bad in the end but the days leading up to it really feel like it!

  4. My kids are toddlers so I have many years to go. But I can imagine how big a deal it is. Huge milestone for sure.

  5. I had my eldest when I was 18 too, she is now 16 and about to do her GCSE's, I have no idea if she will head off to uni or not yet (she has no idea what she wants to do job-wise. x

  6. This is a huge thing in everyone’s life. My eldest didn’t go to uni. He up and moved down south to work!!

  7. None of us ever lived out for Uni and I want to make sure it’s something my children experience one day as I feel it makes such a difference into moulding growing adults into the people they become!

  8. It is hard when any child leaves home and my son has just headed off to UWE - I do worry about him though, especially as he hasn't got a job yet


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