Step 1 – stay calm
Even for the most anxious youngsters who usually relish a helping hand from Mum and Dad or a chance to shy away from social events, this is a golden opportunity to develop their confidence, express their individuality and become fiercely independent individuals. Make a date for a social visit that works with their lectures, and gives you both time to adjust to a new life. Stay cheerful and stay calm, and you’ll help them to stay happy.
Step 2 – stay focused
Seriously, tempting as though it may be to stay closely in touch for the first few weeks (days) (hours), this really is the time to cut the apron strings. Be reassured that you’ve given your children an amazing start in life, they’re well prepared to cope with the first few weeks living away from home (the truth is, there’ll be so much going on they won’t have time to miss you), and you’ll treasure their moments of pro-active contact all the more.
Instead, concentrate on making the most of changes to your own social and family life; your youngsters will be just as keen to hear updates on what’s happening at home, as they are to share news about what’s happening on or off campus.
Step 3 – help them stay solvent
Unless you’ve shown your youngsters what a real-life budget looks like over the last few years, having access to tuition fees and maintenance loans could be quite daunting. Encourage your children to talk about how they’re going to budget; getting them to articulate their plans for shopping (for fashion as well as food), will help crystalise some of the ‘hidden’ expenses they may not have thought about. Things like TV licences; taxis; toilet rolls or their own toothpaste, for example.
Step 4 – stay in touch
Anything you can do to stay in the background, but getting to know how and what your children are doing is helpful. Get in touch with the University, and stay in touch. Ask for updates on events that are coming up; get to know the city, town or area in which your child is staying; spend some time looking into the syllabus your child is studying – those shared pieces of knowledge will help bridge the emotional gaps – and don’t panic if you don’t get an instant reply to an email, SMS or answerphone message. They’re leading busy lives now …