The end of summer marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the lives of many young students as they head off to university. But the start of one chapter means the end of another and for parents, it’s never easy when it’s time for kids to fly the nest.
When it’s time for kids to fly the nest, our Empty Resters Guide is here to help
We know just how many parents and carers will be feeling the effects of empty nest syndrome, but just know – you’re not alone!
Our recent study of 2000 mums and dads whose children have moved found the majority would like their children to live no further than 14 miles away from home.
Two thirds of parents whose kids have flown the nest would gladly have them back again, while 90% were keen to support their child's dream and let them have their own adventure.
In terms of ‘the big move’ itself, 53% travelled with their kids on moving in day, and 15% stayed in a nearby hotel to ensure their teen was settled. For more than a tenth of these, their stay ended up being as long as a week to ensure their child was doing okay.
So, to help parents navigate this emotional change, we’ve created a downloadable Empty Resters Guide in partnership with content creator and parent, Tracey Lea Sayer to offer a few helpful tips.
Sarah Simpson, our Head of Product said:
"It can be hard when your kids leave the nest. For example, driving them up to university for the first time is the last big thing parents get to do for them before they become an adult. Our tips cover lots of the issues parents will face when helping kids leave the nest. From packing advice to making sure kids have essential life skills like how to use a washing machine or plan a food shop, it’s all here.
Helping to focus on practical matters can be really beneficial for parents who might feel overwhelmed with emotion – and it can also really help them feel useful to their kids.”
Our survey also offered an interesting insight into the changes that happen back at home, with 36% redecorating their teen's childhood bedroom after they’d left, while 28% simply spruced up the room, making it more comfortable for when they come back for the holidays.
Our study found kids are slightly more likely to move out and still stay local than move a good distance away – 57% compared to 41% – and 29% of parents find that their children can come home weekly. Most kids moved away alone for university (32%), but 29% moved in with a partner and 10% got their own place with friends.
It’s not all sad news though – a massive 45% of those asked said their relationship with their child has actually improved since they moved out. Additionally, we discovered that since their child left, 28% of parents are travelling more, 26% have more disposable income and 23% eat out more!
Content creator and parent, Tracey Lea Sayer, aged 51 from Bromley in South East London, said:
“My eldest daughter, Frankie, flew the nest when she went to university in September 2022."
“Preparing her for her university life helped us bond over the little things that signified a new chapter in her life. From the obligatory shopping trip for essential bits and bobs, to teaching her on how to make the perfect scrambled eggs and navigate laundry instructions. Buying essentials in advance made us both feel more prepared, it meant Frankie and I could spend some quality time together too. Equipped with a checklist of essentials well in advance, the daunting moving-in date had arrived."
“Having already familiarised myself with the layout of the city, the location of her accommodation and the proximity of nearby hotels for visits during term time, I found a certain sense of comfort when we arrived in her university, which is a fair distance from home. Learning these in advance put my mind to ease and made the moving process a lot smoother.”
Some of Tracey's top tips for parents of children leaving home
- Spend quality time with your other kids: When Frankie left for university, I got to spend real quality time with my younger son. He is quieter and doesn’t need as much attention but now he has me all to himself.
- Create a New Routine: Establish a new daily routine that fits with your new schedule. Don’t think you will have loads more free time though! The admin that comes with having a child at uni is relentless. Your ‘To do’ list won’t get any shorter. Student housing, finance and travel all need organising.
- Focus on Self-Care: Prioritise you for once! Your physical and emotional well-being is important. Try to exercise, eat well and de-stress.
- Connect with Other Parents: Sharing your experiences can be hugely comforting. I chat to the ladies at my exercise class who are all going through the same thing. We share notes, get it all off our chests and have a right good laugh about all the things the kids are getting up to.
- Embrace the three Stages: Grief, relief and joy. Of course, you are going to be sad and grieve when your child leaves home, but you will get used to it – and weirdly, quite quickly. There is a sense of relief once they have settled in and made new friends. It took about three months for it to not feel strange just coming home to the boys.