Last Updated on September 20, 2019

If you read the title of this post and got here quick to see what calamity might befall your precious college freshman, the warning is for you not your child! The tips listed below are for you!

There are many emotions that have hurled through my heart and head over the last few weeks. Excitement for my daughter at what lies ahead, sadness for me as I miss her deeply, concern for her brother who is so very close to her and alarm for my husband who at times has looked like a sad ten year old boy.

There is a lot packed into figuring out a new normal when a very integral and loving part of your household strips her room bare and waltzes out the door to merrily go off to college. The hole left behind is a giant vacuum that seeks to suck the frivolity and joy right out of the home.

What I have learned is that you must fight the pull to be carried into the vacuum and trapped in a very dirty messy place. You must choose to accept and adapt. Learn a new normal and find what God wants to teach you through it.

I am still learning through this transition and am very grateful that I paid attention, sought out and heeded the advice of women a few years ahead of me were going through “all the things” that go along with launching a child.

Based on their wisdom and my experience the last few weeks I do have some suggestions for those of you who have launched a teen off to college, or work, or out of your home.

  1. Stay connected closely to the Lord and pray for your child as well as each member of your family. Find peace through the reading of God’s word.
  2. Do not allow your physical body to suffer, make sure to get regular exercise, eat healthy meals and keep a sensible sleeping schedule.  It sounds basic…but each of these is of vital importance. Please friend, do not turn to substance abuse for comfort, in the long run that can become a vicious cycle.
  3. Choose to say no to any new opportunities for a few months, or even a year to give you time to transition well. (This I remember specifically from the Guide to the Empty Nest book!)
  4. Do not lay your own personal transition problems on your teen that has left – allow them to spread their wings and experience life without having to worry about you.
  5. Find another mom who has already experienced launching a child, confide in her and learn from her experience.
  6. Explore new ways to connect with your children that are still at home as this is a new experience for them too – help them to transition well by concentrating on strengthening your relationship.
  7. Be mindful of your self-talk and make sure you are keeping it positive and forward thinking. Don’t dwell on what has changed and is never going to be the same.  Instead be hopeful for the future and the new “first’s” you are going to get to experience.
  8. When you do interact with your launched teen make the texts and phone calls positive and uplifting. Let them know you believe in them and their ability to “make it” away from home. You should be their biggest cheerleader! (However, don’t overdo mom…keep the interaction at a minimum.)
  9. Don’t put added pressure on your child to perform. For this first semester just expect a base hit… not a home run.  The transition to college work, college life (or work life) is a tough one and added pressure from parents can be a hindrance to success.
  10. If your child comes home for a visit, encourage them to bring friends. Make some new habits and treat your teen as more of an adult. Talk with them, not at them. If necessary, bite your tongue and avoid the desire to lecture or teach – just enjoy time together and encourage. (And make their favorite meals/desserts – that’ll ensure a return visit!)

If you are filled with a swirl of emotions and pressure, how much more difficult to handle are those same feelings for an inexperienced 18 year old?

The biggest warning of all is to remember that even though your child is trying very hard to be grown up and you should treat them as such… they really do have a whole lot to learn. They will crawl before they can walk.

We must be mindful to encourage those “first steps” much like we did when they  learned to walk.  There were a lot of falls and stumbles, but our constant encouragement and belief in them is what got them walking!

{Editor’s Note: Tracey shared these 10 great tips with us in 2011 when she launched her daughter off to college. Good news, everything turned out well, everyone adjusted and God grew her whole family through this launch, and the launch of her son three years later into his profession. Stay the course moms, and be encouraged!}

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  1. This is a great post with some wonderful suggestions! We launched one off to college this Fall and have two others in college so I'm definitely feeling the tug toward empty nest (have one left at home). I relate most to suggestion #7 – be mindful of your self-talk – keep it positive and don't dwell on what will never be the same. When our lives are centered around our children, it's hard to not think about how they're changing as our kids leave home, but I have experienced some new "firsts" that are quite refreshing for our new family with an only child. I've also learned to lean on the Lord in a way I hadn't before. Thank you for the great reminders – and I think I'll check out the book you suggested on empty nest!

    1. Thank you Gayla for your encouragement and I am blessed that you found my heart thoughts helpful! Those new "firsts" do prove to be a sweet blessing! May the Lord continue to bless your children and your on-line ministry! That Empty Nest book is something every mom of teens should read! Big Hug, Tracey

  2. I love 4,5 and 6! Those are what got me through, as this year my oldest went to college. With forceful determination, I made myself "change with the season." Yes, I cried in secret a few times as our family adjusted to it's new normal, but as only God can do, He changed my heart over time. I can celebrate the newness genuinely.

  3. Oh boy, I did this two years ago for the first time and it was rougher than I thought it would be. I cried off and on for three months, hurt deeply, but didn’t let her know it. I waited for her to call me, was sad it took awhile, wondered if things would ever be normal, but forced myself to move to the next stage and not get stuck there. I asked The Lord to help me move on and be a mom that let her go and grow, even if I had to go through pain. I definitely had a friend two stages ahead of me I cried to. I got through it, and things definitely normalizes and swung back into balance. I didn’t tell her how hard it was til the next summer. She was touched, and she was very thankful I have her space. She needed it and God taught her things too, and she eventually came around more and we are still close! But I also strangely got buses to her not being here, even though I miss her. I don’t talk to her daily and haven’t since college started, but its ok. I forced myself to be the mature one, the adult, and move with the season and not expect her to be my fulfillment or friend. To let her go, give her freedom and hope it all came back. And it did. But it is hard! But what they need us to do. Good advice.

    1. I mean I strangely got USED to her not being home haha!