This “Empty Nest Syndrome” that we dread when children go off to university is short-lived if you live in London these days. I’m not sure it’s even a thing these days, what with sky high degree debt, astronomical rents and unnaffordable housing. My first born is already back from university and working, so he’s living at home to save money and I’m happy to be able to help. My daughter is about to start her third year of university, but I don’t worry any more – she has such short terms that she’s back regularly. She won’t start the term until October, will be back for Christmas and Easter and will have entirely finished her course by May. So there are only very small pockets of time when they haven’t been around and during that time as long as I stay busy, or force myself to enjoy my own company (something I’ve always been rubbish at) then it is entirely manageable.
It’s right now that feels strange though. The middle of the summer holidays that I have taken off to spend time with my children. I am so pleased that I committed to a massive holiday this year with all three of my children and some friends. Way more expensive than I can manage but you actually can’t put a price on spending quality time with your children in places where they can’t wander off and have to sit with you and actually talk and sometimes you just have to take the plunge because that is a collective experience that we will never forget and making memories is so much better than making money. It was heaven to have them all together for nearly two weeks and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Staying at home and hoping to spend time with them doesn’t work. I have taken this week off to spend time with my children and there is no one here. My son is working, my daughter is away on holiday with her boyfriend and my youngest is constantly out and about in a way that only a sixteen year old can manage. He is in and out a couple of times a day but I would estimate that on average, sleeping time aside he spends half an hour a day at home to change before skipping off out again to meet up with mates.
The key is not to get stressed about it. As a single parent, I have had to toughen up about the children going away with their father – it doesn’t really get any easier, but the trick is to make plans and keep busy whilst not putting any pressure on them to hang out with me. My youngest, leading up to the exam results only wants to stick together with his friends. So instead I am busy filing and doing boring admin, bracing myself to tidy up my house and writing blog posts. I have made a few plans to catch up with friends and family and I am also trying to find time to allow myself time to lie in the sunshine and read my book…which is not an easy task when there are so many jobs to do.
At least I know I’ve come a long way from those long, dark, days and nights when I was home alone and bereft. At least I know they will all be back soon, filling up my tidy house with yet another load of shit and dirty washing, so until then I must try to slow down and enjoy the peace and quiet. Easier said than done, but I’m getting there.