3 articles Tag growing up

Homesickness Help For The Kids Out On Their Own

As the parent of a university student, you may have done everything you could to ensure they are well equipped to live independently and to use that independence wisely. However, that doesn’t always mean they’re going to have an easy time doing it on their own. Most of us experience homesickness occasionally when we’re out on our own for the first time. For many, the experience can really be crippling. If your kid is having a tough time out on their own, here are a few ways you can help them cope better.

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Make sure they leave with realistic expectations about what university is going to be

As a parent, part of our responsibility is to make sure that our kids are prepared for a prosperous future and part of that means helping them get a more informed idea of what’s going to be waiting for them when they leave home. Social media, TV, and film may have given them ideas that university is a constant party but they’re soon going to be disabused of that notion. If they were particularly looking fun to that part of uni, that twist can actually be quite shocking and disappointing. As such, it’s important to help them understand that managing a household, studying, and going to class is what they’re going to be spending the majority of their time on, and that partying isn’t quite as frequent as they might believe.

Encourage them to throw themselves into their new experience

The trepidation that your kids might feel out on their own for the first time is real and worrying, but it is also something that they can get over best with experience. Simply, if they can find the strength to go out, try new things, join new clubs, and make new friends with the help of networks like Meetup. Simply put, until they find their rhythm in their new environment and find what they like about it, most of their time is going to be spent comparing it negatively to home. When it comes to getting over feelings of homesickness, we need to get out of our own way, occasionally.

Tell them to make their own home-life schedule

One of the best ways to keep homesickness off your mind is to be busy. They can do this, in part, by enjoying the uni life as best as possible, joining clubs, going to events, and making friends. But simply getting used to a new schedule can help them move on with their life as well. Helping them put a daily routine together, including their housework, self-care, shopping, studying, and so on can help them find their own rhythm away from home. It also makes sure they don’t have too much time to let boredom settle in, which is one of the biggest catalysts of homesickness.

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Help them stay in touch with the folks back home

Reaching out and sending messages via Skype, WhatsApp, Discord and the like is one thing. But it can really help warm their heart and centre your kids to hear a familiar voice once in a while. Some kids fresh out at uni may worry about the costs of calling home in their new budget, but deals like the Smarty student campaign can make it as affordable as possible for them. You have to give them some space to acclimate to their new environment, but calling once in a while and letting them know they can call you whenever they want can help them feel extra supported out there. Just try not to do it too much or you could end up getting in the way of them acclimating.

Put down social media

It’s not just home that your kid will be missing, it’s all of the friends and connections they have made over the year that they are now far removed from. That’s an emotionally tough thing for many to deal with, and people make it much worse for themselves with social media. By browsing social media all day, they’re likely to keep scrolling through photos and posts from friends they miss, twisting the knife all the deeper. Encourage your kid to set a rule for themselves that they only browse social media for 30-45 minutes a day during a set time of the day. If they can discipline the habit of thumbing through Facebook out of their life, then they’re going to torture themselves a lot less often. Apps like In Moment can offer some valuable help in doing that, too.

Send them some home comforts

Want to really warm their cockles and help them feel like they are cared for? Then put together a care package of things from home. This is especially valuable if they’re studying overseas, as their local stores aren’t likely to carry their favourite biscuits or even a decent pack of teabags. There are plenty of guides for putting together a university care package that can give you plenty of inspiration. Just make sure your intention in supporting them is clear, not that you’re trying to make them miss home even more.

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Encourage them to look for help

You can offer them advice and a kind word where possible, but if you feel like they’re having a really hard time, then it’s important to help your kid be aware that there may people there who can better help them. For instance, it’s very likely that their university will have counselling services on hand. A lot of young people struggle with bouts of depression, stress, and anxiety when they’re away from home. Let them know that they’re not the only person who has gone through this, without diminishing their experience, that they can get through it, and that there are people and services who can help them get through it.

With the tips above, you can help your grown kids fight homesickness. However, it’s important to listen to their complaints, as well. If they have actual problems it may be that homesickness isn’t really the concern.

When Your Last Baby is No Longer a Baby

Burrito Baby is growing up. For many people, January is a time of new beginnings, however I always feel like September is that time for me. Summer is over and we move into a new school year and a new season of cooling weather and falling leaves. I always start September feeling inspired to do more, and my creativity seems to rekindle itself in Autumn for some reason. This September has been no different, and a lot has been happening in our house. Husband and I have both had new projects at work, Sausage went into Year 5 and 11+ prep, but perhaps the biggest change is BB starting nursery.

I’ve been adamant for months that nursery was the right thing for BB as she has some shyness that she needs to get over as well as some attachment issues, but it’s been a lot tougher than I anticipated. She was fine for the first two days of her settling-in week, then had tears on the Friday. The next week was hard too, with tears on Monday, culminating in almost-hysterics on the Wednesday which led to me taking her home early. The following week, she got tonsillitis so missed a whole week of sessions, and she even said to us that she was glad she felt ill because it meant she didn’t have to go to nursery. To say it was breaking my heart is an understatement.

For us, it’s a really fine line between getting her used to being away from us in preparation for school and traumatising her when she’s barely ever been away from us. Helping her confidence to flourish is a big part of the growing process. However, I also don’t want to give her the idea that she can have a tantrum and get out of ever doing anything outside of her comfort zone, and the point about her getting prepared for school still very much stands.

When Sausage started nursery, she was always quite happy to go, so leaving her was a lot easier;  it was only by the time she got to Reception that she started to hate it, and by then it was compulsory, so I didn’t have the option to just take her home again. Nursery isn’t compulsory, and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m losing out on precious time with BB which I won’t have the option to have back once she’s at school next year.

I think the fact that she’s my last baby is having an impact on my mindset. Husband and I agree that two kids are enough for us and that we like the dynamic of our family the way it is, and besides, having the health conditions I have mean it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to have another pregnancy anyway. However, it means that I’m having to deal with the fact that this is the last time I’ll do nursery drop offs, the last time I’ll have a three-and-a-half year old, the last time I’ll do any of this. Our family is growing up and while I love that in many ways, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel slightly sad about it, too.

BB is pretty advanced in a lot of ways and having a big sister means she’s probably growing up a bit faster than Sausage did, so coming to terms with the fact that our last baby isn’t a baby anymore is tougher than I expected. She still loves a snuggle and still holds onto my ear when she’s tired. She still asks for help eating her porridge and putting her shoes on, and still wants company while she’s on the loo. But she also refuses to watch Paw Patrol anymore, because it’s “for babies”, and wants to be a “big girl” all the time. It’s an inbetweeny stage for all of us and she’s charging towards school-age a lot quicker than I ever expected her to.

She went to nursery again today after her week off ill and went in with minimal fuss – I waited around the corner and spied on her after five minutes and she was all smiles. She came out full of beans, having baked a cupcake and made a new friend, so we’re hopeful that this positive experience will help going forward. I guess I need to just enjoy the little remnants of her baby-hood while they last, because I don’t think they’ll be sticking around for too much longer.

What Will I Be When I Grow Up?

When I was a kid, I could never make my mind up about what I wanted to be when I grew up. The thought of going to University scared the crap out of me because it meant that I’d have to make a decision and stick to it. In fact, I went to a grammar school which is currently rated at 8th in the entire UK for results and the pressure was on from an early age.

At 13, we had to do really well in our end-of-year exams so that we’d be allowed to take the subjects we wanted at G.C.S.E when we took our options and of course you must choose the right G.C.S.E’s so that you have the right subjects to allow you to study at A-Level, which in turn would need to correspond with what you want to study at University….”AAaaarrgghhh, ENOUGH”, my tiny, thirteen year old brain screamed. In fact, seeing as I was one of the youngest in the year, I was probably 12. “No…” I wanted say “no, I do NOT know what I want to work as until I can draw my pension in approximately 60 years time”.

The problem I have now is that I never seemed to quite snap out of that mentality. It’s not so much that I don’t know what I want to be, it’s that I want to be everything! At the moment, I have three jobs. I work in an Accountants office as an assistant and general jack-of-all trades doing payroll, basic accounts and crap like that. I also manage some Social Media pages for a couple of brands and I also pick up the odd bit of freelance writing here and there. Three pretty different jobs and strangely, I actually feel quite satiated, in terms of my career.

The thing is, I still have it in the back of my mind that I’ll still get to be an astronaut one day or that someone will walk past my bathroom window, hear me singing my heart out and offer me a record deal and world tour. That’s not to mention the book I want to write, the career as a stand-up, the prime time TV comedy that I’m going to both write and star in. And I’m not even exaggerating here, these are all genuine aspirations of mine.

When I was in my last year of school, I was determined that I was going to join the RAF. I wanted to sign up, get sponsored by them to attend Uni and then learn to fly planes. Then, I was told in an interview with their careers officer that I couldn’t fly planes as I’m as myopic as a bat and as coordinated as Bez after taking a heroic amount of Ecstasy. So, that scuppered that little fantasy and I don’t think I’ve ever got over the disappointment.

The thing is, I’m going to be 30 in a couple of years and I really need to start knuckling down. Just after Sausage was born I started an OU degree in Psychology but two yeas and 120 UCAS points later and I’ve realised that I think Freud was a twat. So, where do I go now. Well, I’ve signed up to do my Accounts Technician Training. I don’t want to be in my thirties and have the same earning potential as I did when I was 18, so fuck it, let’s have a go.

But in the meantime, if anyone needs me to stand in for them in a Broadway show or ghost write their life story, I’m happy to give that a punt too!