So, you’ve just dropped your child off at college. You’re leaving. Walking away. Here you go. NO. Really. You have to go. I know this because they made me leave my child. The nerve of that school.
After you leave campus, it’s time for some self-care. None of this will make it all better. Your child has just been snatched—I mean, your child is embarking on a new stage in their life. And so are you! Your self-care should look something like this:
1) Embrace the alone time
What does this look like? Who knows? I mean, I hadn’t for a while, but here’s the good news, you will remember. When we dropped my girl off, I cried and cried while my boyfriend drove us to a nice local restaurant. We sat in an underground bar and had a nice meal and carved our names into a table. Don’t worry, that wasn’t some rebellious, I-have-lost-my-child-and-my-mind moment. This restaurant actually encourages it.
Oddly, the carving helped me. It signified a new chapter in my life. More time for me and my guy as a couple. And more time for me to be me.
2) Indulge in good entertainment, good food and good friends
I was exhausted when we got back from dropping my daughter off at college. Not just from the five hour car ride, but from shedding buckets of tears. We hunkered down on the sofa in comfy clothes and I had my glass of wine. I was flipping through the channels, still sniffling, when I came across an all-time favorite campy movie, The Lost Boys.
My movie happened by accident, but as a been-there-done-that mom, I recommend you create your own towering stack of favorite movies. Ones you know will make you laugh and feel good. Do the same for books. Make a display of books you want to read so you can admire them and look forward to them.
Good food and good friends are also be a must when it comes to self-care. Make a lunch or coffee date with someone you usually only chat with via emails or texts. Have some face to face time with people who make you laugh. Make plans to make dinner together. Just connect!
3) Try new experiences
Explore your interests! Feed your soul! After my daughter went to college, I opened an Etsy shop selling vintage items. If you make earrings or knit dog sweaters, you could open your own shop and hawk your wares.
Not interested in a new job? Try volunteer work. Or take a class, go to one of those paint and wine nights, learn a new craft or hobby. Pick up a new sport or a new workout that gets your blood flowing.
The point of this new adventure is to shift your focus to something new and exciting and take the focus off worrying about your freshly minted college student.
4) Find calm and balance through rituals
Change can be hard. What brings you comfort? When my life changes, my mind can go into hamster-on-a-wheel mode, so I like to find ways to re-center. A quick ten-minute yoga routine, followed by lighting a candle and spending ten minutes in a comfy chair just reflecting—you can call it meditating, if you like—helps balance me.
Maybe your ritual is a long hot bath with a brand-new bath bomb and hot tea. Or maybe you need a more physical ritual, like beating up imaginary people via an online kick boxing class. (I admit it, I love this particular ritual of mine).
Whether it’s journaling, writing snail mail letters to your child (I highly recommend treating yourself to some new fun stationary), or baking a new treat once a week, ritual can be good for the soul.
You have done your job, Mom. This is a new chapter not just for your child, but for you. Life is moving forward and it’s a time of growth. It’s not always easy, but find things that excite you and embrace your new adventures!