One minute you’re holding their hand taking them to their first day at school, and the next you’re helping them pack to leave home and head off to university or college. Your emotions are mixed: delighted they’ve got what they needed in their exams; excited that they are about to start the next stage of their life; worried they will remember to eat properly, be safe, make new friends; and possibly relieved you’ll no longer have to pick up wet towels from the floor, recover missing bowls/plates/cups from their teenage lair. It’s now all out of your control.

You won’t know where they are, when they get up, what time they get home.  Unlike Luke or Mary or Alex . . . who’ve hung out at yours for years . . . you won’t know their friends or their friends’ parents. You’ll miss them and the bubble of them, their world you’ve nurtured for years, getting them to this point and letting go.  Of course, when they’re not having so much fun creating their new lives, they will miss you. Especially when the washing needs doing or no one has made their favourite meal or stocked their fridge.

You’ve done a great job. You’ve raised a human who’s ready to take a giant leap into the next step of their life . . . almost prepared for anything. Whilst they’re away they are likely to feel homesick, some more than others, and this is okay. This is where you can continue to help them even when you’re not actually present, by being a constant source of stability, good advice and love.  Packing them off with something that brings you closer, even when you are far apart. Get yourself a ‘Messages For You While You’re Away’ Keepsake Journal and here are some ideas on the sections you, and perhaps the rest of the family too, can include as you send them on their way.


1. Feeling homesick is OK – Write a letter telling them how proud you are of them, and how much they are loved. How much you are looking forward to hearing all their news when they come home to visit or tell you when they call. Make the letter positive and all about them. Add nice family snaps, photos of a family pet or their best mate, and funny photos that will bring a smile to their face.

2. Getting finances sorted – Your young dude may have had a job and have been responsible for budgeting for some time, or may have been living under the impression that money grows on trees. Either way, they suddenly have to manage their own finances, buy food, go out, remember birthdays etc. Print off this budget planner and pop it into one of the envelopes. Give them a list of key birthdays or events they really shouldn’t miss, popping in a few stamps will be appreciated, and an emergency £10 note might be fun.


3. Get to know the area - Do a quick google of the area they are moving to and provide them with a list of places in the area that look good to visit. You could list things to do that are cheap or, even better, free! A university or college map, and anything that can help them to integrate into their new surroundings such as a sports club or art group.


4. Getting the best value for money and time – One of the key reasons to go away to study is to benefit from the knowledge of the professors and other participants in the lecture. Your young adult may believe they can wing it by reading or watching videos online, but attending lectures really is key to their success. Download our guide for them to get the best out of their time and reduce their stress.


5. Learn how to be independent – It may seem obvious to a parent, but most young people haven’t mastered simple household tasks that will come in very handy while they are away. For example, a how to do the washing guide that you can print off for them. Pop it into one of the pocket envelopes along with a note from you on any other things they may need tips about.


6. Know your limits – A big part of student life is meeting new people and having a lot of fun, but making sure they know how to manage their limits will give them a lot less headaches in the long run. Download our printable tips to add to your journal.


7. Meal planning – Helping them to have at least a hint of a routine regarding what to eat will make you both feel less anxious. There are loads of student meal planning sites that list recipes for delicious and cost-effective meals but popping in a few favourites from home is sure to be a winner. From Grandma’s stew to your sausage and mash, even if they don’t make them, they will feel connected with home and seek to make something more than beans on toast.  An emergency gift card from a supermarket for an emergency shop won’t go a miss in the pocket envelop if you are feeling generous.


8. Deal with difficult housemates – Apart from siblings (who don’t count) and other family members (who still have a pick of power) this is probably the first time they have had to live full time with people they don’t yet Compromise is key, but it’s not easy living with someone who’s making things tricky. This list of tips could be a way to help avoid things escalating.


9. Celebrate events - Is it their birthday while they are away? Add a card or extra birthday message in preparation for that special day.


10. Student Discounts – This is one time in their life that discounts exist for many things. Take advantage of it! Some top tips include: Get a travel discount card; get a Student Union card; check out this site;  Always ask at the time (assuming you’ve forgotten your student card) if they do student discounts, and collect loyalty points to use.


So you’re ready to let them go . . . well perhaps you’re not really ready.

Remember they are off to new adventures, and now you have a wonderful gift to give to help when, despite the excitement and the newness, needing you is something they wouldn’t like to admit.

Helen Stephens