CollegeCovered.com, powered by Discover Student Loans, provides students and parents with great tips and tools on getting into, paying for and adjusting to college.
Preparing Siblings When Your Child Leaves for College
If I’m being honest I have to say that I have been feeling pretty overwhelmed with life recently. I have one adult child living at home, two in community college, two in high school, one in junior high, two in sixth grade and one in second grade who homeschools part-time. That is eight kids in five schools…plus one adult child. It is a lot to balance.
I seem to be becoming an expert on launching children. It is a bittersweet realization. You work for so many years wondering if your kid will ever use the potty, stop sucking their thumb, or sleep through the night. Then suddenly you are planning weddings, sending care packages to your child, and preparing to be a grandma! These constant changes are hard on everyone in our family, particularly the youngest kids who see their family shrinking over the years. Over the past two years with Judah constantly coming and going from college, I have learned a few tricks to help everyone adjust.
(Oh, come on, you knew I would include something about photos) Print up photos of your college student with each sibling. They don’t have to be beautiful portraits, just snapshots of family memories are fine. This has really helped my younger kids at home adjust to their older siblings leaving. We also did this for Apollo when he was in the hospital. A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say.
Utilize Emails, Facetime, and Social Media
Sometimes I think this is exactly what this technology was designed for! Nothing makes you feel closer than seeing and chatting with family members from a distance. Social media has kept me feeling close to my children who live far away. When Adalia came to visit earlier this year, after being gone for nearly three years, I thought it would take Apollo a while to warm up to her. Nope, he ran straight to her. Years of Skyping meant he didn’t feel shy at all around his big sister.
Let Your Kids Help With Care Packages
It’s crazy how many items a kid needs to move into a dorm room. The list for Judah seemed endless. To make things a little more fun I sent him off with a college survival kit. Let your younger kids be involved in the process of packing up and sending care packages to their sibling. Include a letter or drawing and let them add in their favorite snack (or better yet, bake a treat with the younger kids to send to their sibling).
Take your children to visit their sibling.
If at all possible take your younger kids to visit their older siblings at their college. Over the two years that Judah attended CWU we took different groups of kids over for different occasions. They loved being able to see where their brother lived and learned. Not only was it fun family time, but our younger kids got really excited about the idea of attending university themselves.
Celebrate when they are home!
Whether it is an actual holiday or a just quick trip home, try to have a special meal together. I love celebrating and throwing impromptu parties, but I am also the Queen of Casual. For better or worse, I never let a lack of planning limit our celebrations. Making the most of these small moments helps everyone in the family feel closer.
Have you launched any children yet? What are your best tips for helping the younger kids adjust?