There comes a time in every mother’s life when the inevitable happens and your chicks fly the nest. Inevitable, maybe, but unthinkable if you’re sitting reading this with a toddler wriggling on your lap!
I loved being a mum. I loved it so much I had four babies: a boy, girl, another girl, another boy. I can’t say I was terribly good at it – “Jo’s routine” is a bit of an oxymoron, to be honest – but they all got fed and cleaned, albeit a bit haphazardly. Most of all though, they were loved, nurtured and we had a tremendous amount of fun.
When number 1 boy went off to uni, I have to confess I was still so busy with his sisters and brother, I was quite cheery about the whole thing. I missed him, of course, but I gave myself a little self-congratulatory pat on the back that I was able to let him go and not cling like a limpet. After all, we all strive to raise happy, confident children who can eventually survive without us, right?
Below are my tips for preparing yourself – and them – for an independent life. Start early, and the trauma won’t be so great!
- Teach your children the basics about looking after themselves: how to use a washing machine, clean a toilet, change a duvet. You would be amazed at how many 18 year olds have never done those things until they arrive in Halls of Residence. (And many of them don’t start then!)
- Teach them the basics of budgeting. Start young by allowing them to have pocket money and helping them work out how they want to use it.
- Talk to them about self respect and personal boundaries. Peer pressure is easier to withstand (if they want to withstand it!) when they have a strong sense of self.
- Start to give them age-appropriate freedom from an early age. Letting them take the goods and money to the till, suggesting they navigate the route home rather than you simply taking them – these things build confidence and self reliance.
- Allow them to fail. If they can learn that failing is okay, so long as you’ve tried hard, and experience the consequences of failure, they’ll be less likely to fear it.
- Let them know that you trust them to work things out for themselves. Hovering over them, taking over and making decisions for them, doing everything for them – these things might feel like love, but they do not serve our children well in the long run.
Enjoy every moment of bringing up your little darlings. It’s a cliche, I know, but it really is over in the a blink of an eye. If that depresses you, rest assured there’s LAM – life after mummydom. It takes some getting used to, but empty nests can be re-feathered in new and surprising ways. Life still involves your children Plus they often end up coming back! But that’s another story!