Empty nesting; are you looking forward to your child leaving home or dreading the prospect?

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Guest post by Ceri Wheeldon of Fabafterfifty.com

When your children finally leave home can be an incredibly emotional time. Susan McNally, who is just about to see her third and youngest child leave home to start at university says ‘It doesn’t get easier. You have to remember that they’re excited about the prospect, so you have to be excited for them. If you share in their excitement and encourage them to go, then they will look forward to coming home to visit’. Here are some tips on how to prepare for your child’s departure to university or college.

1. Have the money talk
Before your child leaves for university it’s important to discuss finances, and make sure they are realistic about how far their budget will stretch. Are they starting by taking all the basics with them- it might not be easy to borrow from siblings- or your — wardrobe when they are living away, or have such easy access to laundry facilities.

2. Check your insurance
It’s probably worth checking your own insurance cover too in order to check if their belongings are covered on your policy while they area away. Add up the cost of phones, laptops, ipads – none are cheap to replace and they may be essential to your child getting the most out of his or her course.

3. Think of a new role for yourself
When speaking to Fabafterfifty, pychologist Raj Persaud says research shows that women who work outside of the home find the transition of becoming an empty nester far easier than those who have stayed at home to focus on bringing up the family. He says ‘You might have been a great mum, but this doesn’t mean you can’t be a great something else as well’ . He advises women to think of themselves as the ‘sub’ on the football team- not needed all the time on the pitch, but ready to step in when needed.

4. Consider starting your own business
Many women take the opportunity to focus on their careers once the children leave home, with many successful businesses being set up by empty nesters- the chance to follow their dream with the benefit of their life experience. If returning to work, the ability to multi-task and problem solve developed while bringing up a family is seen as a benefit by potential employers.

5. Look at your own home
Designer Francoise Murat says that the children leaving home can be a great time to take a fresh look at your home- redefining the space to suit your new needs. If you always wanted a hobby room but didn’t have the space- this could be your chance! Not ready to get rid of the kids clutter completely? Then put it into storage. Need an office area for your new business area, then look at reclaiming space in the hall or under the stairs for shelving and desk units.

6. Think about selling up…but be realistic
What if you want to sell up, release equity and downsize to a smaller property. Be realistic about the space you will be happy with- you may need fewer bedrooms but would you be happy with less living space?

– Take into account the cost of moving – legal fees, stamp duty, estate agents, not to mention redecorating your new downsized home to make it your own.

– Add in leasehold costs: if you are thinking of moving from a house to a flat, don’t forget to look at the implications of buying a potential leasehold property. How long is the lease for? What are the monthly management fees? How large is the sinking fund (a fund that’s built up to pay for repairs)? Are there are any major works planned for the building and how much are you likely to have to contribute? You don’t want your released equity to be swallowed up in hidden costs!

CERI’S TIP: Look at the positive aspects of becoming an empty nester. It’s important to remember that the children aren’t leaving never to be seen again – and you always have the prospect of Boomerang Kids to look forward to!

About the author:
Ceri Wheeldon is the founder of Fabafterfifty.com, a website aimed at helping women over 50 enjoy the best years of their lives.

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