Leaving for University – how it feels when your child leaves home

It’s becoming painfully clear (to me) that my daughter is leaving for university in less than a year. How is that possible, when I’ve only just figured out how to be a parent?! Like every mum of students leaving home for university I’ve started to panic about the empty nest long before it happens, and I’ll be honest, I’m not loving how it’s making me feel. So I’ve turned to other parents who’ve been there before me for comfort and – if nothing else – to prepare myself for all the feelings. In this guest post, blogger Tracey Williams explains what it’s like to drop your firstborn at uni.

Flying the nest and going to UNI

I know it’s a huge cliché, but the time really does go quickly. One minute you’re staring at this little bundle of joy you’ve just bought home from the hospital, and then next they are turning 18 and heading off to University. Once the clock turns midnight on their 18th birthday, they become an adult. A time to rejoice as they can finally buy you a gin and tonic, and their Dad a pint of beer.

But becoming an adult overnight doesn’t mean that suddenly they will start to behave like one. They will still ignore that overfilling bin in the corner of their room, have no concept of when their bedding needs changing, and tea appears on the table every night at 6pm courtesy of the ‘tea fairies’. But then along comes University, and all of a sudden BAM, hello adulthood.

The transition into adulthood happened quickly for my son. One month after he turned 18 he was off to University, the joys of being an August baby. He was suddenly responsible for feeding himself, doing his laundry, sorting out his finances, all whilst making new friends and studying for his Psychology degree. And of course let’s throw in a global Pandemic as well.

As you can imagine it’s an emotional time when your first born flies the nest, and I was no exception. I started to get emotional about the whole moving to UNI about 4 months before (YES I know), and my organisational mode was activated. If I hadn’t spent the months before writing lists, getting IKEA deliveries, and packing it all neatly in boxes, then my son would have been moving to UNI with 2 pairs of pants and his unwashed duvet.

Before we knew it the day arrived for us to move him into his accommodation. Due to covid we had an afternoon time slot, which meant we spent the morning watching re-runs of The Inbetweeners with him. The afternoon was spent moving boxes from the car to his new room at UNI, and of course the first thing he unpacked was his beloved PlayStation. I was itching to help him unpack, but he turned to us and said “thanks, you can go now”! And that’s when it struck me how independent he was. He wanted to do everything himself, not have his Mum fussing around him. Or it could have been he just wanted to play on his PlayStation in peace.

He might well be an adult that has just moved away from home, but he still texted his Mum to tell me that he’d been sick outside Wetherspoons on his first night. Welcome to UNI life son.

As a fellow mum of an August baby I know that I’ll feel my son’s departure for University perhaps even more keenly than when my first child leaves. Best get started on a new career now so I have plenty to distract myself when the time comes!

If you have children at university and would like to connect with Tracey you can find her on Instagram here. And you might also like this list of tips for coping with empty nest syndrome.

11 thoughts on “Leaving for University – how it feels when your child leaves home”

  1. What a brilliant post from Tracey. I remember her going through all of this at the time and feeling all the emotions along with her!
    After my eldest opted to do an apprenticeship rather than go to university, I’ll be facing this for the first time in September, when my younger son goes to university. I just know I’ll be an emotional wreck!

  2. Bless you Tracey, he was such a young one! My daughter was 2 months off turning 20 when she left and was so ready (as was I!). The whole ‘you can go now’ might be a boy thing as we did stay and help our daughter unpack, she wanted us to. Leaving her was a wrench but she’s now thriving and I’m so happy for her.

    • I’m really hoping by the time I get there I’ll be able to feel more of the happy feelings than the sad Suzanne. So glad it’s going well for her xx

    • Yes I’m thinking it could be a boy thing lol. So glad your daughter is thriving, it’s a great feeling seeing the (mainly responsible) adults they are becoming x

    • Oh goodness I’m so sad to hear this. It’s really tough on parents, especially if they see their child is finding it hard too. I hope he’s settling in a bit better now and has got over the initial shock.


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