Uni starters: Reasons to be glad they’re gone

After my last tearful post about the sadness involved in getting my daughter ready to go to university, I thought I’d redress the balance a bit with a (tongue in cheek) run down of the upside of her not being here. Obviously, I’d rather be with her, but if I look at things from the right angle – and squint a bit – I can see the benefits. So here you go – all the reasons to be glad they’ve gone!

How to cheer yourself up when your child has left home.

I took to Facebook to ask other parents what the benefits were to them of their children leaving for university. Parents usually have a good sense of humour; it’s a necessary self-defence mechanism that goes back to the dark sleepless nights and relentless parenting we succumbed to when they were tiny – I think they call it war spirit. They did not disappoint; this is what they said:

  • There’s more space for their siblings at the dinner table; where younger brothers and sisters used to get squashed and jostled, they can now spread out – no need for us to supervise elbow digs any more!
  • If you have one child or no children left at the table, your referee job is over. I’ve never understood the need to twist your brother’s ear or poke your sister in the ribs once you’re past the age of 12, but there it is, they do. I suspect mine might be attempting to annoy each other well into their 50’s at Christmas dinner. Anyway, mealtimes require much less facilitation when there’s one less child at the table.
  • Sticking with dinner – the quieter sibling now gets their voice heard. We learn that they also have opinions, are quite articulate when they want to be, and will be quite capable of going to university themselves. Of course, that can send us back to grief, so keep your wits about you!
  • No more complaints about their favourite food not being available even though they aren’t able to put it on the shopping list (must be some failure on our part with fine motor skills when they were 3).
  • The toilet gets flushed.
  • You don’t have to hold your breath when walking into the bathroom for fear of inhaling Lynx chemicals.
  • Less washing – one parent even got a water rebate!
  • Fewer taxi runs – you child may be out till 3am somewhere, but at least you don’t have to be out in your pyjamas bringing them home.
  • No long hair clogging the shower drain, decorating the clean laundry, stifling the hoover…
  • No more military plans to ensure everyone gets a hot shower.
  • No more cooking at 3am
  • No more being woken at 3am by your child ‘being quiet’ on their way in from the pub. Now I type it, I realise 3am has been problematic here for a while!
  • Knowing that the meat/cheese/figs you bought for a recipe will still be in the fridge when you come to cook it.
  • Not having to go upstairs for a plate when you want to have lunch.
  • No more cooking family dinner, only to discover they’re grabbing a Maccies on their way out.
  • No more wet towels on the floor
  • No more arguments about when the floordrobe will be clear so we can vacuum their bedrooms.
  • No more stinky sports gear/muddy football boots lying in the hall for days.
  • One less ‘different’ meal to make at dinner time – for the vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, doesn’t like fish person. (As the parent of a diabetic, I would say no more carb counting every meal, but I feel guilty about that, given that she still has to do it).
  • Not having to clear up after they’ve made something in the kitchen and cleared up.
  • Finding lids screwed onto jars and bottles properly instead of covering yourself in milk/salad dressing/spices every time you grab one from the cupboard.
  • Loo roll on the loo roll holder at all times.
  • Opening the fridge and finding food.
  • No running the washing machine or dryer for just that one thing that’s needed today (yes, I’m aware that quite a lot of this is about laundry).
  • The money you save on petrol or diesel!
  • If you have boys, the money you save on food shopping should be enough to clear any student debt when they graduate.
  • Milk in the fridge in the morning – no midnight cereal snacks.
  • Electric bills are lower because there are no computers and gaming consoles running all day and night.
  • You’ll always be able to lay your hands on a teaspoon.
  • A spare bedroom for guests (just kidding Maddie!)
  • You don’t need to ask for permission to use your own car.
  • No piles of dirty glasses and cups on the landing.
  • No discarded bras on the living room floor.
  • After cleaning the kitchen work surfaces, and going to bed, knowing it will still be clean when you go down for your morning coffee.
  • No more complaints that there’s nothing to eat, when the fridge is full, it’s just that they want snacks, not food.
  • You can finally clean their room – cathartic.
  • Rooms are dark when you walk into them at night. Unfortunately this means you will have to switch on the light. On the upside – the electric bill…
  • No more picking up the bath mat twice a day.
  • No more listening to the shower run while they sit on the toilet with their phones. Gas bill…
  • You can open more doors and stop feeling like you live in a dungeon. Because there won’t be stressful mess to look at.
  • Clean clothes go back in the cupboard, not straight back in the wash because they got mixed up in the floordrobe. (I think maybe I have a laundry fixation).
  • No more trainers or underwear on radiators.
  • More sleep. You won’t be waiting up for them to come home safe once they’re in a different city.
  • Less grated cheese will be eaten.
  • Not having the throw out food because you did a shop for their favourite things and then they weren’t home to eat them.
  • Being able to have an opinion without having it analysed from every angle.
  • No more tripping over trainers.
  • One less person asking what’s for dinner every night and then moaning that it’s not what they wanted.
  • The number of empty shampoo bottles in the shower tray will reduce.
  • A break from hanging a thousand trainer socks on the line and then trying to match them in pairs. (Gosh I really need to stop thinking about laundry).
The empty nest can leave parents feeling sad. If you need cheering up, here are some amusing thoughts on why we can be glad our kids left.
Real empty bird nest on white

Hopefully this list has given you a laugh and helped you feel better about the empty nest. And in case our children read this and think that all we do is complain about their bad habits, here are a few serious reasons to be glad they’ve gone to university:

  • They’re getting a wonderful life experience and learning how to live independently.
  • We get to explore a new city when we visit them, and they get to be our tour guides. Mine (in Cambridge) reckons she’s now good at punting, so that will be cheaper than hiring a boat with an official punter!
  • Seeing them explore who they are is a joy.
  • Looking forward to a weekly facetime call (I’m looking at you Maddie…)
  • Knowing you’ve successfully helped your child get to the first stage of true independence. Pat yourself on the back for that!
  • It’s amazing when they come home to visit.
  • Watching them turn into fantastic young men and women.

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