leaving the nest...an open letter on how to prepare your kid & yourself for a successful transition
Updated: Sep 7, 2019
Thoughts on growing them up before they move out:
As we celebrate my oldest daughter’s 18th birthday, it's bittersweet for me. I can’t help but reminisce at all the joy she has brought into our lives, but its also time to make sure that I've done my job and she is prepared to leave the nest. Adulting is hard.
To keep myself away from the melancholy parts of this transition, I’m going to focus on some pointers for how to keep it REAL as we help our children become the adults that they were meant to be.
Let’s get the college hoo haa out of the way. Our experience has been different from a lot of families. Mags plays travel softball and wants to continue playing in college. That means that we have to approach the college selection process from a different angle. She doesn’t have to just get good test scores and grades, she also has to market herself to college coaches to earn a spot on the team at the school of her dreams – you know, one where she was also accepted into the college.
This process has been years in the making. Tons of emails to a myriad of coaches telling them her fall, summer and high school game schedules. Coaches don’t come to you and often times don’t respond to your email communication. Just keep pushing and moving forward to avoid frustration. Athletes have to keep their sports profiles up to date with highlights, grades and stats and attend dozens of camps while also visiting and touring colleges to see what might be a good fit – the campus, the degree, the coach.
The summer between Junior and senior year was a big push to narrow the field. Did she want a large Division 1 university where there was tough competition for spot on the softball team and a huge time commitment all year? Did she want to look into a D2 school where she might get an athletic scholarship? Either of these require some research to determine if the potential scholarship will compensate for the additional time commitment to the team. If not D1 or D2, did she want a Division 3 school of a more moderate size with a great program that she loves? Being the practical gal she is, Mags chose her school based on the degree she wants so that she can get a REAL job after college. Dad and I agree with her sensibility.
The coach from her #1 choice of school offered her a spot on the team. Maggie applied to the school, was accepted within days and she committed. That was truly the easiest part of the entire process!
Now, completing the FAFSA application is not as difficult as some people make it out to be. Once you understand that the student has to complete an application and the parent also has to complete one, its not too confusing. We are still waiting to hear back from the school on the financial aid package that we will receive, but we are hoping that scholarships will lighten the load. Maggie has done a great job of taking challenging classes, being active in her extracurricular activities and has some really cool essays at the ready. Fingers crossed.
A few other areas that we have found to be important building blocks for a resilient adult include:
doing their own laundry,
knowing how to cook and feed themselves,
having a job,
how to approach budgets and finance.
I’d like to think that we've done a good job here. Maggie has had a few jobs and interacts with the public in the service industry, she handles her own money, is learning a ton in her personal finance class at school. She is not afraid to talk to adults in person or on the phone. She advocates for what she needs.
I remember when my dad sat me down and we went through my bank statement and checkbook and how to use each and reconcile them at the end of the month. With online banking and phone apps, this seems like a thing of the past nowadays. Especially with debit cards and venmo, its even more important to teach kids about HOW money works, because they just don’t touch cash anymore. I want my kids to appreciate the value of money and how to use it wisely and that it's not just monopoly bills.
The main goal of parenting (for me anyway) is to raise independent, resilient, responsible adults. I think that we are well on the way here with our newest member of the voting community.
Great job, Maggie! You got this! love, MOME