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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Learning to LOVE the EMPTY NEST

As parents, we pour a lifetime of energy into helping our children grow up. But what happens when they leave? Mother of three Jo Waters turns to the experts for advice

HOME ALONE ADVICE

THIS AUTUMN, hundreds of thousands of young people are leaving home for the first time. Some have gone to university, others are departing on gap years, and many are starting a job and moving into flat-shares to start life on their own. For parents accustomed to busy schedules, juggling work and kids, a noisy and messy house, not to mention cooking for what can seem like a small army of their children’s teenage friends, it’s easy to feel left behind – and left wondering how it all went so quickly and what they’re supposed to do now.

I should know, as I’m one of them, although our nest is not quite empty yet. Two of my three daughters – Holly, 21, and Annie, 18 – have now gone, and I’m acutely aware that the youngest, 17-year-old Phoebe, will be joining them next year. When Holly left home two years ago, we’d already had a dry-run separation, as she went travelling around China, India, and Vietnam for five months. Of course we were anxious, but, thanks to WhatsApp and FaceTime, we were in touch every few days. We also knew it was just a holiday and she’d be back home eventually. So, when we dropped our now-savvy 19-year-old at Sheffield University to stay in a lovely hall of residence that looked more like Center Parcs, we weren’t prepared for the tears – first hers (she didn’t want us to leave her), then mine (I didn’t want to go). My husband, Mark, wisely peeled me away gently and put me into the car to sob all the way down the M1. He was more logical about it, saying we’d done our job as parents and she was ready to be independent. Still, I remained tearful when I looked in on her empty bedroom and waited anxiously for texts to confirm she was settling in. Which, of course, she was.

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About Healthy Food Guide

Our October issue has everything you need for a good night’s sleep to improve your health and wellbeing. Our nutritionist pinpoints the best foods for zzzz, and sleep experts help you get your mind and body in the right place. Plus there’s a £1,000 bed set to be won! Cooking on a budget? We’ve got easy recipes for students (and emotional advice for parents left behind) and new cheap & cheerful – and healthy – meals from Jamie Oliver. It’s your number one spot for latest health advice, too, with an update on blood pressure.