3 Changes Since Our Daughters Went Off to College

Adapting to the empty nest.

October 5, 2017

If all goes well, my wife and I will be attending college graduations in 2020 and then again in 2021.  We are the proud parents of second-year and first-year college-going daughters.  Our nest is as empty as our tuition bills are high.

You might think that working in higher education would give one some special insight into being a higher ed parent.  You’d be wrong.  We are just as clueless as everyone else.

If my girls ask me, I have loads of opinions about navigating college.  They seldom ask.  That is probably how it should be.  This is their show.

My wife and I are determined not to be snowplow, helicopter, bubble-wrap or hovercraft parents.  I’m sure that we will fail at times in our ambitions, but like most outcomes of parenting shortfalls, the kids will be resilient.

What I can share with you is 3 ways that our lives have changed since doing the dual-university dorm drop-offs.

Please don’t judge.

1 - We Got a Television:

Our philosophy of parenting has always been to maximize torment.  What better way to create resilience and growth mindset in one’s offspring.  In that spirit, throughout most of our kids lives we refused to have a TV in the house.  We told them to read a book, they watched YouTube on their small screens.  Things worked out okay.

Now that they are gone, we’ve come back to the land of the big TV.  A 60 inch flat screen TV.  Mounted to a wall.  Not only did we get a TV, we signed up for every channel that Comcast has on offer.  No doubt once the cheap introductory cable triple play runs out that we will drop the premium channels.  For now, we’ve gone from starving in the TV desert to the equivalent of television cruise ship buffet.

2 - We Talk to the Dog More:

You know those people who treat their dogs like their children.  We are now those people.

3 - Our Diet Has Gone to Hell:

Kids might be expensive propositions.  Parenting adolescents may be tough.  But kids are great for nutrition.

When the girls lived at home we felt some obligation to supply vegetables every now and again.  Nowadays, most of our vegetable intake comes in the form of pizza.  We started buying soda and potato chips for the house and eat in bed.

True story.  This past weekend my wife and I were at the supermarket, debating if we should grab dinner from the hot wing bar or make a KFC run on the way home.  Our plan was to eat dinner in front of the TV while watching football.  I wanted KFC, she wanted wing bar, we compromised on the wing bar.

How did your life change when your kids left the nest?


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