It's a day you’ve either looked forward to or dreaded for a while — soon your child will be heading to college. For the first time in about 18 years, your home will be kid-free, and you probably have mixed feelings about that.

This experience, known as empty nest syndrome, is something most parents of college freshmen go through. Learning how to cope will help ease the transition for both you and your student.

Here are some of the things you can do.

Accept that what you’re going through is normal.

College is a rite of passage for the entire family, not just your teen. So don’t beat yourself up or think that it’s abnormal to feel sad or confused about the new dynamic in your home. Give yourself time to get used to the “new normal,” and try to focus on the positives in your life and embrace this next chapter.

Do something for yourself.

Whether you were a working parent or a stay-at-home one, you probably spent the bulk of your free time doing things for and with your children. It’s time to take your downtime back. Pick back up on something you didn’t have time for, like your old bowling league, or consider exploring a new hobby. Maybe you have dreams of starting a small business or running a 5k? Now you have time to develop the passions that you put on hold to care for your kids.

Make plans with your spouse.

It has likely been a long time since it was just you and your partner at home together with no children afoot. Many couples say this is a great period for their marriage — a time to rekindle their relationship and get to know each other all over again. Spend time really talking to each other with no interruptions, taking long walks together and going on dates.

Find support from friends and family.

If you have siblings, cousins or neighbors who have recently sent their children off to college, turn to them for some insight. Ask how they got through the transition and get advice about how they navigated their teen’s newfound independence. Your teen’s college might even have resources that can help, such as a social media group for college parents.

Embrace your new relationship with your college teen.

You might miss the cuddly toddler years, or when your grade-schooler was your best pal who looked at you with awe. However, there are amazing aspects to having a grown child as well, including the ability to confide in each other on a deeper level.

Like all stages of parenting, coping with empty nest syndrome is not without its challenges. Give your child space to grow and flourish, and allow yourself to do the same by taking off your full-time parent hat. Before long, you’ll come to accept that even though your child is grown, your bond will be even stronger.

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