Empty Nest & College Acceptance Letters: Here are 3 Great Tips!

Moms, how are you feeling about your kid going to college next year?

There is a flurry of college acceptance letters making their way to mailboxes around the country!

What are you thinking when you see them in there?

Like you, I actually see the letters in the mailbox. I’m the one who gets the mail.

But I don’t see the emails.

They go straight to my son’s inbox. He’s so excited when he gets these emails.

And then I get a text from him, which I absolutely love. Any time my kid texts me, it’s a cause for celebration.  But I digress.

When I see a letter from a university in the mailbox, I’m flooded with mixed emotions.

First, I’m excited for my son, of course. I mean, really excited.

Then, I’m worried that the letter isn’t what he’s hoping for. (Sometimes I shine a light on it to see if I can read anything…please keep that to yourself, lol.)

And finally…I feel sorry for myself.  What if it is an acceptance? Then, my friends, he’s out the door.

Just like his brothers.

I don’t know who I’m kidding; he’s going to be out the door anyway. He only applied to schools he would have to move to.

That’s the irony. My husband and I both support this idea. We both went away. We think it’s a great way to grow and take steps toward independence.

coach_spaciousnest6_pinterestBut…the kid I’m talking about here is the youngest of my three sons.

Yes, I’ve been through this before.

But this kid is:

  • the one who looks the most like me
  • the one who’s turning 18 this week
  • the one who loves to cook
  • the one who loves to talk
  • the one is flying out of the nest in seven months…and counting
  • my last one
  • my baby.

In my heart of hearts, of course I’m really am excited for him. His #1 choice is the school and program I thought he would fall in love with two years ago. I knew this was coming.

And this perfect program is at my alma mater. How fun is that?

He’s heard from two universities so far.

It’s still considered early.

He’s holding his breath for his first choice.

And so we wait.


Him with excited anticipation.

Me with pride and anticipatory loneliness.

My empty nest is so close I can almost touch it.

About 30 weekends away from the regularity of quiet evenings and weekends.

OY…this is NOT the way to think about this.

Let’s try again.

Here are three amazing tips for ways to feel better when college acceptance letters make you feel sad.

Tip #1: Remember that it’s not your kid that’s making you sad, or even the college acceptance letter that’s making you sad. You feel sad or have mixed emotions because of what you’re making those letters mean. When you see the letter, you’re reminded that your empty nest is around the corner and THAT is what you have mixed feelings about. Thoughts create feelings.

Tip #2: Decide how you want to feel about this transition of your child going away to school. Yes, actually decide, with intention. Let’s say you want to feel excited for him or her. Then, imagine what you would have to actually THINK to feel excited. Personally, I want to think that I can’t wait for him to experience what it’s like to live away at college. That makes me feel excited. Exactly how I want to feel.  This is much better than feeling sorry for myself.

Tip #3: Pause and notice your pride. I know you feel it. It’s there. Sometimes at the surface. Sometimes a bit deeper down. But you are so incredibly proud of your kid. You know how important this milestone is. You know that one of the markers of amazing parenting is the ability of your kid to become a successful, contributing adult. Someone who shows up. Someone who works hard. Someone who has goals. Someone who makes a difference.

This piece of paper in your mailbox can also mean all of this!

Want to learn more about how you can be happier with this whole empty nest thing? Start by checking out my 10 surprising simple steps to busting out of your midlife funk!

You can read that here: STOP THE FUNK

Remember, you’re not alone. We’re in this together! And it all starts with your thinking.










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