Back To School Already? Simple Things Empty Nesters Don’t Know

It’s that time of year again — back to school.  The only reason I know this is because of all of the first day of school pictures on my social media feed the last couple of weeks. Those, along with the posts of the moms and dads taking their freshman to college for the first time. (I hope you packed the tissues, you’re going to need them.)  The pictures and posts brought back so many memories of my “back to school” years.  I think my favorite post was pictures comparing the morning of the first day of school with the afternoon.  So Funny. 

Back To School? I Didn’t Know

Being an empty nest mom, I haven’t lived by the academic calendar since 2013 when my daughter graduated from college and my son got his Master’s degree.  It’s kind of a strange feeling when so much of my life was ruled by it — my 13 years of school (K-12), four years of college, six years of teaching, and after a brief gap, my kid’s years in school and college.  My life basically followed the academic calendar from 1965, when I started school until 2013 when my children completed college. That’s a long time.

Not only am I an empty nester, I live in Florida where the seasons don’t behave like they’re supposed to.  If it weren’t for all those back to school pictures and a few commercials on television I wouldn’t know if it were June, July, August or September.  Thankfully, the church calendar generally follows an academic calendar, so I can kind of keep up with the times that way.  It really is a strange feeling not having the rhythm and cycle of the academic year like I had for so long.  I guess I’m going to have to wait until I have grandchildren to experience that again.

Praying For A Good Year

Last year’s calendar was all kind of messed up due to COVID-19.  It seems like most schools and colleges are getting somewhat back to normal this school year.  Regardless of masks or no masks, vaccinations or no vaccinations, I think we can all agree that our prayer is for the students, teachers, administrators, bus drivers, lunchroom ladies, custodians, after-school care providers and anyone else in the education system to have a very safe and productive school year.  

A few years ago, I included a list of tips for parents in a back to school blog.  You can read that blog here.  I’m including the list of tips from that blog along with a few more geared more toward the college student.  I hope you will find it useful.  If you’re an empty nester like me, and don’t have anyone in school any more, perhaps you could share this blog post with a mom or dad who does.  

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Ten Tips For Back To School

  • Be Prepared — Things go much smoother, especially in rushed mornings, if you are prepared.
  • Push Yourself — Take the more challenging classes. Don’t settle for just getting by.
  • Be Kind — My daughter was really good about befriending the new kids in the class.  I really 
  • liked that about her.
  • Be Respectful — Have a good attitude and be respectful of your teachers.  As a former teacher, I can tell you it will help you out in the long run.
  • Get Involved — Play a sport, join the band or chorus, volunteer.  The more involved my children were in school, the better their grades were.
  • Don’t Forget God — Pray about everything, even the 2nd Grade spelling tests and multiplication speed drills.  On days they had a test, I used to pray with my children that they would be able to call to mind all they had studied.
  • Phone Home — Have your college student call you regularly, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes.  When my son was in college, he would always talk more when he called me as opposed to when I called him.  That’s when I got the monosyllabic answers.  I wish I would have insisted on a weekly call time, even with those monosyllabic answers.  It would have helped establish a better habit of communication between us.
  • Take The Calls — Be prepared to talk late at night.  Both of my children went to college out of state and in a different time zone, one hour earlier than mine.  There were a few times when I had to pretend that they had not woken me up when they just called to chat. I was okay with that.
  • Be Present — If possible, go to their things.  If they get inducted into an honor society or receive some type of award, go to the ceremony.  Go to a football game with them. The college years go by so fast, enjoy them.  My daughter’s university had an annual event called Step Sing.  We went every year.  We thoroughly enjoyed the college years.
  • Pray Some More — Pray for your college student often.  Pray for your college graduate.  Chances are, they are going to pick up some ideas or habits quite different from their years at home.  My initial response was to worry and fret over these things. Sometimes I still do, but I’m learning to run to God with my worries and concerns over my children (who are now in their 30’s)!  I have to constantly remind myself that He loves them with a love so much deeper than mine.  

I hope these tips come in handy. 

If you’re an empty nest mom (or dad), can you relate?  Do you ever find yourself wondering what day or month it is, now that you don’t live by an academic calendar?  Is it weird for you too?  I’d love to know.


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