I know it’s a cliche, but where does the time go? It only feels a short while ago I was excitedly stocking up on nappies and baby lotion.
As we sat nervously in the Nursery School welcome meeting, I still remember tearing up as the head made her speech about how excited she was at welcoming her new ‘gifts’ in the September, and spending the next three years ‘unwrapping them’.
And now we’re taking it in turns to view halls of residence and universities all over the UK. Two of my fledglings are off to uni already!
I seem to be a constant walking mix of two emotions at the moment – overwhelming pride, and complete anxiety. Reading up as much as I can so I am completely armed with knowledge for anything the events might throw at me, I came across a wonderful piece in The Huffington Post, by Marshall P.Duke, Professor at Emory University,
“It is a moment that comes along once in a lifetime. Each child only starts college once. …Such moments are rare. They have power. They give us as parents one-time opportunities to say things to our children that will stick with them not only because of what is said, but because of when it is said.
Here is what I tell the parents: think of what you want to tell your children when you finally take leave of them and they go off to their dorm and the beginning of their new chapter in life and you set out for the slightly emptier house that you will now live in. What thoughts, feelings and advice do you want to stick? “Always make your bed!”? “Don’t wear your hair that way!”? Surely not. This is a moment to tell them the big things. Things you feel about them as children, as people. Wise things. Things that have guided you in your life. Ways that you hope they will live. Ways that you hope they will be. Big things. Life-level things.”
I am really lucky with my eldest. Meg will be renting a house with her boyfriend, who is an absolute hero and I know she will be well taken care of.
And my second is extremely independent and mature for her age. But as we concerned parents know, it’s doesn’t always matter how you conduct yourself. If you’re anything like me, you will have conjured up images of everything from getting lost on the way home, and ending up on the Orient Express, to aliens invading and choosing only my baby to abduct.
We’re also lucky that thanks to SafeGirl, we know an awful lot about personal safety, so not wanting to be selfish, here’s a few tips to put your mind at ease a little:
I am actually a huge advocate of the ‘why should women be told to act differently , dress differently, not wear earphones etc, and we should be telling men not to attack women’ philosophy, but the sad truth is that I personally would rather ensure my babies are a little safer, and we can all sleep a little better at night.
Make sure your mobile is charged and able to make calls when you go out, in case of an emergency or if you lose the people you are with.
Try to leave a pub or club with friends, keep money you need to get home separate so that you don’t spend it, and pre-book a licensed taxi or know the locations of official taxi ranks.
When you do go out, know how you will get home, and plan ahead if you’re going somewhere you don’t know. Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
If you have to walk alone in the dark, try to avoid badly lit areas, parks, alleyways and underpasses. When alone on public transport, sit near the driver on a bus, and in an occupied carriage on a train or the underground. Avoid using your phone in isolated places, as it can distract you from your surroundings.
Carrying a personal alarm with you is a good idea – many men see these as female accessories, but figures show that male students stand a much higher risk of being attacked in the street.
Watch how much you drink
It’s easier to do something risky or foolish when you are drunk, and you’re more likely to lose your belongings. Eat before you drink alcohol, and drink plenty of water to help you not get drunk. Keep track of what and how much you’re drinking. Drinks do get spiked with drugs, so never leave your drink unattended or accept a drink from a stranger. Think about carrying some rape drug testing coasters.
Consider taking a student safety kit with you. Filled with a safety tips book, a door wedge alarm, a personal alarm, and much more, we can’t take away the tears as your baby birds flee the nest, but we can alleviate some of the worry….