College bound kids dirty the nest. At least that’s the phrase I’ve heard over and over. Do you know what it means?
Dirty the nest means they struggle for independence from you on their way out the door to college so they make it easier on you to let go (and on them) even though most of the time they don’t realize they are doing it.
Dirty the nest can come in all different forms:
Piles of laundry on the floor and not having it cleaned up when asked.
Pushing the limits on house rules.
Not staying in contact as well as they once did.
Having an attitude.
Not wanting to deal with their normal responsibilities.
Dismissing your advice because they know everything (and apparently you don’t).
Simply not getting along with you even though you’ve never had problems with them before now.
Leaving everything to the last minute because they don’t want to deal with it so you are left scrambling to get all the items on their college dorm list.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Don’t worry. This is normal and a part of the transition for you and for your kid. While it may not make it any easier to know you are not alone, you can understand why your nice normal kid has turned into someone whom you don’t recognize.
My only advice is to let it go. Do your best to help the kid get the stuff together for college. Stop worrying about what you can’t control. Smile because the dirty laundry will be on their dorm floor in a few weeks and they’ll finally learn how to work the washer/dryer or they’ll find someone to do it for them. When it’s a clash of wills, unless it’s truly important, try not to fight with them. They’re transitioning and it’s all just an act of willful avoidance in dealing with how they’re feeling. They’re excited and nervous just like you. Don’t take the rebelling stage as anything more than temporary. Believe me, when they come home to Mom’s home cooking, a clean home and their laundry done by Mom (maybe?), they will be so grateful to be back home for a bit. They’ll want to spend time with you (and see their friends again), but it will be a much smoother transition. At least that’s been my experience in the past.
However it’s a roller coaster ride in the months and weeks leading up until they go to college, especially if it’s for the first time. You may be feeling unappreciated, but know that you are appreciated. Patience grasshopper…They just have to dirty the nest for a bit.