How to fill the empty nest flown by university leavers
And breathe! It’s taken 18 years of parenting to experience the peace that comes with a teenager leaving for university.
For the parents of the 400,000 students who started undergraduate life this autumn, one thing is for sure: with every child moving away to university, a spare room is born!
We've compiled the following tips for making the most of that empty room after they have flown the nest:
For a First, declutter
They have gone and are now recovering from the delights of Freshers week, but what next for you? This is your opportunity to finally give your teenager’s bedroom a well-earned clean.
First, stock up on boxes, bubble wrap and tape. Consider covering left over clothes in drawers in stretch wrap. This will save you from having to unpack them into boxes. Take photos of how any electronics are connected before boxing them up: a trick guaranteed to save cable fiddling when you next use them. Once everything is wrapped or boxed up, think carefully what you want to do with them.
If you'd prefer trying the out of sight, out of mind approach - store away precious items, or possessions you suspect your child might want later down the line in secure storage. Our rooms sizes span from locker to warehouse, and can be rented for as little or as much time as you need. Our storage calculator will help you work out the space required.
You might want to give away items to local charity shops (be sure to sign a Giftaid form if you do). You could also consider selling some useable items at a car boot sale, or on an online auction site. Remember though, that this can take time. Identify possessions you want to sell at least two weeks in advance of your big declutter.
Bedroom, or hobby room?
Now is the time to take up that hobby you put off as a full-time parent. An unused bedroom could be transformed into a man cave or mini art studio, for example.
Why stop at one? Studies have shown that the happiest people engage in three to four hobbies, so keep the purpose of the room as flexible as you can.
New lease of life with a lick of paint
Once you have decided on the use of the room, you can put the money you made by selling possessions towards redecorating. A simple lick of paint should never be underestimated. It can completely revitalise a space. Start with a tinted primer, to cover up old paint and indentations on the wall. And if you want to use masking tape to improve your cutting in on straight edges, press it down with a putty knife to prevent any paint bleeding through.
If you have sash windows, don't waste time taping the windows - it takes a long time and paint usually ends up on the glass anyway. When it does, wait until dry and simply scrape it off with a razor blade.
Contrary to common belief, dark paint can make a room feel bigger. And if you are redecorating the space to use as a bedroom, avoid installing small furniture. It only makes a small bedroom look smaller. Instead, go for statement furniture - a high bed with a tall headboard will help make the room appear bigger.
Empty room = earning potential
If you live somewhere that people visit for business, you could take in a short-term guest, to generate income from the space, while still leaving it accessible for your son or daughter to return to on their home visits and holidays.
Websites like spareroom.co.uk can help you find lodgers who are happy to pay for a room during the week, but go elsewhere at weekends. Airbnb offers home lets for holidaymakers.
Do you live in a student town? Could your child’s room become term time home to another student? Contact your local college or university if so, to find out more on their accommodation lists and options.