Star columnist: A time of firsts for families

UGC Columnist Rachael Habergham. ''Rachael lives in Kiveton Park with her family, is a school governor and volunteers for Wales Panto Players.
UGC Columnist Rachael Habergham. ''Rachael lives in Kiveton Park with her family, is a school governor and volunteers for Wales Panto Players.
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September is an interesting month as we start to leave the long summer evenings behind us and many families experience very special firsts.

From the first day at nursery, first day at school, first day at college to first day at university.

Each one brings with it a range of emotions not only for the children and young adults but the parents as well. How many parents have fought back tears in the last couple of weeks as they dropped their child at the school gate or they drove away from university accommodation?

Trying to be strong so their children don’t see them cry and then putting on a front for weeks as they get used to new routines and in some cases a house that no longer has any children in it.

They are all big steps on a family journey that we all handle in different ways. For many they find the children get into a new routine quickly as they embrace everything that is new, make new friends and experience many things for the first time. For parents it can take longer as they struggle to fill the time they previously spent with their children.

This is compounded when going away to university is involved and parents try to handle the many feelings associated with the so-called ‘empty nest syndrome.’ Simple things often become difficult as a form of grief takes over. I have seen interesting ways to deal with it, from buying a pet, taking an extravagant holiday or taking up a new hobby.

No matter how people choose to deal with it, the feelings are very real and it takes time to get used to new routines. Many parents right now will be desperate for the FIRST weekend their son/daughter comes home even if it’s only to get their washing done.

As you walk round our city there will be people everywhere experiencing those very special firsts. This will include a significant number of people experiencing Sheffield for the first time as they start student life. Many will grow to love the city so much that they will choose to stay way beyond university.

I hope the city welcomes all the new students with open arms to ensure they enjoy their first experience of living in Sheffield.

* Rachel Habergham