Hey kid….Feeling homesick? I’ve got your back
A lot of kids are off to summer camp this month and for some it'll be their first extended trip away from home. And that might mean a first ever bout of feeling homesick.
Homesickness is defined as a form of anxiety or emotional distress that results from actual or anticipated separation from familiar people and places and being forced out of a regular routine.
I started spending time away from home at a relatively early age. When I was 10 and wanted to go to the same away camp as my older sisters – for three weeks! – they all complained that they didn’t want to have to deal with me when I missed our parents. Ha! As if. I was so busy having fun with my new friends I didn’t have time to be homesick. (Truth be told I took their doubt in me as a challenge.)
I do, however, remember feeling blue for those nasty sisters, my bike and the way my mom melted cheese on toast several years later in grade 9, when I went on a school trip to England and stayed with a billet. They lived on a farm in a remote countryside outside of Bristol. I was from the Toronto ‘burbs. They boiled their meat. My mom was a caterer and taught me to like it rare. Their house smelled different. They called chips crisps and watched some dumb show called Fawlty Towers. I was so far away.
I’m not a parent myself of course and nor am I educated in the field of childhood development. But I have indeed been a kid. So to all you 10-year-olds embarking on your first trip away this summer, remember these survival tips:
- Practice makes perfect. This is a great time to get your parents to let you go to sleepovers at your friends’ so you can get used to the idea of being away. Milk it, kid.
- When you go, pack something that reminds you of home. Like your pillow. They don’t usually have them at camp anyway or if they do they haven’t been washed in a century. I suppose you could also take a picture of your parents or your dog.
- Don’t call or text home every five minutes. Set a call home schedule and stick to it. If you’re feeling homesick it’ll help break down the overwhelming whole week away into a more doable, “I just have to make it until tomorrow when I can talk to my dad again.” (In my day we wrote letters. See above photo of a pile my dad saved.)
- Misery loves company. Find a friend and confide in them. Acknowledging your feelings of sadness is the first step toward dealing with them.
- Resist the urge to accept your mother’s offer to come and pick you up. (Except in very extreme circumstances.)
- Limit time on social media apps checking up on what your friends back home are doing. The party is wherever you are. Repeat that back to yourself. Learn this early in life and it will serve you well.
- Make yourself busy. Sign up for everything you possibly can. You’re too busy to be homesick!
- Try. New. Things.
By the end of that trip to England, my unquenchable thirst for travel, new adventures and perspectives had been born. Plus, if I’d never been homesick I’d never have discovered Fawlty Towers. John Cleese saved me from my loneliness.
Happy Canada day!
Note: all the above survival tips also work for adults.