How to survive the unbearable separation anxiety when the kids leave for college? Many parents, suddenly feeling obsolete and arthritic, move to farms in Oregon, attend yoga retreats in India, become fanatic cyclists, design outdoor living rooms, organize the old shinguard collection or even foster a teen. Here are some other suggestions in all budget ranges:
1. Cleanse. You no longer will be tempted by the ubiquitous leftover pizza crusts.
2. Invest in a pied-à-terre in a cool college town... which just happens to be the one where your kid goes to school.
3. Adopt a puppy. Name it after your son or daughter. How sweet it will be when Virgil comes home for Thanksgiving and finds a furry little Virgil in the house, one that obeys curfew and is always fast asleep by 9 p.m.?
4. Stalk your children on Instagram. (They all ditched Facebook when it became overpopulated by boomers.) If you don't "like" any of their photos, they'll never know that you're tracking how often they're holding Solo cups.
5. Get rid of those age spots with a laser treatment. No potlucks or carpools, so you can finally hide out while you recover.
6. Revive your relationship by indulging in a couple's ionic foot bath.
7. Because every penny is now going to educate your child, you probably don't have funds for much of the above -- or anything else. So find an affordable sport or hobby, taking advantage of all that expensive equipment you bought for the many activities your child quit after several months. Try French horn lessons, skateboarding, lacrosse or building a robot.
8. Take risks. Become a senior triathlete or set the loftiest goal of them all: Inbox Zero. Start with the 21,589 e-mails in your old AOL account.
9. Continue micro-managing your children. Be available 24/7 to edit essays, book flights, replace lost iPhones, provide laundry instructions and secure internships that will one day help them be rid of you forever.
Follow J.D. Rothman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/neurotic_parent